On being level 70

Early this year I wrote about my initial experiences with World of Warcraft. Since then I’ve been grinding away and recently I reached the Holy Grail of Level 70.

I didn’t track the hours spent reaching the top but I’ve read estimates of 250 hours and that seems about right from my experience.

My thoughts on World of Warcraft after surviving this far:

1. Like any good MMO, the quests are challenging enough to keep you grinding through the levels.

2. Solo play is surprisingly engaging, although I’m biased having played a Mage – I’d be interested in hearing the perspective of other classes.

3. The performance of the game is exemplary – the servers are up and running pretty much 100% of the time except for the scheduled weekly to fortnightly maintenance on a Tuesday. That service level has dropped recently with the latest patch and preparation for the Wrath of the Lich King expansion, but given the scope of the change it’s not unexpected.

4. I wish I’d got involved with battlegrounds much earlier on in the piece. They’re not only fun but I had totally failed to grasp the importance of honour points and am now playing a very large catch-up.

Unless you’re a WoW player yourself, this all may be a little boring, but I am actually working towards a point here. In the past decade, the time spent per game has increased incredibly. Some hardcore gamers I know would cover off a complete game in 10-30 hours. With the current MMOs, you’re looking at potentially hundreds of hours just to level up. Since hitting Level 70, I’ve spent roughly another 150 hours in WoW. Thanks to the recent achievements system implementation, I know that I’ve achieved 69 out of a possible 750 achievement points. This means I could easily spend another couple of thousand hours before the expansion arrives in a couple of weeks. You don’t need me to tell you that’s a lot of time.

It’s time that has to come at the expense of other activities, whether they be other recreational pursuits, time with family and friends, sleep or work. The obvious response to this is – “well you don’t need to achieve everything” – and that’s true. However, the intrinsic structure of most MMOs works toward the opposite. The WoW achievement system is a classic example – it directly motivates players to do quests they otherwise may not have done. Is that a problem? I think in a minority of cases it is.

That said, I was certainly chuffed to reach level 70 and when I pick up the expansion pack I’ll happily work toward level 80. The recent addition of a Barber Shop for avatar facial customisation was a godsend given I kept the bog standard face when I first registered. Now if only I could buy land…

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