Friday, March 16, 2007

World of Warcraft: The Burning Crusade (PC)

I held it off as long as possible, but at last I have hit level 70 in World of Warcraft (TBC reviews: GameSpot, GameSpy). I had no interest in rushing the journey from 60 to 70 because I knew that the returns diminish pretty dramatically after you hit the level cap. It's likely that Blizzard has handled it better this time around, but it's a fundamental limitation of this kind of game that at some point the content thins out and they have to string you along with a decreasing time/value proposition. So I've absolutely taken my time to smell all the flowers as I've strolled through The Burning Crusade.

The quality of content added in this expansion is undeniably of a higher quality than what was previously available. The quests are more interesting, the zones flow better, the rewards are more diversified, the instances are more streamlined… everything's just plain better. This is true not just of the new Outland 60 to 70 content, but also of the new 1 to 20 content for the two new races: blood elves and draenei. Leveling a new character through the first two zones is a much deeper experience than it used to be. Unfortunately then you get dumped off in the old stuff for the next 40 levels. Which leaves sitting here with a level 20 blood elf, thinking "do I really want to go through all that again?"

Meanwhile back in Outland, my level 70 druid has a similar dilemma: how do I want to spend my time at the level cap? For me the game is all about the locations. So in the meantime the answer to my question is easy, as that of the seven zones in Outland I've only really cleared out five and a half of them. Plus there are fifteen instances on your way to 70, and I've only visited six of those. On top of that there are the more hardcore ones that require uber gear, but I recognize that I'll likely never see those. So from where I am now I'm just going to keep doing what I have been doing: solo questing through the zones, grouping up to do an instance every now and then, and occasionally doing commando style solo runs on the instances that previously owned me so that I can convince myself that I'm a badass.

I don't feel like I've hit the wall yet, and I'm optimistic that when I do I'll realize it and have the self control to just stop and go play another game or something. My achievement point addiction and WoW addiction will continue to battle it out, striking some sort of tenuous balance. And then when my crack-riddled psyche needs some rest I can flail around like a crazy person with my Wii. Problem solved.

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