[WoW] Something old, something new: life as a returner

Demons in Well of Eternity

Story of my life

Last time I wrote about WoW, I touched on my first impressions of the game as a returner. The overwhelming chaos, rudeness in groups, how intimidating the game can feel when you’ve been out of things. This week I have persevered with things, played around on some alts, and had my hand held in one of the new heroics by a very patient guild group. I don’t feel as much like a fish out of water any more, and while I’m better able to appreciate some of the things I always liked about WoW, there are mechanics from SWTOR that I really do miss.

  • AE looting (this is coming with Cataclysm I think)
  • Every class having a way to heal up quickly when out of combat.
  • Every class being able to res out of combat.
  • Sending your companion to sell your vendor trash
  • Ressing near your corpse or outside the entrance to your current instance, rather than miles away at the nearest graveyard.
  • A built in configurable UI. Yes, WoW has addons, but this would be easier. (I don’t think there’s anywhere in WoW where players are advised to check out addons incidentally, you just have to know what everyone does and where to find the current popular ones.)
  • I do miss having a companion to heal/tank/CC/ dps but WoW PvE is just easier than SWTOR so it’s not really a big deal. I’d only really want a healer or tank in WoW.
  • Writing that generally makes sense. WoW has some very well written quests but the consistency isn’t really there and in some zones they messed up quite badly (Dragonblight can get very confusing if you do the questlines in some orders rather than others, for example.) It was also rare in SWTOR that an NPC would send me off to do something for some reason and I’d think ‘how did he know that?’
  • Stories that I care about. SWTOR can also be hit and miss with these but they hit more than WoW does. This feels like more of a Cataclysm issue to me, because I remember Wrath feeling a lot more focussed and motivating.

I still feel a bit overwhelmed with the sheer volume of information that WoW throws at players. My characters all seem to have zillions of abilities. Running heroics feels as though it requires memorising hundreds of encounters (possibly multiple times if you play more than one role). How on earth do people remember it all??

As far as the community goes, I have had enough slightly less bad experiences in groups so maybe I was just unlucky before, but I also feel the game is less friendly than it used to be.

I have also spoken to several players who have just returned to WoW after breaks of up to a year – amusingly we were all in the same random instance together and since I’d run it once before, I automatically became the expert who got to explain it to the others. It was a much friendlier group though, and we did get through it. So it may well be that quite a lot of people are heading back to WoW now in preparation for the expansion.

I also spoke to one actual new player. This was after he had asked a question in Orgrimmar and had a few people mock him in general chat (this is not actually the sort of thing I’d have expected to see on Argent Dawn last time I was around, some mockery sure, but not of basic/ sensible questions). He whispered to me after I’d answered the question to say thanks and mention that he hadn’t been in the game long.


The easiest way to pick out some addons is firstly to ask around guild/ friends. Or secondly, head to curse.com and check which are the most popular addons. It’s as good a place to start as any, and you can always go hunt around blogs if you’re not happy with the ones you have.

I think I ended up checking a few out but ending up mostly with the same ones I liked previously:

Wot I Did

The easiest way to explain what I’ve been doing in WoW over the last week or so is to look at achievements. That may say something deep about the nature of the game, but I think shows again how well implemented the achievements are. There really are achievements for every play style.


So the top three here are from heroic instances, and the bottom one is from a daily quest – I imagine every Tom, Dick and Harry can finish off that dragon in under 90s these days but I was pleased with myself for doing it solo when the achievement came up.

I want to talk a bit about how I tried to get the confidence together to run heroics. My guild were great, and we did run the first new heroic together, with voice chat and lots of advice and reassurance. At that point I was thinking “That wasn’t too bad, maybe I’ll try another run with them before I do those on my own.” So I queued for a regular Cataclysm heroic, and the LFG threw me into another of the new ones (I didn’t know it could do that.) At which point I just followed everyone else and hit what they were hitting, and it seemed OK and no one complained.

So presumably with a bit of practice and a couple of upgrades, my dps has gotten beyond the ‘omg what is this doing in my instance’ level to the point where no one is talking to me, which I imagine means it is OK. After that, it felt that a barrier was broken and I was OK with just queueing for them like everyone else. I  feel that I am getting the hang of them now.

Blizzard is clearly going for some ambitious storytelling here with instances set in the far past, far future, and present day. Whether or not you can actually FOLLOW the story I’m not sure, you might need to know what the Dragon Soul artefact is for a start. Or maybe I missed the part where they explained that. I found them all a bit shorter and easier than the classic Cataclysm heroics, assuming your gear is high enough level to get you in the door.


