Free-to-Play World of Warcraft Overview (Starter Edition)

World of Warcraft is now free-to-play for life up to level 20. What restrictions are there and what will this mean for the rest of the paying subscribers? Let's find out as we take a look at the new Starter Edition.

World of Warcraft is now free-to-play forever, well up to level 20. There is a boatload of restrictions that keep you from enjoying the full version of the game but if you’re on the fence about if you want to buy WoW or not then it’s time to look at trying WoW out at your leisure. Of course, if you want to play WoW capped at level 20 then now is your chance to do it, literally, forever.

Restrictions

First up, the level cap is level 20. You can’t earn a single bit of XP above level 20, which is the norm for trial accounts. Next up, a maximum of 10 gold. So no farming massive amounts of gold, just enough for travel and repairs. No trading and trade skills capped at level 100, so you’re not going to be able to get loot from your main account nor spread any wealth you gain with the paying population. You can’t join a guild either, so you’ll be all alone in the world.

Starter Editions are free to play for life, get one while they're hot!

No parties either (or at least starting your own), can’t join up with any friends and you can’t talk to them either, unless they have you listed as a friend or whisper you first. Most of the chat channels are locked out except for say, party, and whisper. Sound familiar, it’s the same old rules that trial accounts have always had.

The kicker? No expiration date. Want to get more out of your endless trial? Don’t forget Refer-A-Friend is now up to level 80 now, so if you want to commit and got invited to the game you can enjoy the level bonus all the way to 80.

Endless Trial Fun

So how can you use this to your advantage? Well, if you’re new then congratulations. Feel free to try WoW at your leisure until you’re ready to push the button on purchasing. If you’re wanting to play WoW like Warhammer Online then get ready for a bit of a hassle.

Looking at the above restrictions you’re going to have a hard time doing much of anything. First, you’re in a world of your own. No outside help means that the only thing you can do is have someone heal/buff you as you level up. That’s about the only help you can get. Second, you can’t lock yourself at level 19 because you won’t have gold to cut off XP (so you’ll have to level to 20). The level 20 battlegrounds have level 24 players, meaning you won’t have the gear, enchants, and otherwise “twinked out” gear in order to compete.

That doesn’t mean you can’t have fun on a budget. You’ll be able to farm gear out of dungeons, gain some minor PvP items, and work on your tradeskills to get some interesting enchants going. Best of all, it’s free forever, so you won’t have to worry about getting bored and not playing for a while.

Unlike games like Warhammer Online there is a reason to pay for the full game. You’ll have to in order to actually enjoy the majority of the game. Level 20 is a taste, and it isn’t anything at all like the later levels, so there is a huge incentive to continue.

Conspiracy Theorists

Some are already hailing this as the end of WoW and how Cataclysm has now started the downfall. The rest of us non-crazies see this as a new way to get friends into the game without having to suffer 40 hour arguments about why they need to try WoW. This isn’t new, the trial has existed forever (and you can get about as many of them as you want). The only difference is that it doesn’t expire.

Combine this with the level 80 Refer-A-Friend and free WoW CD-Keys handed out to people and the only thing a normal person could see is Blizzard reaching out to help us get our friends addict- I mean involved with a hobby we enjoy. This isn’t game breaking stuff, so there is no need for anyone to worry about WoW going on the downhill.

So what do you think? Think WoW free-to-play is awesome or just another feature soon forgotten? Feel free to leave your comments below.

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