Tuesday, January 26, 2021

Dancing By The pool

Here's a little thing I forgot about World of Warcraft's free trial (aka Starter Edition): if you don't pay, you don't get to use the mail.

In a game with no shared bank facilities, where the normal means of passing items from one character to another on the same account is by posting them, that seems a little harsh. You'd have thought they might restrict mail to just your own characters. What harm could that do?

I found out the hard way when I logged my new Vulpera Hunter into Orgrimmar last night. Attentive readers may remember I'd prepped for the cancellation of my subscription by making several new characters and sending them thirty-slot bags and pocket money. 

It wasn't until I went to open my inventory that I remembered something. When I'd made the new fox I'd sent her the stuff but she'd never gotten around to taking it out of the mailbox. And now she can't. Bummer.

That was why I ended up playing my new Goblin Warlock instead. It was touch and go whether she'd have bags and gold either. I remembered that I had logged her in but I also recalled running around Kezan for so long, searching without success for the bank, that I'd given up and logged her out back where she'd started. 

I thought I'd better check whether she was in the same predicament. Luckily it turned out she'd at least collected her mail before leaving. Since she was out I thought I might as well play her. 

So I did. And it was fun. A lot of fun. Back in 2013 I described the Goblin starting zone as "a fascinating place... genuinely laugh-out-loud funny" and I see no reason to alter my opinion. I'm not absolutely sure I've played through all of WoW's starting zones but of all the ones I can remember Kezan is by far the most entertaining. 

In that post I also wrote "had I known I was going to be expelled from it so abruptly and terminally at around level five I would have taken a lot more trouble to explore it in depth", something I found myself thinking again last night. I did manage to spend a little more time poking around under the elevated highways, down in the slums where the poor folk live but I still think I need to make another goblin and go poke around some more. 

Here's the thing about WoW. It applies to a lot of mmorpgs, come to think of it. A huge amount of work goes into the starting zones and the character, personality and culture of the races that live in them. And then most of that work is just thrown away.

About the only races that seem to retain some measure of consistency are the ones designed as comic relief. Gnomes, goblins and talking rats, usually. (The Asura in Guild Wars 2 are a bizarre hybrid of all three). They're the short ones who speak funny and make ridiculous machines that frequently blow up in their faces. That seems to be a joke that never grows old for developers. 

All the other races, no matter how different they start out, tend to clump up into one heroic (or villainous) blur as they diasporate around the world. (Yeah, that's not a word. Just go with it).

I'd very happily play a version of WoW that focused most of its attention on the goblins and their culture. It's plain to see from the brief time we get to spend in Kezan that there would be no shortage of material. There's enough conniving and backstabbing and plotting to fill dozens of storylines. You don't need external threats with a culture like theirs. 

Except this is heroic fantasy so the external threat to end all external threats turns up before you make level five. Nothing like a dragon attack to put some fire under you. Then a volcano goes off and the island sinks so that's the end of that.

It's all go but I'm not sure any of it tops the quest where you cruise around town in a convertible, picking up your crew to go party. Seriously, that's the game I want to play. I want to get to know my guys, hear their back stories, blag our way into parties and onto private yachts, make it on the scene. 

In the short time before the volcano erupted I got to drive a car, win a footbomb match, dance by the pool and get dressed up fit for a red carpet premiere. Not to mention rob a bank and blow up my own house. Nothing's going to match that. It's all downhill from there. 

I ended up comatose on a raft with nothing left but my good name. In a place that eerily reminded me of the new starting zone, Exile's Reach. Remember that first quest there, where the Murlocs have stolen a bunch of stuff and you have to go get it back? Well this is like that, only instead of Murlocs, it's monkeys.

Levels zip by all too fast in the free lane. My goblin was already level seven when I left her, sitting at the top of some stairs, staring out across the waves to where her homeland used to be. She'll be level ten by the time she gets to Orgrimmar and her life will be half-way over. 

I just hope she can find the bank.


  1. If you need someone to shuttle items for you, let me know. Always happy to create my gajillionth alt!

    1. Thanks for the kind offer - it's appreciated but as far as I can tell from the FAQ, free accounts can't do direct trades either. They very much don't want the free trial to help facilitate in any conceivable way.

    2. That is pretty restrictive! I have had my main account since beta and do not dare let it lapse for fear they will send out a 20-year statue, like they did at 10-years. It makes no sense financially, but I still play enough to make it worthwhile. Enjoy your goblin!


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