When we last met, I had forsaken my subscription and had moved on to other things. Of course, I don’t really remember what those particular things were, but the point is that life suddenly developed a new busyness. Seemingly overnight, I metamorphosed into the kind of person whose crankiness knew no bounds if she didn’t get to sleep sometime before midnight. How lame! Thus for a time, I resigned myself to the drone of corporate life punctuated by brief sprees of gaming and occasional weekend badassery:
- playing D&D and painting miniatures;
- flirting with AION;
- attending PAX East and Prime;
- trashing a novel I’d been working on;
- taking copy editing classes;
- purchasing large quantities of Mackinac Island fudge;
- adopting another cat; and, most recently,
- building a house.
But let’s be real—you don’t spend an inordinate amount of time playing a game, involving yourself in that community, and then writing about it without eventually being sucked back in. At some point I caved and spent the last gasps of Wrath raiding on Mal’ganis, waiting for Cataclysm. As tradition in our apartment dictates, Mortality and I immediately power-leveled to eighty-five when the expansion released. Even after taking a cramped nap on the loveseat, the entire leveling process took less than eighteen hours. Eighteen hours! Chagrined, my husband and I flopped around Orgrimmar for a while, brought our professions to max, tried to get into heroic dungeon groups as two melee DPS[i], and then started the endless process of completing daily quests for reputation gains. Perhaps some of you are familiar with this cycle.
But though Blizzard’s pre-60 leveling experience in Cataclysm drastically improved, the end game suddenly alienated me: I was stymied by familiar content, uninterested in raiding, and wholeheartedly dismayed by the seeming return of melee as a liability. I was completely un-enamored with both the expansion and—for the first time—my class. Faced with the prospect of turning into the type of casual, cranky player I’d always despised, I simply unsubscribed. Again.[ii] I washed my electronic hands of the game, cleaned out my RSS feed, scornfully derided the sad state of feral druids, and sneered at the resurrection of Zul’Gurub and Zul’Aman[iii]—two dungeons I had been more than happy to leave behind.
What then? I started playing Rift. It’s a fantastic game with a development team quick to respond to feedback generated by the player base, and while it’s certainly not without its flaws, the game has incorporated and improved upon some of the most successful elements from other MMOs. The community, however, needs time to grow. As Mortality tried and discarded Rift and my fellow gamer-friends dispersed to different shards, my journeys in Telara became largely solitary ones. One afternoon, while hunched over my keyboard obliterating Guardians,[iv] Mortality casually sidled up to my chair. “I’m going to reactivate my WoW subscription,” he said benignly.
Kids, this is a trap. When a super-hot dude drops the “Hey I’m going to play—” line on you, he casts some voodoo nerd spell and somehow you’ve entered your credit card information and fished out your authenticator before you even register what happened. “Oh god,” you say, “why am I in Stormwind again?”
Stormwind indeed. Mortality and I have reconnected with some old players and real-life friends from (the now defunct) Dread Lobster. This change of play locates us back on Doomhammer, Alliance-side, effectively stranding us from our mains. My old roster boasts an array of characters stuck at level seventy—my ancient warrior, a neglected death knight, a sad looking frost mage—and a holy paladin that miraculously made it past eighty. In the interests of new beginnings[v] I’m leveling another druid.[vi] In the meantime, I’m healing heroics on my paladin.[vii]
Although it will take a little while to grind my way back up to eighty-five (I’m halfway there) and gather the necessary druidly accoutrements, I’m back. Expect more content to follow.
[i] Which was apparently a joke at the time.
[ii] According to Activision Blizzard’s recent earnings call, so did 600,000 other players. They seem to want to blame this on a dearth of content, but I imagine it has a lot to do with an exhausted player base that really wants to see something new.
[iii] Listen, I’ve heard plenty of people champion the supposed awesomeness of troll lore. To those people, all I have to say is “Gonk.”
[iv] Rift has, like many MMOs, two factions at odds with one another. Guardians are the chosen of the realm’s gods and are fighting both to defeat Regulos and to stop the Defiant from stripping Telara of sourcestone. They are totally lame. The Defiants choose to ignore the gods and instead focus on building machines powered by sourcestone, which can, in many circumstances, replicate the power of the gods.
[v] And, more accurately, to save the money that I’d have to pay to faction and realm transfer.
[vi] Yes, another one.
[vii] Which, for the record, kind of sucks. Distance-limited AOE HoT? Frontal cone AOE that requires charges of Holy Power? Healing multiple targets is miserable. Why do people actually play healers on a full-time basis?