Tuesday, February 06, 2007

So long Battlefield 2. Hello World of Warcraft!

In December of 2005, on advice from my buddy Brandon, I picked up a copy of Battlefield 2 and immediately immersed myself into a whole new world of gaming. Whereas my previous vice, Counter Strike: Source, was essentially a repetitive bloodbath this new game required strategy, cunning and teamwork. For about a year, this game kept me entertained what with learning new vehicles and gaining rank. From infantry soldier to general to J-10 pilot, I mastered nearly every aspect of the game and had a lot of fun while doing it.

Yet the entire time there were certain things that bothered me. While the online service was free to use, this also meant that anybody could run their own server. Once the official EA servers went offline, only these user provided ones were available and each had their own unique set of rules they expected users to follow. Oftentimes these rules were lazily enforced and instead used as justification to boot users that the admin simply did not like.

As well, the most important part of the game, teamwork, was one that the game's architecture did not easily facilitate. Users were encouraged to 'squad up' at the start of a round yet they rarely did. So getting on a good team depended more on finding one in the various Internet forums or bringing a group of your real-life friends with you into the game. The latter worked well for me until our group disbanded after which I can count on one hand the number of times I found a good squad to game with.

My character VasilyContrast this with World of Warcraft, a game which has been out for longer than Battlefield 2 and which I have been avoiding because I've seen just how addicted my friends are. Yet after playing for several weeks, I can see why they are still playing this game over 2 years after it came out. The online service, while somewhat costly at $15/month, is operated solely by Blizzard and thus ensures that no arcane rules by a petty admin will get you booted off of a server.

As for the social aspect of the game, it is light years ahead of Battlefield 2. Support for parties (five people), raids (40 people) and guilds (unlimited) are built right into the game architecture along with easy ways to access them. Early on, the quests that you receive encourage group participation. Since starting play just a few weeks ago, I have lost count of how many times I've relied on complete strangers in my party to help me through a difficult quest. Many of them have ended up on my friends' list which notifies me when they are online. Thus an environment of camaraderie is built around teamwork and it is this feature that will keep users playing WoW for many years to come.

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