World of Warcraft: Is it worth it?

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.

Civ V My Favourite Sink Time

We all have our go to game. The title we fire up when we have an evening or afternoon spare and nothing but time to recline into. For me that game is Sid Myer’s Civilization V. But when I launch this turned based strategy title I lose the next two weeks to game-play. Looking over the Steam stats I have given over three hundred hours to perfecting the best Civilization and still cannot win above King difficulty.  What is it about this particular game that eats my weekends and leaves me avoiding evenings with friends? There’s two main reasons: it’s unique within its genre and the game is rich with choice.

At the start of the game you pick a nation or civilization to role play like the Celtic tribes, Germany, or the Mongol war hordes. Each country comes with unique buildings and perks to influence game play. You then develop your empire by settling more cities, working the local resources and researching technological advancements. But what separates Civ V from other turned based strategies is that  you don’t need to  conquer your neighbours in order to win the game.

Victory can be achieved in numerous ways. You could be a diplomat and be voted world leader by the united nations, wooing your opponents with a silver tongue and gold gifts. Alternatively, scientific and cultural domination are attainable by being the first nation to reach space or producing the most influential tourist capital by creating great works or art, writing and music. Of course the way of the sword, musket and nuclear bomb is still an option but just like reality it’s challenging because no empire in history has controlled every country.

Negotiating the path to winning is not simple. The game is filled with features that hinder or support your chances against the other nations. Creating, controlling and spreading a religion is highly competitive, just like the rush to build world wonders such as the Great Wall of China, Statue of Liberty or Kremlin. Then you have to worry about hordes of barbarians stealing your workers, sneak attacks from other countries, sustaining trade relations, picking the perfect social policies for your empire and trying to keep your people happy. The effort required to conquer in Civ V is colossal but rewarding and probably the reason sink so much time into the game.

I made a deal with myself. Once all the victory conditions  had been achieved and if my laptop could cope with the new tech I would treat myself to Civ VI. This goal was reached several months ago, and even though I tempt myself watching videos of the latest installment, I cannot take the plunge to update and  give up my favourite game. After four years I am still challenged by the title and have truly played the original sale price of thirty five pounds. If you want to lose the next few years of your life I would recommend you do the same.