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A Whole New World
Posted on Thursday, January 22 2009 @ 14:38:27 Eastern

War still rages in Northrend, Arthas still sits on the Frozen Throne unchallenged and yet, lately, I've been having immense trouble feigning interest. The explanations for this are numerous, but there is a tinge of fear underlying it all; fear of never returning to that world. Could I really have fallen out of love with World of Warcraft?

After a solid year of turning to WoW as the main course every time I sat down to ingest some video game entertainment, I finally can't think of anything I wish to do in Azeroth. Yes, there are a great many tasks I'd once thought of completing but never did- raiding Naxxramas, catching a giant sewer rat, getting a sweet dragon mount, taming some strange new Northrend beasts, picking some strange new Northrend pockets- and now I lack even the aspiration to reach these goals.

Looking at what I've spent my time on now that WoW has left me with so much to spend, the nutritional value my all-WoW diet was missing has become obvious. While years spent learning the ins and outs of most of the races, classes, professions and zones in WoW was a kingly task at the start, great progress in exploring all areas has left me wanting. With the geographical limitations of Northrend and the stylistic similarities between it's content and that of original WoW, the gasps of seeing something truly new never came to me. There were a couple brought on by doing something new, say, riding a giant, but there are only so many times you're allowed to do that. The grand achievements of Wrath of the Lich King are either brief in experience or unseen and technical in nature. For an explorer such as myself, these changes don't sate my need to see and find things that feel as if they haven't been seen or found by many others.

In search of the search, I have turned to the Elder Scrolls 4: Oblivion. Cyrodil may largely lack the charms, referential humor and overall enticing vibe of Azeroth, but it's still fresh. Sure, I played a bit of Oblivion back when it came out, but my PC at the time was hardly up to the task and I was far too easily turned off by the gameplay to see what the real heart of the game was; exploring. Whether its exploring towns, dungeons, paintings, relationships, secret societies or even my own vicious and primal heart as an anthropomorphic-cat-vampire, I've seen so many things I hadn't seen before. Thankfully, I've also managed to accomplish things while seeing other things.

I accomplished things in WoW, too, though. After all, I got my two favorite characters to 80 and had a grand time doing so. Maybe I was just hoping for a bit more splendor in Northrend. Seeing a Mana Forge or the Fel Reaver for the first time in Outland was literally breathtaking. There aren't really awe inspiring environments in Northrend. Geographically, the snow, mountains and jungle are all familiar. Flying around on an epic mount is old hat. The Storm Giants are neat, but without the ability to catch you off guard with a roar, they'll never match the Fel Reavers. I guess fighting on an overblown asteroid in the vastness of space with all its glory laid out in the sky was just a much grander experience for me. Sure, the Burning Legion's efforts didn't morph based on my quest progress, but they didn't really have to. It would have been a nice feature, of course, but hardly a replacement for seeing and doing the unexpected.

Yes, Blizzard will probably pull me back in. Right now, there doesn't appear to be enough in Northrend to convince me that pushing another character to 80 is a wise decision, but my gut tells me that will change. After all, those intrepid Bronzebeards seem to have stumbled upon an Iron Dwarf fort in the Titan ruins of Ulduar. Might there be something sinister at work behind the scenes?

Until I've found that out, I guess I'll stick to fleecing the unsuspecting aristocracy of Cyrodil.

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