A slippery slope – Starter Edition

After six months without Warcraft, we succumbed to temptation, installing Blizzard’s free to play Starter Edition. When we installed it, the plan was to have a look at some of the starter zones that were radically changed by Cataclysm and that we didn’t find the time to experience before quitting. The thought  of doing a few battlegrounds on a variety of characters was simply icing on the cake. So what does the Starter Edition give you access to?

Borrowed from:

The following restrictions are placed on all Starter Edition Accounts:

– A level cap of 20.
– A maximum of 10 gold. (Since you can’t use the AH, this doesn’t really matter. By the time I hit lv 20, I had about 6g – more than enough for riding skill plus mount but there wasn’t much else to spend it on).
– Trade skills are capped at 100 ranks.
– Unable to trade via the Auction House, mailbox, or player-to-player. (The AH lets you search it so you can see what would be available if you upgraded your account).
– In-game access to public chat channels unavailable. Players are limited to communicating using only say, party, or whisper.
– Characters will be unable to create or join guilds. (This means you don’t get random people spamming you with guild invites every few seconds. That has to be the most annoying feature of the guild levelling system – people not being content with small guilds any more and whispering every low level they can /who to ask them to join up).
– Characters are not able to send whispers to other characters unless they have been added to the characters’ friends lists or have received a whisper from a character first.
– Characters will not be able to invite other players into a party. (This was my biggest bug bear, playing with someone else who is also using the Starter Edition got a bit frustrating. Especially whilst trying to queue for dungeons/battlegrounds together).
– Characters will not be able to join parties with other characters above level 20.
– Voice chat disabled on Starter Edition accounts.
– Realms experiencing login queues will prioritize players who have full, paid accounts.
– Starter Edition accounts are not eligible for character transfers
– RealID features are disabled on all Starter Edition Accounts.

So that’s the stuff you can’t do covered. Now onto the more important stuff, the things you can do.

Apart from Goblins/Worgens, all the other ten races are available to you including Bloodelves and Draenei. You can also play every class apart from Deathknights (due to the level restrictions).

Alliance:

  • Azuremyst Isle
  • Dun Morogh
  • Elywnn Forest
  • Teldrassil
  • Bloodmyst Isle
  • Darkshore
  • Loch Modan
  • Redridge Mountains
  • Westfall
  • Duskwood (the beginning thereof)
  • Ashenvale (the beginning thereof)
  • Wetlands (the beginning thereof)
Horde
  • Durotar
  • Eversong Woods
  • Mulgore
  • Tirisfal Glades
  • Azshara
  • Ghostlands
  • Northern Barrens
  • Silverpine
  • Ashenvale (the beginning thereof)
  • Hillsbrad Foothills (the beginning thereof)
Dungeons
  • The Deadmines
  • Ragefire Chasm
  • Wailing Caverns
  • Shadowfang Keep
  • Stockades
  • Blackfathom Depths
PvP
  • Arathi Basin
  • Warsong Gulch

Added together, especially if you’re happy running low level battlegrounds over and over again, that adds up to many hours worth of free content. If nothing else, it provides a great way of keeping in touch with friends and the game without actually having to pay Blizzard a penny.

Is it likely to encourage new players into the game? I’m not so sure, especially if they PvP. The gulf between some classes is huge at low levels and whilst I agree that the game shouldn’t be balanced around lv 19s, I do feel that certain things should be toned down a bit. I would think if I was a brand new player trying out the trial with a view to purchasing the entire game, I might be a bit put off by being one shot repeatedly in the first battleground I dared to enter. It’s one thing being a returning player and knowing that the warrior who just killed you is decked out in heirlooms and sporting a crusader enchant but to  a prospective new customer who doesn’t understand why certain players do so much more damage than you is another. You could also get yourself a good set of blues from running dungeons, quest rewards and pvp/rep vendors and make yourself a semi twink. Although class selection is paramount.

That said, I think the game visually is better than ever. It’s hard to level when you keep having to stop and take screenshots and the feel of a lot of quests has definitely improved.

The bottom line is that it worked for us. When we were creating a new account for the starter edition, it turned out that Blizzard were kindly offering us seven days free play on our old accounts. That slippery slope turned out to be made of very polished ice.
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