Some of us are hardcore gamers with lots of experience with other games. For others, WoW was their first (and in some cases, only). Most of us raid, and some of us PvP or theorycraft. A few of us are nuts for hardware arguments, but others are surprised to discover that WoW does not actually play on our toasters. Many of us are pretty easygoing in our approach to the content; others would sell their grandmothers up the river for a server-first. One among us hates warlocks, and everyone else just hates rogues (unless you're Chase).
But we do share one thing in common, and that's that we love the game no matter what we're doing while playing it -- and we hope you do too. From all of us at WoW.com, happy birthday, World of Warcraft!
I have been aware of WoW since it came out. Actually, five years ago, when I was just a poor scrub working three jobs -- one of them being at EB Games (Gamestop for you American folk), I actually worked the release of WoW. Tons of customers asked me, "Are you going to roll a character?" and I answered a polite "No" every time. WoW had been floating around my life ever since then. Ironic, actually, even being an avid gamer myself, one of the more minor reasons I broke up with my first boyfriend was because he was pretty much addicted to WoW.
Fast forward throughout the years, and to the second EB Games I worked at in another city. Again, tons of questions asking me what server I was on, and so forth. At that point, I was either working two jobs, or going to school full-time AND working a part-time job. Not enough money, and not enough time - two major things required for any MMO. Finally, my dear friend (and roomie at the time), 'Kissless,' convinced me to try out the 14-day trial. "If you don't like it," she said, "you don't have to continue. It's free, and totally harmless. Give it a shot!"
I rolled Horde because that's where my friends were. I rolled a Tauren because I liked the race, and a female because she was cute. I rolled a druid for the sole fact that they were shapeshifters.
That was the beginning of Cadistra.
After more than a year and a half of playing, and now two WoW-themed webcomics under my belt, this game has led me into one of the most passionate, creative and rewarding times in my life. WoW will eventually fade from my life, but the things that I've learned and the people I've met make this game worth so much more.
My MMO experience began on consoles, playing the crap out of first Phantasy Star Online on the Dreamcast and second Final Fantasy XI on the PS2. Both franchises were brands I had grown up with and trusted, and though neither experience was precisely what I was looking for out of the series they bore the name of, I enjoyed both games on their own terms. I found the whole concept of sharing a role-playing experience with a community of people intoxicating, and when WoW hit the scene, I knew I wanted to try it. A close friend fell victim to it early, and that sort of sealed the deal. As soon as I could gather the funds to purchase a computer that wouldn't burst into flames when I tried installing the game, I did so.
I woke in a crypt on the south edge of Deathknell, the tattered remainders of my flesh rotting atop exposed bone, and found that I had broken free from the Lich King's grasp, whoever that was. Also, I discovered that I could hurl balls of flame from my skeletal fingertips. In WoW I found a rich, open world and ease of play that had been missing in my previous MMO experiences. The game had a polished charm to it, an almost effortless excellence. But most of all, it was an incredible amount of fun. I was hooked.
My favorite memories?
- Scarlet Monastery. That was my first instance. I went there for the mage quest, and had no idea what I was doing. I remember aggroing my first boss, but of course having no clue that's what I'd done, and continuing in my panic to launch Fireball after Fireball at it as it lumbered over to me and one-shotted me. It took me most of the instance to figure out why that was such a bad idea, and I'm still shocked to this day that my party put up with it. I'm convinced that it was because they too had very little idea what they were doing.
- Arathi Basin. I had stumbled into a Warsong Gulch by accident at a very low level, and was so thoroughly bewildered by the experience that I didn't try PvP again until my late 40's. After a couple matches (and more than a few embarrassing deaths), I fell in love with the simple node-capturing and defending mechanics of Arathi Basin. I was shocked. As if I wasn't having enough fun with the quest-based PvE game, here I had discovered a whole other way to play.
