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.