Returning to World of Warcraft after a four-year hiatus
Pip tries out some new jobs.
Returning to WoW is like visiting a curmudgeonly relative after years of distance. ‘Finally decided to show your face, have you?’ Yes, World of Warcraft, I have. And I’m finally going to get to level 60.
Now, I realise that getting to level 60 is meaningless. With the level cap increased to 120, it’s the gaming equivalent of celebrating your 43rd birthday. But my departure from WoW four years ago, and the fact I never reached the endgame with my favourite troll rogue, Kanhoji, has been hanging over me like an Arcanite Sword of Damocles. The latest expansion, Battle for Azeroth,
gives me the perfect excuse to return and not-actually-finish the job.
There are a number of problems with this. Firstly, I appear to be playing an entirely different game to the one I abandoned. My bag is full of junk that no longer does anything: my poisons have lost their sting; my vanishing powder is now just ‘powder’. It’s like finding a jar of foreign coins from countries that have since adopted the Euro. And like my collection of francs and lira, I keep some stored for posterity.
My talent tree, likewise, is unrecognisable. I could research it all and start from scratch, but I decide to go with the one that most makes me sound like a pirate instead. Cool.
Back to the grindstone
I spend a few hours trying to remember what I was doing, like a drunk piecing together a filthy night out, before giving up and returning to the leafy familiarity of Un’Goro
I appear to be playing an entirely different game to the one I abandoned
Crater. It’s dull, safe and repetitive – the perfect place to stumble back to competence by killing dinosaurs. Soon I’m overloaded with quests, with each one leading to many more. I find the comatose grind of it comforting. I can handle everything on my own, which is handy because my server is abandoned and everything seems to take time rather than skill. Hours pass, levels tick up.
I wrap up more quests, and end up crossing the border into Tanaris. I’m so busy doing nonsense for goblins that I barely notice hitting level 60. It feels great to finally be here, but it’s muted – not least because I hit the old level cap parachuting back to earth after bombing pirates. How undignified. I’m also aware that the people I used to play with have left, and that my time in WoW might be ending. I’m so many expansions behind that trying to catch up seems futile, and I don’t want to do it alone. On the plus side: I can finally fly. Yes, I’ve been walking everywhere until now.
This final achievement makes the journey worth it. This is how I want to experience World of Warcraft from now on: seeing the areas from a safe distance, hearing the music, feeling the memories. I won’t play WoW often anymore, but I’m not ready to completely abandon it, either. Much like his useless collection of poisons, Kanhoji might be obsolete now, but I will always keep him around for posterity’s sake.
Falling to earth on a tattered parachute lessens the emotional resonance.
“The stars are so beautiful… ohsweetchristarockettroll!”