Why WoW is like an old Shoe

That might sound derogatory, but I promise it’s not. As I mentioned a while back, I re-upped my subscription to WoW for this month. My re-entry into the game has been a bit hap-hazard, I’m afriad. My original plan was to work on my Death Knight and pull him the rest of the way to 80 (he’s 75 now). Yet, on that first night, I was bombarded with error messages and a UI gone bonkers from not having played in six months. I blame Curse; no better than a common peddler, I tell ya. So, I got annoyed for an evening, distracted for the couple days that followed and came crawling back to the Curse Client for my fix of fresh addons.

But, once I got in is when the real fun started. I have a problem. I always feel like I know exactly what I want to do until I get the chance to do it, then I get the urge to start on something else. So, when I came to the character select screen, I threw caution to the wind and changed realms away from my DK. No, it was a night for my mage to melt face. Except, when the time came for face melting fun, I was immediately ganked before the zone loading bar even finished for me. But, hey, I had a plan and I was going to stick to it. I flew back to my corpse (having died in Icecrown), rezzed, and queued up for a random dungeon. Word on the street says that you can get more gear through tokens than you could six months ago. So, queued I did.

That’s when I saw it. Approximate wait time: >12 minutes. TWELVE minutes?!? What was I supposed to do for twelve minutes? Questing was out of the question due to Ganky McGanksalot. I’m absolutely horrible at mage PvP (I still contend Blizzard put a target on my back that only I can’t see), so that was out too. Dailies? What am I, a vending machine; push the button for random thrusting motions? No. I wanted my loot pinata. Give me dungeons or give me death.

So, I caved and logged out back to the character creation screen. Hmmm, I thought, perhaps this is a good time to get ready for Cataclysm and roll an alt on Emerald Dream (my home server). Yes, a new plan was born. I looked into the races and classes coming with the expansion, saw that Goblins couldn’t be druid and decided it was the time. I was finally going to be an owlbear. And a cow. I made the biggest, ugliest, milk cow you’ve ever seen. And, in honor of my co-hosts on The Multiverse, I named him after both of them; Rikel (Riknas + Ferrel = Rikel) was born. As it turns out, leveling up seems to be easier in the beginning. I felt powerful right off the bat and didn’t run out of mana once. Still, killing ostriches only goes so far. I logged out again.

Now, I’m back at character select and steadfastly determine that it was time for the fix to be itched, and the scratch to be fixed. I logged into my DK. My tank. My undead Ken doll. My LFD popper; and, a strong popper he turned out to be.

Within two minutes, I was in Old Kingdom killing spiders. And, to my surprise, I was doing pretty good at it. Having not so much as thought of my rotation since the last December, I was expecting to have some trouble. After the first pull, I was back into it like I’d never left. 4,5,3,3,9,0. Just like that, Tank-Zilla. The only hiccup we had was when the hunter decided to run back through the instance to pull a pat we’d snuck past. Crazy hunter, hopping his way to heals like that.

The whole experience really reminded me of what’s so nice about WoW. You get into this nice little groove and everything begins to feel really familiar. You get to sense exactly how close to mobs you can get before they attack; you know the architecture before it ascends the horizon; you can alliterate all of the appropriate words until the game really starts to feel like home.

It reminded me of a pair of sneakers I own. I actually have two pairs that I wear often. The first is newer, cleaner, and all around better looking. The other I’ve had for three years; they’re old, stretched, scuffed, and generally just a lot more worn. But, they’re also really comfortable. They’re the ones I can slip on and off at a moments notice, for just about any purpose, and think nothing of. That’s WoW for me: comfortable, worn, and easily slipped back into. I like that familiarity, and that, for the last four years, WoW has fundamentally been the same game throughout.

Sometimes I don’t feel like wearing those old shoes, and sometimes I don’t feel like playing the old and familiar. But it’s nice to be able to slip back into those old familiar feelings– even if they’re often laced with indecisiveness. At the end of the day, it’s always satisfying because I’ve gotten what I expected to. When that stops happening, it’s time for a break.

The return is sweeter for it.

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