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Tycho / on Fri, Jun 10 2005 at 4:30 am

Yarnmaster Graal, High Knitter Of Orgrimmar

The Canvas Curse (and its attendant rainbow conveyances) was a welcome addition, because we’re stumbling parched through that desiccated wasteland that always follows E3.  That’s part of the reason I (and the clamoring nation, I presume) are hot for this Battlefield 2 demo that’s supposed to hit today - with what, exactly, does it compete for our enthusiasm?

That’s the mindset I was in when I hit the queue for the smaller of the two Battlegrounds, Warsong Gulch.  Resolute, I steeled myself for the coming grind.  I said that I would go in and check these things out, and I did it because I told you I would, but I had a hunch that my time in World of Warcraft had come to a close.  I’ve been playing the game since beta, and I was starting to come to and wonder what games had hit retail during my long coma in Azeroth. 

If you’re curious, it’s basically a Goddamn triumph.  Now, the way one currently accesses the Battlegrounds themselves - by running from hell to breakfast in areas you swore off twenty levels ago - I don’t feel like that’s a complete feature.  I have fancy ideas that might help it, but I’ve done a lot of backseat driving here lately and I can’t imagine how annoying that must be.  Simply let it be known that the current way is workable but not strictly necessary, and mainly just adds a level of frustration to something that is a lot of fun otherwise.   

I play a lot of games in the massive genre, but I am typically in it for the crafting and largely social “player versus enemy” activity.  I don’t go on the “raidz0r,” and consensual PvP in the absence of some constructive purpose is rarely, if ever, my thing.  I almost never hit the level cap, because for the game I’m playing - the specific subset of functionality I actually put to use - gaining levels isn’t really a win condition.  Battlegrounds actually gives me a reason to do that stuff.  I want to be a terrifying sight when they enter the flag chamber.  I want them to think that maybe they didn’t bring enough guys.

So we’re wry in the strip, but in truth it’s exhilarating - Capture The Flag is a mode that gets tossed in everywhere, and it’s hard to enumerate precisely how many flags I have captured or returned in my gaming career.  When you see the this many characters and their overlapping capabilities managing the environment, it absolutely makes sense - and it’s a context where a skilled hunter can easily claim MVP.  When I’m charging across the field on my expensive ram after a flag carrier, it’s not hard to imagine a player looking down at the map from overhead.  The map itself is fairly small, but captures Warcraft perfectly.  You can look out from your verdant Night Elven domain and see the the ramshackle Horde encampment, and seeing it, know fear.  I’ll remember to grab a shot of that vista next time I’m in.  Understand that I’m talking about the lesser of the two maps - Alterac Valley is apparently a new type of game experience altogether.  You need level 51 to enter it though, which will be this weekend’s magnificent endeavor.   

There was really kind of a hole in the game before, as regards a player like myself for whom the highest levels of play held no intrinsic allure.  I’m looking at this Game of the Year award now, resting my hand on it with affection, looking at it in the light.  How it gleams!  I think that we’re very near a verdict.

(CW)TB out.

hold on:  it’s just beginning

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