Like many other gamers of my generation, I first entered the world of Azeroth in 2004. The first character I rolled was a human paladin on the Feathermoon server. At the time, World of Warcraft seemed to blow every other MMO I had tried out of the water in terms of story, visuals, and game play. Impressed with the scenery I encountered in the Alliance Capital of Stormwind, I took the following screenshot in front of the cathedral to commemorate the beginning of my journey.
I ended up playing WoW for quite some time, though I took breaks here and there. I did eventually stop for good at the conclusion of the Cataclysm expansion. By that time, I wasn't happy with the direction Blizzard had been taking the game for a while, and the changes slated for the upcoming Mists of Pandaria expansion were the straw that broke the camel's back. The game had strayed too far from how it had been back in the days of Blackwing Lair. Still, there will always be times when I long for the good old days of exploring Azeroth for the first time in 2004.
Yesterday, I received an email from Blizzard offering me a free seven day pass to come back to WoW. I decided to take them up on the offer for two major reasons:
- I wanted to see if any of my old friends and guild mates were actually still playing.
- I wanted to see what my characters looked like with the new models that were introduced in the latest expansion, Warlords of Draenor.
In the past, I had never stayed away long enough to lose my familiarity with the game. This time, however, things were different. Maybe it is because my characters don't quite look the same, but I just think I've been gone long enough and have acclimated myself to Final Fantasy XIV. Even with some graphical updates, I can clearly see how much the game has aged. Honestly looking at it now, the game's visuals are jarringly bad compared when compared directly to more recent titles. It also doesn't help how much Blizzard has changed just about everything so drastically, which was part of the reason I left in the first place. It doesn't seem as if the development team has backpedaled on any of the talent-simplification and class homogenization that left me scratching my head in the first place.
I am not entirely surprised that a few of the people I played with back in the early days ended up still being around, and that they are still raiding regularly. I spoke with one of the people from my old guild at great detail today, and subtly tried to win him over to FFXIV, though I think that at this point that he's probably going to stick with Blizzard until the very moment that they pull the plug from the servers some inevitable day in the future. Such brand loyalty is a bit extreme, especially since WoW has seen better days.
Overall the free return trial was uneventful. I didn't check out any of the new content except for screwing around with pet battles. I chatted a bit with some people, and then hopped into Molten Core on my Warrior in a fruitless attempt to finally get the left binding for my Thunderfury, which was the ultimate tanking weapon in vanilla. It still didn't drop. Finally, I logged into my paladin, put on his Lightforge gear (the original dungeon set), and took this screenshot in front of Stormwind Cathedral.
Then I logged out and uninstalled the game. At this point the only way I'll resubscribe to World of Warcraft is if Blizzard releases true vanilla servers running patch 1.12.