I didn't think that there were big events for video games anymore. That seemed like such a thing of the past, now that games seem to vomit the same thing every year, but I was wrong...and I'm happier for it. I went to the midnight release party of World of Warcraft Mists of Pandaria last week out in Irvine, CA. Why is that important? Because if anyone from Sothern California knows, that's the hoity, toity part of California. And why is that relavent? It isn't, but Blizzard entertainment is there, so there's that fact. Anyway. I went with a friend to this thing and we watched the festivities for hours. There were live dungeon runs and Gungnam Style dancing, and cosplay, it was pretty intense. What was six hours, melted into what felt like minutes, with an energy and electricity in the air that the fans just exuded. All walks of life were out for this event. It was a lot of fun, with loot a plenty and nerds galore, and even signatures from the developers. The geeks were so intense that people were literally CRYING because they couldn't get every developers signatures. I have no words...but it made me both sad and embarrassed for us nerds. Actual tears were shed... Either way, I did not get the game that night, I was just there to keep my friend company and to revel in the spectacle. I think I'd do it again.
But the event was not the big deal. It was the fact that this launch party was for an expansion to a game that has been around, for what feels like forever. I played World of Warcarft for the first time when the third expansion, Wrath of the Lich King first came out. Now, for those not in the know, and maybe there are some out there. World of Warcraft is a massively multiplayer online roleplaying game where you create a character and you get involved in a story and a world that you can travel through in any way you see fit. The key word here is freedom, and more so, I think, than even the Grand Theft Auto series. You get to do anything you want, for the most part, and just wrap yourself up in doing quests, helping people in dungeons, roleplaying your character and having relationships and adventures, or simply just doing tasks to make your skills grow and develop. It's like a more action oriented Sims. Anyway, people can get sucked into it, and for some it becomes their whole lives, and there were crazy stories of marriages and deaths and everything in between. This isn't even limited to nerds, as celebrities confess of their game playing, and executives, and just the every man, find themselves lost in the World of Warcraft. It's a huge world, with a gigantic community, and it's a great place to just...get together and have fun.
As a result, after years of coaxing, I bit the bullet and I signed up for this subscription based game almost five years ago and forked over HUNDREDS of bucks a year because...I had friends at the time...that's it. Hmm, that jokes doesn't go well in type... Err, well, yes I had friends, but I had one's who were particularly interested in playing this game. So I thought, I'd just jump right in and figure out what all the fuss is about. That was a bad idea. It was a great game, and still is an awesome experience, and it's easy to get lost in Azeroth. I know people who've been playing since the beginning who still play it today, eight years later. That's unbelievable to me and quite a testament to a game that can keep someone's attention for that long.
I must make a confession, I am addicted to leveling, so this game was a horrendous idea from the start. I worked my way up to level 80. I was enthralled in the grand world of Azeroth, watching it evolve and change into what it was when the expansion Cataclysm came out, and I fell in love with the characters, the exploration, and some of the lore. There was actual humor in this game, and references galore to other video games or movies and pop culture references, and really, it'd take forever to find everything. Paris Hilton even has an item named after her. Personally, it does blow my mind how this game just became a phenomenon. I remember when the game first came out 8 years ago, and people were talking about this strange new video game where one of the seeling points was that it literally took twenty minutes to get from one part of the map to the other. I thought, well, why would anyone want to play a game where you're walking forever? Well, apparently there were millions.
I played for a few years, did not make any friends except for the ones who already played and then things hit the fan, I stopped playing, and I did what I had to do. It took this release party, and my friend coming back to the game, for me to want to follow suit. So now I'm back in, and you've all read every review, so I'm not going to review this game really. It's great, blah blah blah. But as someone who hasn't played in over a year or two, I forget which, the place looks familiar and new at the same time. I don't know if I like it. The most noticeable is the talent tree. I mean, I just reached level 12 with my Pandaren Monk (the new panda race and new class, wow, nerd talk sounds funny sometimes), but having gone up to level 80 with a Draenei Hunter, it's a little off putting. I have to relearn everything.
I've just returned to the Alliance city of Stormwind, and it's like returning to an old neighborhood you used to live in. You remember where the liquor store was and the gas station, and you remember going to the arcade and spending twenty bucks just to play a few fighting games or whatnot. Stormwind screams out to you, telling you to visit its nooks and crannies, and that's kind of a scary realization. It is another sign of why the game is still going strong after so long. It calls out to players and hours disappear. I intended to play for an hour the other night, just to gain a level or two up, and I ended up on there for almost three hours! I got caught up in the living, thriving landscape. And that's dangerous.
Luckily I don't feel that same addiction as I did before and I'm happy to be back in this game. It took me a few minutes to remember what did what, and how to do certain things. Still, with the new Race and Class, there's a reason to come back, especially if you haven't been back in awhile. There's new things to see, more things to do, and well, it's probably getting close to its swan song and it'd be very cool to see how Blizzard eases this story to a close. It will happen eventually, or maybe it will never happen, who knows? That's the power of the World of Warcraft, and it's time to for me to take it out for another spin.