It has been nearly a year and a half since I last stepped into Azeroth, yet it still feels like yesterday that clicked the ‘unsubscribe’ button. With Mists of Pandaria looking like a summer release, I now find myself reflecting on the great times I had thanks to the MMO industry’s juggernaut.
It should be noted that the blogosphere tends to look negatively on ex-WoW players who seek greener MMO pastures and flock to new games for short periods; ‘WoW tourists’ and ‘locusts’ are just several of the terms directed towards them. However the reality is that many of such gamers are just trying to rediscover that thrill of playing WoW for the first time.
Personally, I will remember WoW primarily for my first experiences of endgame raiding. I started subscribing halfway through The Burning Crusade and my real-life friends’ guild was just beginning to take on the denizens of Karazhan. It took about 4 weeks to get to level 70, at a time that there average /played for a newly dinged character was about 10 days, which suggests to me that I was pretty avid at that point in time.
Within several days of hitting level 70, I was equipped and thrown into the raid group with a myriad of boss strategies floating around my head. I enjoyed the friendly camaraderie on Ventrilo – I had never met the majority of players I was speaking to and yet here we all were, logging in for several hours on a Sunday night to put our abilities to the test in exchange for powerful rewards.
I was nervous and excited – eager to do my part whilst fearful exposing my inexperience and letting the team down.
The thrill was no-doubt greatly assisted by the sheer quality of the Karazahn dungeon. Fantastic art and atmospheric music permeate the haunted castle, and the I believe the variety of encounters has never been matched. Who can forget the anticipation at seeing which opera boss emerged from underneath the curtain or their first time playing the chess encounter?
The raid proved the perfect testing ground to build confidence and emphasized the importance of planning and communication. I still believe the 90% of wipes are caused by a lack of one of the two.
After a year with the guild, some of which I spent raid leading, I eventually went on to leave and ended up joining a hardcore raiding guild with a fixed schedule and high aspirations. I believe our highpoint came during Ulduar, when were the top Alliance guild to clear several hard mode bosses. Later I rerolled a healer in a PvP guild, enjoying the change of pace and intense challenge presented by Rated Battlegrounds in early Cataclysm.
At each stage in my WoW career, the game and community enabled me to improve my skills and take on new challenges.
WoW is often faulted as being accessible – but to my mind this is its’ greatest strength. For whilst my enthusiasm for today’s game is mostly dried up, I would not be playing MMOs, let alone blogging about them, had I not had those great experiences.