Okay, so, I guess I never really stopped loving WoW. I mean, I can sit here and cry and complain about it all afternoon long but at the end of the day it’s still a game I’ve been playing on and off for nearly a decade. That’s commitment. It’s like marriage. And timewalking is rekindling the spark.
See, earlier today I wound up in a Halls of Lightning group with four other people all from the same guild. I am 99% sure that they had never even stepped foot in this dungeon before, judging by the many deaths and missteps. But they were having a good old time and I got to play the part of the Old Hand who could point out that no, you actually have to run to the back of the room during Ionar’s spark thing.
I haven’t felt like the Old Hand in a long time.
I also haven’t felt like “Oh gods if I don’t DPS my heart out, the group will completely fail”, in a long time. But that’s where I was today with this dungeon.
It’s occurred to me that I really like where WoW is at currently. It’s nice and relaxing and I have goals to work towards, like mounts and titles. I still have LFR stuff to do if I want, plus a million other optional things that are available for me if I want. I don’t know, it’s just nice and cozy right now. And I like it.
Other stuff I’ve been playing:
FFXIV: A Realm Reborn! I’m a level 12 archer currently. There’s a lot of stuff about the game I don’t understand but I’m having fun running around killing stuff. As a lifelong Final Fantasy fan I do dig the little touches like the victory fanfare when you level up.
Diablo 3! The new season started so I kind of got back into this game after some time off. There’s something relaxing about going around murdering demons in the name of loot.
…Pike was running around in maximum fervor
Because suddenly she remembered she wanted to fly
So best run around now so she can take to the sky
I’ve got another forty-ish treasures to nab and I’ve got to hit Revered with my last faction, which is Order of the Awakened. That should happen either today or tomorrow, so I’m not terribly stressed about that bit. But this treasure hunt, sheesh. Don’t you think all this busywork was a bit much, Blizzard?
Recently someone got to my blog via the search term “TBC or Wrath.” As it turns out, these are the two expansions I played the most, and they are also perennial fan favorites. The really interesting thing about these two expansions is that they kind of straddle a paradigm shift in the game. Let me explain:
Although at the time Burning Crusade was seen as a huge quality of life leap over vanilla World of Warcraft, looking back on it now, it was still very, well… vanilla. Lest you forgot, here are some of the attributes of TBC:
A 1-60 leveling nerf did not happen until at least halfway through the life of the expansion. To compare, it’s now fairly standard to get a nerf to experience rates through previous content with the release of a new expansion.
Mounts, mini pets, and so on were carried in your bag (or your bank).
Attunements. Attuments everywhere. At least at the beginning.
60 minute long hearthstone cooldown.
You didn’t get your first mount until level 40 (a patch at the very end of TBC did reduce this down to 30.)
Not only was it normal that there were certain buffs only one class could provide… but there were certain buffs only one spec could provide.
There was no dungeon finder. Finding a PuG dungeon meant sitting in the LFG channel for a long time.
There was of course no LFR and no real gear catchup mechanic aside from a little bit of badge gear so people were running the expansion’s first raid– Karazhan– until the night before WotLK’s release. Literally.
And so on. This was the most player-friendly MMO for its time, for sure, but it was still very much a retro, old-school type of experience.
Now then, we make the jump to WotLK.
As I said earlier, Wrath was very much a sort of paradigm shift for WoW. The QoL improvements were just immense. Off the top of my head, we got:
Shorter hearthstone cooldown
Mounts at level 20 and 40 (partway through the expac)
Dungeon Finder (about halfway through the expac)
Mounts and pets as spells rather than items (the bagspace, you guys!)
Buffs provided by more than one spec
Easier gear catchup for alts via a solid badge system that gave us new stuff every patch
Few to no attunements
And so forth. This was definitely an expansion that established a new zeitgeist for WoW: one that was less focused on hardcore raiding and endgame (although raiding was still huge throughout Wrath) and was more focused on a streamlined experience.
So: TBC or Wrath?
That depends on what side of the MMO coin you preferred.
To use a silly analogy, TBC was to Vanilla what Pokemon LeafGreen/FireRed were to the original Pokemon games. So if you prefer your MMOs more… unrefined, then TBC was probably the high point.
Wrath is a lot more like the newer expansions. It was streamlined. Why is it more popular, then, than basically all of the newer and even more streamlined expansions? For me, it was the atmosphere, the raids (which were very good, almost without exception,) and in the huge playerbase. WoW was everywhere back in 2009, being played by basically everyone, and it was a fertile ground for fan creations and dumb pop culture references alike. It was easy to love the game, because everyone loved it.
