Fourteen Ninety-Nine: From Blizzard to Squeenix and back again

World of Warcraft icon

Forgive me, Father, for I have sinned. It has been 418 days since my last confession. I have missed raid night 58 times. I don’t remember how many times I lied. I have taken the Lord’s name in vain. I have coveted my neighbour’s item level. I have fallen from grace and have forgotten the importance of enormous shoulderplates. I have been conjugal with another game (I’m sorry, Father, but those catgirls were too enticing) and I felt no shame. For these and all of my sins, I am truly sorry.

As penance, my child, please re-subscribe to World of Warcraft.

Yes, Father. I will do so right away. Thank you, Father.

In the name of the Uther, the Thrall, and the Holy Light, I absolve you of your sins. Amen.

Amen.

Confession is the easy part. Now comes the penance: getting back into World of Warcraft after a year and a bit away, levelling up to 110, and (gasp) liking it.

Squeenix has my heart, but Blizzard has my friends

I am not ashamed to admit it: I mained a catgirl white mage.

Pictured: The reason most people pick up FFXIV.

I spent a bit of time playing Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn. As much as I liked the mechanics, and the world, I had a hard time keeping myself interested in continuing to play it. The story of A Realm Reborn (colloquially, the 2.0 MSQ) was a solid bit of MMO-y Final Fantasy. The bits of story in the 2.0 patches were something of a slog that I honestly dropped out of a few times in the middle because of all the cross-world fetch quests and general filler flavour – I can only fight the same boss in different difficulty levels so many times before I start to wonder up whose noses all the subscription money went. But I powered through, and I made it to the expansion content.

Heavensward (the first expansion) was shaping up to be more of the same until about a third of the way through, at which point the distilled essence of Square Enix punched me in the gut, told me to like it, and strapped me into my dilapidated office chair for a no-holds-barred cage match of Final Fantasy storytelling the likes of which I haven’t seen since the first time I played The One With Cloud, and then followed it up by throwing me over the cage walls and out of the ring onto a pile of animated steel chairs because THERE’S FIVE PATCHES WITH STORY CONTENT AND THEY’RE ALL JUST AS GOOD.

This run-on sentence has been brought to you by the lovely people at Square Enix’s MMO division. I’m sorry, folks. You did good. I’m sorry I doubted you.

And then came along Stormblood, and my friends and I basically stopped playing. I don’t know if they topped Heavensward, and I’m not super inclined to check. When I’m paying 14.99 Freedom Bucks (or approximately 20 Canadian Loonies) every month for an MMO, I like offsetting the general disconnected feeling of pugs with people I like playing with and trust to either not shit things up or to shit things up in a hilarious way. It’s a lot better than dealing with a combination of pubbies falling somewhere on the scale between “god ur all noobs i cant carry u all pls uninstall” and “what does it mean when it says heroic OH GOD MY E-SPLEEN”, both for my health and for theirs.

Ye Olde Poope Socke

Now, a brief history of us and World of Warcraft: One of our mutual friends and core member of the Extended Cordilon Gaming Group of Friendly People, Connor, has been playing World of Warcraft since (I could be a bit off on this) either late Vanilla or early Burning Crusade. He got me into it around the same time (I want to say I joined in Patch 2.1) and I remember playing at a brisk 15 FPS on the barely capable computer that my parents bought from the local two-aisles-of-display-boxes-and-a-retail-counter small business computer joint that was on the brink of falling into the realm of “we can’t sell anything of value anymore; let’s just take money from boomers who are afraid of trojan malroots instead”. I miss that old box. It served me well.

Some years later we had roped another friend of ours, Jon (who I do not think has streamed with us yet, but we will likely rectify that) into the game, and that boy took to the art of the Paladin so fast and so hard and with such lore-consuming vigor that I dubbed him Knight of the Silver Handjob.

Meanwhile, Jake had already played on and off for some time, but he and I didn’t meet until 2009, and that was through a different MMO-like situation that we will likely one day expound upon*. I can never remember what the exact circumstances of his on and off were, but most of the time the “on” was “hey dude we’re getting back into WoW again” and the “off” was “it has been three months since any of us logged in”. I could never stick with it usually because of school and/or work, or because too many other really awesome games were there just waiting to be played†.

