I re-activated my World of Warcraft subscription this morning and played the new expansion for about 45 minutes. Hardcore!
I had some hope that I might avoid spamming posts about Battle for Azeroth, but what else is there to talk about? I also made an appointment to take my dog and cat to the vet next week. Not exactly riveting stuff.
I’m going to refrain from mentioning any of the negative observations I made and just focus on the good things. We live in a time when even constructive criticism is interpreted as a personal affront to most fans. (It’s a bit like politics… you can either express hate for games, or express love for games, but anything in between is socially unacceptable now.) In reality it’s the same World of Warcraft with all of the same pros and cons as before, but I’ll just pretend I was starstruck the whole time.
I loved that there was a gigantic What’s New window that popped up on the screen as soon as I logged in that said, “Start Quest Now.” There was no need to go to any wikis to look up the starting quest giver-it was right there on the screen, and I was off and running into the new stuff within moments of loading my character for the first time in two years. That is the correct way to embrace new and returning players in an MMORPG.
That first quest was called “Hour of Reckoning,” in case anyone’s interested in knowing where new people start. All you have to do is go to Stormwind and talk to someone (presumably Horde people would go somewhere else). As a reward, I got a weapon that was better than my last weapon from Legion.
I decided to take a spear instead of a bow, so I can play the Survival Hunter spec, which I vaguely remember enjoying in Legion. Spear weapons are often underrepresented in RPGs, and they seem especially exotic in WoW, because I don’t remember any such weapon existing prior to Legion, certainly not for Hunters.
I didn’t experience any bugs or lag or queues. Everything worked perfectly as far as I could tell, which is fantastic, and exactly the level of quality that I expect from an operation like Blizzard.
The initial 45 minutes went about as I expected, to be honest. Very similar to Legion: Log in, start a quest, fumble with skills for a few minutes, then complete a raid-like scenario with a bunch of cut scenes that set the stage for the expansion’s story.
My experience started with a scenario called The Siege of Lordaeron. I enjoyed it, but I logged out after I finished it because 45 minutes is a crazy long gaming session for me these days and I wanted to make sure my recordings worked properly.
The scenario was fun. I didn’t really know what to do or how to do it, and I couldn’t see much of anything because there was so much happening on the screen at once, but it didn’t matter. I mainly wandered around with the herd trying not to walk into any obvious death traps, surely annoying my raidmates with my lack of even the most basic grasp of how to play my class. (It appeared to be tuned so that only around 10% of the raid participants need actually do any of the work.) It was very similar to Legion’s opening scenario, which I also remember as an enjoyable chaos, free of consequences. I can’t imagine it’s even possible to fail the event (although I did almost die a couple times). Predominantly it was an exercise in listening to voiceovers, trying to visually distinguish between targets, figuring out which hotbar skills do anything useful, and watching cut scenes.
While playing, I thought the Siege of Lordaeron scenario was a new thing for this expansion, but it occurred to me after I finished that it sounded like the same thing that everyone else saw a week before the expansion. I even recognized a lot of images from the cut scenes, for example, where Sylvanas and Anduin face each other, which has been spammed all over the Internet for a week.
Some Googling confirms my suspicions that the scenario is a week old. So technically I guess I haven’t started Battle for Azeroth yet. And here I thought I was getting ahead of the curve.
P. S. I ended up using my left hand a bit for moving and selecting targets and firing off abilities. It’s probably the longest I’ve used my left hand for a game since mid-July.