I loaded up the World of Warcraft Burning Crusade 10-day trial the other night and found that, to my great surprise, my WoW characters were still available after over 3 years of inactivity.
I also discovered that I had no clue how to play my Hunter anymore. I didn’t know what all the buttons did on all the hotbars, and it took me an embarrassingly long time just to call my pet owl back (I had to find and turn on an option to display some extra hotbars, and the Call Pet action button magically appeared – God knows where I would have found it without the hotbar). Everything’s weird and unfamiliar.
Much has changed since I last played. My talent points were reset so I had to spend them all again, and I think there are a bunch of new Beast Mastery talents that weren’t there before. For example, there were references to something called “Aspect of the Dragonhawk” which I don’t remember seeing before. There was also a mysterious “Glyphs” page that I didn’t understand. And there are apparently new riding options that I can’t afford, and most puzzlingly I found some kind of penguin in my mailbox.
I was surprised at how (relatively) primitive the WoW graphics looked. (Graphics are considered primitive when I can max out the settings on my old P4 and still have good frame rates.) It’s more cartoony than I remember. I guess that goes to show that photorealistic graphics aren’t enough to make a hit game – it needs to have, you know, good gameplay.
There is one major benefit of the primitive graphics, however: WoW runs tolerably on a 1GB netbook, so I can run around killing mobs while watching 24. (The only other MMO I’ve found that runs on my netbook is DDO.)
I’ve also loaded up the Warhammer Online 10-day “re-enlistment” trial to see what WAR looks like these days. And I started downloading the Lord of the Rings Online free trial, too. I figure WoW, LotRO, AoC and WAR are the Big Four* of fantasy MMORPGs – well, more like the Big One and some others.
I wonder if my Asheron’s Call characters are still around somewhere? 🙂
* I don’t count EverQuest II because I never liked the original, and I don’t count Asian games like Final Fantasy, Lineage II and Vanguard because, well, they’re foreign. I also don’t count Aion because I hear it’s strongly PvP, but mainly because there’s no free trial.