The Infinite Zenith

Victory costs. Every time, you pay a little more.

Introduction and basics

World of Warcraft, often referred to as WoW, is a massively multiplayer online role-playing game (MMORPG) by Blizzard Entertainment. As with other MMORPGs, players control a character avatar within a game world in third person view (with the option of playing in first person), exploring the landscape, fighting various monsters, completing quests, and interacting with NPCs or other players.

Personal Opinion

World of Warcraft is perhaps one of the most well-known MMOs out there, and with nearly 11.5 million players, its hard to argue with it. The game's social interactions are incredible: there's nothing quite like joining a party and storming your way through a dungeon somewhere. Questing is the more solo aspect of the game, although when I was levelling, I had a friend along to prevent me from dying. Unlike Ragnarok Online, the gameplay is more advanced and incorperates a large range of features (professions and talents, to name a few). However, the game is fairly time consuming, requiring a fair bit of investment to enjoy fully. I've since quit WoW, leaving behind a level 80 mage, warlock, priest and paladin.

  • Andhriminr is my warlock: after the mage, the warlock was my next preferred class, owing to the benefits associated with demonolgy (i.e. sending my voidwalker to do all the work and casually assisting him in the background). The UI in WoW is far different than the one in RO: it unifies all of the controls in the bottom of the screen, and has many sub-menus and floating menus located within. While a bit overwhelming at first, it is quite intuitive and thus, fairly simple to use with time.

The game of World of Warcraft, or WoW, is set in a Azeroth and later extending to a further world called Outland. On November 14, 2008, Northrend, the frigid cap of Azeroth, was added. In it, players design a character to play based on a number of starting options, such as the race of character and its type or class. Gameplay primarily consists of completing quests and dungeon runs, and other in-game activities, in order to obtain rewards which will allow one to improve one's character and equipment in order to be able to complete the more difficult quests and dungeon runs. Players can also participate in player versus player combat, either in large groups or small team matches.

  • A group shot of the party I was with right from the beginning. From left to right and back to front, Lazychubb (Rogue), Odin (Mage), Bill (Mage), Dunlar (Shaman), Iino (Druid) and one other member I can't quite remember the name of.

  • Iino and I explore the furthest reaches of Azeroth: a floating city that can only be reached by the stairway to the skies. This place doesn't exist on any other servers, but was quite fun to explore. I accidentally fell off and managed to save myself using the Slow Fall Technique.

  • Stormwind City is the city I visited most as a gnome mage: when I was around level 6, I met up with Bill and Iino, who decided that I would be closer to a mage trainer in Goldshire. I arrived in Goldshire during a rainstorm, and went to the Inn to learn my first new mage spells.

  • Winter sunset at the Stonewrought Dam, I revisted this place after I reached level 70 for old times' sake, and to be honest, this is one of the best places to watch a sunset.

Depending on the faction and race chosen, a player then has ten character classes to choose from. The mechanics of each class vary, with some tending towards melee combat while others are more suited to attacking from range. Other classes have the ability to heal themselves and other characters, while a few are hybrids - able to perform multiple roles. Currently available classes are Druids, Hunters, Mages, Paladins, Priests, Rogues, Shamans, Warlocks, Warriors, and Death Knights. Death Knights are a hero class, which means the player needs a level 55 (at least) character and they are generally more powerful. While a character can be played on its own, players can also group up with others in order to tackle more challenging content. In this way, character classes are used in specific roles within a group Players are also able to customize their character through the use of talents, which are further abilities related to their character class.

  • Sakaki wielding Thunderfury, Blessed Blade of the Windseeker. This sword is the final reward of a challenging and very expensive quest line, and has an unusual effect on occasion when you strike an enemy (causes nature damage and spawns a little tornado). It's also one of the largest swords in the game, appearing to pass into the ground wherever you go.

  • Remember that larger mobs are not necessarily stronger than smaller mobs, unless we're talking about bosses. Sakaki is a paladin, and my first attempt at a melee character. A melee character deals most of his/her damage with a weapon, can use mail and plate armour, and uses skills to bolster attack power; this is a far cry from casters, who damage using spells and can only use cloth armour.

