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Beta: Wrath of the Lich King – Initial Reaction

September 12th, 2008 by Derrick Schommer · No Comments

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The long awaited Wrath of the Lich King is here! By long awaited, really, I mean, I waited a long time to get patch after patch of the next expansion to Blizzards best of MMORPG. Although I don’t know the architecture to creating the patches, it seems so dated in methodology. Why must I download 5GB of patches when one can just supply me with an option to pull everything.

The initial download was roughly 1.8GB for what I assume would be “the DVD” you’d be buying in the store. Once I install that baseline it requires another roughly 1.2GB “update” before you can launch the application. Once you launch the WoW executable it must download another 500MB or so of patch data followed by another 100MB of patch data followed by another 500MB of patch data. Then, and only then, can you login and start playing!

My first option was to use the character I transferred over from Scarlet Crusade and jump into the world. Wishfully thinking, I also migrated over my addons to see what would work. After receiving more errors than I can explain I logged out and disabled all the addons. We’ll wait on those.

Within seconds I noticed the date in the top corner, it seems WoW has evolved over the years from a black vortex of time suckage to something a bit more user friendly. An older patch included a clock on the map so you know how many hours you’ve got before the sunrises, allowing you to sneak in a few hours of sleep before work. Now, they’ve included a calendar so you will know just how many days you’ve been up without food or drink. I kid.

The calendar allows you to schedule events, see future game events and pretty much “Microsoft Exchange” the world of Azeroth. To the average gamer this may not seem like a huge feature change, but this will assist Raid Guilds and those with the organization skills of an amoeba, people like myself. Very classy advancement and shows the growth of the MMO industry to something more than just a casual game environment with hardcore addictive qualities.

Within moments I logged out and created a new, more appropriate, character for the Wrath of the Lich King beta – a Death Knight. I chose an Orc, to get back to the roots of the game environment given the original game was all about Orcs and Humans. To me, a Death Knight is a symbol of pain and destruction which is what many fantasy novels have also prototyped the Orc after, although in weaker frame and power.

My little Knight arrived fresh at level 55 with roughly 20 silver and absolutely no weapons. He was as close to a Noob as possible. It would be my quest to build a better weapon than my hands and, suffering through some nasty lag, I slowly clicked my way to the man with the “?” to grab my first quest.

I awaited the dialog box to appear, listening to others complaining and logging out because the lag was “awful.” I stuck it out because, well, I’ve never played before and I wanted to see what this beta was going to be about… and, it’s a beta…  don’t expect perfection. Within moments I had my first rune forging experience where I was given a sword the size of a blood elf and the ability to emblazon it with a rune to give it additional power.

Initially you’ve got two rune “recipes” to chose from: Cinderglacier or Razorice. While Razorice is more of a melee offering (giving you extra ice damage upon hit on ocassion), Cinderglacier assists your magical spell damage. I quickly chose Cinderglacier and emblazoned my weapon with its awesome power, allowing the weapon to glow like no enchant I’ve seen in the standard World of Warcraft game offerings.

The runes on the sword will definitely impress MMORPG gamers as many people love the “cool factor” when it comes to glowy enchantments. You don’t have to grind to a high level of enchantment to get these glowy effects and they’re sure to get cooler as you advance; I’ve only got two runes to emblazen upon my weapon. The item actually drips with magical essence making for a more eerie destructive look and feel.

The initial quests are just enough to get you started with your career as a Death Knight. I’m currently roaming around Acherus The Ebon Hold looking at all the NPC’s, environments and crazy people with glowing weapons. This chick has yet to fly the coop of its Ebon haven but has already seen many subtle differences in the next edition of World of Warcraft.

You’ll find a few common items such as the Lead Vials, Shot and a few other materials and weapons have new artwork that’s a bit crisper and slightly more detailed and polished, is this part of the rumored “graphical update” we’ll see in future expansions?

Now, I must do a few missions for the Lich King and head out on some quests. I’m sure there is more to come!

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Tags: Blizzard · Editorial · Preview · world of warcraft

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