Do you remember what it was like that FIRST time you logged in to World of WarCraft? The feelings you had? Were there any specific areas, events or quests that just made you go "WOW"! For those of us who have been playing for a long time it can be difficult to remember. We tend to fall into the trap of either rose color glassing those past experiences or becoming so focused on what is to come we forget what it was like when it was all new.
My introduction to World of WarCraft was via reluctance. The Platewearer of the family REALLY wanted the game but I couldn't see how spending $15 a month was a good idea. While this wasn't the first time I had ever HEARD of a on line MMORPG (we had beta tested The Realm by Norseman Games) I wasn't expecting what he finally received. My spouse (being the devious person he is) invited me to play on his account after watching him play for a little bit. Sure enough I was hooked quickly and ended up taking over HIS account completely.
I couldn't get over the graphics. While the characters were still "cartoony" they were not SO much so like The Realm had been nor were they so "realistic" as some of the single player games I had enjoyed that they didn't age well. The world itself was just beautiful. Everywhere I went there were people interacting, I loved how I could seamlessly move from zone to zone without having to wait for some long loading screen.
Going into Stromwind for the first time I was quickly lost while attempting to locate the main "Castle" having no idea it was actually called "Stormwind Keep". When I finally located it someone was completing the "Stormwind Rendezvous". Imagine my shock as suddenly I find myself surrounded by level ?? dragonkin (something I had NEVER seen before) and the woman I THOUGHT was some sort of quest giver turned into a Dragon before my eyes.
It was both the beauty of the game and the quests that got me hooked. I was level 40 before I ever did a dungeon or joined a guild. All that was there for me was just the world itself. The Indiana Jones room in Uldaman, the original scourge invasion at the introduction of Naxxramas, these are experiences that even now I recall how awed I felt while doing them for the first time.
The first Raid I ever did was Onyxia's Lair so she has always had a special place in my heart. Back then if you didn't have hours to dedicate to raiding you just couldn't do it. Onyxia was really the only raid I COULD do because she was SO SHORT. While from time to time I would get to go along with friends to places like ZG, MC and AQ, it was few and far between. If I wanted Epics I had to Pvp, so that is what I did. Usually 4 hours a day while my kids were napping or at school.
When BC was introduced I remember going through that portal for the first time and just being blown away by how DIFFERENT this world was from what I had known before. Demons greeted us as we entered and the battle lines were clearly drawn but the game had changed. Suddenly raiding was no longer something I could only do occasionally but with 10 man and 25 man raids it was becoming something I could do with my GUILD. Karazhan with all its twist and turns was FASCINATING when I first did it. Obtaining a FLYING mount for the first time I remember spending about an hour just flying around in circles. It equaled FREEDOM to me.
I had the privilege of being a beta tester for Wrath and like BC before I was blown away with how different the game was becoming yet again. The quests were mini stories that FLOWED from zone to zone. The first time I saw the Tuskarr turtle boat I laughed aloud at the Carrot on a stick guiding it. Ulduar was what blew me away, the first time I flew over that snowy ledge in Storm Peaks and saw it spread out before me in all it's massive glory I could only say "oh wow". As voice acting entered our quests I now complain when it isn't present. Oh how spoiled I have become.
Even now people are entering the game for the first time. I recently met a level 80 rogue who has only been playing for three months! How different her game experience is from mine all those years ago. As Cataclysm slowly works it way towards us I can't help but be excited about the idea of yet another face lift, this time for that "Old World" I once roamed daily. While yes, the game is not perfect it STILL manages to instill that sense of awe from time to time, I can't wait until my next breathless moment.