Elwynn, my lovely

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.

Where’s yours?

12 comments

  1. Elwynn has a special spot in my heart too. There’s something every so soothing about it. Even listening to the music calms me down. But I’m also at home in the winter landscapes. The hidden valley on the other side of the tunnel in Dun Morogh, where it all began. I really should take myself time to visit more often.

  2. Elwynn is special to me too. Maybe because I took my first stumbling WoW-steps there with my preciouss beloved rogue, or maybe because the lovely woodlands are one of the few areas in WoW that have a homely, RL, out-of-wow feel. It is restful, indeed :-)

  3. I enjoy the game for this very reason. Its why I have this seemingly unending need to create new characters all the time, possibly to recapture that moment when I logged into the game for the first time and saw the purple fluffiness of Teldrassil.

    Unfortunately, I think WoW is just to chock full of people who couldn’t care less. You know the type! “mst gets to level cap now!!1” … “moar lootz plox” … “gogogog”. I wish more people would just relax, take the time to actually experience the game instead of just loading up their quest helper of choice, accepting all quests without reading the text and blithely rushing to the end.

  4. @Larísa
    I love that entire part of Azeroth to be honest – I have transferred several nightelf mules from teldrassil all the way to Elwynn, and crossing all of wet lands, loch modan and dun morogh in order to get there has created a special bond to these areas. I guess dying a lot had its part in that. :P

    @Tessy
    I love wood maps. Grizzly Hills is so beautiful as well!

    @altaholicsdiary
    Maybe this is the reason why my ‘alts’ (not really..) never made it past level 20 – I just loved the starting areas but anything further, no thanks.

    And I agree with you that many forget to take a break in WoW sometime and actually appreciate the awesome design and feel of the world around them, instead of rushing through content. it’s such a pity not to look left and right.

    For a while I even forbid myself using the big map (M) in WoW – I wanted to actually ‘learn’ the maps by knowing my way myself. it’s a totally different experience of traveling that way!

  5. My favourite place remains Mulgore – my first character was a cow, and I thought it was so beautiful, and peaceful (despite the rampaging chickens and quillboar). If I ever feel the need for peace and space in the game, I usually go back there and watch the moon rising over the lake, or visit the kodo vendor in Blood Hoof Village – God, I getting my first kodo was one of the most exciting moments in my WoW life :) Her name was Ethel.

  6. @Tam
    Oh hai there! ^^
    I actually know the part about Mulgore is true – Jarhon keeps telling me it’s the amazingest map in the game too, I am somehow sorry I missed leveling on horde side sometimes. I just never had enough cow in me, I think male tauren are win, but the females no thanks.

    I have sneaked into TB occasionally for achis on Syl though, levitate is your friend! :D

  7. I love Dun Morogh personally. especially the starting area Coldridge Valley. The wintery landscape is excellent and it always reminds me so much of the very night i started playing this damned time-sponge of a game. It all seemed so peaceful and relaxing, innocent and pure. Hastened to say, nothing like me. Sometimes though, we need to find our opposites so that we can truly relax

  8. The Barrens have a spot in my heart. Sure they’re mostly barren and infested with hyenas and centaur, but it’s the Barrens. I ‘grew up’ there. It’s almost like stepping into an expansion continent going from Durotar to Crossroads. 15 levels or more can pass in there. I’m pretty sure it’s the single largest zone in WoW and certainly the tallest.

    I don’t have much of a heart for the nicer starting areas such as Mulgore or Teldrassil and the Forsaken areas make me feel nearly suicidally depressed, kept alive only by the fear of waking up unliving there for real!

  9. @Grumpy
    oh come on, we all know there’s a fluffy pink bunny hiding behind that grumpy dorf face! ;)

    @Klepsacovic
    I’ve spent quite some times in barrens when I helped a horde friend leveling. I actually didn’t think it was so bad, like you said it’s a huge map compared to others. If I’m not mistaken I farmed one of the raptor minipets there too.

    It’s funny though how most of us indeed have this attachment to their starting area, it seems.

  10. I didn’t feel an attachment really to any of the starting areas. Teldrassil was shiny I guess and Durotar was interesting in a very “here’s a lot of red” way.
    Oddly I didn’t mind Dun Morogh so much but I really dislike Coldridge Valley (gnomes should be born in their own place anywho, not dorf backyard =p).
    oh and I despised Azuremyst and Bloodmyst Isles.

    My favourite zones came a lot later; Duskwood for example is one of my favourite zones in the game and I really like Searing Gorge too.

  11. For me it’s Ashenvale – I like tree-filled zones, and the music is part of it. And of course it is a zone I came to early in my WoW existence (unique snowflake that I am, I started with a Night Elf Huntress).
    I also found Feralas beautiful.
    (I never really agreed with Blizzard about their ‘Azeroth mistake’ – to my mind it hung together better as a continent compared to the Eastern Kingdoms.)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

 characters available