World of Warcraft – Game Analysis

free essayWorld of Warcraft (WoW) is the most popular Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Game (MMORPG) in the world as according to various estimates, it has between 11 to 14 million of active subscribers (Taylor 21). This game was created in 2004, and it managed to gain many fans, making Blizzard Entertainment one of the richest companies in the history of the development of video games. It is no secret that WoW has recently lost its initial popularity but mostly due to the growth of other game-development projects, especially of the genre known as MOBA – Multiplayer Online Battle Arena such as League of Legends and Dota 2.

The Game

There is no clear story in the game. The general storyline began with the first part of the series Warcraft: Orcs and Humans (1994) and gradually grew into a full-fledged fantasy universe with its gods and demons, chaos and order, and all other necessary attributes of RPG (Egenfeldt-Nielsen 92). In the Wrath of the Lich King expansion, players have to fight against the undead and their leader – the so-called Lich King.

Game Elements

The well-known features of almost every MMORPG are Role Play, Player vs. Environment (PvE), and Player vs. Player (PvP) content. PvE is primarily oriented at parties, or raids, and the extermination of monsters –Non-Player Character (NPC), while any PvP matches can happen only by mutual consent of the parties. The PvE-segment has three roles: tank, healer, and Damage Dealer (DD). Obviously, the tank is a resistant player that holds ferocious monsters away from other party members, healers – renew others’ health, and damage dealers try to control and kill the enemies. Each boss has its original tactics, which makes the game even more interesting. On figure 3, there is a raid preparing to strike a final boss of expansion (Arthas – The Lich King).

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PvP is focused on persistent various fights of player with each other. Their safety can be achieved only by being in the location of his faction. There is no one to save the player in the contested locations. PvP system includes four components:

  1. The so-called Outdoor PvP. This type of gameplay thrives on PvP-servers. In other words, it is a usual senseless slaughter. It constantly goes on in the contested zones on PvP-servers and quite meaningful factional campaigns. The task of this campaign is to kill the leaders of the opposing faction in all four capitals. The leaders are very strong and surrounded by high-level guards. Moreover, each capital is full of the players of opposing faction that will do anything possible to get rid of the enemies. For the murder of the four leaders by the campaign participants, players receive an achievement and a mount Riding Black Bear.
  2. Battlegrounds. They are special areas, where randomly chosen Alliance and Horde players try to perform a certain task. The missions can vary from the banal capture the flag action, to the siege of the fortress with heavy machinery. At figure 3, Paladin captures the point at Arathi Basin battleground.
  3. Arena – the so-called “top” of the PvP-system. It is a small location, where the battle between teams (2×2, 3×3, or 5×5) takes place. In contrast to the battlegrounds, it requires much more skill and the best equipment. Each team in the arena has its unique name, emblem, and the rating that increases with the victory and decreases with the defeat. Once a week, each team player, depending on the rating, is awarded with a certain amount of arena points that can later be spent on various PvP-related things.
  4. Various PvP-events arranged by players. For example, it can be a trip to a small low-level village of the opposite faction or attempt to hold an entrance of any popular raid instance. Additionally, there are some global arenas, where players can fight each other despite their faction.

Almost all the killings of opposing faction players grant Honor Points. These honor points as well as arena point can be spent on rare PvP items. The main feature is that even a player has the most powerful PvP items and sets, they will be almost completely powerless in the high-level PvE. Conversely, a PvE character with PvE talents at high levels is useless in PvP.

Developer’s View on PvP

Developers decided to focus on the PvP element in the game because it is considered one of the most complex and dynamic in the history of video games. From the developer’s perspective, it is very time-consuming to balance ten mechanically different classes. Although, the game developers have succeed in it. In the game, some particular class cannot be dominant over the other, just like the other one cannot be considered the weakest.

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Class is a mathematical model based on a set of functions; therefore, the balance of the game can be substantially reduced to address the multi-equation with many components. Graphical representation of such an approach may be all known game of rock-paper-scissors. However, instead of the mentioned items, there will be dozens or even hundreds of factors. For example, almost each class has an ability to ensnare enemy, so there is the need to create such skills that would give an opportunity to go out of this state.

The history of PVP in WoW is quite intense. In 2004, it was an ordinary slaughter without specific tactics and strategies. However, the expansion Wrath of the Lich King in this regard is the top of PVP modeling. One cannot say that there are no flaws, but one can easily see the quality of classes and strategies balancing. The arena development stage at this period is also the best. It should be noted that arena PvP tournaments with cash prizes had started with the release of WotLK.

Blizzard first started the trend with specially designed gear sets for PVP, which made it possible to improve chances in a battle with another player. This equipment had attributes such as resilience, which reduced total damage from the enemy, and the increased amount of health points – so-called stamina. These things take a very detailed analysis and testing. However, Blizzard made a little mistake in the calculations to the account of this indicator, which allowed some players to be almost immortal. It could be easily resolved with a limitation of the amount of the given parameter. However, this has not happened.

