Cataclysm brought with it the first time I actually felt like I was grinding levels out with no real feeling of accomplishment. By this time, I had created quite a few characters, each with their own separate professions and class distinctions. As with every expansion since the beginning of my WoW experience, I leveled my main, the human Pally first. The leveling experience was good. To me, Blizzard games have always had amazing leveling experiences. That’s never been an issue with me. I loved the new races, Worgens and Goblins. In fact, I felt that it was about time that Goblins became a playable race, though I wished that they were a neutral race, ushering in a new playable neutral faction that could deal with both the Alliance and the Horde without having to pick a side. The problems that I had were with end game content, and alt-leveling (alternate character leveling). With Cataclysm, though I loved the randomness of Deathwing’s appearances, having to level alts through the same areas in the same order became very monotonous and repetitive. The endgame of Cataclysm is where I really had problems. I don’t think that Cataclysm was made for players with multiple characters. I say this because the way the endgame content of Cataclysm worked left little time for players to be able to get their alts through the same gated content, so that their alts were ready (in terms of reputation gear, etc.) for end game raids. As a long time player, this new gated endgame content really pissed me off, to be honest. How could I as a player of alts, get the alts that I wanted through the content, so that I could be prepared to raid with them. I couldn’t basically. This also brought in the fact that working adults had little to no time to prepare for raiding with end game content gating. Having a full-time job, I didn’t want to come home and feel that WoW was my second full-time job. I love the lore and world of the game, but the endgame content left me feeling as if the game was leaving me behind, and had gated me off from many of the things in the game that I loved to do. So with increasing frustration about the state of WoW, I decided that it was my time to bow out.
I had every intention of not playing the game again. I moved into playing other MMOs, as well as getting back into console gaming. I was away from WoW for close to two years when a co-worker of mine got me interested in playing again. I was working at GameStop at the time, so I purchased a copy of the Collector’s Edition of WoW: Mists of Pandaria that was on sale took it home, and logged in. I immediately loved the land of Pandaria, with its Asian influences, and its mantra of balance in all things. I even tried my hand at playing a Pandaren Monk, the new race and class introduced in MoP, and quickly came to love the feel of how the Monk played. The lore of this expansion was pulling me back into the game. I was devastating to see how the constant fighting between the Horde and the Alliance was wreaking havoc on this land. The corrupting of the Jade Temple of Yu’lon actually made me misty eyed, as she was my favorite of the four new Gods of this land. I was hooked again. MoP was quickly becoming my second favorite expansion behind Lich King.
In 2014, Warlords of Draenor, the fifth expansion of World of Warcraft was released. With it came much needed graphical updates. This expansion was basically Cataclysm 2.0 for me. I had hoped that the devs at Blizzard had learned from the mistakes of Cataclysm with its craptabulous endgame content. I couldn’t have been more wrong. As always the leveling experience was good. To me, it was actually on par with or I dare say better than the leveling experiences with Lich King or MoP. It was sure a damn sight better than Cataclysm. Though repetitive for alt-leveling, the story of WoD made me feel more involved even though by this time, I had one character of every class. Once reaching the endgame raiding, especially towards the end of the expansion’s life cycle felt very repetitive, and also made me feel that the first tiers of raid content were irrelevant. I didn’t need to finish Highmaul or Blackrock Foundry if I wanted to run Hellfire Citadel. With Tanaan Jungle and its Baleful gear, what was the point of doing the previous raid—Tanaan Jungle had better gear. In the beginning of patch 6.2, I loved Tanaan Jungle. It was a great place to get gear that helped players prepare for HFC. By the end of the patch and expansion, once all my characters were geared up, there was no reason to go there, unless you were farming for gold, battle pets or mounts. That was a major problem for the expansion. Honestly, I didn’t even need to go to Tanaan Jungle to farm gold. I could have, and did stay in my Garrison for long stretches of time, and farmed gold through garrison missions. It was glorious for anti-social types. I didn’t have to deal with all the trolls and idiots that have unfortunately become commonplace in the community, and I could make money and work on my craft without ever having to leave my Garrison. The only time I had to leave was for dungeons or raids, as I am not a frequent purveyor of PvP (Player vs Player) content. In my humble opinion, that was a failure for a game that touted itself on community and social interaction. I continued to play the game, but not on the daily basis that I did in the past.
By the time of WoD, Legion was finally announced in full at Blizzcon, and from every thing the devs were saying, I cautiously optimistic. As luck would have it, I was able to receive a Beta invite to test out the new expansion, and to help shape it as much as any alpha/beta tester can. So, I updated my beta client and eagerly logged into the game. The first thing I did was copy my Draenei Death Knight over. I decided to copy over my DK because this time around in Legion each character class had story lines unique to them, so I didn’t want to spoil the Paladin story line for myself. Then, I created a female Night Elf Demon Hunter, the newest hero class to the game.
I logged into my DK first. I was immediately enamored with the story of the expansion. The fact that after all these years of playing this game, the fact that my character is now considered in the same breath with the great characters of the lore was amazing to me. It felt as if after all my hard work through the year of trying to keep Azeroth, Outland and Draenor safe, I, as a player was finally getting some type of recognition from the epic heroes that I and my character looked up to when I started my adventure with WoW all those years ago. Though it was very sad indeed to see those heroes fall, as those losses leave scars on my heart that will never fade, it seemed that with us, the players of this game, those fallen heroes felt that they left the protection of Azeroth in good hands. As a player, I got to receive artifacts weapons of power in order to aid in my bid to protect this world that I’d come to know as sort of a second home. As I leveled in this beta version of the world I’d lived in for so long, I was able to see the true beauty and grace of these lands through the eyes of the Highmountain Taurens, a subset of the Tauren race that was shut off from their brethren after the War of the Ancients, and through a renegade subset of the High Elf race known as the Nightfallen. Despite the many bugs that I reported (some that are still in the game today sadly), I applauded the development team (especially the graphics, world building and cinematic departments) of WoW. So as the release date of August 30th, 2016 loomed ever closer, my guildies and I prepared for the deluge of the typical drama that seems to befall most MMO release nowadays—login issues, server kicks, random groups idiotically trying to do their DDoS attacks on the servers in order to troll those that play the game. To my surprise and thanks, none of it happened. The release of Legion went very smooth with little to no issues, sans the very first quest to start the teleportation process. As my hubby and I leveled our mains together, there were only a few issues when it came to certain quests having bugs related to party questing that was majorly annoying (one of those bugs I reported in the beta), but on the whole, the leveling experience was smooth and very enjoyable. I loved the fact that as a player I could literally start anywhere on the Broken Isles, and have the different areas level with me so that on the whole leveling each of my alts wouldn’t be the same thing rinse and repeat. No, my issues came once I reached level 110, the max level for this expansion.