- Pyroblast. I remember talenting into this spell and taking it out for a spin the first time. I wound up on a slightly-lower-level mob outside the Sepulcher, marveling at the six second cast-time, and then sent a massive flaming orb hurtling toward that poor, unsuspecting zombie. It critted. The zombie exploded. I had just dealt my first one-shot. I shouted "whoooo!" and lifted my arms in the air as if I'd scored a touchdown. My wife, passing by on her way to or from some tangible, real-world pursuit or another, raised an eyebrow and wondered if it was too late to get this thing annulled.
- The auction house. I had a few stacks of Linen Cloth in my bags. I had been selling it to vendors for what amounted to a wink and a smile. Upon discovering the auctioneers in Undercity, I thought I might check to see what other people were selling it for. Then I viciously undercut those people. The next time I logged in, I had my first gold piece waiting for me in my mailbox. I'm pretty sure I blew it on something stupid. Don't pretend you didn't do the same thing with your first gold piece. Hypocrite.
Has it really been 5 years since WoW was released? I'm really finding it hard to believe that we've been running around Azeroth for that long. Looking back, there's so many great memories.
I guess some of the absolute best times in Azeroth revolve around firsts. My first hunter ever was actually not Brigwyn. I know right? A little secret I haven't ever told anyone. My first Hunter was actually called Arafel after the main character in a C.J. Cherryh's The Dreamstone. I know, pathetic right? Well, I'll admit it, I thought so also. And after getting my very own account, I decided that it would be best to start over and created my first Brigwyn. (If I'd only known how prophetic that first deletion would've been.)
Anyways, going on with this trip of firsts, it brings back many other great firsts. There was my first intro screen, the Night Elves. Then when I hit level 10 I got my first pet, a nightsaber. I remember my first boat ride over to Auberdine, immediately followed by my first Hippogriff flight back to Darnassus. Later on I had my first 5-man, Blackfathom Depths.
My first battleground, Warsong Gulch, left such a bad taste that here we are almost 5 years later and I still don't really PvP.
Some other notable firsts my first mount at level 45, then my first epic mount at 68. Yes, you could get your mounts back then at 40 and 60, but gold just wasn't as easy to come by.
Then there was my first raid, like many others it was running Molten Core, and 5 years later I still get lost.
So many firsts that in a way, I'm really happy to see Azeroth go through a change with Cataclysm and have a bunch more firsts to add to the ever growing list.
I played a lot of Diablo II right up until WoW's release, until most of my friends quit to start this new Blizzard MMO. As I was giving up Diablo II for WoW, where paladins were gods among mere mortals, I looked at paladins with great interest. After reading the class description and learning that paladins in WoW could heal, I was certain that they would be the class de jour and so I started my first character on a severely underpopulated PvP server.
I was a true newbie to WoW, and many of my Diablo tendencies hamstrung me during my first few weeks. I spent hours farming the named mobs in the starting areas, hoping for a rare drop. I farmed copper ore and sold it on the Auction House until my coffers were overflowing. Instead of leveling or questing, I was buying green gear from other players, savoring that 1 extra stamina on those bracers.
I finally found my way to the Wetlands, where my hatred for Murlocs first took root. They assaulted me in droves, ran to get assistance from their fellow tribesmen, and ambushed me while I ate and drank. I spent hours killing them in their homes, so sure that one day they would finally stop respawning. During my righteous work of clearing out these fish beasts, I came across a treasure like none other: my first blue item. I cheered and yelled, informed guild mates and general chat alike. I was on cloud nine, so certain that this blue would bring me infinite prosperity.
The moment I actually looted the item, I began my walk back to Theramore Harbor. I had traveled no more than 5 steps before I was suddenly unable to move. My character was stunned, and I was unable to react. I turned my camera and saw a dark and shadowy foe behind me, his daggers ripping through my weak mail armor. I tried to heal, but somehow this fiend silenced my Holy Light. How could Blizzard let such a character exist? As my character fell to the ground, broken and defeated, I saw my enemy's undead visage cackle in glee. He then disappeared into the shadows, and I never saw him again.
So I rerolled a rogue and I've been ganking people mercilessly ever since.
When WoW first came out, I was still playing Dark Age of Camelot and City of Heroes. My ex-wife and I were at a work Christmas party, hanging out with a bunch of IT friends. They had already made the switch. Interestingly, they sold her on trying World of Warcraft long before they sold me. I was pretty sure I'd never play another MMO after CoH, and mine were deaf ears to the glory of the game. My ex-wife, however, was very interested.
