About time I posted again, if only to let both my loyal reads know that I’m not dead and have, in fact, been playing a fair amount of World of Warcraft on what I, at least, would call a casual basis.
Why WoW? Curiosity, initially. I’d been doing a nostalgia experiment with Dark Age of Camelot earlier in the year, and took a free re-up for a week in WoW because I felt it was worth taking a look for myself. While I’ve tracked WoW’s changes in the gaming news, I hadn’t actually PLAYED the game myself since mid Burning Crusade era. The game has changed a lot in over 8 years, more than most games change – Blizzard have an obsession with redesigning core features of the game with each expansion. And of course, I’ve changed too – When I last played I was still in my thirties, had one baby in the house, and was with a progression raiding Horde guild but getting increasingly pissed off with the increasingly elitist attitude of a number of guild members (who were, in fairness, probably equally pissed off with my mediocre score on the DPS meters). Now I’m not in my thirties, have two daughters at school age wanting attention (or at least the iPad charger and enough bandwidth for Minecraft) and just looking for entertainment on an irregular schedule rather than a second job.
And in fairness, I’m having a ball. I could write a long, LONG list of all the reasons why I shouldn’t be enjoying WoW, starting with streamlined-to-the-point-of-no-brainer class skills and lack of meaningful customisation… but it would have to be matched with a list of things that Blizzard do get right and are perhaps missed by some of their critics. Replayability, for example – there’s enough content to level several alts without repeating yourself, more if you leaven it with some dungeon runs and battlegrounds or pick up heirloom gear to accelerate the levelling. Polish, which was always Blizzard’s trademark. And undeniably, there’s a comfort factor. Logging into WoW is like putting on an old pair of slippers… I did mention I’m a middle-aged dad, right?
It probably helps that I left my old Horde characters mostly in mothballs and picked up with my Alliance alts on an RP server (EU Moonglade), where the pace is probably more relaxed than on some other servers and I’ve managed to join a friendly ‘guild that raids’ rather than a ‘raiding guild’. The Wyld Hunt is ostensibly an RP guild, but the RP is not mandatory and they’ve got a fairly decent raid team… and also organise runs for second-stringers like me, so I’ve fought my way through normal mode Hellfire Citadel with my insta-100 arcane mage. I wouldn’t want to be a progression raider again now, even if I could commit to the schedule, but it’s nice to do reasonably difficult content with a bunch of like-minded individuals who aren’t being asses about it. Of course, it’s even nicer to then switch to my new Outlaw Rogue alt, because pistols. And grappling hook. And even with a monk levelled up into the 90s and sundry other alts from 66 on downwards, I’ve got the majority of the Northrend, Cataclysm and Pandaria zones that I haven’t even touched yet, and a new expansion about to land. So I’m some way off any personal content drought, and the game has the added stickiness of a nice guild to annoy with my inane babblings in chat and (hopefully) endearing fumbling in dungeons. Casual Azeroth it will be for a while, it seems… although I really DO want to get caught up on SWTOR’s storyline too. Might need some vacation time without the kids. I’m sure they’ll understand.