W101 Brew

An MMO for what ails me.

I have been quiet lately, partly because MMOs were on the downside of the cycle and partly because I am holding a baby during my “free time.”  Games like Peggle and Nitrome’s Ice Breaker held reign.  Until, I decided to re-try Wizard 101.

My initial foray in to Wizard 101 was as a tourist.  I was already having a blast in Lord of the Rings Online and Guild Wars, and Wizard 101 was, at the time, just a weekend getaway.  I liked what I saw, and I really wanted to support their “crowns” business model, which lets players buy zones of content for $1-3/each forever.  However, it was not up to par with gameplay with the more complex MMOs I was already playing.

Now, it is the MMO I play.  All the little things that Kings Isle has done to make it casual are all things that I need for MMOs right now. 

1. I can play the game well with just a mouse.  You wouldn’t believe how important this is to me (and why I am in the crowd that believes Guild Wars 2 is wrong for announcing click-to-move is out).  I have become a master at mouse movement whether it’s click-to-move or two-button running.  I am even pretty good at managing my agro radius without WASD.

2. A pause is never more than a minute away.  I have spoken on this already, but it is important for me.  Inevitably I need to take breaks on the fly.  Wizard 101 lets me take a break at almost any time by merely scooching over on to the sidewalk.  No more agro management.  No more wondering whether that wandering boar will get pissed that I am standing within 20 feet of it after stopping and staring at me for 10 seconds.  It’s nice to walk away with little effort without wondering if I will come back to my computer and see a graveyard.

3. It feels massively multiplayer without the guilt of grouping.  Warhammer Online’s public quests are a great step in the direction I think grouping needs to go, but Wizard 101’s is the true way, in my opinion.  In my perfect MMO, nearly every encounter would be instantly groupable.  When the encounter is over, players go there separate ways or continue “grouping.”  I have not yet tried one of the few grouping instances in Wizard 101, but I have completed most of my boss battles with a random player or two.

4. The supreme business model.  I have already spent $10 within the past two weeks, and I am sure I will spend about $10 more before I play a full month.  This is double the cost of a subscription with them, and I am completely happy about it.  Knowing I “own” the content, and there is no time rush or feeling that I have to play because I subscribed is the best way for me.  I’d happily pay more than a subscriber to do this.  I do think that Turbine’s evolution of this business model with Dungeons and Dragons Online has a much-needed feature of giving subscriber’s the RMT currency so they can also buy zones, etc.

The biggest downside to Wizard 101 is its complexity level compared to games like World of Warcraft and Lord of the Rings Online, but with my sleep-deprived brain, it is just about right.  Plus with the next big content update, they will be adding more trade options and a crafting system.  I think Kings Isle is heading in the right direction with the updates.  They have created, and are creating, in my opinion, the best truly casual MMO.

come, come Uther

8 thoughts on “W101 Brew”

  1. All of the things you mention are what also make Wizard101 the perfect MMO for an 8 year old kid to play. My godson and I used to play WoW once a week, but it’s complex enough that he required his mother’s presence to actually play the game. Since we switched to W101 he’s been able to play on his own, and do great… he quickly picked up the core gameplay mechanic, and has run with it. Now he’ll even suggest strategies on the fly, which is so great to see.

  2. I’m a big fan of Wizard 101. It’s a perfect counterpoint to a typical turn based MMO like LoTRO or WoW. If I’m not in the mood for one there is always the other. I love the “buy zones forever” business model. The combat also has surprising depth as you get to higher levels, without being hectic.

  3. I’ve spent $30 on W101, which is more than any other MMO save Guild Wars. Access Passes are absolutely brilliant. I don’t play much these days since I ran into a wall in Marleybone where I need to buy more Access Passes, but the game design and business model of W101 are very nice, and I’ve voted thus with my wallet. And, notably, I can go back and pick up where I left off at any time with no cost. That’s important.

    It’s good to see someone else having fun with it!

  4. Of the “MMOs advertised on TV”, I had seen both Free Realms and Wizard 101, but opt’d to try out Free Realms first (for no particular reason). I enjoyed it. As a long time reader, seeing this post was timely and I hopped on in. A day into it, I can happily say I’m enjoying this one a good deal too (I’ve long decided that I fit better in the “casual MMO” crowd, even after giving half my life to WoW). Thanks.

  5. So, I played this for about 10 hours yesterday, non-religiously. “Pausing” as I needed to feed or address others and work, etc. As the end of the night came around and I finished Triton Avenue, I realized that I’ve run out of a free content – the next streets are paid. 10 hours to eat up all the free non-repeat content? That’s a little early, I think.

  6. This is a great game and I’m pleased to see you writing about it. I like that it is so casual that one can drop for a week or so at a time and then jump right back in. You’re right that the complexity is a little lacking, but the way the grouping works is great. It’s also nice that the combat at some of the higher levels (although repetitive) requires a fair amount of thinking and strategy (as opposed to button spamming).

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