Battle for Azeroth & Nostalgia: Returning to World of Warcraft 7 Years Later

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There’s a moment in everyone’s World of Warcraft journey where they’re hit by the sheer vastness of Azeroth and the number of people and activities that inhabit its lands. Eventually, that feeling of awe wears off, just as it did for me some number of years ago. My final years playing World of Warcraft regularly, which was sometime around 2011, were spent chasing those fleeting feelings of curiosity. World of Warcraft had become an exercise in nostalgia, as I’d long for the days when the game seemed daunting and insurmountable. I found myself bouncing from class to class, back and forth between the Alliance and the Horde, seeking a new experience. Slowly, over time, I logged into World of Warcraft less and less. So did my friends and family. After putting over 2,500 hours into our Warcraft characters, I couldn’t blame them, the game, or myself. We had squeezed as much life out of the experience as we could. We needed a break.

Seven years went by, along with several World of Warcraft expansions, and for most of that time I forgot about the game. That’s a lie actually. I yearned for more time in Warcraft, Azeroth, and with my old friends, but it seemed like my relationship with all of those things was dead. I’d wonder what had happened to the people who invited me to my first guild, and felt melancholy as I remembered they had left Azeroth too, without notice, and I’d likely never speak to them again. I reminisced about my family’s early days in Durotar, the orc starting zone where my Mom first introduced me to a man she was dating online named Brandon, the person who a decade later is my close friend, collaborator, and stepfather.

When I think about World of Warcraft, I’m reminded of its presence and dominance over some of the most significant memories of my adolescence. I recall the time my middle school friend awkwardly hit on my mother and her Warcraft avatar, gracefully stating “Night elves are hot.”

During the years I was away, World of Warcraft changed so much. Millions of players defended Azeroth from world-ending calamity, demonic invasion, and dark magic that attempted to rewrite history. There are new continents to see, new dungeons to explore, and an overwhelming amount of loot to collect. Suffice to say, I’ve missed a lot, and the thought of jumping back into World of Warcraft has felt overwhelming up until now.

But, the hiatus is coming an end.

Battle for Azeroth, World of Warcraft’s imminent expansion, aims to highlight the homefront of Azeroth. Once again, war is brewing between the Alliance and the Horde, and I feel the call to return to Azeroth.  

Over the past few months I’ve slowly started wading back into the waters of Warcraft. I’ve made new characters, explored unfamiliar places, and caught glimpses of major changes the game has introduced over the years. There’s an energy surrounding the new expansion and while I once was burnt out, I’m starting to feel the sense of awe and wonder that first attracted me to World of Warcraft. Maybe it’s because Battle for Azeroth reminds me of simpler times, or perhaps it’s due Blizzard’s market dominance with Overwatch and Heroes of the Storm. Regardless, there’s something in the water, and Battle for Azeroth has me excited to jump back into World of Warcraft again.

Sure, maybe the house has a new coat of paint and some of the furniture has been updated, but my time in the game has felt a bit like coming home. I can only hope my family will be there to greet me.

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