|Release: December 07, 2010|
|Screen Resolution: N/A|
Over the course of my review and the first few installments of this column, I've taken a look at what World of Warcraft: Cataclysm has to offer a total outsider. On the whole, I've found the game highly enjoyable, with a huge land to explore, countless abilities to develop, character customization galore, fun multiplayer modes, and a unique sense of humor.
But this week, I faced an important decision. My thirty-day trial had expired, and my character was developed enough that each additional level was taking hours to earn. I had to choose: Was World of Warcraft, like any other game, something I could abandon after a few weeks? Or should I buckle down, make it a regular part of my life, and try to reach endgame?
I decided to cancel the subscription. Here are seven reasons why.
1. I like variety too much.
This was really the big one. I play video games because they let me be whomever I want -- a space marine killing demons, an ancient adventurer slaying dragons, a commander on a battlefield, a race-car driver, a nerd with a lightsaber, an assassin with mad parkour skills in 15th-century Rome.
It's just not possible to play World of Warcraft seriously and make time for all the other games you love, at least not if you have other commitments (a marriage, a full-time job, and a cat, in my case). Unless you master WoW's mechanics and exploit them, the final levels take forever: Kotaku's Mike Fahey claims that before Cataclysm's release, he spent a week trying to get a character from 72 to 80. He only made it halfway, and with Cataclysm, the level cap has been raised to 85.
Do you really want to spend weeks at a time on a single game? Will you miss your other games, and will it interfere with your work or family? Think about these questions hard, because . . .
2. It really is addictive.
Obviously, World of Warcraft failed to pull me in completely; that's why I was able to cancel the subscription. But I did get caught up in it at times, and MMO addiction is no joke. In fact, MMO developers use some of the same psychological tricks that casinos do.
It's not just the lazy or excessively nerdy who find their lives being swallowed by MMOs. A few years ago in Time, Ta-Nehisi Coates -- a successful journalist who works for The Atlantic now -- wrote that he quit WoW temporarily so he wouldn't have "any illusions about which of my two lives were more important." Kotaku's Fahey faced severe consequences for his addiction, including a repossessed car and a lost job; he even passed up sex to get his EverQuest character to level 40.
3. If you don't play very much, it's expensive.
A WoW subscription costs $13-15 per month (depending on how many months you buy at a time). If you're an addict, that's a steal, given how many hours you'll put in. But if you just want to mess around every now and then, like I would, that's a bit steep.
4. The quests get repetitive.
As I mentioned in an earlier column, the addictive aspects of WoW can overshadow how repetitive it is. When you're being offered enough EXP that you can level up quickly, you don't really care that many of the quests are exactly the same (kill a few of this type of enemy, fetch this item, slay this boss), because you just want to get to the next level. However, when an hour or more goes by without the reward of a new level, the game starts to feel like a slog.