  • This is the Azuremyst Isle, one of the few places I had not explored extensively. I was able to find the time recently, and subsequently hiked around the starting place for the Draenai. The light-violet sky and evergreen trees make this one of the more exotic locales on Azeroth.

  • Stormwind Cathedral, where priests and paladins go to learn new skills and spells. It's normally quite busy, but quiets down once evening rolls around.

Characters are also able to learn two primary professions from a list of ten. These can be gathering professions, such as mining, herb gathering, or animal skinning. Characters can also choose from crafting professions, such as armour crafting, weapon crafting, or enhancement professions such as enchanting or inscription. Professions are not directly linked to a character's class (e.g., Warriors can be alchemists, Mages can be animal skinners, etc.). However, some skills available to certain classes (e.g., the ability to track animals) are useful to certain professions. Characters can also learn secondary professions, such as cooking, fishing and first aid. In the Burning Crusade expansion, profession specialisations were added, allowing a character to gain new restricted techniques.

  • Belldandy casts heal on herself following a quest. One of the novelties of playing a priest was the fact that I was able to keep myself alive longer during longer and more challenging quests using spells rather than potions. The advantage of this is that one does not need to wait for a signifant period while the cooldown is in effect.

  • Ashenvale is one of the larger regions in Azeroth, and here, I have the Staff of Infinite Mysteries. I picked up the Staff of Infinite Mysteries a while back, and the glow effect is quite unlike any I've seen in the game so far. It replaces my Staff of Jordan, as it has superior spell power and thus, betting healing capacities.

  • Stormwind harbour is one of the newer regions added in the WoLK expansion, so I decided to take a look for myself. I was not disappointed with the panorama offered here.

  • The sheer scale of Azeroth means an incredibly diverse range of landscapes, although this gives rise to the Patchwork Map: the next map may be tropical, with a glacier right beside it, and a desert beside an autumn forsest.

As well as banding together to form groups, players can also band together to form guilds. These structures allow players several benefits, such as easier communication and an identifying guild name and tabard. Guild members can also be given access to a central pool of resources known as a guild bank.

Quests

A large amount of World of Warcraft revolves around questing. These tasks or missions are usually available from non-player characters (NPCs). These are indicated by having yellow exclamation marks (!) above their heads, while yellow question marks (?) represent quests ready to hand back and complete. Quests usually reward the player with experience points and in-game money that the character can then spend on buying new skills and buying new equipment. Some quests offer a selection of quest rewards, allowing the player to choose what would suit his character best. Sometimes, quests of this nature are linked together by a common theme. Where one quest ends, another starts, forming a quest chain. A unique aspect of World of Warcraft is the use of a "rested bonus" system, increasing the rate that a character can gain experience points after the player has spent time away from the game.Q uests commonly involve killing a number of creatures, gathering a certain number of resources, finding a difficult to locate object, or delivering an item from one place to another. During this process, a character may get attacked and killed by a creature, becoming a ghost at a nearby graveyard. Characters can be resurrected by other characters that have the ability, or can self-resurrect by moving from the graveyard to the place where they died. If this location is unreachable, they can use a special NPC known as a spirit healer to resurrect at the graveyard. When a character dies the items being carried degrade, requiring in-game money and a specialist NPC to repair them. Items that degrade heavily can become unusable until they are repaired.

  • The Staff of the Sun is one such quest reward. The value of a quest reward is directly proportional to the difficulty of the quest, and the quest it took to get this staff (A Traitor's Destruction) was truely a challenge, requiring four other friends to help me. The end result was worth it, though!

  • My Dreadsteed: warlocks and paladins get mounts at level 20 and an epic mounts at level 40, reducing the need to pay excess gold to purchase them. The dreadsteed looks epic, but the quest it took to obtain it was quite challenging in terms of time and resources. A lot of gold and drops later, I complete the quest to obtain an epic mount that is, quite frankly, epic.

