There’s been a pre-launch stress test open now until Monday, so I levelled a test character:
I got to the red mohawk in char creation, and somehow flashed back to Return of the Killer Tomatoes and named him FuzzyTomato, which would’ve been an almost topical joke back in 2004.
And it’s been fantastic. The game is moderately hard and grindy, but rewards caution, good play, cooperation with other players, gearing up, and resource management.
- FOR THE HORDE!: Thrall is still in charge, and all is right in the world.
- Challenging gameplay: I’m Level 14 now, just soloed Skull Cave which is meant for a group at 10-12. Fighting more than one mob of equal level at a time is dangerous. Some players have hit the level cap of 15 and are doing dungeons, I’m likely to try that tomorrow.
- Resource management: As a rogue, I go thru a huge number of throwing daggers, and now carry 2-4 stacks at the start of a run. Food is a little better since I can fish and cook, but until I got Strider Stew I had no reliable source of buff food. Hunters need arrows and food for their pets. Warlocks need a huge space for soul shards. Mages need reagents for many spells. Bags are rare, small, and expensive. I have: one 8-slot bag, three 6-slot pouches, and the 16-slot backpack. That’s it. The biggest bags you can buy are 12-slot, I think, and after that it’s very high-level crafting. I’m often dumping low-value loot at the end of a run.
- Shopping: NPC vendors have varied items, unlike most modern games, so it’s useful to check anyone you pass. Never know when they’ll have an obscure recipe, a healing potion (SUPER vital for dealing with bosses), or a green item. And then there’s the Auction House. Even on a limited-time stress test, there’s good sales going.
- Game runs fantastic at high graphics settings (on iMac 5K I set 50% render scaling, and then cranked everything to 7 or 8)
- Quests are text-based, not spoken, and don’t mark your map, you have to read the instructions and figure it out. Sometimes that’s not super clear, but usually they say what you need to do. Quest markers don’t show up on your map, turn-ins are just a little dot. The default setting has very slow quest text drawing, but that can be turned off in settings.
- Classic models are blocky and bend weird, like an N64 game rezzed up. You can enable “retail” models, but they looked really out of place in old terrain and buildings.
- Competition for bosses and some quest mobs can be extremely heavy, and it might be better to skip some quests than try queueing for it; I’m not exaggerating, some bosses there’s literal lines of a dozen 5-person groups waiting for a chance to hit a boss.
- Run speed is abysmally slow, the world is huge and often vast empty spaces. You don’t get riding until Level 40, and it takes 100 gold, which you likely won’t have. Every 5 minutes I get to hit a Run Faster for 15 Seconds button on my Rogue, and it just reminds me how annoying normal speed is.
- Don’t think you can just use Wind Riders, either. There’s a single one in the starting zone, in Orgrimmar; Sen’jin Village and Razor Hill don’t have one. There’s three in Barrens, but it’s a long ways to pick them up. The zeppelins and ships have limited routes, Undercity to Orgrimmar, Orgrimmar to Grom’Gol, Ratchet to Booty Bay. Note no Thunder Bluff zeppelin. Walking to Mulgore and up is a long long hike.
- Guilds don’t have banks or perks. They’re just chat rooms. And since mail takes an HOUR to deliver, doing trades requires meeting in person or long waits.
- Alliance is still terrible, by all accounts; I haven’t bothered to make a char there but if you were bothered by fantasy Nazis in 2004, wait until it’s real Nazis in 2019.
- Everything is exhaustively documented on Thotbot, er, WowHead Classic. #nochanges means no surprises, but also the wiki is correct.
- Many players are dedicated to recreating just how stupid Barrens chat was in 2004. Briefly funny, hopefully dies down a bit in the real launch?
If you’re at all interested, it’s worth getting a 1-month subscription, installing and playing this stress test, and see if you like anything.
- Live name reservation & character creation is Monday, Aug 12: I don’t know which server I’ll be on yet, I’ll update this when I do. PVE, Pacific, but Atiesh or Myzrael, who knows.