Even despite this fact, it is necessary to consider a large number of details. For example, a mass battle between players where each one complements the ally weaknesses or making the enemy vulnerable. This type of testing requires a large number of human resources, for which developers have open beta tests. Features of each class can be compared to chess pieces on the board, so it is required, for example, that white figures do not include only the pawns, and black ones do not contain only queens. Fans of the game have seriously influenced the reduction of uncategorized bugs, characteristics abuses, and other unbalanced PvP elements. For example, in the initial stages of WotLK, the new class, namely Death Knight, was too overpowered. They had incredibly powerful abilities that could turn an opponent into dust in a few seconds. After beta testing the mathematical model of Death Knights, abilities were heavily reworked, which allowed different classes compete with this class. Here is some constructive criticism to conclude all mentioned above.

Advantages of PVP:

  1. Balance. As compared to Lineage 2 or any other MMORPG of the time, the balance in WoW was the best,
  2. Dynamics. Each player’s action leads to adverse actions of the opponent, and time plays an incredibly important role. Even the period of 0.1 seconds can decide the outcome of the battle,
  3. Saturation and diversity of tactics. Each class has at least ten basic tactics of fighting techniques in the arena, duel, or battleground,
  4. PvP range of entertainment,
  5. Complexity and certainty in decision-making. Not every new player can beat the experienced one, even if his characteristics are much higher,
  6. Questionable opportunity to defeat more than over two opponents at a time. This fact proves the high quality balance again.

Disadvantages are as follows:

  1. Lack of directed physical skills. Most of skills are similar to homing missiles, which makes them less realistic,
  2. Possible abuse of characteristics, particularly resilience. Thus, two healers could just stand still and heal each other until someone comes to help them,
  3. Equipment plays a very important role. Even some of the better items can greatly increase the chances of victory,
  4. Instability selection to battlegrounds and absence of PvP experience indicator. For example, League of Legends and Dota 2 have a performance rating and the level of players. In WoW, there is only arena rating and quantity of honorable kills, which does not affect the selection.

Additional Repercussions

The game has moved beyond its game world and it has representation in real life. For example, the recently released film Warcraft became an incredibly successful premiere, not only among fans of the game but also for common viewers. Everyone was surprised by the quality of CGI because even such mythical characters as Orcs seemed to be incredibly vibrant and realistic. The film reached a record (for game-oriented movies) of 7.2 points on IMDB and scored almost $500 million worldwide (“Warcraft”). In the summer of 2016, Blizzard set a 4-meter statue of Arthas Menethil in China, and it quickly became the local attraction (see fig. 6).


Blizzard likes to work with celebrities to advertise its products or entertain its fans. Thus, Blizzcon 2014 was closed by Metallica, while in 2015 it was Linkin Park. This fact already makes this event legendary. By the way, there is even a real heavy-metal band in the game. It is called Level 80 Elite Tauren Chieftain, or in abbreviated form – L80ETC. They performed on Blizzcon 2013. Blizzcon is the largest festival of video games and it is mostly dedicated to Blizzard games. It was established in 2005 and has already been hosted ten times. It is full of many events, from gaming tournaments to cosplay competitions

Blizzard uses prominent personalities such as Ozzy Osbourne, Jean-Claude Van Damme, Chuck Norris, and others for the advertisement of its game. It is also known that Mila Kunis and Billy Boyd have confirmed that they often play it. Moreover, online card game Hearthstone and MOBA – Heroes of the Storm also take their origins from WoW. Both games have become disciplines in all international tournaments.

One should also mention the printed work. Many comic books (author and fan-based) as well as books (a game is based on them) are dedicated to the game. Many of them are freely available on the Internet. Currently, Blizzard announced the new original book for children, namely World of Warcraft: Traveler.

Conclusion

World of Warcraft has become an integral part of the modern gaming community. It made a revolution in the genre of MMORPG and it has held a leading position in the gaming industry for more than a decade. After releasing this game, Blizzard was able to create an even more popular variety of projects like Diablo 3, Starcraft 2, Heroes of the Storm, and Hearthstone.

Becoming a cult corporation, Blizzard Entertainment created many cultural gaming events and spread its influence beyond the gaming world. It is known that if this firm gets something into development, the release will be of extremely high quality and excellent support, which is always a major factor in the success of a project (Corneliussen and Rettberg 20).

WoW is a balance of technical aspects, gameplay innovation, and the incredible story that players want to experience far more than once. It is a small virtual world, where everyone can meet truly wonderful and kind people and together have an adventure that may be hardly relived in real life.