At the behest of Sir Bildo the Creepily Gazed, I decided to play a little more of my Draenei priest in World of Warcraft last night in order to see just whether the latest patch, 2.3.x, could really improve what I dub the ‘mid forties death grind’, where all but the most exceptional of one’s characters are usually abandoned, floating in the lifeless inky void of the quest hole.
A little back story: I currently have two level seventy characters, the druid was my main for the majority of the game when, I think it’s safe to say, fully half the known world was playing WoW. I played my paladin in the rare gaps when friends weren’t online in an attempt to not advance my druid too many levels ahead. After the initial rush, pun intended, was over I had a level sixty druid and a paladin in the mid forties where he’d been abandoned in the dark depths of questing hell, where even the light of the holy often failed to reach him. After a significant break I returned to WoW, as any player who has been touched by the game’s dark chaotic tentacles is wont to do, and found that a friend, who was looking for a change from their raiding main, had a character who was also stuck in the mid forties. We teamed-up, worked our way through various quests that wouldn’t have been possible solo, and mutually boosted one another through the slog, like a couple of mountaineers battling their way against the blizzard to eventually break through the cloud cover and, gasping frosty breaths, lay eyes upon the sunny summit. From then on it was the plain sailing of sunken temples and black-rocked depths as others succumbed to the Cthulhu-like pull of the Elder Game, allowed a little of the insanity to enter their lives once more, and returned to adventuring with us. Come the time of the Burning Crusade I found little trouble in getting both my level sixty characters to level seventy, and although many a group adventure was had, soloing was always an option when others weren’t around. The Burning Crusade came and went, extinguished as quickly as a candle in a waterfall, and the migrating players took wing and looked for the warmer climes of other games. I hung around though, and took the opportunity to explore the new content at the other end of the scale, creating my Draenei priest and blasting through the first twenty levels of excellent new quests, slowing somewhat as I went through the enjoyable but many-times-undertaken quests in Darkshire and Redridge, until eventually (having worked through all of the Night Elf areas up to Ashenvale in order to become Exalted with Darnassus by level forty, and thus be able to buy my Draenei a graceful, lithe kitty as a mount rather than some monstrous waddling mutant pachyderm) I hit a wall at around the mid forties and I drifted away from the game on the flotsam of disenchantment.
Fast forward to yesterday, which is an impressive manoeuvre if one thinks about it, and it was with some anticipation of disappointment that I took the five and a half hour journey from Ironforge to West Feralas where it had been determined that there were probably quests that I had yet to undertake. I found some quests of suitable level range, some below my character’s current level which are always good for warming-up and getting back into one’s stride, and a few more challenging ones. What followed was a couple of hours of insane experience gaining, loot gathering and general all round OMG and indeed, as those kids say, WT to the F. Yo. My character gained a level and half in what seemed like the blink of an eye and, although I’m not sure if this was due to the recent patch or that luck was having a day off from being a shrewish harridan and was now a lascivious lady of loot, I gained my first ever epic world drop, a mountain of green items, a fourteen slot bag and more pearls than I’ve ever seen.
Certainly, if Blizzard are trying to entice players back to the game, then this is a fine way to go about it, much to the chagrin of the ‘dedicated’, ‘hard working’, ‘skilled’ ‘elite’ of the game’s upper echelons I’m sure. I shall certainly be returning to my priest again tonight, and although lady luck might not be putting-out with the amply lubricated lootual favours this time around, I can already see the summit of Mt. Grind where the Outlands Express awaits to whisk me onwards to the golden land. Either that or I’m being fed a pleasant dream, an enzyme-induced euphoria, while the Elder Game wraps its dark velvety tentacles around my head and sucks away the last remaining ebb of life force through my brain.
Ph’nglui mglw’nafh WoW R’lyeh wgah’nagl fhtagn.