World of Warcraft has easily become my most-played game of all time, and I’m probably safe in assuming that the all-time part is gonna stick. Due to this, when a recent reddit thread popped up asking people of their earliest WoW memories, I decided to recount just where this potentially unhealthy obsession all began.
When I was twelve my Dad bought me the Burning Crusade + Vanilla WoW BattleChest. He knew I played Runescape and thought I’d like this… though I’m not sure if he was aware of the monthly subscription fee. After being unable to download it on our family PC I gave up on it and spent a few months reading the game guides instead.
Eventually on some random day I decided to try the download again, this time with the WoW website open. According to my placebo-addled mind this made it work, and I promptly jumped in with the gametime provided and made a human warrior to get a feel for the world before I chose my real race/class combo. After making it to Goldshire I decided to reroll as a Night Elf Druid, as I’d seen people running around as bears and cats and wanted to be able to do that. Shapeshifting was clearly the coolest ability in the game, in the mind of a twelve-year old. And that’s how… I can’t say it with a straight face… that’s how the Druid Shadowmadman was born.
Over the course of the next few months I joined a guild called Dynasty Warriors (EU Karazhan), and ran around in Elwynn Forest and Westfall killing mobs and ignoring quests. I distinctly remember my guildies poking fun at me for levelling as slowly as I did. Oftentimes, I’d just hang out in Goldshire or travel across the world, dodging (often unsuccessfully) between mobs to make it to strange and hostile territories. I think I made it to Durotar once. Other naive noobish memories of this time period I have include running around Elwynn trying to figure out how to level woodcutting (not a skill), and leaving Dynasty Warriors to start my own guild (an edgily named Shadows of Destiny) which attracted many clueless players as low a level as their Guild Leader.
After about twenty levels of pissing around I was distracted by the ever-present call of Runescape, and that was that. I neglected to tell my Dad that I no longer played the game so he payed for about five months of WoW for no reason (sorry Dad) and I considered my WoW days to be behind me. But eventually – and I don’t remember quite how I came to learn about this – I discovered the existence of private servers for the game, allowing you to play for free (and against Blizzard’s wishes). I promptly hopped into an instant-level-70 server and began exploring Burning Crusade’s Outland on a pimped-out version of my Night Elf Druid. Over these next few months I’d spend many hours hopping between different servers as they got shut down or failed to work, from fast-levelling servers to “Blizzlike” servers. I vaguely recall seeing the Wrath of the Lich King loading screen for the first time, so around then must have been when I stopped playing private servers.
I even figured out how to set up my own private server for personal use, so as to mess around with GM commands. I recall turning myself into a giant, switching models to various boss NPCs in the game, teleporting to an undeveloped Emerald Dream and making NPC’s say weird and wonderful things. Looking back, this kind of experimentation was experienced by very few players, and I’m lucky that my bored teenage self took the time to bother figuring it out. Current me doesn’t remember a single step of the process. All I know is that I couldn’t get mobs to spawn or quests to work, so the single-player WoW I dreamed of never came to fruition. And besides, it felt astoundingly lonely in an empty Azeroth.
What followed was the largest gap in my WoW history. I remember when Cataclysm was announced, and I was angry that they’d ruined Loch Modan. I remember hearing somewhere that Mists of Pandaria had been announced, and stating that the game was losing direction and probably on its way out. And then I stopped paying attention altogether. For all I knew, we could be 9 expansions deep by the time I next focused on it.
In 2013 I became a uni student, and it only took a few months of having my own income and a new laptop before putting two and two together and re-considering World of Warcraft. I poked my friend Reece about trying the level 20 trial, to which he said he’d already done it on a Night Elf Druid. (We make very similar decisions sometimes.) Regardless, the idea of returning to WoW with one of my closest friends meant that I didn’t keep to the Starter Edition all that long, and before I knew it I was shooting past level 20, joining a guild and diving deeper into WoW than ever before. This was near the start of 5.4 (the last patch of Mists), and it’s worth noting that I levelled my first ever character from 1 – 90 and still had time to get bored of the endgame content. I don’t know how long-time players survived the content drought.
Since then, I’ve levelled 9 out of 12 classes to level 100+ and have sunk literally thousands of hours into the game. I’ve been a part of four wonderful guilds and have met a plethora of new friends. I’ve become an on-and-off-again kind of player – usually a few months on and a few months off – but I still spend time goofing off, pursuing alternate avenues of gameplay and generally falling behind on my ilvl after I’ve consumed all of the narrative content that a patch provides. I’m starting to think I’m in this to the end.
If they announce WoW 2, I’m fucked.