Another new tweak is that the instance maps (as shown above) are really very slick now, with brief explanations of the backstory for each boss when you mouse over them. Basic boss guides are also now in the UI, so you can look up every boss in the instance both in normal and heroic mode and find out what it does mechanically.

Of the three, Well of Eternity is a particularly strange instance, which gives every indication of having originally been designed as a raid. It’s  that bit more epic than you’d usually expect; and you get to meet/kill quite a large number of important lore figures along the way. I suppose you can always go back to Outland and kill Illidan later on if you want to see him again, I half wondered whether the game would take into account whether you’d done that (in his far future, obviously) when you met him in the instance. But it doesn’t. The instance also features time travel, stealthing around hordes of demons, and extended NPC dialogues after the final boss has died (ie. when most players have probably already left the instance.)


Here we’re just chilling with Illidan in Well of Eternity when he … dude, was that really a good idea? (Also we are disguised as night elves, which I personally found quite traumatic.)

I still haven’t had the nerve to try a random raid yet.

Nights at the Circus


Darkmoon Faire now has its own minizone, and portals to the Faire open where the Faire used to be. This sounds confusing (and is) but basically when the Faire is up, an NPC will be in every capital city who can transport you to your nearest portal – why he can’t just transport you straight to the faire I do not know.

As you can see from the screenshot, it is very purple. This shows Spinks standing on a hill looking down at the Faire. There are minigames, none of which really grabbed me, quests you can do which raise your crafting skills, and some achievements to be gotten.  The crafting perks will be particularly great for people trying to eke out those last few points when raising tradeskills.


Spinks is shown at the bottom here, to give an idea of the scale.

Preparation H

The whole process of getting ready for a new expansion can be seen in two different ways.

  1. It doesn’t really matter whether you put any effort into it or not, the new expansion will render most things irrelevant and you’ll be just as able to make gold and farm materials after it has dropped as before.
  2. Get everything ready so that you can level your characters/ tradeskills etc as quickly and smoothly as possible.

I’ve never been big on overdoing the preparations so I am mostly just looking at clearing my inventory of things I’m not going to need any more and deciding if I want to level any alts. I figured it was a also good idea to level my alt with Enchanting so that he can disenchant any drops I pick up while levelling, which also gives me a good excuse to check out the Cataclysm levelling zones again to see if I didn’t properly appreciate them last time round. (Poor warlock, he only ever gets levelled at the end of expansions, to just high enough level where he’ll be able to buy the next tier of tradeskill.)

One thing I notice immediately is because of the transmogrification mechanics, I take much more interest in the green drops and quest rewards. Even if it isn’t an upgrade, it might have a really cool look that I’d want to keep.  I still feel piqued though that they put transmog in after I’d gotten rid of my Tier 10 warrior gear.

The only other thing on my bucket list is to attempt to get Pebble as a pet. This explains why I ended up getting that daily quest achievement, shown above. (It’s part of the same set of dailies that can eventually reward with the pet.)

What are those blue remembered hills…?

WoW is still a very pretty game, here’s a couple of screenies I took from levelling alts.



12 thoughts on “[WoW] Something old, something new: life as a returner

  1. While the Darkmoon faire games may not grab you – the rewards you can earn with the tickets from them, might. There’s loads of appearance gear, pets, mounts, and heirloom gear for 90-110 tokens which a level 85 can easily obtain by turning in each of the quest item pieces + crafting quests + a handful of daily games.

    Loved this post. I play on Argent Dawn as well and have noticed things are not quite as friendly as I once saw them. My husband just came back to game (as a tank) and has been fretting about tanking, but he also managed the “new” twilight zones without too much issue. Thankfully there were quite a few others in his group who were also returning, so he wasn’t the only one (and I was able to talk him through it).

  2. Haven’t played in over a year and a half at least and had retired my beloved character as an old man tired of the war deciding to kick back and went fishing at a pond in one the 85 cataclysm zone I can’t even remember it’s been so long. Twilight or something like that maybe. But I logged out there fishing a very long time ago and never really ever though I would ever be back.

    There and back again, I’m currently wondering can I really ever go back. Can my long dead spirit in my character really rise one more time from been long dead…

  3. “I half wondered whether the game would take into account whether you’d done that (in his far future, obviously) when you met him in the instance. But it doesn’t.”

    Actually he does, if you’re carrying Warglaives he’ll say something extra – “Curious weapons you wield…such power. You seem prepared”

  4. Fellow recent returner to WoW AD here.

    I’ve had a very similar experience to you, I think. Ok, I’m back, what do I do? When I’d unsubbed, I’d been doing Firelands dailies. I found myself totally unmotivated to head up there.

