The six stages of returning to a retired MMO character

One always gets into trouble on holidays. I shouldn’t have been left alone with a computer during Labor Day, because idle hands tend to resurrect long-mothballed characters. In this case, it was going back to my SWTOR Smuggler who has been in storage for many, many months.

Of course, going back to a character you used to play is quite a bit different than starting up a new one, and there is a period of readjustment that must take place. So what are the six stages of coming back to a formerly retired toon?

(1) Feeling completely, utterly lost (and yet sensing the familiar)

There’s nothing quite like that feeling of logging onto a character you used to know intimately — and feeling hopelessly lost. What are these skills? What questline was I on? Why am I dirt broke?

Seeing those filled hotbars can trigger a moment of panic — it’s like jumping into the deep end of a pool instead of easing yourself into the shallows. Those skill icons are mocking me like a test I didn’t study for.

(2) Taking stock of inventory

The next thing I did was to look at my (mostly empty) inventory to see what I had going for me. In this case, not much. I did have a few hundred commendations, a handful of pieces of adaptive gear, and a whopping 1,000 credits to my name. Seriously, why is this character so broke? Did I go on a spending spree? Mail all of it to an alt?

(3) Reacquaint myself with my skill rotation

I have to trust old me that he knew what he was doing by setting up the hotbar as such, so while it’s tempting to strip everything off and respec, instead I take the time to read through the talent tree and the tooltips. It starts to come back to me, and I know that after a few fights, finger muscle memory will kick in.

(4) Come up with new goals

Since it’s been a while that I’ve played this character, she doesn’t even have a costume equipped — just ugly quest reward armor. Finding a better look is one of my top priorities, although a chest piece that doesn’t clip through my Smuggler’s long red hair will be a challenge.

Earning more money is quite important. Being broke is a terrible feeling in an MMO.

Finally, I stripped my quest log of everything but my class quest. The last time I played this character, I was free-to-play and she was painstakingly going through Alderaan. Now I’m subbed and have the 12x thing going for me, so she can advance to the fast lane and just do the class story for a while.

(5) Get back to a guild

It’s a funny story. You might recall that when I first rolled up this Smuggler, I did so on a PvP server to be with my multi-game guild Remnants of Hope. I then got tired of being ganked and transferred over to Ebon Hawk. Well, in my absence, my guild also transferred to this server, so when I came back yesterday I was able to join back up with them. Of course, I don’t remember any of them and they don’t remember me, but it’s nice to have a home nevertheless.

(6) Get pumped about playing this character all over again

Returning to an old character has a similar effect of starting a new one — there’s a feeling of freshness and excitement. Yet it’s different in that I’m not starting from scratch but have a chance at getting this character to cap before the expansion.

Playing a few hours with her last night reminded me how much I liked the snarkiness of the Smuggler, hated Corso Riggs, and enjoyed an outing on the Republic side of things. Plus, I got to wrap up the Skavak storyline, which was a nice payoff that has been months in the making.

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4 thoughts on “The six stages of returning to a retired MMO character

  1. Aywren September 8, 2015 / 12:07 pm

    This is so true. Especially number 1. Been there so many times. 🙂

  2. Rowan September 8, 2015 / 12:40 pm

    I literally started a new BH and Consular rather than play the ones I had on Balmorra and Coruscant, respectively. I’ve also been looking at my Agent, though not actually playing him, and only just the other day took the time to redo his talents months after rejoining the game. He was also broke, having been pillaged to support alts who are now far more wealthy.

  3. tyrannodorkus September 8, 2015 / 1:34 pm

    Ahah, I agree with Aywren. Number 1 was the most familiar to me in this list.

    Smuggler was one of my favorites.

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