World of Warcraft has been riding high for the past two decades, bringing the MMORPG genre to the mainstream and changing gaming forever.
It might not be as all-powerful in terms of popularity as it was at the peak of its trajectory, but it is so ingrained in the culture of interactive entertainment that its place in the history books is assured.
So what gave it the edge over the competitors at the time of its dominance, and how has it been able to remain relevant ever since?
Epic Storylines and Stunning Graphics
The World of Warcraft experience is truly unparalleled, from both a technical and storytelling perspective. The first moment you set foot in Azeroth, you are mesmerized by its vibrant visuals. The characters, races, locations and creatures all feel alive, as if they have a life outside your control.
Sure, the graphical fidelity of the original WoW iteration is simplistic by modern standards, but at the time it was impressive, with the scope and scale of the world turning heads, even if other games were arguably more impressive to look at.
This is a good lesson in how acquiring new customers for a game is about more than pushing the envelope with the presentation. It’s better to take existing technologies and combine them to create something cohesive and believable, while also ensuring that the system requirements are modest enough to allow as many people as possible to play.
More importantly, you can sense that this world has been crafted with care, because something special awaits you at every turn. It’s no wonder WoW became one of the most popular MMORPGs in the world when you consider the narrative richness it brings to the table. Its epic storylines draw players into an ever-evolving universe full of adventure, exploration and discovery, making each journey through it unique.
The Role Playing Element & Character Customization
No matter what your preferred playstyle is, World of Warcraft has something to offer. Its character customization allows you to create a personalized avatar that will grow and evolve with each quest or raid completed.
You can adapt everything from the characters’ weapons, armor and skill sets to their appearance. And again, while WoW was not the first game to offer in-depth RPG elements, it brought all of these things together in the most satisfying way.
Also, this flexibility gives players the opportunity to really immerse themselves in the game world by creating a character that reflects their personality. It’s why many have sunk tens of thousands of hours into WoW over the decades, with two thirds playing for at least 20 hours weekly.
Constant Updates & Expansion Packs
Since its inception, the developers have constantly worked hard to make World of Warcraft better, and also to introduce new elements so that it doesn’t get stale.
Every few months, they release content updates with new features and additions. They also create expansion packs that add whole new zones filled with quests, monsters and rewards. This means that players can always look forward to something fresh.
In fact there have been so many add-ons and changes over the years that eventually it necessitated the release of WoW Classic. Revamping and releasing the original version of the game could have seemed like a step backwards, but in this context it made total sense, and further demonstrates just why this game gathered an audience in the first place, and how it can still rival the likes of LoL.
For younger gamers who’ve grown up in an era of Minecraft and Fortnite ruling the roost, it’s easy to dismiss WoW as too long in the tooth. However, for those who were there the first time around, there’s no denying that this MMORPG not only earned its original success, but is still worth delving into today.