Blizzard had been bombarding me with messages to come back to World of Warcraft and re-subscribe. I left Azeroth in 2009 and I figured after 5 years, it would be fun to revisit my old haunts and check out what is new. I get a 10 day free trial and I figure, what is to lose?
Well, downloading and installing is pretty simple – the Warcraft installer lets you know when you can play despite several gigabytes are still being queued for download. I got a 10 day free pass and log into my old account.
My main character – Splatus – somehow appeared in Stormwind, I could have sworn I had logged him off in Dalaran. Not sure what happened. Stormwind had never been my favorite place, too cliche, too “Disney”. But so be it.
The WASDZ keys are familiar enough and I ride around on my old style battle goat until I realized that I can now use a flying mount in the city. That just seems wrong. Getting lost in Stormwind and cursing the millions of little bypasses, bridges and alleyways was part of its appeal. Now, I just mount my flying dragon and zoom to the yellow “!”.
The graphics and rendering are as I remembered them, just a little bit more glossy and cartoonish, maybe that’s because I advanced 3 generations of graphics cards since I last time logged in. I somehow had hoped it would be more like Skyrim – pseudo realistic but I guess that is too much to ask for in an MMO. Actually, that reminds me to check Elderscrolls Online (are they still around?)
Well, lets see. Lvl 80 hunter – last thing I did was raiding Icecrown. So I am not geared badly and I used to know how to drive this toon, had my skills and rotations pretty sharp and had min/maxed my gear, gems and tool bars. Now, my toolbars are a mess – lots of skills seemed to have changed, talent points re-set (but not all) and we use focus points rather than mana for shooting – wtf, do I look like a Rogue? Anyway, I summon my bear – yes, the very original bear – and feel some kinship. We’ll get through this.
Lets look at gear. I have no ranged weapon equipped – no idea, why not – and I find some random crossbow in my bag. No arrows. Not sure what happened, but apparently, I don’t need them anymore. Yes, lets make WoW easier. As if that was possible. I sit on 13k gold, I could never figure out why people buy things when virtually everything that drops or is given as a reward is miles better than the crafted stuff. But hey, my bags are full of purple stuff, that I soon swap against quest greens, I am sure.
Oh look, a quest giver. Please don’t be some “Holiday Cheer” crap or I log off straight away. WoW holidays were never my thing, sad, politically correct “Winterveil” with charming goblins instead of “Christmas” . Enough to drive anyone out of the game who is over 14, I guess. But no, the quest is to summon me (the hero!) to defend the good guys against the bad guys. Ok, I can do that. I report to the docks (who knew Stormwind was on the coast?) and find a ship that takes me somewhere. Its a short ride thankfully since the NPC have annoying, fake US Southern Accents and I am desperately trying to find ways to put arrows through their heads. But of course, that is not possible. I am just a little apprehensive. Which expansion is this now? Am I about to fight some lvl 95 Iron Ogres or whatever is the new bad guy? Will I need to hug a Panda? Or is this Cataclysm? I vaguely remember it had something to do with water. But right now, I have no idea where I am going and why.
The ship stops, a Kraken arm appears and the ship sinks. I find myself in the water with a bunch of lvl 80 Nagas that come far too close for comfort. But no Kraken – shame, judging from the size of his tentacle, he’d be awesome to watch under water. The thought of getting into a scrap makes me a bit apprehensive – remember, I have lost all knowledge how to actually fight with this character, my toolbars are a total mess of random shots. Then one of the annoying Nagas actually aggresses and I mash some buttons until it is dead. No idea what I did but I get to loot it.
Nothing interesting on the surface, so I just dive the 200m depth on a single breath of my mighty dwarven lungs. I remember that my bear pet is more a tank than DPS and I summon my slobbering Corehound “Halitosis” who I recall has DPS of some sort. He also has an awesome roar and stomps around belching flames. I loved that guy, I really missed him. He was my signature pet in Icecrown raids and Naxxaramas (sp?).
A quest hub in an overturned boat, some Shaman and a dejected looking human give me a seemingly never ending series of fetch quests. Get 10 armor, fetch me 8 clams, go kill an eel. I have no idea who these dudes are but I gopher along and see where this all takes me. The map tool is much improved, it basically tells you exactly where to go – it would be nice if it could just autopilot the quests so that I don’t have to do them manually. Oh wait, that is the gameplay. I am supposed to enjoy this. Well, I kinda do. I like shooting stuff and the never ending supply of Naga, critters and other things represents a target-rich environment. Everything dies within 3 seconds of my first shot, independently of whether I try some “rotation” or just randomly click things. For shits and giggles, I once agress everything within shooting range and maybe my health drops to 75% before Halitosis has created a big, floating pile of bodies around me.
I accidentally aggro a lvl 82 Elite giant thing that walks on the bottom of the ocean (why? I have no idea, who is he?). Literally 10 seconds of random keyboard mashing and he is dead but can’t be looted. 10 seconds later, he walks again on his path. This non-persistent universe thing will need time to get used to.
I swim around, a few other lvl 80 characters around me with the usual random invites to guilds. The very last thing I want to do is to interact with people and so I search around until I find the “block everything” settings. With one exception, I look at my old contact list and one of my RL friends is actually online, lvl 100, of course. I convo him and we briefly re-connect. He tells me about his progress and then runs some random dungeon and needs to pay attention. That was fun, talking to someone I know. Maybe I meet up with him some day, I remember when he purchased his very first mount (lvl 40!) in Darnassus (sp?), I (lvl 15 or so) ran all the way from Eastern Kingdom to pick his tiger. We go back a long way.
Enough questing. My bags are full, my brain is dead and I am thoroughly bored. This underwater scenery just doesn’t do it for me. I find a Flight master (under water???) and get a shuttle out to somewhere, from somewhere to Ironforge. I need to empty my bags, get my toolbar sorted, some talents need updating and I guess I need to read up on new professions.
Will I come back? Probably, yes. I have my 10 day trial, I may even pay for a month or so. I like WoW since it is so easy that once can play it with 1/3 of one’s attention. But WoW will not replace EVE as my main gaming hobby. I would miss the comrades, I would miss the complexity and the sense of achievement of New Eden.