In the most recent hurrah prior to this one, we decided to all get the gang back together once again on the lovely realm of Wyrmrest Accord, which is best known for being the RP server where people aren’t constantly fucking. This realization was more or less deflated when we encountered a couple of night elves in Goldshire getting their textual bone on at a lake. Unable to get them to put their clothes back on, we  decided the best course of action would be to throw jack-o-lanterns on their heads.

Six RPPvP servers, only one of which is "Medium" population.

These servers are so quiet, if they weren’t RPPvP, they’d be listed as “New Players” instead of “Low”.

Aside: For those not familiar with the different servers for WoW, there are four types of servers. PvE, PvP, RP, and RPPvP. The PvE and RP servers are opt-in only for PvP, whereas the PvP and RPPvP servers turn your PvP flag on as soon as you leave a zone that your faction (Alliance or Horde) doesn’t have a PvE monopoly on, thus making you fair game honourable combat in the wilderness and even fairer game for dishonourable combat. RP servers, like Wyrmrest Accord and Moon Guard (the server where everyone can’t keep in their goddamn pants) are the ones where you’ll find people in bars just having a gay old time in bars and inns, conversing in-character, and often wearing specific equipment sets to appear dressed in civilian clothing (because no one wants to spill mead on their Judgement set). RPPvP servers, as the name implies, are a combination of the “rulesets” of RP and PvP servers. They are also incredibly dead.

Now, it goes without saying, that we are all horrendous nerds here at Cordilon Gaming. But on Wyrmrest Accord, we decided to one-up ourselves. Our plan was simple: Start at level one, get through our starting zones, and then meet up in Stormwind to begin our characters’ combined journey together, leveling and progressing through the game as a party. It was as if we were playing Dungeons and Dragons and Chris Metzen was our dungeon master (and considering WoW’s reliance on bright green glowing fel corruption as a plot device, our dungeon master was a fan of Mountain Dew and/or Surge). This was real neat and fun, though the grind towards the level cap burned us out completely by the time we hit Warlords of Draenor (the second-to-latest content expansion), and then we realized that Warlords of Draenor itself sucked‡.

Legion

Two weeks ago, Connor said he was restarting his WoW subscription. Now, I’m not usually one to give into peer pressure (especially when it involves drugs like this) but Jon had continued playing WoW during the rest of our absences, and Connor had poked at it a month at a time. I was interested in seeing the changes in Legion (the current expansion), and I had heard good things about the reduced grind to just get through Warlords of Draenor and even better things about the content of Legion and its endgame. Plus, apparently, we finally got to put the business to Gul’dan, an antagonist whose goal seemed to just be “make things worse in the most lore-breaking ways imaginable”. Sign me the fuck up.

$14.99 and 43 GB later I was sitting in Stormwind City once again, a level 93 Retribution Paladin cleverly named Kazinsal. Once again, just like every other time I had come back to WoW, I thought to myself, “damn, I never thought I’d see this place again”. I then thought this out loud to Jake, and I’m sure he thought to himself something along the lines of “well done, you weak-willed midget”.

And thus began the denouement of my journey from Blizzard to Squeenix and back again. Fourteen dollars and ninety-nine cents a month. I’ve been playing World of Warcraft on and off for ten years now.

Plus ça change.

Footnotes

* The game in question was Discovery Freelancer, and don’t worry, we will be sure to post tall tales of the chronicles of Taskmasters Harold Kane and Escher, Space Dickbags Ordinaire (no extra- needed; that game was chock-a-block full of dickbags).

† We also had this problem with Final Fantasy XIV, EVE Online, Black Desert Online, Elder Scrolls Online, and pretty much every MMO we tried playing together — the wildly different schedules each of us kept certainly did not help.

‡ WoD sucked on a great many levels, and I could write a whole article about our experiences with it, but I will keep it to myself as by the end of the text it would surely just be a jumbled mess of all-caps profanities so vulgar and lewd about phasing and half-assed retcons that I would feel the need to go to an actual confession afterwards despite not being Catholic.

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