Trying to Avoid WoW... and Failing


I, like about 8 or so million other people worldwide, have a fever . And the only cure is more World of Warcraft , or so I thought.

For a long time, I was one of the devout -- the addicted, if you will. I distinctly remember buying the game on its November 23, 2004 release date, and logging into (or at least, trying to) the packed, day-one servers. It took me about half an hour to decide on my first character choice , a painful decision that most fans of the genre can surely attest to. Picking a class that matches one's playing style can be an agonizing experience at first, and the last thing I wanted to do was get stuck playing through the game's "newb zones" ad nauseum .

Drakh the mighty human Paladin was born shortly in the evening of the 23rd on the PvP-friendly realm of Kil'Jaeden . And for the most part, life was grand. As I tended to keep odd and/or busy hours in college, I found that playing as a Paladin allowed me to solo a lot of the game's non-party-necessary content , and when I needed to rely on others, I made for a half-decent healer.

Paladins, for the uninitiated , are the half-healing/half-tanks of the game -- you can absorb a good deal of damage and hold out for a decent bit of time against most enemies, provided you make good use of your fancy little abilities. And while they do heal, they're hardly as effective as the game's Priest class. Then again, healing priests can't really do that much attacking damage , et cetera. Balance, balance, balance.

Anyway, as I mentioned, life in the virtual world was pretty grand. Little Drakh made it through his baby years with not much trouble, and chugged all the way to a mighty level 47 before he felt like busting Horde heads instead of an endless barrage of computer-controlled critters . Alas, this was to be my undoing, as I quickly learned a tragic fact of Paladin Life while on the PvP battlegrounds: they suck. Or, rather, their hybrid nature makes it tough to be a truly effective killing machine when compared to the other classes. Sure, you can heal... a little. Or you can stun enemies... once every five minutes. Or you can whack them with your hammer... which does hardly as much damage as a few Rogue backstabs, et cetera. In short, I found that they were too "jack of all trades" for my liking, which in my MMORPG mindset, is a character's death sentence.

About a week after he began PvPing, Drakh was no more; that version, at least. For in his place came Drakh #2 -- same name, mind you, but different character. While I'm normally inclined to magic-tossing classes in most RPGs I play, I felt like being totally different this time around, as WoW fatigue was starting to slightly set in and I needed something fresh to keep me entertained. Hence Drakh the Rogue -- a stealthy assassin that made me cackle with glee every time I stumbled across some poor horde Mage soloing in the wild. Easy meat.

I took that guy all the way to 60, but since no guild ever needs rogues, I was only able to burn through the " typical " endgame content . Alas, 40-man raids were not going to be in my future. It was frustrating, and my general feelings of cyber-inadequacy were compounded by my increasingly busy school schedule. And social life, or lack thereof; it's hard to go out when you're running one instance a night. I ended up quitting WoW in early 2006, as the endgame simply required more time than I had available to contribute. And if I wasn't playing 25+ hours a week, why bother paying $15 a month just for the occasional Battlegrounds visit?

Ever since WoW's expansion came out, I've been fighting the urge to jump back into the game again. The thought of new content -- flying mounts?! -- is just too tempting. Too tempting. And I must confess, the (far-away) dream of going toe-to-toe with Illidan is simply too awesome to pass up. And new battlegrounds? And world PvP? Hmm.

I still worry that the game hasn't changed much since I last left it: that endgame content is still dominated by the power guilds who aren't LFM, that certain classes are virtually worthless in said endgame, and that, as before, I'll have to give up my crazy Californian social life just to experience all the joys of a... virtual... world. And we know how I feel about that . And this is going to sound purely selfish, but part of me still can't get over the selling-of-all-the-items, delete-the-character experience from when I quit. Yes, I know, I should have just kept him going on Blizzard's servers. I'm a damn fool, but I was also assuming that I'd never, never, never jump into Azeroth ever again. Might as well play nice, sell the stuff, and donate it to the guild bank, right?

I feel like I'm in a bit of a lull right now, games-wise. Aside from the week or so I spent beating C&C3, there just isn't really anything out there right now that I'm dead-set on playing. Yes, there's always Guitar Hero , but one's wrist can only take so much daily punishment. Jumping into WoW might be the best possible decision for me right now, but it's a tough decision -- playing an MMO tends to sap one's time (and interest) for playing other games, depending on your level of obsession. I just worry that I'll get hooked again and have very little to show for it a year down the line, save for another deleted account.

Is WoW the ticket, or should I look elsewhere for my multiplayer gaming fix? I suppose I could always wait for Warhammer ...

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