World of Warcraft Preview

Eschalon: Book II

Publisher:Blizzard Entertainment
Developer:Blizzard Entertainment
Release Date:2004-11-23
Genre:
  • Massively Multiplayer,Role-Playing
Platforms: Theme: Perspective:
  • First-Person,Third-Person
Buy this Game: Amazon ebay
Beta Phase 1 & 2 Impressions

A brand new season is upon the World of Warcraft beta and it's full of surprising changes, inevitably some of them controversial. With the recent push named "phase 2" ushered in last week, it's fair to say World of Warcraft plays differently than it did the week before. I'm going to discuss the new features, compare them with the old, and give all gamers an overview of how the game plays in its current state, positive and negative. I've played nearly every class through at least level 8 (and a few of them quite a bit more - except the Hunter who of course is currently absent), so have a good feel for the game, its terrain diversity, travel, trade skills, trading, questing, grouping, and much of WoW's appeal.

On Travel and Death

Last phase, while playing my level 7 Night Elf Warrior (who eventually made it to level 15), I decided I was going to live dangerously and travel across the ocean as a relative "newb" to the human stronghold, as I had already finished a number of quests on the Night Elves' beautiful home turf Teldrassil and wanted to see what Blizzard was capable of in terms of terrain diversity. On an aside for those of you who don't yet know, part of the fun of World of Warcraft will be traveling via Wyvern, Gryphon, Bat, Boat or Zeppelin flight, but to do that you first need to "discover" a new flight path by talking with the new area's travel master. This essentially makes "hoofing it" your only mode of travel until you discover a new area, at which point you can then use the fast transport... for a small fee. And is it ever worth it. As the Gryphon movie Blizzard made public and a few screenshots here shows, you literally hop on the back of one of the beasts and take off. It doesn't simply load the new zone, but instead you'll fly over every type of terrain imaginable in real time to get to your destination. It's simply beautiful and worthy of many a screenshot.

On the lengthy trip from Teldrassil in the northeastern part of the world to Azeroth in the southwest, my level 7 Night Elf first journeyed to the spacious and lavish stronghold of Darnassus, and teleported from there to Darkshore on Kalimdor, which is a level 10-20 area. Then I took a not-yet-implemented "boat" across the vast ocean to a high level area on the western shores of Khaz Modan, and promptly got killed not far from the town by a level 20+ mob. What to do? Asking around, I discovered that the only way I was going to make it anywhere at my level was to travel in Ghost Form.

The way death worked in Phase 1, if in Ghost Form you find a spirit healer in a town's graveyard and become resurrected back to life for the xp loss, you actually come back to life at that current position. So essentially this could be exploited to travel safely in Ghost Form, simply take the xp loss wherever you wish to come back to life, and you'll have "discovered" a new area. Not so dangerous, and not the way it now works. If in Ghost Form you now ask a spirit healer to resurrect you, you reappear at the graveyard you first appeared in when you died. No more exploit, but it was good for seeing new things last phase.

So after retrieving my corpse for no exp loss, I gratefully ran into the closest level 20 mob (short for moving object... or more simply, monster) in the deep bay, and was resurrected in Ghost Form at the nearest "graveyard", which is simply an area close to town with a monolithic shrine and a "spirit healer" who can see you and resurrect you back to life at the shrine for a moderate xp loss. In Ghost Form, you become ethereally transparent, run about twice as fast, and cannot see other creatures including players not also in Ghost Form. So now I had fast transportation but had a VERY long swim ahead of me according to other players. They were right. It took about 30 minutes of literal swimming time while hugging the coast, to reach the shores of Westfall in Azeroth. From there I ghost-ran to the human city of Stormwind and was resurrected by the spirit healer there for a measly 650xp or so; easily worth it.