Blizzard has recently released their latest expansion for the World of Warcraft Series, Battle for Azeroth. It wasn’t long before online recommendations pointed me towards it. The trailers, available cut-scenes and information about the new content were enticing. However, I have always been apprehensive about signing up for WoW. As a frequent player of MMORPGs I have sampled various titles from Lord of the Rings to Dungeons and Dragons. I played them for about a month, grew tired and turned to something else. Naturally, I was worried I would end up in the same scenario with WoW. To investigate I decided to dedicate some time to the free trial to discover if I could justify spending about ten Great British Pounds a month on World of Warcraft.
When evaluating if a game is value for money then we have to consider the amount of content available, and whether it is engaging. Since its inception in 1994, WoW has grown considerably and currently boasts a total of seven expansions. This provides players with a strong arsenal of backstory and gameplay to explore. In an RPG this is an essential element because it allows new players fully immerse in the universe from its early releases like The Frozen Throne right up to the latest title. Furthermore, Blizzard has split the character creation into two distinct sides, with multiple races and classes. This not only deepens the amount of content and lore available, but also provides several different opportunities in which you can tackle the game.
Most entertainment is now packaged as a subscription service: Our music comes from Spotify; films and television from Netflix; even snacks and toiletries are sent through the post to save a trip to the supermarket. Why should gaming be any different? Of course, the real question is whether WoW is value for money. Taking a browse over the price of new releases you see an immediate price difference. Most recent titles come onto the market upwards of thirty pounds (assuming there is no additional downloadable content). If you find yourself enjoying the game you’ll receive an average of four days worth of game-play. On a purely financial comparison WoW comes in cheaper than buying a new game, whilst assuring that you are making your way through the kind of content that you already know you enjoy.
After three weeks of exploring the free trial I have found that the pleasure in WoW comes from the immersion. Overtime, you and your friends have explored the world of Azeroth, enveloped yourselves in its rich lore and developed your skills throughout each expansion. What Blizzard offers, in their most famous title, is a fantasy world that can be continuously explored and challenged. The addictive nature as well as the frequency of fresh content sells a monthly subscription, often making World of Warcraft cheaper and more rewarding than buying a new game once or twice a month.
I have been playing Hearthstone for about seven months. I first began the game about three years ago along with a neighbour. After I didn’t make much progress I gave up the title and moved onto other games. Now I’m back on the Blizzard card based game and bashing my way up the leader board. In the event that time travel ever becomes possible I’m leaving some hints to myself. Hopefully, they will encourage my past self to continue with the game instead of taking a hiatus.
Don’t Spend Money
The thing that put me off other Blizzard games like World of Warcraft was the heavy price tag. I couldn’t justify a monthly subscription on a student budget. Luckily, Hearthstone is free to play and you can progress within the game without having to spend a dragon’s hoard on gold or card packs.
I have spent some money on expansions. The cost has been under £20. I spent more on booster packs and recieved less in return. I would recommend saving your real life coins and grinding your way through the daily quests, staching away your crafting dust, and only spend real money on game expansions.
Learn from others
The main reason I originally gave up Hearthstone was the lack of progress. No matter how hard I tried or attempted to create original decks, I couldn’t get past rank 20 in competitive play. When I returned to the game I decided I needed advice. I scoured YouTube for tutorials, hunted the Web for deck builds and began to emulate the advice of others.
I settled on a cheap hunter deck and began to slowly climb the ranks. As my collection grew larger, I began deferring from the premade deck and suplimented some of the less useful cards with the better ones I was acquiring. Two months later I improved my rank by seven places. The game claimed I was in the top 20% of players. Now I have the resources I can start moving onto more intricate styles of play, which will give me a more competitive deck.
Progress from Persistent Play
As with everything else in life, you can only get better if you practice. You can’t expect to be top ten after two days of play. Winning will be a long journey and even the best players don’t have a 100% win rate. It’s impossible to never lose. Just keep trying. If you do win though, don’t be the guy who continues to play cards when you have kill on the board. It’s rude to the other player.
I have a terrible habit with video games of restarting half way through. I haven’t finished the main story line in Skyrim due to wanting to create a new character. Similarly, whenever I play Sid Meyer’s Civilization V I find myself starting a fresh game after an hour of playing. As soon as my capital city begins to approach glory my mind drifts to all the other empires I could be ruling and I’ve exited to the main menu to find a new great leader to role play.
My desire to want to be all available Civilizations means that after playing for five years I have only recently finished a game. Completing a game was partly hampered by my laptop’s processing limitations, which was solved by Steam offering a less intensive touch screen option. However, the technical barrier was far less of an inhibitor than my itch to restart. After defeating both problems I have finally succeeded at all victory conditions and am able to recommend CivV as one of my favourite games.
The appeal of CivV is largely in the level of choice available. You’re offered over twenty Civilizations to choose from, allowing you to pick your favourite current or historical faction. You can resurrect The Vikings or Bablyon and continue their journey into the modern world, defying the ruling of time. Most current countries are available as well. America can be made a scientific beacon for the world again and Trump doesn’t have to be President.
In order to win a game there are several options. Naturally, war is an option for those who want to rule the world with a sword or a nuclear bomb. You can be Genghis Khan and trample cities under a Monglian war horde but it affects the happiness of your population and is a large economic drain. If you’re like myself then and war isn’t always the way then you can win through Diplomacy, Culture or Science instead.
Ultimately, CivV is a unique offering among Turn Based Strategy games. There are a myriad of intriguing mechanics to be considered such as Religion, Tourism and voting in the United Nations. Civ has given me some of my fondest gaming memories and hardest won victories. It’s not every day you that you can launch India to the moon as President Ghandi or be voted Leader of the World whilst role playing the King of Sweden.