9 Reasons Why "World of Warcraft" Will Stay Relevant
In an age where there is a new video game every day, many of which are “free to play,” it seems absurd to still be playing the same game for a long time; particularly one that involves monthly payment.
And yet, here I am. Still completing daily quests and grinding for reputation in World of Warcraft (WoW) every evening. I am still obsessed over gear and getting every (other) achievement on the list. In fact, despite having lamented the story development when the expansion, Battle for Azeroth (BfA), I ended up enjoying and loving BfA even more than the Legion expansion. Here are 9 reasons why the world’s most successful MMORPG continues to captivate me and its entire community.
1. The Game Mechanics Modifications
Blizzard aggressively modifies game mechanics with every expansion, and if you’ve ever checked online for reactions, you’ll know these changes seldom go down smoothly with players. Every now and then, you even get entire groups of players claiming they have left the game for good because they are so disgusted with the new gameplay.
In my case, I’m glad to say I’m largely satisfied with the changes and additions in Battle for Azeroth. Island Expeditions and Warfronts feel rather meaningless after a while, but they do provide alternatives to daily questing and raiding, on top of being of easy ways to get gold, achievements, and collectibles. As for the main feature of the expansion i.e., customizable Azerite gear, as underwhelming as many of the boons tend to be, the ability to modify your offense or defense every other day is fun; the Azerite tiered system provides for many combinations. Lastly, everything that I have enjoyed previous expansions is still in the game. In short, it doesn’t feel to me that the game has changed too drastically. Instead, the gameplay has broadened.
2. New Chapters Aren’t Sucky
When Battle for Azeroth was announced in November 2017, I lamented that it feels to be the case that Blizzard is running out of story to tell. After battling ancient evils and crossing timelines, and adventuring on other planets, why was “Blizz” reverting to its oldest storyline?
Well, I stand corrected. Old doesn’t necessarily mean tired. While the ongoing story in BfA doesn’t pull any surprises, there is a certain fulfillment in revisiting the personality developments of classic characters. As an Alliance player, I’m also thrilled that my favorite sorceress, Lady Jaina Proudmoore, is back under the limelight. There is such a lovely kick in seeing her effortlessly freeze an entire army. What remains to be seen, on the other hand, is whether Blizzard would do a turnabout and recast these established characters as end-expansion villains. Personally, I hope they wouldn’t. However, a wicked part of me also wonders how it would be like to battle Anduin Wrynn or Genn Greymane in an epic raid.
3. Series Familiars Formally Join the Action
Zandalari Trolls and monstrous Nagas are no strangers to WoW players. But here’s the thing. Despite Zandalari and Naga forces regularly being dungeon and raid bosses, their homelands have never been seen. Their highest leaders have also, mostly, been shrouded in mystery.
The same goes for Kul Tiras, described in lore as the strongest maritime power in Azeroth.
In other words, it’s great that these factions have entered the scene. Too long have they languished in the shadows as annoying mid-raid bosses and trash mobs. As for the outcome, the true glory of the Zandalari Empire awes although Queen Azshara and her Nagas are still largely comical with their endless (unsuccessful) schemes. I expect the latter to change, though, with the release of Patch 8.2. Finally, after so many years, we will have a true taste of the might of Azeroth’s most feared queen.
4. References! References Everywhere!
The first time I encountered a Zuldazar trash mob shouting “ZANDALAR FOREVER,” I chuckled for half a minute.
Thereafter, I couldn’t stop grinning when a certain terrified noble went “Not the bees! Nooooo!” (I also wondered whether Nicolas Cage would ever be forgiven for this cinematic atrocity)
Pop references have always been a staple of WoW, and I’m thrilled that this great tradition continues into Battle for Azeroth. It might seem a frivolous reason for playing a game, but don’t you agree Easter Eggs break the monotony of gear grinding like nothing else? It certainly provides for the most unexpected laughs too.
5. Expansion Music Is Epic
While it has never been terrible, I have never loved World of Warcraft music. Yes, there have been a couple of memorable tracks for me over the years, such as the Darkmoon Faire carousel tune and the Brewfest ditties. But do I have these tracks on my phone? No. Do I hum any of them when bored? No.
This changed with BfA. For the first time in 9 years, I stopped questing and just stood in the heart of Boralus to listen to the soaring soundtrack. After nearly a year of playing the expansion, I’m still doing that, with the majestic finales of the Freehold themes never failing to get me high. As inane as this might sound, these splendid compositions expel the tedium of leveling and daily questing; it’s like there’s always something to look forward to each time. And oh, in case you’re wondering, I love the Zuldazar tracks too. The use of historical Aztec instruments in these tracks imbues them with such a melancholic and mysterious quality.
6. Bashing Previous Enemies
I have no shame in admitting I love to revisit old content because I can bash old enemies with god-like powers. Doing so removes the challenge and purpose of the game, but there is just something so therapeutic about no longer having to bother about enemies that once frustrated you so badly. Think of it this way, it’s a get-back in the most gratifying way. There’s seriously nothing like taking down an Old God, with just three casual hits.
7. Refreshed Challenges
At the risk of contradicting what I wrote above, I wish to highlight replaying older content isn’t always easy, however incredible one’s leveled-up powers are. In the case of dungeon and raid achievements, much of the challenge stays. In fact, it often becomes even more difficult because you would likely be soloing. During these situations, the only real advantage you’d have on your side would be there is no fellow players to yell at you for failing. Personally, I enjoy these refreshed challenges tremendously. I see them as an update of previous expansion contents too.
8. The Magnificent Chaos of Boralus
Two years ago, when I first stepped into the Suramar, I was blown away by its ethereal beauty. Not only was the Nightborne stronghold full of wondrous locations and secrets, but it was also gorgeously rendered to resemble a Venetian city. As silly as it sounds, I went to bed several nights back then dreaming of someday living in such a fantastical city.
Suramar is now replaced in my dreams by the Kul Tiran capital of Boralus, a harbor city every bit as bustling and as thriving as Suramar is serene. Occupying a third of the massive Tiragarde Sound zone, the sprawling city is a spectacular joy to explore, with several distinctive zones and labyrinths of alleyways connecting them. In fact, so complex and intricate is Boralus, I’m still discovering new mini-locations or vendors after playing Battle for Azeroth for eight months. Needless to say, my fondness for the city is a major factor in me still playing the game every night.
9. A Living, Growing World
While strolling through Boralus, I encountered the following:
- A Pandaren selling tea and snacks.
- A Vrykul vendor telling me to return next week for she has run out of stock, again.
- Lightforged Draenei gathered beside their faction banner, looking ready to preach.
- A Tuskarr selling exotic cuisine from his northern homeland.
All are purely cosmetic in purpose. Whatever they sell is also completely useless at my level. In spite of these, I still smiled the first time I saw these characters. Why? Because all belong to races introduced in the expansions.
To put in another way, the very sight of these NPCs implies Azeroth i.e. the World of Warcraft is a growing and expanding world. It never stays stagnant; every now and then, there are even updates and makeovers for the oldest zones. To me, this is about the closest a cyber fantasy can come to feeling “real.” Maudlin as it is to say, I am proud to be part of this world. Proud as well to join in its growth.
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© 2019 Kuan Leong Yong