Now that I’m hitched and life has calmed down a bit, it’s time to jump back into World of Warcraft. My return coincided with the release of Patch 6.0(.3), the free update that sets the stage for the newly released Warlords of Draenor expansion. The patch introduces some great quality of life enhancements, new character skins, and major character re-balances. The biggest shock to the system were the changes made to classes and specializations. As a Hunter (Marksman), my action bars overflowed with numerous abilities, many of which I rarely used. I knew that the patch would take away abilities, but there’s a difference between reading patch notes and experiencing the changes first hand. To see my action bar so empty was jarring. From level 1 to 70, I came to rely on a specific set of attacks to handle mobs and elites. Two of those were taken away and given to other Hunter specializations. I felt gypped because I have fewer instant cast abilities. It didn’t take long, however, for me to get used to my now de-cluttered UI and find a new and effective attack order.
Less terrifying than the class balances are a new collection of Quality of Life features. At long last, there is no need to have crafting materials in your bags to make items! This is such a huge convenience because it saves on precious storage space. Now I can have all my ores, cloth, and engineering bits and bobs kept in the bank! No more having to visit capital cities, pull the materials I need out from the bank, haul them across town to find a forge or anvil, and get upset when I realized I didn’t bring enough or have the right materials for the job. Materials-only bank space, normally offered to guilds, can be purchased for a nominal fee. What a great victory for inventory management!
After playing around with the new tools and features, I decided to solo some dungeons. Being in the mid-70s, I could handle nearly all of the vanilla WoW dungeons myself and so I felt it best to tackle the one place I never experienced before coming back to the game: Blackrock Mountain. One of the most imposing and complex dungeons from the old days, no other dungeon filled me with awe. I didn’t have play the dungeon to be intimated by it. Funny, then, as a level 75 hero, I had no trouble clearing out Shadowforge. Bosses that once inspired fear were killed in two or three hits. The loot is largely negligible because I am too high a level to make any use of. Being over-leveled certainly takes the fun and challenge away from dungeons, but on the flip side, it makes for farming materials, achievements, and special mount and pet drops fast and easy. Part of me thinks I should feel bad over how easy it is to speed through these dungeons. That I’m missing out on group cooperation and management. And to an extent, I do. I feel like I’m missing out on what makes these dungeons so special. I worry that by the time I get to the Draenor content, the situation will be the same. On the other hand, one-shotting bosses is kind of fun.
After taking on as much as I could in Blackrock, I traveled to the icy continent of Northrend to work through some questlines. uests. Dragonblight left me wanting, so I skipped most of it and made a go for Icecrown. Reading the World of Warcraft: Arthas novel made me really invested in Arthas’ role in the world. And after spending hours fighting dragons and ice beasts, it was nice to battle the undead again. I’m only a few quests into Icecrown and they’ve certainly made an impression. Helping the Argent Crusade establish a foothold and destroying an oculus that would make Sauron seethe in jealousy were notable missions. Icecrown is such a massive area that I can only imagine that the quests I’ve taken on are just the tip of the iceberg. I managed to reach level 80 before reaching Arthas’ throne and though I feel there is much more left to do, technically I should already start working on the Cataclysm content. This is the problem with how easy it is to level up now. The game moves along at such a fast pace that it is easy to skip content. For example, I had no idea that The Wrath of the Lich King offered a dungeon steeped in Blood Elf lore. I guess I’m just starting to feel a sense of emptiness in World of Warcraft right now. The game is still really fun to explore, but combat loses its tension, even when fighting monsters my own level. I can count the number of times I’ve died on one hand – many of those were just from stupid mistakes – and I have forgotten to fear it. As my month’s worth of game time is set to expire once again, I find myself wondering if I should just get Draenor now for the level 90 boost and get caught up with the new content. There are bound to be more players and opportunities to find a team to run dungeons with. Hmm.