Posted in World of Warcraft

World of Warcraft: Returning to where it all began


My very first World of Warcraft character (post-launch) was a Dwarf Hunter named Chark. While he didn’t last long, the memories of those first steps into Coldridge Valley has, marking a moment in my life where I went from liking MMOs to loving them.

This past weekend I felt the urge to swim upstream and lay my eggs in Blizzard’s mating pool (or somesuch return analogy) by logging back into World of Warcraft. I figured I might as well use up the subscription time I paid for a few weeks back, and anyway I was feeling a hankering to go back to where it all began and see what’s changed and what remains the same.

Unlike previous aborted attempts to dip into WoW over the past few years, this time around I abandoned my previous stable of 25 or so characters and rolled up a fresh Dwarf Shaman. Actually, I did go through all of the servers to see my characters, triggering a few memories and “Aww… I forgot about you!” moments. But anyway, Dorf Shammy. I never got to roll this particular combo, and since I knew that I liked the class, why not?

So I found myself once again taking a first step into Coldridge Valley. Much of it was the same — the hopping rabbits, the footprints in the snow, the non-aggro mobs that I almost felt bad putting down, and those Trolls in the bottom corner. But Cataclysm changed a lot, too, and gone was the old rite of passage run through the tunnel to the larger zone. The Gnomes’ now have a starting area that’s all walled off, which is cool because Gnomes rock and always need love.

While the big picture stuff might be vastly different than back in 2008, the small details — the sounds, the icons, the movement, the artwork, the enemy animations — were similar enough to trigger waves of nostalgia from deep inside me. It was almost relaxing just running around, doing the quest thing, and actually having a character that uses auto-attack. I forgot that used to be a standard feature. I think LOTRO was the last game I played with auto-attack.

I joined up with Belghast’s guild, mostly to pester them with the occasional question and not feel completely alone. To be sure, the lowbie areas are not hopping with players. I saw one or two on occasion, but Blizzard’s push to fast-track everyone to the latest expansion has certainly sucked some life out of the zones before it.

Oh well. I have no desire to suddenly become level 90 with a crapton of skills that I never earned. I’d rather enjoy the journey and see a new character gradually grow while I reacquaint myself with the game. I am generally pleased with how the talents and specializations work, as there feels like there’s more measured progression without being too frantic. On the downside, the first 10 levels felt incredibly slow as I was limited to about 3 skills and jogging. Once I hit 15, got my first talent and my ghost wolf form, everything started to click a bit more.

It’s nice to not be in any particular rush. I’m not dying to get to the endgame, to get to my garrison, or whatever. I don’t need to be raiding right now. It’s more a sight-seeing tour, with me lamenting what Blizzard did to Loch Moran (seriously, it’s a travesty) while oohing over the better quest flow and improved character looks.

Because I rolled on a new server and have no heirlooms on my account, this is about as close to starting fresh as can be. I have no advantages, so those 6-slot bags that drop are dearly precious to me. Four gold feels like a fortune. Although I do appreciate that I have inherited my mounts and pets from previous characters. Wouldn’t be a trip without my perky pug dragging his butt across Azeroth’s carpet.

We’ll see where this takes me. Maybe nowhere. Maybe I’ll be done in a week or two and move on according to the whims of Syp. Maybe it’ll be a nice lunchtime game. No pressure, that’s the key to just enjoying where you’re at.

9 thoughts on “World of Warcraft: Returning to where it all began

  1. My very first experience in Warcraft was also Coldridge Valley with a Dwarf Hunter I miraculously managed to name Oakheart (I was shocked that it wasn’t taken well over a year after launch). I can still remember being amazed at not only the the sights, but especially the sounds, like the way the snow crunched under his boots. And Kharanos seemed so far away once I was able to travel outside the valley. . .

  2. Add me to the “One Were Dwarfs” pile. I’ve been tempted to re-start there a number of times and reading this hasn’t helped. I’m holding out for Legion and Gnome Hunters though. If I play then, and at the moment I plan to, I’ll start from scratch as a gnome hunter and level up the old school way so I’ll be seeing the gnome starting area and the rest of the vertically challenged quarter then. That’s if they haven’t changed it all again by the time I get there.

  3. My only desires to go back to WoW are two-fold and competing viewpoints:

    1) To get my main to 100, and retire him permanently. I really enjoyed WOTLK but stepped back in Cataclysm, and barely touched Panderia. I didn’t even buy Cataclysm. No desire on Legion..


    2) Easy mode raiding might actually be fun. I miss raiding. Now that you can jump in with strangers and be successful at it, it sounds fun. I see a lot of posts from Belghast talking about it. Getting itchy!

  4. I don’t know if you WANT to alter your leveling experience by knowing this.. but heirlooms are account-wide, now, doesn’t matter what server you’re on. Just hit the Collections button, select the Heirlooms tab, and you can create a copy of any of your unlocked heirlooms on any character.

  5. Oh whoops, I misread. You don’t have any heirlooms on your account at all. I read that as “Because I rolled on a new server and have no heirlooms”. Ignore my post!

  6. Heh, my first two characters were Dwarves. First a priest, then a paladin after I found out that you couldn’t level solo as a holy priest past about 18. It was the tail end of vanilla, so I’d been fed some unintentional misinformation by my brother in law that if I wanted to raid I’d probably be best off with a healer. Later I got the paladin to max, but that poor little priest is still in the mid 50s on a mid-pop not-very-good, progression-wise server.

    I totally agree with the changes they wrought in Loch Modan. For the longest time (till I played the two new racial zones in BC) that was my favorite “second zone”. It wasn’t more beautiful or complex, but it seemed vast, with surprising variety and hints at both age and mystery. Also, I expected every zone after that to have a Hunter’s Lodge off in a corner. Don’t ask me why, it just seemed there was going to be.

    I hope you have a really fun time with this.

  7. I’m curious to see how this goes for you. I’ve never played WOW and have wondered if it is far too late to see what it is all about.

  8. Nostalgia is the only reason I think I could return to WoW, and I know I wont. That feeling I had after creating my first character (Human Warlock) and running around with no idea what I was doing. I got my boyfriend at the time to start playing and we ran around with this ragtag guild of n00bs run by this 40-year-old (I think I was 21 back then) with a thick southern accent who ran a game shop and had to stop playing every once in a while when a customer came in. One day he pulled us aside to tell us he was going to be engaging in some BDSM-style RP stuff with another guild member. This wasn’t an RP server. Oh, the memories!

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