I spent the better part of two hours questing around Terrokar Forest in the Outlands of WoW last night, and I had fun. There, I said it. I feel much better now.
I wandered around, collecting worg tails, killing peons, and whomping on warp stalkers. I also did a quest that had me dress up like an Orc Warlock and wander into a cultist camp to inquire about who they were while avoiding the eye of the hunters that wandered there, who could see through the diguise. These are things I've done in every MMO I've ever played, with the exception of the last one.
So why is it that they seemed so much more enjoyable in WoW? Is it the interface? Is it the art style? The quest dialog? The animations? The spells and skills? The way your character moves? The terrain? I mean, what is it that makes the gameplay so enjoyable in WoW?
In my humble and oft echoed opinion around these internet tubes... it's the combination of it all. No one will deny that WoW's elder game needs and continues to see work. The raid game and pvp are not what many would call exemplary. But very few will deny that WoW's leveling and thousands of quests make for one immensely enjoyable treadmill that I find myself running on again and again when all other games fail to hold my interest.
It's near perfection. It's the same feeling I get when I play Ocarina of Time (or any Zelda reall), or Super Metroid, or the one truly entertaining Final Fantasy, numbered 3 in these United States. Each of these games epitomize gaming nirvana as I know it. They're the games I can play over and over, even while I know how they'll play out... they're still fun. When in doubt, I turn to those games for a quick reminder of what gaming can be.
WoW, even with its faults sits up there on this plateau for me. Its 1-70 game is as engrossing and fun as MMOs have come with PvE so far. It won't stand the test of time, or at least I hope it won't, as new mechanics make their way into the market, and slowly people move on from the traditional EQ-esque set up of the MMO. But for now, when nothing else seems to fit Azeroth keeps me playing. And this simple fact says one thing to me above all the cries of nerf, the shouts of disdain for raiding, and the worries that Blizzard will never "get PvP right". It says that World of Warcraft is fun.
And really, that's all that matters in a game.