My first exposure to WoW gameplay was later in the week, when she had created her first character. As she ran to Darnassus for the first time, she encountered one of the huge, lumbering Elder trees that protect the city. With breathless amazement, she said, "Whoah. Those are on our side?!" I very much remember the exact tone in her voice when she said that.
The reason that experience is so key in my memory is that I also remember when Burning Crusade came out, and my now-fiancee first tried out her Draenei priest. As she crested a hill in the Draenei starting area, she caught a glimpse of the sunset. She said, in a similarly amazed tone, "Wow. It's all so pretty!"
And then I compare it to my own first character -- a Gnome warlock named Fisher. And I remember very clearly my own breathless wonder when I walked into Ironforge the first time, checking out the magnificent architecture and impressive layout. Ironforge is old hat to me, now, but I still remember the epic feel of the city from that first time.
I can't help but think of WoW as an epic work of art. Mechanics, balance, and design are part of the art, but it's still all about that first (and many other times) breathless gasp when we all said "Whoah."
My girlfriend was playing WoW casually at the time and introduced me to it. While this was quite a departure from the FPS scene we were used to, many made the jump. We started raiding with Karazhan and since then I've been leading our raids on my lock as well as running the guild and website. I do have some regrets at not having been part of vanilla WoW, but given the struggle we had getting from 10 to 25-man raids I shudder to think what it would have been like to get a 40-man raid up and running.
Looking back at those early days I seem to remember (with some fondness) a fair amount of farming for materials. Daily quests have never inspired me -- I've always been happier to lay waste to an entire region for its riches (or rags) than getting that thing for that guy who seems to have lost it yet again.
WoW has been a huge development tool for me personally. Soft skills such as organization, management and communication have had to take a step up, as well as more tangible skills, like web development, to support such a data-rich game. All these things are sat on my CV but what is missing is how much I owe World of Warcraft for them.
A little known fact about my initial experience in WoW was that my first character was not a priest. In fact, it wasn't any of the four healer classes. The first character I rolled was a Horde warrior. At the time, WoW was a major breakthrough for me in games. It was the first real MMORPG I had played after Guild Wars.
Sadly the warrior didn't last. I kept dying a lot. I had so much trouble playing one. I shouldn't be trusted to get with close quarters combat because I just don't have that ability to play. It wasn't until later on that I played a paladin and then my priest. Since I already tried Horde (and wasn't a big fan of it), I switched my allegiance to the Alliance and never looked back since.
It was fun seeing the game evolve into what it is now. Healing had its own set of challenges during vanilla. The past several years have been a huge thrill and I'm waiting to see what else is in store.
C. Christian Moore
I'm not a big gamer. Really, I'm not.
The first exposure I had to WoW wasn't through past MMOs or the local D&D gang, or anything of the sort. No, my cousin revealed to me the "Make Love Not Warcraft" episode of South Park. After we finished watching the episode (with sides still hurting from the laughter), he turned on his monitor which showed his character list and a Cartmanesque Dwarven Warrior doppelgänger. I think I started playing the day of or day after, which was approximately a week or two before The Burning Crusade launched (I could be wrong on the approximate date).
A few family members and myself decided to re-roll Horde. We each created different classes and grew to love different aspects of the game. My brother soon became enveloped in the raiding scene. My cousin developed a taste for alts and soon had three max level characters. I (of course) just wanted to make other players weep and gnash their teeth, so I grew fond of PvP.
We split up and went our separate ways in season two (unlike most of the WoW world, most arena players judge time periods by seasons, I really have no idea what patch number or raid was being released). While a bunch of stuff happened in between, we got back together at WotLK's release, and rerolled new characters with each other (and are currently all on the same server together).
Allie's list of awesome memories reminds me of far too many interesting events in my own WoW lifetime, and so I have to share a few of them with you as well.
- Looting my first epic drop (The Green Tower) off a murloc in Swamp of Sorrows, then selling it over trade for 13g (that was a lot of gold to me at the time, okay?).
