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This week, I installed World of Warcraft.

Possibly not my greatest idea ever, because I need extra bonus timesinks like I need a punctured skull, but having ditched Champions Online and not making it out of the Closed Beta of Star Trek Online before being bored with it, I thought I’d give WoW another try before they rewrote the beginning.

I did a 14 day trial of WoW in 2005, but nobody I knew at the time was playing it. I bought a boxed copy in 2006 and spent a while pottering around in it, not really getting very far:

2006-08-28: I’m trialing World Of Warcraft again. After the ease of teaming and working and… everything that City of Heroes gives you, I’m finding the idea of attempting to build an entire social interface for a game as big as WoW on a substandard IRC client hellish. “LFG L31 Pally F RFD” pops up in the chat window. LFG… looking for group, yes. L31 Pally? Oh, Paladin. I’m one of those. Not L31 yet… RFD? Real fucking donkeys? Ready for domination? Red Flowers Die? Alt-Tab GoogleGoogle Razorfen Downs. Right. Ignore that then…

One of the things I really like about City of Heroes is the effortless *multiplayer* bits. That is, you set a flag saying you’re looking for a team (Any team, or a missions team, or a “task force” (er, WoW players can see that as a Raid, I guess), but I logged into my account (mostly to check I still know the password), and it offered me a free trial of Burning Crusade, so I’ve spent a few hours over a couple of evenings levelling up my shiny new Blood Elf:

Mostly, though, I’m noticing how empty the world is.

It’s similar to the problem in LOTRO, but there are supposedly 11 million people playing this game (Although that number is now two years old, and breakdowns per country seem thin on the ground), but there is nobody in chat, and I see other players of anywhere near my level every few hours, and always running in the opposite direction.

Maybe its that Warcraft’s emphasis on pushing the world boundries out along with the level cap is bouncing against my being used to Heroes, where the emphasis is on either rerolling or – more recently – doing content on forks you didn’t take as “Flashback” stories, but the emptiness is kind of weird. Obviously, I need to rope in other people to level with at the same time, or something. Most of the people I know are doing the top-end raid content, though.

  1. You’re creating a character at the absolute lowest time ever for creating characters, which doesn’t help.

    Everyone’s anticipating a new expansion with entirely revamped levelling content Real Soon Now, which means no-one is rerolling and playing in the old world at the moment (we’re even past the bit where the revamp was announced and some people rerolled to see the old content before it disappears).

    If you want to try out the grouping stuff etc you should pop over to Darkmoon Faire and hook up with Limited Immunity – most of us have alts at a wide range of levels that we just gave up on along the way, so you should be able to get at least the rudiments of a group together.

  2. This long after the last expansion (and/or close to the next one), the only people in low-level areas will be people speed-levelling Yet Another Alt.

    I’ve been saying for a while that WoW would really suck as a game for new players at present. They’ve made changes so that you don’t really need groups to do the low-level stuff, but in that case you’re effectively playing a rather boring single-player game with built-in IRC.

  3. WoW now has an improved Looking For Group system, although honestly I have no idea how effective it is at lower levels. You shouldn’t have to rely on shouting out anymore.

    Totally know what you’re saying about the lower level world feeling empty though. Even on “Full” servers they’re very quiet outside of the 4 big cities 🙁

    Shame really as I loved the feeling of so many players being around during the initial landrush, and doubly so around the expansion launches.

  4. The WoW LFG system seems to work about as well in the 30-40 range as it does at top level, but all the waiting times are doubled. That is to say, you’ll spend as much time waiting for groups as you will playing in them, unless you’re a tank.

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