Every so often I have a recurring dream in which I’m back in college — either I’ve never left (and am in my… 20th year) or I’m returning after a long, long absence. In both cases, I usually find myself in the dream bewildered at this place that’s moved on without me and scrambling to try to figure out what’s what.
That’s what returning to World of Warcraft after four or so years is like. Everyone’s like “garrison this!” or “pet battles that!” and I’m like, “What the heck’s a transmog? How do I move between continents? Has my UI mated and had baby buttons all over the place?” And it’s this uncanny mix of the familiar and the alien that unnerves me.
“Wait a second,” you mutter to your monitor. “Is Syp playing WoW? Should I be worried that the sky is about to turn blood red and frogs will begin pouring out of my faucet?” Well, yes, but that’s completely unrelated to me, I swear.
Me coming back to WoW isn’t what you think… not really. I’m not back for the expansion. I’m back because the incessant chatter of other friends and bloggers about the expansion got me really missing my old character and the feels of the game. So I subbed up for a month to take my old main — the original Syp — out for a spin. To see if any of the magic is left. Purely on a casual basis, you understand.
Some days I feel like Voldemort, splitting my soul ever-further across a raft of games. I actually do have a new strategy with that — actually, more of a clean-up effort. Over on the right-hand side of the blog is a section in which I list my current (more or less) roster of games with one (and only one) character that I’m playing there, along with my current goals. It serves as a nice reminder for me what I’m doing where as well as to hopefully help readers see what I’m up to.
With Syp the Warlock, this will either be a brief flirtation or a get-to-know-the-game-again tour. Yeah, I could boost to 90 with the expansion, but I’m not shelling out $50 for something I might not be playing in a month… and why should I jump up there anyway? Syp started a journey back in 2006 and it seems unfair to take shortcuts.
Anyway, my initial login was absolutely surreal. Syp was right where I left her, having just entered into Northrend (my previous Wrath experience was mostly centered around my Hunter, so Syp never got to go past level 70). She was actually sitting in her engineer-crafted flying machine, making me wonder if she’s been sitting in that thing for four years now, worried if her unseen master would ever return.
My goal for that evening was to clean up my bags, poke through the updated interface, reach out to friends, and get my hotbar in order. Try to formulate something like a working spell rotation. Man, things have changed since I was blasting with her through Kara. Nostalgia can be just as bitter as it can be sweet, especially when you realize how much time has passed. I loved this little Gnome so much.
I had to get back to Stormwind to reset my specialization (for some reason, she was specced affliction even though I usually went demonology), and let me tell you, that was an adventure. An adventure in “I totally forget how to get there.” I must have wandered all over this keep, looking for some NPC to magically whisk me away. Then I remembered the boats, smacked my forehead, and made a journey back to the basement of the Slaughtered Lamb. At least this place hadn’t changed that much.
I’ve never been back to college since I graduated. I’ve often felt that when you leave a place, you should leave it and not keep looking back. But maybe there’s a soft part in me that can’t help it, which is why I sheepishly logged in to see my Gnome once more, even if it’s only for one night.