World of Warcraft characters are for life, but not for Christmas. I went to my parents' place for a week, leaving poor old Kilgallon, my night elf druid, on his own over the festive season. I imagine he had a saucy time with those scantily clad elf-ladies wearing Santa hats I keep seeing around, though. I was worried I would miss him excessively, manifesting withdrawal symptoms such as skinning my parents' cat and turning her into a nice pair of trousers.
As it turns out, it did me good to take a break. WoW is possibly the most intense game I have ever played, in terms of the concentration it requires and almost monomaniacal attitude it lulls you into. This isn't to say it isn't pleasant -- very far from it -- but it has so many elements, so much to do and see and make and kill, that I find myself organising my time in the game far more thoroughly than my real life.
Shortly before Christmas, my girlfriend was about to add something she wanted to my shopping list when she noticed the word 'potions' on it. "That's funny," she said, "you've put something from your game on your list." Nope, that's all in the game, love. In real life I just walk into shops and buy whatever comes to mind.
I did think about the game during the break -- I came up with a different way of beating a nasty orc warlock, and thought about other characters I might make. But I didn't shake or make involuntary keyboard spasms, and when I came back to the game I was refreshed and ready to make some more lists.
A few more thoughts, in case I was giving the impression WoW is some sort of masochistic shopping trip: the player versus player Battlegrounds are brilliant. There's that same kind of ebb and flow I love about Battlefield: of being frustrated and getting nowhere and then suddenly going on a terrific run, being in the right place at the right time over and over again. Sadly, I don't think druid is an ideal PvP class for a beginner like me -- it's a jack-of-all-trades class, which requires expert timing and great crowd-control skills. I tend to stand around, heal a little bit, buff a few people and then get wiped out by a warrior or rogue I let get too close.
My character is now level 26 and the world is really opening up. I've visited the other Alliance cities and done quests in several areas. While it requires careful management so you don't spend ages travelling around, doing quests in multiple areas instead of completing everything in one place means a regular change of scenery, lots of new ingredients for skills and plenty of interesting new enemies to claw, blast and thump with my comically large mallet.
A new year's resolution is to make better use of the game's social features -- finding groups, for instance, and maybe even joining a guild. Could it possibly become more compelling, or will I be repulsed by my fellow humans? I'll keep you posted. -Nick Hide
Level: 26. Location: Wetlands and Ashenvale. Best new thing: Hefty Battlehammer of the Whale.
Update: Part four of Diary of a Warcrack addict is now live.