    Darkmoon Faire – they’ve made it better, to the extent it’s something I’ll now go back to (if only to hand in the items I’ve found that gave me quests) but some of the stuff they were selling did look fun. Didn’t spot heirlooms, so will have to check that out.

    I ended up doing some LFD and guild-runs of the new content, where I spent my time with a mixture of “Wait, how do I play a feral druid again?!”, “What the hell is going on here?!”, “Wait, Illidan – wtf!?” and “Do I get to listen to this NPC/actually read the quest text, or do I need to run after the others?” On the LFD runs, I’d always say hi and mention I was just back with a Scroll of Resurrection. Noone else would generally say anything except “Hi”, and on one boss out of two dungeons, I got one fight explained to me.

    I also signed up for a guild raid, and spent over an hour watching vids of bossfights against bosses with meaningless names. Maybe they’d have meant more if I’d not taken a break? Guild, obviously, was as friendly as ever and explained the fights. Annoying to find one fight has a Very Important Lore Cutscene that you must immediately cancel out of, as the bossfight has already started!

    Also missed many of the SWTOR things you mention. And the graphics in WoW seemed very odd after SWTOR and other games.

    Did one LFR where, when I jumped in, we were about to start on Deathwing. No explanation (fair enough), but no mention whatsoever of tactics, priorities, healing orders, anything. The only communication was “Anyone else looking for ?” We did DW part one, then wiped on part two, then we killed Deathwing. Anti-climactic, compared to Wrath – but then, I’d worked bloody hard in Wrath to get to the point where our raid were fighting Arthas. This was log in, click button, appear at final expansion boss.

  5. I just re-subbed this week, and find myself torn between excitement to be back to inertia what I should be doing. Yesterday I didn’t know what to do with myself and logged into TSW intead.

    I haven’t run heroics yet, because my DPS gear is crap, and I don’t tank for strangers. My guild wants to run the new heroics with me soon, so we’ll see. I have done them all before, as I quit playing in December, so my EU paladin healed in there before. Tanking is another matter though.

    As for remembering all the abilities of the bosses, have you checked out the dungeon journal yet? It gives a summary for every single boss, including what to watch out for, for tanks, DPS and healers. Makes it easier. No more going to wowhead to read strategies, hee.

    • I think you’ll like the new heroics, and running with guildies is a much better way to learn them. I had that kind of ‘stunned in headlights’ feeling too, I did some dailies for a couple of days just to get back into the mood and to remind myself that I could still kill stuff.

      As far as the journal goes, it’s great, but it was actually reading through it that gave me that ‘sticker shock’ moment when I realised how much people were expected to know (sticker shock is the feeling you get when you ask the price of something and find that it’s way way higher than you were expecting 🙂 ).

  6. I feel your pain, Spinksy. It’s a jarring transition to jump back and forth from SWTOR to WoW, but I’m finding that I can appreciate things in both games. SWTOR’s leveling and overall questing experience really is bar none, but WoW just has a stunning breadth of stuff to do at max level. Each game provides me with stuff to do; in SWTOR I love rolling new characters and experiencing the stories, in WoW I love getting on my multiple shaman and running old and new content (and dreading leveling any of my lower characters up).

    And fear not, AoE looting is definitely coming in Mists of Pandaria! Plus, the cinematic was amazing.

  7. I think the new Heroics are good, and the more familiar you are with them, the less DPS you really need. We ran them several times with our family and friends group when most people where only at about 10k dps each. Obviously things are a little easier with higher DPS, but are still doable without as long as you know what you are doing.

    I am tired of the DMF, but I already have all of the pets and was less interested in the Mounts (though I think I may have gotten the Bear…I cant remember). My wife is stocking up on tokens incase they ass more rewards later.

    I dont know if you are US or EU, but if you are US, I would be happy to run an instance or two with you.

  8. I’d actually be wary of Raid Finder at the moment. When it comes to the new heroics I’d say go for it – they’re quite easy and fun. Raid Finder has been completely toxic of late though. It’s not difficult and the Dungeon Journal is there to help, but the language and griefing are awful.

    I’ve had:
    – people pulling bosses while clearing trash.
    – pulling trash while killing a boss.
    – deliberate abuse of fight mechanics (like holy paladins taunting bosses at crucial moments).
    – the usual loot drama.

    I’ve never used the ‘Report Language’ feature so much.

    Having said that, give it a go! I think it’s WoW’s best attempt at a story-based raid and the settings are quite interesting. Just expect to hate humans when you’re done.

  9. As far as LFR is concerned, you can safely watch all the lore scenes, you wont get kicked for being a little late to the party

  10. One thing that stands out in your experience, Spinks, is that a good guild is absolutely vital for someone new and/or returning. If you don’t have one, you’re screwed unless you have a really thick skin.

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