I started playing World of Warcraft in early 2005, shortly after the release, at the recommendation of one of my friends. He was a huge Blizzard fan and had played many of the Warcraft/Starcraft games. I had played Diablo before, but at the time, did not realize they were connected (I was young at the time). I decided to try it out, and thus started a gaming relationship unlike any I had experience before or have experience since. I played off and on for around 7 years, with some long spurts and some short ones, totaling many, many days of play time and some of the greatest $15 I've ever spent. I haven't touched the game since 2012, but that hasn't stopped me from considering going back or keeping up with the new ways Blizzard is trying to keep the game going. My character stats are as follows: 1 level 60 in Vanilla with very little raiding, 2 level 70s in TBC with a fair amount of raiding, 4 level 80s in WOTLK with some raiding, 5 level 85s in Cataclysm with very little raiding, and a few day trial with MOP. As you can see, I am far from a WoW guru, but Id like to think I'm an experienced player with a good amount of knowledge of the game, the mechanics, what it once was, and what it has become. Recently, I've been thinking a lot about why it held my interest for so long. Why, above any other game I've played, did it captivate me to the point of playing for 7 years and spending who knows how long in front of my computer screen. While those reasons are numerous, that's not what I really what to hit on. What I want to talk about is why does it no longer captivate me like it once did? Where did the magic go that sucked me into a world for hours at a time? After some reflection, I've come up with some reasons why what WoW once was trumps what it is now. Many of these are focused on Vanilla, but some go into further expansions as well. Also as a disclaimer, I have many thoughts so some may seem like they are just thrown in with no real explanation. With that, lets talk about PVP. PVP Let me start by saying, PVP was never/has never been my primary focus in WoW. I enjoyed it at times, but I was definitely there for the RPG elements. My first experience with PVP was battles outside of Tarren Mill in Hillsbrad Foothills. There were no formal battlegrounds, no PVP rewards, no arenas; just two factions going head to head for the fun of it. Shortly after, they came out with the ranking system and the advent of PVP rewards. These rewards were great because 1) they were exclusive to a certain rank and 2) they were helpful in PVE as well. I remember PVPing on my rogue in the 40s bracket hoping to one day get to the rank of Lieutenant General and finally getting the Black War Raptor (I eventually did get it once the ranking system was dropped, and it was the only mount I ever used on that character). I remember battlegrounds being limited to the people on your server, and I remember a certain other rogue in that 40s bracket that I would always play against and we would trade the top spot for most HKs. I remember the days on Dishonorable Kills, where you couldn't go around killing anyone and everyone. I remember that you had to go to a battleground master in a major city to actually sign up for a BG so you got people that were interested in doing PVP as opposed to fitting it in between dailies. All of this added up to a great experience, even it if did take longer to find a game, and even if you were on a server in which your faction always lost. Yes, there were rewards for PVP, but that wasn't the only thing. It was a fun thing to do to break up the leveling or simply to pit yourself against other players. Even though arenas are supposed to be all about the competition, its still about getting a higher rating to get better gear. I just feel that a lot of the fun has been lost, and I sometimes wonder if we wouldn't be better off going back to the days of battles outside of TM. Next, I want to talk about gear. Gear Gear is everything in World of Warcraft. Just think about it, each level your stats might go up by 5, but get a new piece of armor or a new weapon and those stats might go up by 50. With the onset of heirlooms, you barely even need any other armor to breeze through the first 60 levels. You could probably stick with level 15 greens and a couple of heirloom pieces until you reach 45 until you really notice a difference. To me, the most rewarding thing about progressing in WoW is seeing those bigger numbers come up in combat. That first time you strike for 1000, 10,000, or 50,000 is what really excites me. With gear that levels with you, you don't even have to try to get the bigger numbers. It just seems like a cheat to me, and yes I used them, and yes I leveled quicker, but I really didn't enjoy it as much. In addition, so much gear is handed to you now. Go through the beginning 20 levels, and you've got just about everything filled out. I remember the ZulFarrak quest to get Carrot on a Stick and this being the 2nd trinket I got, having to wait until level 45 to get there. Trinkets were stuff like that, not +300 Agility with a proc. Yes, some had combat purposes, but these were the fun ones that helped with the everyday, and I loved them. Up next, I want to discuss the accomplishment and adventure. Sense of Accomplishment and Adventure There was something about Vanilla and the beginning of The Burning Crusade that really gave you a sense of accomplishment. As Ive mentioned above, nothing was given to you, and everything had to be worked for. Mounts were at 40 and 60 and cost an arm and a leg to obtain. The first flying mounts were the same thing, and I remember how great it felt to drop that 1000 gold on my epic flying. Yeah it sucked grinding the money for them, and it took a lot longer to get to those levels, but once you did, it was a HUGE reward. Those first 39 levels you were almost in agony running from place to place, but it meant that when you got there, you were filled with joy. Simply leveling was an accomplishment because it didnt come in a couple of hours, it might come in a couple of days. And yes I know the latter levels of the end game grind require 50 billion XP or whatever it is these days, but tell me what you would rather have in a brand new game: 60 levels in two months, or 5 levels in two weeks. I understand 5 levels is okay for an expansion pack, but 5 levels is just not enough to really make me feel like Ive progressed a lot. Back in Vanilla, the zones and enemies changed so much as you leveled. You went from fighting boars in the starting areas to bigger and badder creatures as you went from zone to zone. The enemies werent only a higher level, but they looked as if they should be a higher level, and the zones matched accordingly (just compare the enemies and environment of Durotar to Burning Steppes or the Plaguelands). It all made sense and added to the overall idea of progression. Plus, for any given level range, there were 3 or 4 different places you could quest. You were not limited to a set linear path of zones. You were free to explore, and you knew you were in the right (or wrong) place by the level of the enemies. There was no Warchiefs Board to tell you where to go. Some quests pointed you in the right direction, but a lot of the time it was up to you to find the next area that fit your level. If its going to be an open world, I dont want to be stuck in a linear set of quests with no room for deviation. Random Other Observations So these don't fit in a nice category, but are just some more things I miss about the old days. Having 51 talent points and so much time spent on perfecting the perfect tree. Getting a chance to go through every dungeon on the way to 60 because you didn't fly by all of the levels. The thrill of that first BOE world epic (I know this still happens, but epics were harder to come by back then). Staying in a zone long enough to actually enjoy it and accomplish most of the quests. Shamans being Horde only and Paladins being Alliance only (call me old school but I love the idea of exclusive classes, even if pallies were OP). The days of fewer stats and fewer worries about those stats: no resilience, no expertise, no armor penetration, etc. Grinding whelps in the Wetlands in the hopes of getting a rare pet instead of paying $15 for it. Overall, I think WoW has strayed from its original goals. They might as well just give everyone a character at max level (or max level for the previous expansion (isn't this what they did with Death Knights?)), and let them start the end game monotony that Blizzard focuses the majority of its attention on. In my opinion, World of Warcraft started going downhill at the end of The Burning Crusade with the implementation of the dailies on the Isle of QuelDanas and the badge system. Now I know this is far from a revolutionary idea, but it seemed everything up until that point was what made WoW the stalwart that it has been for many years. Back before the days of heroics, badges, and that awful end game gear grind. Vanilla and parts of TBC were all about the journey, and I believe this is what all RPGs should be about. Now, it is so much more about the destination, and to be honest, that destination is stale with repetition.