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A beginner’s guide to World of Warcraft with Belle Haven

If you haven’t played World of Warcraft before, you might be baffled as to where to even start.

In fact, it’s such an institution that its 17 years of being active might scare off anyone new wanting to play it. To get over the hurdle of actually understanding what World of Warcraft is all about, we turned to some experts in the field: Belle Haven. Sure, they’ve been hard at work on their new EP, Time Changes Nothing, but the Aussie act actually harbour two very dedicated enthusiasts. After sharing some words with us recently about their forthcoming release, we thought it only fit to get brothers David De La Hoz and Christopher “CV” Vernon to talk us through their hobby. 

How did you get started playing World of Warcraft?

David: I have very fond memories of playing Warcraft: Orcs and Humans, the original PC game, as well as Warcraft II when I was a child. Warcraft 3 came out and I was obsessed with that too. So the transition into World of Warcraft when that was made available to me was natural.

CV: When I was in high school, our older brother James was playing the game in his bedroom at weird hours of the morning. Sometimes I could hear it and it sounded so exciting, [but] I never thought much of playing it until a friend in high school told me he played it and let me play it for a few hours. I was instantly hooked and have played it on and off since then for many, many years.

What was the first ever character you rolled?

David: My very first ever character was an Orc Warrior named Roaru.

CV: My first ever character was a Human Warrior, but I sadly don’t remember the name. I remember that my second or third character was a Draenei Mage that I called “Tigergimpy”. I have no idea if it was intended to be offensive at the time or what it’s based off, but I was a child, so I did some dumb weird stuff.

How long have you been playing for?

David: I remember finally starting on World of Warcraft in high school. I’d say probably around 2006?

CV: I feel like I got my first shared World of Warcraft account with David and our younger brother Mark around mid-2005, I could be wrong. I’m pretty sure our youngest brother still uses that account as his main account and David and I both use new ones that we got a few years later.

What’s changed about the game between now and when you started?

David: Besides the bare bones, the whole game is very different. A lot more fast paced and streamlined in terms of gameplay, but it’s also modernised in other ways. For example, there’s an online store where you can buy vanity pets and mounts etc. At the moment, CV and I mostly play World of Warcraft Classic though (the old version of the game).

CV: The pace, difficulty and sense of community is way different. Retail World of Warcraft (new expansion that recently came out named ‘Shadowlands’) has a much wider array of difficulty. So you can play a lot of the game as an extremely casual player and you can also play it at a drastically higher difficulty level than old games. My favourite thing about “classic” World of Warcraft coming out (the re-release of the original game on live servers) is that all these old people saying that “Vanilla World of Warcraft is the hardest version of World of Warcraft” got absolutely destroyed by modern players going back and speed running the whole raids about four times quicker than anyone did back in 2006. Classic World of Warcraft had a better sense of community because you needed 40 players all together at one time to perform the end game raids, so you had to make a lot of friends.

Can you describe World of Warcraft for someone who has never played it?

David: You create a character, level it up, gaining power along the journey and eventually join your friends in dungeons or raids and kill evil characters that are threatening the world of Azeroth (where the game takes place).

CV: Yeah, that’s a pretty good explanation. But for people that play other games, but not World of Warcraft; the thing I always tell them is that you have to get a group of players together, build your gear with phat loot from easier bosses, raids and quests, then figure out the strategies to defeat each boss/monster in a raid tier. Constantly trying to progress further through a raid each week with your group of friends is the fun part to me, and just also trying to constantly improve your own character and play style in order to help your team.

What advice would you give to someone who wants to play, but doesn’t know where to start?

David: Try to get into it with a friend who already plays it. Playing with friends is always better, in my experience anyway. Additionally, if you’re considering playing World of Warcraft Classic like us, make sure you’re ready to be very patient as reaching max level takes a decent amount of time.

CV: I would agree that playing World of Warcraft with friends makes it way better to me. Even if it’s just other people that you continuously play with on the internet that you don’t know in real life and that you just know through the game. Spend time finding the right group of people to play with and you’ll love it.

Who would you recommend World of Warcraft to?

David: People with social anxiety that struggle to connect comfortably with people.

CV: Literally anyone, unless you have a hectic addictive personality. Because this game will completely ruin your life, it has happened to me previously and I’ve had to dig myself out of a hole and moderate how many hours I spend on it.

What’s the link between Hearthstone and World of Warcraft?

David: Hearthstone is a relatively fast paced strategy card game, but the cards all relate to the Warcraft universe in some way (I believe). I’ve played it a bit but not extensively. Entirely different to World of Warcraft. However, a cool spin off for sure.

CV: Yeah, exactly. It’s just a spin off with a totally unrelated story line except the characters on the cards are from the World of Warcraft universe.

What’s the significance of each expansion that comes out?

David: Each expansion brings different new features and changes to the game but the big one that changes every expansion is the max level cap. In the original World of Warcraft the cap was level 60, with the first expansion it was 70, then 80, then 85, 90 etc it goes on. In the latest expansion though, Shadowlands, they squished the level cap back down to 60 again, which was generally received as a good decision I think. Otherwise there’s also new raids, new dungeons, lots of new things. New expansions are fun.

CV: A hundred percent, I don’t think I could really add much. It’s the same general concept, but they change the way classes interact with each other. Some expansions, every 5-6 years, they’ll change the game engine to try to make the graphics slightly more modern. Retail World of Warcraft actually has ray tracing, nothing like what you see in games like Ghost Runner or Cyberpunk, but it’s still cool seeing the more realistic shadows overhanging on pathways and in the water.

What has been your most memorable moment playing?

David: During iso in 2020, my World of Warcraft Classic guild (called “Semi Decent”) worked together to complete the incredibly challenging and time sensitive task of making me a Scarab Lord. This involved having two separate teams, day team and night team, killing big evil scarab bug things for about 4-6 days (I can’t remember; it’s a blur) non-stop. And then some cool unique raid challenges after that. It was a huge achievement for such a small guild like us, and I get to ride around on my very rare Scarab Mount thing forever now. We all often reflect on how cool of an experience it was, even close to a year later.

CV: Ah man, that’s such a hard question. My recent enjoyable moment was when my guild downed the last boss of Classic World of Warcraft for the first time. I never got to play end game content when I was a kid back in 2006, so it was cool to come back and do it again when I was more grown up and knew what the hell was going on. I remember the “Yeessss!!!” of everyone yelling on Discord. And a whole bunch of people being like “I can finally quit this piece of shit game!”

What effect has World of Warcraft had on your life outside gaming?

David: Well, I was actually lucky enough to meet a lot of the members of my World of Warcraft guild on the ‘Nobody Likes A Hospital’ tour, which I’ve never done as long as I’ve played the game. Hanging out and getting photos with everyone was a really cool experience. Otherwise, if anything, it has probably encouraged my introverted-ness. But that’s okay; I prefer to keep to myself anyway.

CV: Weird things that I learn from other experienced players in World of Warcraft has weirdly made its way into my own life in terms of how I approach my everyday life. I find people that can do what I do, but better, and base my decisions off of them until I can reach a higher level at something like them and kind of do my own take on what they do. Also just about identifying problems and working through them one thing at a time as a team, that’s been a huge thing for me. But also…getting beers with friends you meet on video games is always fun.

Belle Haven’s new EP Time Changes Nothing will be available on Friday 16th April.