World of Warcraft

On the eve of the fourth expansion, I can’t help but look back fondly at the game that has held my attention these past 8 years. Sure I’ve taken six, eight, or ten month breaks and tried new games, but in the end, I always seem to go back. I still reminisce about installing and logging into WOW that release day Nov 23, 2004. Once the loading screen finally disappeared, a sea of characters began to paint. In all my years of playing, I’ve never seen that many players in the same zone again. It was the magic of release day.

Of course, forget actually trying to complete any quests as the zone mobs were gone as fast as they popped. If you did get lucky enough to get a mob, there was always the chance of deathly frozen loot lag where you watched helplessly as the mob respawned and took it’s revenge as you sat frozen in the loot kneel. Then there was the server crashes. Stable was not in the vocabulary those first few weeks. The crashes were so common place that many began to build characters on alternative servers. The general chat would be full of announcements of what servers just came online and which ones just crashed again.

The only times that come close to those first days are the release nights for the expansions. The excitement of being able to level your main again permeates the chats for days pre and post expansion. Then it’s the race to see who is the server first for the level cap, dungeons and raiding. Yeah that has never and will never be me but it’s fun to watch.

Outland is by far my favorite because that was the time I explored raiding. Attuning to Karazhan and then actually getting into a Kara raid where big accomplishments. I can still do the graveyard run back to the entrance of Serpentshrine Cavern in my sleep and did many nights. Of course, you can’t mention Outland without the flying. I still use my purple netherdrake from time to time.

Raiding eventually gave way to the pesky things like day job and life as I became casual player for the Lich King expansion. Steam rolling through the dungeons at the end of Lich King reminded me of those days of raiding Outland where purple items were replaced with even better purple items. Then came Cataclysm, my least favorite of them all. Being back in the old world never seemed to hold the magic the new continents presented. Pursuing Archeology’s allusive Sandstone drake alchemy formula cause me to burn out so the day after I discovered it, I took a six month break.

On the eve of the fourth expansion, I find myself remembering all the good times and friends I’ve made along the way. Being on voice chat, usually vent, one would hear a wide range of accents and voices of all ages working together for common goals in this little virtual world. Somehow that lecture about something you’ve done wrong always seems sting less when it’s said with an Australian, English or French accent.

I wonder what new memories this expansion will bring?