January 6, 2005: World Of WarcraftBlizzard has managed an MMORPG that's cool. You want it.
To begin with: It's pretty.
Try walking into the Temple of the Moon for the first time, and up above your head a marble statue pours glittering water down into the pool below, while butterflies flit about on the green grass growing all around. Or walk down the entrance to the main human city, with towering statues of the great heroes on either side . . . and then inside the city, a schoolteacher leads children on a tour, giving a little lecture on what happens in this place and Billy stop poking Sally. Take a gryphon ride from one city to another, and see it all from the air.
The class system is fairly standard; choose a class, go up in levels. But each level gives you choices, and even ways to unlearn things you change your mind about, so that three different rogues can be as entirely different as a warlock from a hunter. And while professions are nothing new, there's a certain glee to be found in finally catching that special fish that you can hold in your hand to show off to everyone else, or skinning a critter you just killed and making armor out of it. (Let's not even go into buying, finding, and otherwise acquiring recipes so that you can make everything from spider-kabobs to wolf stew.) Quests give NPCs personality, develop the background of the setting, and are so involving (and useful in terms of XP and loot) you'll never find yourself stuck slaughtering endless monsters for lack of something better to do. It does nothing entirely new, but everything well.
The game is full of fun details and quirks. A progressively drunker character will see monsters as being progressively lower level than they really are. ("Sure, I can take that harpy! It's only level" *splat*) Emotes (not all of them documented) let you tell jokes, point, yawn, and . . . dance. Night elf females do a seductive little shimmy; human women do the macarena. Dwarves do a Russian dance involving squatting and kicking. There are even specific servers set aside for people who want to seriously roleplay.
And eventually you can ride around on a giant lizard. Or tiger. Or . . . well, I'm not quite sure how to describe what Tauren ride, but it's really, really big. Go read about the game yourself, and give it a try.
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