  • Destruction spells at their finest- Hellfire is a powerful AoE spell, and is highly useful for dispatching multiple mobs at once. However, much of a warlock's destruction spells are very mana-intensive, requiring one to carry mana potions and buffs into battle.

  • My warlock and the party I was with the day we went to take on a huge number of bosses. We met in the Stratholme to warm up before heading to Outland. Back in the day, I recall many an evening spent going with friends on raids: the sheer number of events occuring exemplifed the amount of teamwork that went into taking down a boss

As well as gaining in-game money, items and experience points, many quests will also increase reputation with a faction. This may be one of the two main factions of Alliance or Horde, or another non-allied faction. It can also be possible for a player to improve their character's reputation with a faction by completing further quests or killing certain types of creatures. Enhancing a character's reputation can gain access to rare items, unique abilities and profession-based patterns and plans.

Guides

I've played a mage, warlock and priest in WoW, and recently finished a paladin Each class has a set of strengths and weaknesses. You may have noticed that I prefer caster-type classes. While capable of casting awesome spells, they can only don cloth armour and can take very little damage. Appropriately, during raids and in instances, my role was simply to sit back and spam spells or heal my allies. There is no right or wrong way to play WoW (and in fact, one of the things I really enjoyed was the exploration part). However, if you want to develop an effective character (that is, one suited to a particular role, such as a PvP or PvE), the following sites really help.

  • WoWHead- Good all around site for items, character builds and other stuff
  • GameFAQs- People submit useful guides for creating good all around characters
  • WoWWiki- The best site out there for Warcraft lore, history and background details.

Mage Outline

The mage is a DPS caster that specializes in burst damage and area of effect spells. Their primary role in a group at lower levels is damage dealing and crowd control through the use of Polymorph, temporarily changing humanoids and beasts into harmless critters. At end-game levels, mages' damage is supplemented with Counterspell, Remove Curse, and Spellsteal. Mages' utility spells also include conjuring food and drink and the ability to teleport to major cities and open portals for party members. In PvP, Mages deal ranged damage while using snare effects and Polymorph to control enemy players.

In a group or raid environment, mages are usually tasked with ranged DPS, AoE, Counterspell, Spellsteal, Crowd Control and finally Ritual of Refreshment. A build predominantly using the fire tree will usually contribute greater DPS in multiple-target encounters; those using a predominantly arcane tree will usually contribute greater DPS in single-target encounters; and finally, those using a predominantly frost tree will contribute a fair amount of control.

  • I play as the mage Odin, and here, I am heading off to Stormwind to assist a friend in a quest. Griffins are the best means of travelling quickly on Azeroth, as flying mounts are not permitted. Note the wide range of fire spells here: I play predomiantly as a fire mage, which are more suited to raiders that seek to deal a high amount of damage against bosses, which is the purpose I created my mage for. In PvP, the lack of defensive spells (like Ice Barrier and Deep Freeze) mean that fire mages do not perform anywhere as effectively as a frost mage.

  • I stop to admire the Netherstorm in Nagrand by evening. Outland has an interesting history, and is geared for players between level 58 and 70. Flying mounts are possible out here, so those floating islands in the skies are accessible. They are great places to stop and rest before continuing one's quest should health or mana drop too low.

  • The presence of a day/night cycle in WoW meant that sunsets and sunrises are spectacular. You may notice that I have tier ten gear in this image (compared to the tier six gear from earlier). When this was taken, I had since advanced from the mage I had long ago. A change in my schedule meant that I stopped playing once I hit level 70, and it was only recently that I found a few moments to level up to 80. At level 80, mages serve the purpose of being dedicated raid or PvP units. I prefer raids, hence my decision to gear my mages with fire specialisation for maximum damage output.

  • This is the frostfire bolt that was introduced in Wrath of the Lich King. Capable of dealing around 722-838 damage on contact and a further 90 damage across 9 seconds at rank two, this spell will hit for frost damage, but deal fire damage if the target is frost resistant. It's a fairly useful spell, capable of dealing up to 2400 damage if you are geared properly, although not as powerful as the fireball (up to 5000 damage) and pyroblast (over 8000 damage) at their maximum ranks.

