The Return to World of Warcraft
The shakes? Me too. I get them bad. Part of the business.
Except that I don’t get the shakes, or at least, haven’t had any in a long while, especially in connection to World of Warcraft. I’ve been in WoW since vanilla, and have some of the best gaming experiences of my life connected to that game. I’ve loved it, I hated it, I was indifferent to it. Just like your average romantic relationship or marriage. Trust me, if you never wanted to strangle your significant other half, you never actually loved at all.
In time, I grew tired of WoW and let it slip down the memory lane; too many friends have dropped the game, most of them to never try an MMO again, some to look for other green pastures and some simply because they felt worn out. My main server has become virtually deserted, and a guild with some 400-500 „toons“ suddenly has but one or two people online at any given time. What is even worse, the frenzy of the early years, the joy of discovering that magical new world that sometimes seemed more real than the actual one, the endless flow of the guild chat, Teamspeak or Vent joking and bickering (ZOMG WTF GUYZ WHO PULLED!?!?!111eleventyone111!!) which constituted the living essence of the game, it was all but gone. Like a fire that burned too bright, WoW burned out for the most of people I knew. Having toons on both alliance and horde side, I was saddened to realize that problems I was facing was not limited to my server or faction. The toll that the time took was very high indeed.
One of my attempts to rekindle that old fire with creation of new toons on new server was, sadly, a complete failure. A very crowded server, new guild with 50-60 people online at almost all times, leveling toons and not chatting at all… Hell, might have played alone as well. Thank God for cross-server dungeon runs and battlegroups. Otherwise, the game would have died for me much, much sooner. Even though I’ve personally enjoyed playing solo for a long time, it was the human guild interactions that lend spice to the game itself.
Mists of Pandaria
Now, the times they are a-changing, it seems. The new expansion wasn’t met with overwhelming joy from the fan brigades all over the world, some denounced pandas, others counter-argued that they were a part of lore since „ancient times“, some argued that WoW „no longer requires skill“, stating that to be the main reason for disliking it now (without taking resort to harsher words)… Seriously!?! A game with tiny gnomes with pink hair, talking cows, space goats, and suddenly pandas are too much? No, actually, the true reason is that everyone was getting tired of WoW and were hoping that, somehow along the line, the game would pick up and the old flame could be rekindled. The golden age of passed era could be once again brought to our experiences. Or perhaps I am projecting? Maybe pandas did actually constituted a crossing of the invisible boundary from fun to ridiculous. But still, I think the crucial point is following:
We all lived and loved World of Warcraft, but it grew old on us and the flame died away, and because we couldn’t either find a decent substitute or re-live the WoW experience of the early years, most of players came to resent World of Warcraft.
That, in a nutshell, is the gist of it.
Having played and reviewed just about any major and many minor MMO’s that came out since then, I am in a fairly good position to talk about how no other game of the genre managed to capture the spirit of Blizzard’s master game. I played and to a certain extent enjoyed many other AAA titles, but nothing ever hinted, even remotely, to me that this or that game had potential over my favorite alliance-horde fighting. ( Not counting EVE Online, of course. EVE is my secret mistress, one that I equally hate and loathe and desire and crave for. But comparing WoW and EVE is like comparing apples and…pineapples. So, no, I won’t even go there.. ) Oddly enough, having played and left behind many MMO’s, I never „hated“ on Aion, Rift or Age of Conan, each game having its qualities and shortcomings, they were simply not it. It, of course, not being the Blizzard’s biggest MMO of all times per se, but rather the unique experience of MMORPG genre many millions of players actually felt for the first time with World of Warcraft. And if we are still not on the same page, think of it as the unique feeling of your first love and the butterflies in your stomach; one might not really want to be with that specific person he/she was with, but one is sure to miss that special feeling of your first love.
Could Mists of Pandaria be the new revival of WoW?
It is possible and definitely something I am hoping to see. After all, each and every expansion has revived the game, right? The same should it be with this one. I sincerely hope that it will make for a long, sustainable and fun endgame, one that will attract both new and old players into the world of Azeroth. No doubt, WoW is a bit tired, coming into age and now reaching its fourth expansion, and sometimes it seems as if all developers are off to work on the Titans project. But there will be a spike in player activity, there is some right now, with the current come back to WoW for a free week offer to entice old players and return some life back to the game.
There is a huge number of changes that are coming to the game with the 5.0.4. patch, changes in talents, classes, world surroundings, game mechanics, and we will be covering them all in the upcoming World of Warcraft: State of the Game weekly reports. We’ll talk about the new addons, new dungeons, game events and, in general, the life that the brave new world that will be revealed in the form of the Isle of Pandaria.
There was a running joke with us, old inhabitants of Azeroth, that our favorite pass-time resembled much the slogan of the Company: once you are in, you never get out. And for a long time, it seemed to be true, and almost everyone who left would come back some months down the line, or by the time next expansion hit. Will it now be the same, or has the golden age of World of Warcraft finally passed forever? I think we will find out soon enough.