- Dinging 70 by discovering Stormwind.
- Dinging 80 discovering Thunder Bluff.
- Server first Obsidian Slayer with 21 people. Drinking the tears of the other self-proclaimed "better guild" when they sent frown faces to our members. Bwahaha.
- The second Thunderfury binding dropping off of Baron Geddon. After years of longing after the coolest weapon in the game, I finally obtained it. I think I just looked blank face at the screen for 10 seconds before looting it.
- A priest on our 3v3 explaining to us that you can resurrect opposing players in arena. We were fighting the #1 3v3 team on the battlegroup at the time while we were at maybe #40. This was in Burning Crusade, so the point disparity was enormous. The opposing team had called us all kinds of names after beating us several times the day before. We killed the priest and mage on the opposing team and proceeded to rank 1 resurrect them each six times (killing them with a Shadow Word: Death, or some other similar ability) as soon as they rezzed. The ending score sheet showed us with 15 killing blows.
- The same priest resurrecting an opposing player when he meant to resurrect one of us. Oops.
- Ending the season at rank #1 for the first time. All my teammates were my friends. The scream we let out at 6 am when we all knew that we had secured #1 gladiator title was unbelievable, easily the happiest I've ever been playing this game.
After 4 years of nightly EverQuest grinding, I was chomping at the bit for something that didn't penalize my casual playstyle. With a day job, young kids and a spouse that I didn't want to divorce, my playtime for MMOs came in small chunks. I had met a like-minded group of players in EQ with a similar play schedule, but they weren't interested in what they saw of WoW. I, however, was following every bit of news coming out of the beta with delight and great anticipation.
When the game finally launched, I was ready to log in and randomly choose an RP server (Silver Hand) in the belief that the player population would be somehow more mature. Not sure that really proved to be the case, but I was hooked from the moment my Night Elf druid landed in Teldrassil. Soon I talked my EQ regular group into trying out WoW and we ping ponged between them both for a few years, but the ease of play of WoW won out and we retired our EQ characters for good.
My gaming group leapt from its third return to EverQuest to the WoW beta with an embarrassing amount of enthusiasm. Shouting "Dude!" into the mike on TeamSpeak became the new norm:
- Dude! Don't jump out of this tree. Or wait – yeah, come here, try it. Dude!
- Dude! I only asked where the red crystal is. Why all the hate?
- Dude! That little punk just turned into a WOLF and ran away! DUDE, what spell is that?!?
- Dude! It's a SHIP inside a CAVERN! (5 minutes of cheering and clapping ensue)
- Dude! We have to fight our way WHERE to help you train your enchanting?!?
I started playing World of Warcraft in January 2007, right after Burning Crusade hit, so I've got nothing on a lot of the writers and readers at WoW.com. I wasn't much of a gamer then, and to be honest, I'm not much of a gamer now. At the time, I'd played and enjoyed things like SimCity and Age of Kings (the medievalist-in-training bit of me was tickled at the thought of being able to play through the battle of Agincourt), but that was about it. Even today I'm not entirely certain what Dragon Age is, I don't own any consoles and never have, and I use a Mac, which I think means I'm not supposed to play any games at all.
But WoW was fun. I'd seen trailers and some promotional stuff back in 2004 and thought it looked cool, but figured I'd never get to play it. Three years later after BC hit, I was completely in love with my brand-new female Tauren druid, but figured I'd never see most of the game's higher-level content. One year later while that druid was stomping through Hyjal, BT, and Sunwell, I found that I loved raiding but figured I'd never be able to PvP at a high level. One year later -- well, that part hasn't changed. I still suck at PvP.
But WoW for me, in addition to being a surprisingly good way to meet some cool people, has been a series of successive "I'm never going to --" moments that just keep happening despite myself, and they're not hard to pick out:
- Nervously tanking my first BC heroics (Sethekk Halls) with a steady group of players we came to call SuperPuG. We had to construct elaborate plans to keep my undergeared ass alive against the Sethekk Ravenguards, because I could tank one but not both. We finally came up with a strategy known as Lockrifice, wherein our warlock stripped to his skivvies, hit one of the Ravenguards with a Searing Pain and a Curse of Exhaustion, and then ran like hell for the exit. If he lived, the Ravenguard would eventually disappear at the exit and reset. If he died, the Ravenguard would have to path all the back to us as we finished killing his partner. In some ways, SuperPuG was the most fun I've had in the game.
