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!”

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