  • I thought I'd show you what mount I use: a swift palamo. You can pick up an epic mount at level 40, and the wisdom of doing so is immediately apparent: being able to travel quickly allows you to complete objectives and reach your destinations with far more ease than by going on foot.

Warlock Outline

Warlocks were once arcanists - or shamans in the case of the orcs - who, in pursuit of ever-greater sources of power, abandoned their studies of the arcane or nature and delved into darker, fel-based shadow magic. Warlocks still retain their skills in the manipulation of the chaotic element of fire, although their focus is on delivering excruciating pain and drawing out the suffering of their victims. No longer do they aim to use the effective application of arcane energies to efficiently dispose of their targets from a safe distance, instead warlocks revel in their victim's pain while their fel minions engage their target.

Warlocks are taken to raids for their incredible dps and their raid utility. A warlock's abilities can bring a lot of support to parties, and they are usually biggest source of ranged DPS. Seed of Corruption, when properly used, makes a warlock extremely effective AoE DPS without putting the raid at risk. Soul Shards should be put to good use in order to summon late comers, conjure Soulstones for raid recovery, and distribute Healthstones. Warlocks are also well known for their unique CC abilities such as Fear, Banish, and Enslave Demon.

  • Silvermoon City is one of the most impressive cities in WoW. This is Andhrimnir, my warlock. I chose to play a warlock because of the orientation on spells, although I eventually specialised into a demonlogy warlock owing to the increased capacity to solo on quests.

  • The Eversong Woods are beautifully defined, as Andhrimnir demonstrates while taking a break from questing. Many of the early quests will be related to taking back the region from the scrouge. although the dead scar kind of ruins the majestic nature of the region. You will be forced to cross it on occasion, and at lower levels, you may be destroyed by the undead that reside here. This is why you have the imp to help you.

  • Your next minion will be the voidwalker. Possessing superior health and hold aggro far more effectively than the imp, the voidwalker will be indisensible over the next 10 levels once you get it. The quest is fairly simple, although the last phase is far more challenging. Fighting the voidwalker is easy, but the Summoning circle at Goldenmist Village is swarming with mobs- getting to the summoning circle safely will be your main concern.

  • The Staff of the Sun is easily one of the best weapons to have at level 22: the quest for it the final in the The Farstrider Enclave quest chain. This quest will be challenging, requiring four other players to kill off Dar'Khan Drathir. However, the bonuses that accompany the staff are worth it (and of course, it's great to have a rare item in your inventory at level 20). Once you complete the last of the Ghostland quests, head over to the Hillsbrad Foothills.

  • While I never had any screenshots of me between level 25 and level 70, I returned to the Ghostlands to assist a friend in his quests. Here, I cast immolation: once of the DPS spells a warlock has. Coupled with corruption, curse of agony and shadowbolts, this series of spells will be a commonly used one as you level up.

Priest Outline

The priest is the master of healing and preservation, restoring his wounded allies, shielding them in battle and even resurrecting his fallen comrades from death. While he has a variety of protective and enhancement spells to bolster his allies, the priest can also wreak terrible vengeance on his enemies, using the grand powers of the Holy Light to smite and purge them or the devastating powers of the shadow to decimate their minds. The priest is a diverse and powerful class, highly desirable in any group and capable of fulfilling multiple roles.

The priest is perhaps the best healing class in the game with a surprisingly strong damage potential as well (should the player choose to enhance this aspect of the class). Their ability to heal and buff allies, avoid aggro, dispel buffs on enemies, dispel debuffs on their allies, and resurrect fallen comrades makes them an important member of any group, whether it's PvP or PvE. Due to this, priests are one of the most highly sought after classes for any group.

  • Priests can either specialise in healing or damage. I prefer holy priests, given that they are highly useful in raids (again, less effective in PvP, even if you constantly heal yourself!). With Belldandy, I chose to go with a holy priest and couple cooking to it (reflecting on the anime character she is named after). Some of the food and drink items can restore far more health and mana than you may have, and give excellent buffs to your character (one notable buff was increased mana regeneration and spell damage).