(I like this video because I recognize like all the gear in it)
So there you go. That’s my absurdly long, 600-word essay about Wrath and TBC.
And no I’m not gonna choose.
Okay, fine, I’ll choose TBC. Because of blood elves.
I remember, many years ago, thinking that if I quit WoW it would be a big deal. It would be hanging up the hat. It would be turning around and leaving without looking back. I figured that when I quit, it would be like Forrest Gump. One day I’d think “I’ve played for three years, two months, fourteen days and sixteen hours” and then I’d stop, turn to my blog readers, and say “I’m pretty tired of playing. I think I’ll do something else now.” And that would be it.
To an extent, that’s kind of what happened. One day back in late Wrath I woke up, realized I was kind of tired of running along the raid treadmill, and I hung up my hat.
What I didn’t anticipate, however, is that I would be back running again. But this time, only bits at a time.
When I first quit WoW, I had been continuously subbed for about, oh, two and a half years, I think. Since then I have occasionally returned to WoW, but it’s never been with a subscription. For a while it was with game cards, because that way I could play for a few months and then quit for a year (or two). Now that WoW Tokens are a thing, I’m using those instead. My days of a long-lasting subscription are, I think, over. As are my days of focusing on one game for years on end. Instead, I play WoW here and there, sometimes for a few months, but rarely exclusively, and usually with frequent breaks. According to Blizzard, most people play that way now, which is supposedly one of the reasons for the great subscription number decline of ’15.
So now here I am, just paying month by month, and pretty happy about it.
What about you guys? Do you still go the subscription route?
Titles are account-wide. Pets and mounts are account-wide. Toys and heirlooms are account-wide.
But you know what I REALLY want to be account-wide?
Because as is I have two characters with Tabard of the Argent Dawn but my current main doesn’t have it. Just my luck, right? But yeah, I would LOVE to be reunited with it. I’ve already been reunited with my Vampiric Batling and Spirit of Competition. Tabards next? Please Blizzard?
Okay, seriously, I have never, in the eight years it’s been since Burning Crusade, been able to navigate this thing. Ever. It used to be I’d have to hearthstone to get out. Recently I ran in as a Horde character with for the Midsummer achivement and guess what, I had to hearth out. After spending like ten minutes trying to find the stupid bonfire to begin with.
The Exodar and me just don’t get along. We just don’t. It’s probably because it knows that I’m actually a blood elf in real life and is doing this just to spite me.
Spellbreakers. Do you guys see this? You know what these guys do? They’re warrior-mages and they interrupt and steal spells. What if you could be, like… a mail-wearing melee mage who steals spells off of other people and then turns those spells against others?
That’s what I want to be. That is 100% a class I would play.
Oh sure, I’ll probably make a Demon Hunter, the same way I made a Death Knight (that I stopped playing at level 58) and the same way I made a monk (that I stopped playing at level 7 or something).
There are a lot of things about the impending expansion that I’m not really sold on. I don’t want to say they’ve turned me off of the game, because obviously we’ve only been aware of this stuff for 24 hours. There’s a lot that can change between now and, you know, whenever this actually releases in the future.
But, okay. Like. Artifact weapons. They are tied to your spec. If I want the really cool phoenix bow with the really cool elf lore, I have to be Marksmanship. But Marksmanship is confirmed for not having a pet in the expansion (similarly, Survival is confirmed for being a melee spec) and that does not appeal to me in the slightest.
So… wat do?
CLEARLY the answer is to play my mage. At least he’s gonna get Felo’melorn, which I plan on nerding out over in a different post very soon.
Besides, once you start porting everywhere, you can’t go back.
So the new expansion has been announced! Turns out my Council of Glaves guess earlier was wrong, but hey, I kind of sort of called Demon Hunter, right? Granted I was off on the specifics, but you know, details.
What am I hyped about? Well I’ll tell you what I’m hyped about BIG HUNKY TOPLESS ELF MEN. That’s what I’m talkin’ about.
I’m also hyped about some of these weapons we’re getting. Felo’melorn for my Fire Mage? Some super awesome looking phoenix bow for Althalor? Yes. Sign me up. SIGN ME UP.
Also Alleria Windrunner? Only the return of the best Windrunner sister? I am here for this.
I’m not 100% sold on the overall aesthetic of the expansion yet. I feel like we’ve been fighting the Burning Legion for approximately 1295862345 years, and I’m not really into this dusky magical night elf stuff (give me more of my lovely blood elves every day). But hey, I’m sure we’ll be getting more details in the future. For now I’m sort of cautiously hyped more than super hyped. Thanks to WoW Token I feel like I can sort of fund my sub indefinitely so hey, might as well play a new expansion, right?