So I’m sure nobody here will be surprised to learn that I’m a recovering World of Warcraft addict. I played that god damned game right from launch up until the Cataclysm expansion came out, and it was only then that I realized that my raiding days were behind me. Still, I occasionally get the MMO itch from time to time, but I haven’t found anything that’s replaced that old feeling – and considering the time sink that game used to be, it’s probably a good thing.
Not that my time on WoW was wasted – in fact, quite the opposite. I’ve met people through the game that have become friends for life, not to mention the fact that WoW led to me meeting my fiancée as well (November 11th, by the way; we put the deposit down on the venue this week!). Not only that, but the amount of enjoyment that both me and my fiancée have gotten from playing together and with our friends has been immense.
It’s just that the game has changed so much since its early days that it’s simply not really as fun as it used to be. On top of that, I did the hardcore raiding thing right from vanilla WoW through the first two expansions, and between either main tanking or raid leading from Molten Core and Karazhan up through 10-man Lich King, I’m ready to hang up my shield and just relax.
I thought maybe keeping up my WoW subscription for the social aspect would be a viable option, but it’s hard to justify $15 a month when Facebook is free – especially when you’re saving money for a wedding. I was sorely tempted to do that Annual Pass thing, where you sign a 1-year contract for WoW and get a free copy of Diablo III when it comes out, but getting a $60 game for free when you’re contractually obligated to buy $180 worth of WoW seems stupid to me – you can just not play WoW for four months and save up for the cost of the new game.
Then, there’s the newly announced expansion,
Kung Fu Panda Online Mists of Pandaria. I hear there’s an actual shark you can jump in the pandaren starting area.
No, if I was going to pick up a new-gen game, it’s going to have to be something other than WoW. I was toying with buying Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning, based on enjoying the demo, but I wanted something I could play online with other people – and maybe something my fiancée and I could play together. I had tried a few free-to-play MMOs out there, but they were absolutely godawful (I’m looking at you, Star Trek Online), and other paid subscription MMOs like EVE Online, while coming highly recommended and are quite awesome looking, are kind of not an option – not if I’m going to be shelling out $15 a month again, or $30 for me and my fiancée.
Then, a friend of mine told me to check out Guild Wars 2. I scoffed. “No way,” I said. “That’s all PVP, right? I’d rather get raped by a clown.” No, it’s got full PvE play. “Well, it’s probably all grindy button-pushing, right? Stand in one place and hit the mob until it dies?” No, there’s action elements where you can use your playing skill instead of just relying on the random number generator. “Well okay, but so I’ll have to tank again, right?” Actually, the tank-dps-healer paradigm is gone in this, every class has a self-heal and you can take on mobs of significantly higher levels by dodging their attacks instead of having to have heals spammed on you. “Okay, so it sounds kinda cool, but I can’t afford another sub-” It’s free to play, you idiot, just buy the game when it comes out.
I groaned. “Free to play” usually means “fucking awful shit” or “pay to win.” Here you go, here’s a free game! But if you want to get past level 20, or if you want the best gear, or if you want to have access to this character class, that’ll be $5 here, $10 there, $15 here. Fucking microtransactions, it’s like one of those goddamn Zynga Facebook games where you either have to buy shit in-game with real cash or by spamming your entire friends list with inane and annoying game requests.
Apparently GW2 isn’t going to be like that. You can earn gold in-game that you can actually exchange for gems, the currency used for real money transactions. And you can also buy gems with cash and then either buy cosmetic items that don’t alter gameplay or convert these gems into gold, eliminating third-party companies like the infamous Chinese Gold Farmer.
“Well slap my ass and call me Susan,” I said. “This game sounds pretty damn cool. So let me guess – the downside is that it looks like something that came out of a cat’s asshole, right?”
Wrong again. Check it out, my friend said, linking me to the site:
“All right, all right, I’ll look into it. Maybe it’ll be cool.”
My birthday’s coming up next month – and pre-purchases start on April 10. Maybe I’ll toss a few bucks at it and see if it’s any good. Even if I don’t end up playing it for years and years, with no monthly subscription it’s no worse than buying a single-player game; at least I’ll get a built-in chat room.
Oh yeah, and player housing. Fuck you, Blizzard.