Last night I logged in a bunch of characters in a failed attempt to prepare for the impending apocalypse that is sure to come with today’s patch. What I mean by that is the 7.0 patch nerfed the prices of a bunch of the garrison missions as well as the sales prices of a ton of the associated nonsense that comes with that sort of thing. So last night I logged in and collected any gold missions I had waiting to be collected since I had not logged into WoW in a few weeks… and sold all of the items used to upgrade followers that I had in my inventory. While the servers are still up and running at this very moment the patching process has already started to our clients, and by the time I come home there will be a whole new era of World of Warcraft started. I am still not entirely sure how I feel about this.
I don’t mean this post to sound as hyperbolic as I am sure it will come off as, but Legion was sort of a tipping point for me in many ways. Blizzard showed me how good a design could feel that didn’t focus on the red versus blue nonsense but instead dug down hard into the class story-line and creating situations where all of us… Horde and Alliance worked together to solve issues. While I didn’t stick with it for the long haul, Legion is probably my new favorite expansion for World of Warcraft replacing the previous… Wrath of the Lich King. I had hope that we would see a new shining era of working together to fight the bigger baddies in the world, but instead what we got was a doubling down on the infighting and bullshit, and a path that looks to be setting up both Jaina and Sylvanas on a possible path towards becoming raid bosses.
My dream for World of Warcraft is a time when I can sit down and play with both my Horde and Alliance friends together, and this expansion seems to be putting a final nail in that concept. As a result my interest in this game has never been at a lower point, and were it not for twitter and people talking about the 8.0 patch constantly I probably would not have known it was a thing. While a lot of my friends were in a flurry of activity trying to finish out their mage tower challenges, attempting to beat all of them before they went away… I find myself in a situation where I never did a single one. The last expansion saw me going into it with one of every class Alliance side at maximum level… this expansion sees me going into it with 2 warriors, 2 deathknights, a demon hunter and a paladin.
This expansion also sees me planning on switching my allegiance and “maining” horde this time around. It is going to be a weird ride when in less than a month now the expansion launches. I have deeply mixed feelings about my future with this game. I’ve heard the “its world of warcraft, not world of peacecraft” nonsense so many times it makes me want to punch people through the internet. I used to keep going because I had this nexus of hope deep down inside of me that someday somehow things would change and the faction wall would fall and I could finally unite both groups of friends living on either side of that chasm. That hope has died, and with it a lot of the reasons why I kept playing the game. That said I know I will give Battle for Azeroth a shot and probably even find myself enjoying certain aspects of it. However the hope has mostly been replaced with Dread as I watch this Warbringers series seeming to make good on that concern that we might be losing one more more powerful characters to a Raid someday.
After patching my addons and logging into a bunch of characters… and then the requisite amount of “oh look its bel” and answering a series of messages… I eventually retreated back into my comfy space that is Elder Scrolls Online. I sorta knew that I could only log in so many characters before someone noticed my presence and started trying to interact. I mean this is more of a thing on the Alliance side where I have been gone far longer. On Horde side I am mostly greeted with a “hi bel” since I tend to darken those doors fairly often. House Stalwart was the guild that I built on the day the servers opened in World of Warcraft and for a long time it was my home. However the game has changed and with it the guild has changed as a necessity to keep folks active and happy. I don’t begrudge anything that Elnore, Rylacus or now Kylana did to keep things up and running and the tweaks they made to stay viable.
That said House Stalwart feels like returning to the small town you grew up in, years after leaving it… and while the folks are friendly all you can notice is the things that have changed and the names that are no longer there. That guild and the Alliance side of the house are fundamentally different now, and quite honestly are different from when the Legion expansion rolled out and I went through my last period of heavy activity and raiding. To say active and relevant you have to be a guild in constant motion, whereas the older I get the more I seem to want things to stay the same. As it stands, though I created it… I identify more with Greysky Armada our FFXIV guild than I do with House Stalwart these days. While the Elder Scrolls Online guild bears that name it bears way more connection to Greysky and the AggroChat community than it ever did the original World of Warcraft one.
I think ultimately so much has changed in my life and inside of me since 2004 when the doors opened to Azeroth. What used to feel like family now feels like a foreign country. I can’t really blame the game or the players… it is me that changed because I kept leaving with increasing frequency to go elsewhere. I remember my first “WoW Tourist” jaunt happened about six months after release, before I had even made it to level 60 on a single character. A bunch of my friends went off to play Everquest 2 with the group of folks who didn’t follow us into World of Warcraft but instead chose that path. I remember doing this again for Warhammer Online and quite frankly every major MMO release seemed to pull me away from Warcraft for a period of time… until those periods of time got longer than my actual time playing the game.
While this image is greatly outdated at this point… you can see this constant string of orange squares at the top to represent time spent playing World of Warcraft. The only problem with that is it is a lie, and a lot of those interactions are time spent subscribed and poking my head back in for a night here or there and not large blocks of dedicated time. I left the game during the early days of the Cataclysm expansion prior to the first patch, and in truth I never fully returned to feeling the same way about it as I did back then. Sure I have come back with each expansion and usually become active again just prior to a new patch… but that orange bar is evidence of a lot of time spent moonlighting in World of Warcraft but not actually playing it as my primary game. I have some deeply complicated feelings about my inability to let go of the past and just move on, and a lot of those feelings have come to a head recently as I stare down the barrel of this expansion.
Sorry for what probably ended up being a bummer of a post, but occasionally I cannot predict the post that will come forth from my fingertips on a given morning.