Many have complained that WoW has become mostly about the grind. With the ability to gain experience and rewards that turn into gear through PvP, quests, and dungeons, the end result, some imagined endgame where your character has the perfect gear set, is what people focus on. I took a step back in the last week to see some content I hadn’t seen on any character yet. I hadn’t seen it because I leveled past it, barely giving it a second glance as I moved on to bigger and better things. So, my priest hit 68 and I immediately hit Northrend and a few Northrend dungeons even. But I hadn’t seen huge swaths of Outland and had only done a few of the dungeons there. I was hitting a wall, though, when it came to healing the Northrend dungeons, so I decided to go back and do the Outland ones for more practice. It worked out well on a number of levels. First, I was definitely better at healing these dungeons, for the most part, so I felt more confident and could more easily hit my healing stride. Second, the gear I got in them was still pretty good for me. Third, I gathered tons of materials for my professions, which I hadn’t quite gotten to the level of being able to use them in Northrend yet. I still needed Netherweave and Arcane dust, things that could only be found in Outland and which could be found in abundance in the dungeons. Finally, I got to see some really cool places.
I would venture to guess that everyone who plays WoW regularly has been to all the Northrend dungeons. If they hadn’t before, they have now, through the dungeon finder. But I know plenty of regular WoW players who never went into Magister’s Terrace or Mechanar or even Archatraz. But now I’ve been to those places, and they’re pretty cool. The groups I ended up with were in the same boat. They’d never done the places before either, so we’ve all marveled at certain rooms or commented on different mechanics, like flying around for the last boss in Magister’s Terrace. We’ve taken it more slowly and appreciated our virtual surroundings. That just doesn’t happen in the heroics I’ve been running, which are a rush to the finish so that one can accumulate more emblems to exchange for gear.
At some point I realized i was close to finishing all the Outland dungeons, so I’ve quit queuing for Northrend ones. I had to venture into one located in the old world that very few people do, so I dragged a couple of my level 80 guildies with me and we knocked out that one and the next one. We also ventured into a raid that none of us had ever done. We ended up dead practically before we started, but vowed to come back. It looks pretty fun. There’s something about seeing new stuff and having new experiences that I really like. That wonder of, oh I’ve never seen this before. It’s happening in my quests somewhat, too, since I’m tackling some questlines I never did on other characters. Once you hit 80, it’s easy to run out of those experiences. Luckily, I haven’t. There’s still plenty of places I haven’t been, quests I haven’t done, raids I haven’t seen. And they keep adding new things all the time.
Focusing on the new, on completing quests, on doing dungeons just because you haven’t done them makes the game feel like less of a grind, like you’re doing it for fun again instead of competing for some imaginary brass ring. I think, too, it keeps the game in perspective. I haven’t played as much lately as I’ve been sick and/or have been working and there have been times when I’ve missed a day where I’ve thought, “Damn, now I’m 2 frost emblems behind on getting that new set of shoulders.” Seriously, that’s not a good way to think. It makes you all anxious and shit when you go into the game. Now, if only I could get those PuG tanks to slow down a little.