As much as I’d love to believe that there’s another game waiting in the wings with the exhilarating combination of light-hearted fun, white-knuckle encounters, challenging quest chains, engaging storyline, grind-optional content and grind-optional gear, all rolled into casual friendly package like Wizard101, I’d be a happy gamer. But there isn’t. W101 isn’t perfect but man it’s hitting my sweet spot these days.
In how many other MMOs have I had this much fun leveling? How many opportunities have I had to pick out clothes and run around looking like this? Don’t let the cute looks fool you. My Balance Wizard kicks ass and doesn’t bother with taking names. And so does this supposedly, kid-targeted game.
This evening I hit 40! I have no idea what the level cap is now but I think I’m probably ¾ of the way there – maybe closer. Half the time I don’t even know my level. The levels don’t matter. It was only important to me this time because it was a level that would grant me the training point I’ve been anxiously awaiting. Tonight I was able to train Meteor which does a fire-based Area of Effect (AOE). Adding this second AOE to my arsenal was the final puzzle-piece in my plan to change over to an AOE spec for normal difficult combat.
I will always keep Treasure Card versions readily at hand. My Elemental Blades + Curses + two AOEs should handle all regular combat encounters. It still surprises me how something that small can make me feel this excited. I don’t know that I would have been as satisfied by W101 two years ago – one year ago. I certainly wouldn’t have been this enamored back when I was still having my love affair with World of Warcraft.
This is partly the result of a perfect storm. I’ve reached a point where it’s not acceptable for my gaming to feel like a second job. I’m no longer willing to “prove” myself worthy to access content via excessive grinding and repeating content over and over and over just ‘cuz. These days I demand fun, options, fresh encounters, strategy, progression, effort and reward, and in that order for me to subscribe to a game. I’m not against small amounts of grinding. However, grind optional is certainly better. Now I get to pick and choose what I find valuable enough to warrant grinding/farming, not of which impacts my ability to access content.
I hope all the more traditional MMO gamers/bloggers that are writing about W101 raise the level of attention surrounding this game. I hope game designers and content developers will take note and see that content doesn’t have to be painful, repetitive and grind ridden for it to be challenging. Rewards don’t have to be extremely exclusive or epic to be valued or coveted. Gear doesn’t have to be the mile-marker by which players judge themselves, each other and their progression. I’m fortunate enough that just as I hit the breaks on my treadmill a game like W101 had released.