  • Belldandy with the Robe of Power. I chose tailoring and enchanting for my priest, and I recall a long Thanksgiving weekend spent grinding my tailoring up to speed. The acquision is an excellent one: as a rare item, the Robe of Power offers a large number of stat bonuses (the boosted healing is really nice, in particular), and on top of that, looks awesome.

  • Belldandy at level 60, the evening following one of my last raids for the next while. By this time, I had enchanting geared to a higher level, and gave my equipment massive bonuses. I was able to procur the Staff of Jordan at an auction house, and while it's a fairly illustrious staff, it is eclipsed by better weapons later on. After this screenshot was taken, I entered math 31 and decided to direct all my time towards calculus, so I stopped playing WoW at this point briefly.

  • Nearly a year later, after winter lectures were completed (that was a great semester!), I continued levelling my priest and got her to level 70 in Outland. Despite having explored a large portion of Azeroth and all of Outland on my Swift Blue Griffin, I think that Elwynn Forest is one of the most peaceful places in all of Azeroth, and as such, enjoy exploring it, despite it beeing my umpteenth time here.

  • I was able to obtain tier four armour fairly easily by level 70, and here, I am back in the Stonetalon Mountains. I first came here on a quest when I was level 25, being required to pick up some scales. Back then, this was a totally unfamiliar environment for me, having spent much of my time in the Eastern Kingdoms prior to this. I recall that May evening in 2007, when I was questing here, I recieved word that I would be participating in World Vision's survey about philantrophy. My opinions have changed little since then: to me, philantrophy means helping others, something that my priest does very well.

Paladin Outline

The paladin is a hybrid class with the ability to play a variety of different roles — including healing (holy), tanking (protection), and DPS (retribution). They have auras, blessings and seals that provide useful buffs for other players while withstanding heavy physical damage with plate armor and strong defensive abilities. Paladins are a very unique class that have the ability to perform all three major functions required in group or raid play depending on their spec; they can specialise in tanking, damage dealing or healing.

  • Paladins are essentially a hybrid between warriors and priests. They will specialise in either tanking and healing, thus being useful for raids where a dedicated warrior or priest are short by a few. My paladin is named Sakaki, after a character from Azumanga Daioh. I decided to play a paladin to see what melee combat is like, while staying within the realm of using mana as a resource. That said, the ability to hit hard using a sword or mace while being able to use healing spells is quite effective.

  • One of the quests as a paladin involves heading over to this little cottage in the Dagger Hills; previously, I did not have the chance to explore this corner of Westfall. The quest is actually quite amusing: you defend the occupant of the cottage from members of the Defias and recieve a nice reward for completing the quest.

  • This is the Ashbringer, one of the most mentioned weapons of lore in Azeroth. It is normally not accessible to players (no, I will not say how I got one), and despite its relatively weak stats, it is highly sought after as an illustrious sword. Having it equals bragging rights, and here, despite being at level 62, I still retain the Chain of the Scarlet Crusade set as a result of the set giving a highly unifed look. I have other gear, of course, but this set actually looks quite nice for a level 40 set. I spent the better half of an afternoon hunting down the mobs that dropped this with a group of friends, and the results were worth it.

  • The Warrior's Embrace and Elemental Leggings are two of many items in Warcraft that have the unusual property of changing in design when worn by female and male characters. The normal Warrior's Embrace looks like a full chest plate when worn by male characters, but change somehow when worn by a female. These items bring great stat bonuses, but when one is forced to choose between modesty and functionality, something is going on >_< I found a compromise for the Warrior's Embrace: having a shirt underneath will rectify half of the problems.

 

  • I once again return to Stratholme as a fully realised paladin. At level 80 and carrying tier eight gear, this level is little problem to my party; we casually clean up the roadways and laugh at all attempts by the mobs to beat us. This instance is fairly easy for us, but the level 80 heroic instances are another story, requiring our fullest attention to progress through.

Infinite Zenith