World of Warcraft – Still Playing with Friends
When You’ve Done It All In The World of Warcraft, There’s Still Stuff To Do
by Andy Stetzinger
The World of Warcraft has an interesting dilemma it has to deal with; as characters in the game grow in strength, stature, and power, the surrounding environment, monsters, and big bosses do not. After a while, what was once a formidable foe becomes nothing more than a wet paper towel to the player. To entice players to continue to play through the older content, Blizzard adds various new items that players can acquire by defeating the enemies within. Blizzard is also working on scaling the level of the players down to make the locations somewhat challenging again, and adding quest rewards for running some of the older content still in the game.
I sit here in Dalaran waiting for my Mage friend to show up so we can do this weird “time travel” thing where we go back to places we’ve been a hundred times to take down threats we’ve already dealt with for the chance that this time maybe we’ll find something else in the loot chest – a pet, a mount, a rare piece of gear – anything that makes our time and effort worthwhile. Yeah, Azeroth is a weird world to live in. One minute you’re off doing your part to save the entire planet with 9 of your closest friends and the next you’re picking herbs or fishing with complete strangers. But that’s one of the things that makes this planet worth saving – the people in it. Even if one of those people is my Mage friend who is notoriously late for everything we want to do. But, she can cast portals that get us close enough to where we’re going that it makes waiting worth it.
“Hey, just got here. Had a thing, you know how it is.”, she says as she pops into my world, “Are you ready? We’re going to head to Firelands first, so I’ll just meet you over at the portal.”
A portal hop and a short flight later, and we’re both heading into the Elemental Plane crafted by the Titans themselves in the early days of Azeroth that serves as a prison for some unruly fire elementals and their leader, Ragnaros. Years ago, when things were different, this was a challenging place to be. Nowadays, as we’ve all aged and matured, it poses no threat to us.
Don’t get me wrong, it’s still tricky. There are still things we need to do in a very specific order to achieve our goals. We have quests to complete, and items we hope we’ll find on this journey. We’re not here just for the sightseeing – although if you enjoy a great sunset in any direction you face, this is one place you should make certain to visit.
Prior to facing Ragnaros, my Mage friend has several tasks we’re here to accomplish that must be dealt with. As we run around this fiery elemental plane killing strange creatures, we hear an ominous voice tell his hell loyal companions hell-beast dogs that we’re encroaching on the Fire Lord’s domain. We’re more than certain a fight is in our near future. We see Shannox, the ferocious Flamewalker of the Firelands, and move to engage him.
My mage friend reminds me of our slightly altered tactic – “We need to be careful, we can’t kill him too quickly. I’ve got a quest item to try to get, and I’m not quite sure what to do.” And by “slightly altered”, I mean I just stand there and let Shannox and his two hell-beast fire dogs beat on me until my Mage friend has done what she needs to do for her quest. With my level of experience, I heal myself for more health than the maximum damage they can possibly do to me. They’re no threat to anyone in our group today. So I just stand there and wait for my Mage friend to do what she needs to do.
“Just let me know when you’re ready to move on to the next thing!”, I say. That next thing will be as easy as this one, but that’s not the point of this evening together in Azeroth.
Since it’s inception, World of Warcraft has had an item “drop rate”. It’s the percent chance an item has of being rewarded by defeating specific creatures in the game. Some of those drop rates are low as .001% and scale completely to 100%. It’s these low drop rate items that keep players coming back to older content in an attempt to hopefully finally get that item.
As the evening progresses, my Mage friend and I trudge into several different areas and buildings that, back in the day, caused us much grief. There’s definitely part of me that enjoys the level of payback I can dish out to all these creatures who can now no longer harm me but yet feel the need to try anyhow. It’s not everybody, though. Some of the guards seem that they’d rather pay more attention to the color of the ceiling than they would me walking by them.
I laugh to myself, “sure, buddy, four years ago and you would have been all over me. But tonight? Tonight you just wanna look the other way.”
“Well, Lord Marrowgar has fallen again.” my Mage friend quipped as the first big boss of our journey into Icecrown Citadel crumbles to the ground beneath our feet.
“Yes, but apparently one of his aids is still mad at us”, I replied as I noticed a creature who could withstand much less of an attack than Lord Marrowgar did has suddenly decided now would be his time to save the Citadel from us.
My Mage friend smiled, and with a simple Arcane Blast, the creature was vanquished.
“Yeah, that wasn’t the smartest of ideas at all!”, she remarked.
We continued our progression, defeating creatures and beings of all nature, and acquiring some very interesting rewards along the way – including some pets, which my Mage friend so dearly cherishes, and a couple of very nice looking swords that should return a nice payment on the local auction house.
Blizzard launched the World of Warcraft on November 23, 2004. It’s seen some amazing growth and even more amazing sustainability. It’s player based peaked at over 12 million people, and conservative estimates have the current player base at about half that. While new content is released on a regular basis with smaller patches and major game expansions, there is a growing amount of older content that is still appealing to both new and veteran players alike. Players often get together to run the older content, filling their minds with nostalgia for the times they fought side by side with their friends for hours on end, and the hope of possibly finally getting that rare drop.
All in all, it was a good night. Four pets, some rare gear, and enough loot to make about 5 thousand gold just by selling it off to vendors. But best of all, I got to spend some quality time with my Mage friend – even if she was a little late.