Between Cataclysm preview posts and debates on female gamers (a topic which I am bound to take up sooner or later), I have decided to make my first topic an entirely different one. I am a big sucker for atmosphere in games and I have always loved the world maps, soundtrack and the overall graphical style and level of detail in WoW. It was a big part of playing the game for me in the first place and with a new expansion at our doorsteps I like to look forward by looking back and getting a little mushy (don’t get used to it ;D).
Of all the wonderful maps WoW has to offer Elwynn Forest will always hold a special place in my heart. No doubt Outland introduced some of the most nicely designed areas in all of WoW back in TBC – Zangarmarsh or Nagrand being two of the most popular maps at the time. Later on WotLK graced us with the snowy mountains of Storm Peaks and the woodland beauty of Grizzly Hills. But as wicked as glowing mushroom thickets and flying islands might be, as much as I loved the nordic idyll of the current expansion’s maps: there is no place to me like Elwynn Forest. Elwynn with its light, peaceful tune, its soft river banks and silver ponds, Elwynn with Goldshire at its center from where all paths lead to greater adventures. Elwynn where I stationed my quest giver ‘NPC’ for Adrenaline’s 1st Guild Anniversary.
How many times have I taken the Dalaran portal to Stormwind late at night (when raids were over and you weren’t doing anything really but chatting in guildchat or talking to friends on Ventrilo) and parked my character somewhere in the middle of Elwynn Forest. Every now and then a lowlevel player would pass me by, finding that priest geared in ICC epics sitting alone on a grassy hill, and wonder slightly what she was doing. She was taking a break.
I’m sure that we all have a special place in WoW that is ladden with memories and nostalgia. Often players will talk that way of their starting area because it’s there where their first memories of the game were shaped. It’s there where they cast their first spell, handed in their first quest, got lost for the first time (of many more times to come) and had their very first corpserun. And there is only one first time to all things.
Having leveled a human priest when the game was still young, Northshire Abbey, Goldshire and the whole of WoW from there have created my first impressions of the game. I have picked my first peacebloom in Elwynn Forest, bought my first vanity pet from the Crazy Cat Lady (those 40 silver hurt sooo much!), slain my first notorious villain, the ferocious Hogger – though I admit he killed me first. It is also where I formed my first friendships with other players. Whenever I go back there I am instantly cast back into my noobie days and there is a deep longing in me.
I think that’s why many of us look forward to expansions: we look foward to be an explorer again, to be a noob that doesn’t know what to expect around the next corner with the odd ‘whoa!’ and ‘ooops!’ – feelings ever so often. I am sure many are looking at the Cataclysm beta screenshots right now and hoping that the expansion will give them something back of the thrill and excitement of doing something for the very first time, walking down untrodden roads into unexplored maps.
May it all hold true for Catacylsm, may it fill you with wonder and bring back some of those rookie feelings that are so overdue after a long wait. But as wonderful as new places may be, I will never stop returning to my starting area from time to time. There’s no place like home.