- Meeting and playing with the fantastic group of people I've affectionately called the Perenolde Refugees.
- When Al'ar finally toppled, a fight that for one reason or another had just been a brick wall.
- Deciding to log on for God knows what reason after unwisely spending a night toasting my late Irish grandfather with my cousins. I have no real memory of that evening, but my closest ingame friend (then our main healer) tells me it was the "best SSC run ever."
- When we lost our tank in the first three seconds after pulling Archimonde, and saying the only funny thing I've ever said on vent:
Me: I didn't get a close look, but I think it was Archimonde.
- A long night on the Eredar Twins, who were supposed to be farm content for us but just refused to die. Our raid leader was in the middle of chewing us out when we heard our DPS warrior (who'd left his vent key on) singing "A Whole New World" quietly to himself in the background. The raid never recovered.
- The screams getting louder and louder as Kel'thuzad's health dwindled to 5%, 4%, 3%, 2%, 1%, and we knew that the server's first Immortal achievement was about to occur. We took our brand-new titles and drakes for a test-drive above Dalaran afterwards -- to be specific, 100 yards and dismounted above Dalaran -- and our official guild screenshot of the Immortal achievement is all of us dead on the steps of the North Bank.
Much like Matt, my first character was not the one I'm known for playing, although I've been playing a warrior of one kind or another for close to five years (December of release year): my first WoW character was a paladin. I've told that story before, of course.
I don't really know what to say about my years playing this game. I proposed to my wife while running Molten Core. I've got a great job talking about the game. I still play that first human warrior I rolled on my birthday in late 2004. WoW's been good to me, and I'll most likely keep playing it until it finally closes down the last server (considering Everquest is still out there, who knows when WoW will finally roll up shop?).
I feel like I should take some time here to thank everyone on Malfurion who's ever played alongside my tauren warrior there. He's been DPS since day one, really, I never really focused on tanking on him like I have on my human. My friend Dawn (hi Dawn!) calls him a Tauren Rogue, and I'm usually included in things like the Kick rotations or what have you. So thanks to Dawn, Darren, Ruarri, Neil, 'elle, Nels, Dulcie, Will and the other Vees who made playing Horde more than just a distraction. It's people like you who made WoW fun.
I played WoW since the open beta, where I made a redhead Human female rogue and had a great time. I followed the game's progress for a long time before it came out, having enjoyed Warcraft III quite a bit.
When the game went live, I rolled a Tauren druid to level with my friend, but I didn't have a computer of my own that could handle WoW, so all of my playtime was over his house. It wasn't long before he overtook me in leveling and I was a lonely level 19 Tauren druid. I swore they ran slower than other races.
The rest is history.
I bought World of Warcraft as a birthday present to myself in early May of 2005 after a half-successful campaign in Dark Age of Camelot (and a long history of offline and LAN party gaming before that). It's hard to explain how much it's changed my life since then -- ever since I first wandered into the Webwood venom spider-infested cave in the Night Elf starting area, I've been hooked on the gameplay. I've stayed a subscriber ever since, and obviously I've thought and written a lot of things about this game in that time. It's made me think about all sorts of things, not just about the way we game, the magic of great game design, and the way we interact online, but how our culture spreads and how our experiences, real and virtual, affect us.
It's changed this world -- changed us as gamers, changed Blizzard as a company, changed the gaming industry at large, and even changed the culture itself. Before World of Warcraft, if you told someone that you played a game online for hours, you were a weirdo, either a Counterstrike l33tz0r or an Evercrack nerd. Now, if you say the same thing, they'll either say something like, "oh yeah, my sister and her boyfriend played that game for a while," or they'll straight out tell you that they're a raiding moonkin, too. And perhaps most incredibly, World of Warcraft and its popularity has changed all of these things in just five short years. Here's to many more.
