Tuesday 7 March 2017

#184 Leeeeeeeeeeeeeroy!

A couple of weeks ago, I met up with my old housemate Rich for lunch as he was in "the Wharf" and I live... nearby. Geographically. Rich had always been a gamer and a retro one at that, which meant that I'd frequently come home to find him either headshotting enemy soldiers on an old version of Call of Duty or mastering a new melody on Link's Ocarina of Time. I was impressed that he still got enjoyment out of the classics and had donated my PS2 to the cause by giving it to him when he moved out, so he could carry on playing GTA San Andreas. His latest fascination was, unusually, a newer game, Pokemon Go, which he enjoyed telling me about.

I'd never been into Pokemon myself but I'd played my fair share of games. I'd pretty much abandoned consoles back in 2007 after getting my hands on a trial version of World of Warcraft, which I played until 2011, at which point I moved to the city and discovered other things like running and girls. Maybe it was time to pick it up again though. Afterall, if someone as level-headed and mature as Rich was playing Pokemon Go, I figured I jolly well ought to let myself have some gaming time too.

I suppose it would be appropriate to call Warcraft "Retro". It debuted in 2004 and hasn't since changed much to look at or to play. The subscriber base apparently reached around 12 million at its peak and is still close to a substantial 5 million. It seems like the creators, Blizzard, have somehow combined the populations of several servers so that the virtual world remains busy and thriving.

The latest three Warcraft expansions (Pandaria, Draenor and Legion) have a more structured, cartoon-like feel to them, with a greater emphasis on following a central story as opposed to mindlessly grinding (killing) creature after creature. Lots of bonus objectives have been thrown in as well, to make levelling faster. As a result, I was able to get my old level 80 character, Danc, up to level 110 inside 14 days of eat, sleep and play. 

Progressing through Warcraft fast enough to get through that many levels in a fortnight meant that my character outgrew his equipment almost as fast as he earned it, which meant that I sucked at most of the cooperative elements of the game and got kicked out of a few online groups but it allowed me to condense an immense amount of distraction from reality into just two weeks. By the end of the period, playing it almost seemed like a chore and I felt more than happy to lay the game to rest again, at least for another few years. Still, it was a nostalgic and enjoyable trip down memory lane, even if the lane wasn't a real one.


Running on empty said...

My teenager tells me pokemon go is over for the kids. That would explain why I no longer see people with their phone in their hand holding it like an old fashioned compass and proceeding forward with a look of concentration. They used to be everywhere in our town.

Profound Familiarity said...

Yeah there's definitely a lot less of it. Ah well, more to find for Rich I guess! (I've probably misunderstood how it works with that comment).