Thursday, July 7, 2011

You Never Forget Your First Time

As much as I would like to remain objective, I suppose that I'll always look at WoW through Wrath-tainted lenses.

I guess that a certain subset of people just threw up their hands and said "Oh crap, here comes another 'heroics are too hard' or 'why can progression be the same as in Wrath' topic," but that's not really the case.  For one thing, I've yet to actually set foot in a Cata Heroic.  It's kind of hard to compare Heroics if you don't queue up for them, you know.  The other big reason why it's not the post you thought it was is that I don't raid.  (Running AQ40 when you're L80 or L85 doesn't count in my book.)

No, what's really on my mind is how I approach WoW, how I think about WoW, and how I describe WoW to people.  Because I started playing mid-way through Wrath, I can't really internalize how different things were in Vanilla or BC.  Sure, I can appreciate on an intellectual level the all-day Alterac Valley fights back in Vanilla, but since I never really lived it I can't think in terms of those BG runs.

In a way, it's akin to learning a new language.  You learn basics of grammar, memorize words, and practice conjugating verbs, but until you actually learn to think in that language, you're still merely translating what's in your head.  The new language could be a cipher for all that's worth, because your brain still uses your native language as a primary reference.  Once you reach a critical point and the switch is flipped inside your head, then you can actually say 'I get this now.  This makes sense to me.'

I understand WoW through Wrath's eyes because I can't comprehend the BC way (or the Vanilla way) of doing things.  Sure, I ran instances throughout the pre-Cata Vanilla and BC zones, but I ran them with the Wrath toolkit.  I can't understand how it was to run Magister's Terrace back in the day, because the BC toolset was so radically different than it is now.*  Even if you eschewed the L68 Wrath gear and ran with BC L70 gear, you truly won't get it because everything that comprises a toon --Talents, Spells, Attacks, Glyphs, etc.-- has completely changed since then.

This isn't a bad thing or a good thing, but just, well, how it is.

When I think about Halls of Origination, I say to myself "imagine running Halls of Stone and Halls of Lightning back-to-back, and that's what HOO is like."

When I try to describe Tol'vir to people, I tell them "it runs about as quick as Utgarde Keep, although the bosses remind me more of Ahn'kahet and Forge of Souls."

When I look at the Therazane quest chain in Deepholm, I compare it to the Sons of Hodir quest chain in Storm Peaks.

I'm sure that people new to WoW in this post-4.0.1 age will have trouble understanding things like the 'Thrall goes to Outland' quest chain, how Hillsbrad can make Hordies on PvP servers twitch, or how the simple words "attunement chain" can start a fight.  They'll be Cata babies, and you know what?  That's okay with me.

What's really important to take away from this is that we all started out in WoW differently, and we approach the game differently.  Nobody really forgets what it was like to install the software, login, and create your first toon.  We all start from the same beginning, but we take different paths along the way.

*Right about now some smart-ass will say "you hit stuff, you kill stuff, how hard can that be?"  But that's life, man.


  1. I have to admit I actually giggled at the phrase "Wrath-tainted lenses". I'm used to Vanilla and BC lovers getting accused of being overly nostalgic, but that's the first time I hear about it in relation to WOTLK!

    And your description of HoO amused me as well. It's something I never would have thought of myself, but it's rather apt.

  2. @Shintar-- It's not necessarily nostalgia, just a recognition that Wrath was my first WoW experience, and I'll always compare everything to that.

    Now, there are enough people out there who complain about certain aspects of Cata (/cough Heroics /cough) that it would seem that those people are nostalgic for Wrath...