Lifetap Volume 1, Issue 27 – Going Back to WoW – The Internal Debate
Like many MMO gamers, Sardu took a much needed extended break from World of Warcraft following the Mists of Pandaria expansion. In today’s electrifying issue of Lifetap, he attempts to decide if he’ll be among the masses returning to Azeroth for Warlords of Draenor.
There was a time when World of Warcraft had the gravitational pull of a black hole after a weekend-long Red Bull bender. Core MMO gamers played WoW – at the very least – long enough to determine if it was their Next Great MMO Adventure. Non-MMO gamers flocked to WoW like packs of rabid lemmings. The game became a major part of pop culture, and even non-gamers had at least heard of WoW, many forming polarized opinions on its positive and negative effects on behavioral patterns of teens and young adults.
As is often the case while tinkering late into the night, the constant buzz of random television babble permeated the airwaves of my secret underground laboratory over the weekend. Most of the time my mind automatically filters out the specifics, only absorbing fractured bits of the data being spewed forth from the compressed TV speakers.
Suddenly, without warning, I realized I was watching a new commercial for World of Warcraft: Warlords of Draenor and it felt like a cosmic truck driver of doom was barreling down my mental highway to deliver the joy of unstoppable flashbacks to 2007.
Given my current occupation I’ve certainly spent a sizable chunk of time scampering around Azeroth on a never ending quest for superior stats. In fact, among my first major contributions on Ten Ton Hammer was our official review for Wrath of the Lich King; my personal pick as the game’s peak and crowning achievement still to this day.
Cataclysm came and went like an impromptu 1990 warehouse rave you have scattered memories of, but would just as soon forget. It was that girl or boy you had fun dancing with at the time while being dazzled by a spectacular light show, but never even bothered to ask what their name is. I enjoyed the fresh coat of paint given to the early leveling experience with Cataclysm, but to this day my brain still hurts when I try to rectify the absolutely dysfunctional timeline inconsistencies (these only get worse with the new expansion).
We’re talking seriously, seriously messed up.
I really wanted to like Mists of Pandaria, but by that point WoW was running out of mana and could barely cast its magical spell on me any longer. Its hooks slowly evaporated like stitches in a peculiar wound, leaving me with a scarred reminder of my time spent warring in countless battlegrounds and packing virtual goods into storage for a rainy day.
It seems like an entire generation of massively multiplayer games have come and gone in the span of time since the last expansion for World of Warcraft. Over the past two years we’ve seen the rise of crowd-funding as a clever means of selling founders packs for a game that hasn’t even been built yet. MOBAs have become a true sub-genre, and twitch gaming has permeated vast sectors of MMO combat space.
As all of these thoughts washed over me in waves over the past couple of days, I realized an internal debate had been set in motion. Has the time come for a return to Azeroth?
One side of my brain wants to dust off my WoW client and begin the blissfully agonizing patching process. After all, I do genuinely enjoy playing all types of MMOs, and it can certainly be fun to revisit former virtual haunts from time to time.
Yet the other side continues weighing in with a thunderous and triumphant “meh”; its echoes reminding me that there were those points in time that playing WoW felt like more of a necessary evil than a joyful dip in an MMO-shaped hot tub.
Next week I’ll be heading to BlizzCon which only helps muddy the waters of my current internal debate, instead of providing any form of clarity. It seems like most of my colleagues have taken that plunge back into the deep end of the WoW pool over the past couple of weeks, many of them emphatically encouraging me to embrace the inevitable.
I tell myself that there’s no harm in firing up the game and taking it for a few laps. Then I remember that I’m not a fan of raiding, grinding for gear, and crafting systems that have no true value in the grand scheme of itemization.
If you’ve been having a similar debate (or maybe you’ve already come to a definitive conclusion) I’d be curious to hear your thoughts on the subject of returning to World of Warcraft. The comments section below is quite famished, and would greatly enjoy finding sustenance in your words.