After EQ, I swore I was done with fantasy MMOs. The Spousal Unit was very excited about WoW, but I was happily playing City of Heroes and not wanting to change. He started playing the open beta as a Night Elf Hunter and I looked over his shoulder. I then decided that it wouldn't hurt to try the free open beta (rationalize, rationalize) and I tried a Night Elf Druid. I was thrilled that they seem to have fixed every issue that EQ while giving me an immersive, lore rich world.
The Spousal Unit never played a hunter again and now we both (mostly) play Horde, but I'll never forget those first magical days in Teldrassil. I still make baby night elves to relive the magic.
When I first heard WoW was coming out, I was ecstatic. As a lifelong Blizzard fan, a lifelong player of text MUDs and the MMOs they produced, and a somewhat obsessive player of the previous Warcraft offerings, I knew I had found my new home. My friends and I had plans to roll Horde, and I knew that I was going to roll a Forsaken death knight, a sycophant of the Dark Lady. I even wrote fan fiction. I kid you not!
Then disaster struck. Death knights would not be a release race. Well, that and my computer exploded just before beta began. As a poor college student, I did not have the pennies to save for a new one any time soon. It wasn't until early 2005 that I finally got a new computer capable of running the game. By then, all my friends had betrayed me, abandoning their Horde characters for Alliance characters. Of course, MMOs are little without good friends to play with, so I sadly gave up my dreams of dark evil dominance and followed them Alliance side. After finding out I could not roll a Human hunter or a Human druid, I settled for a Night Elf druid.
There was lots of fun to be had, exploring the world back when it was new and fresh, but what really sticks out to me is the good times with my friends: When one of them sent me an in-character letter welcoming me to our guild, for example. I still have that letter in my Druid's bank. Or when I ran around Darnassus dancing with another friend for no good reason. Or that time a couple months later when we 5-manned Undead Stratholme, back when everyone thought such a thing was an impossible feat. Those memories with friends will likely always be my favorite part of the game, and what give me the most satisfaction as I look back on my time in game.
In the weeks leading up to the game's launch, my wife -- who was only my girlfriend at the time -- and I were so psyched to play World of Warcraft that we both sported customized Starbucks mugs featuring pictures taken from the cinematic. My wife balked at the idea of playing the "ugly" races and planned to roll a cute Gnome or a sexy Night Elf. I, on the other hand, was determined to play an Undead warlock. When the game finally launched, our excitement had to be put on hold because World of Warcraft took some time in coming to Philippine shores.
I had planned to get my wife the Collector's Edition but it wasn't available in Manila other than through the local eBay which had it pegged at $220 in 2004. In hindsight, it would've been a steal. Whenever a player whips out those cuddly baby pandas, my wife still looks at them wistfully. I've since tried to make it up to her by getting her a baby hippogryph from the TCG and a baby frost wyrm from the Wrath Collector's Ed, but it's just not the same.
We finally got our hands on the game months later, painstakingly sourced from friends in the US. I had prevailed over my wife's desire for a "pretty" character and we rolled Horde. Our first characters? The worst shaman and rogue ever. My wife played a Troll shaman who had no idea what most of her totems did and I played a two-button Undead rogue who used white weapons until Level 22. Although we managed to level them to 60, we sucked spectacularly. It wasn't until we re-rolled an Undead priest and Troll hunter that we settled into our groove and finally shook off (we hope) the noob debuff.
There's no other way to describe our initial experience with the game, our very first MMO -- it was magical.
I spent hours and hours just falling in love with the architecture and design of the Forsaken zones. My wife spent hours and hours trying to find her way out of The Den (Orc and Troll starting area). She still gets lost up to now, but don't tell her I told you.
I have enough memories of WoW to bore you to tears, so I think I'll stop here. I haven't even gotten to moving realms, rolling new mains, progressing through raids, or my undying love for PvP. Perhaps another time. For now I think I'll thank Blizzard for creating a most wonderful world and all the players I've met, played with, and slaughtered through the years for enriching the experience.