World of Watercraft

My love for fishing aside, I've found that I have a rather unusual fascination with water in general in Classic.

I can't help but wonder whether that isn't at least partially due to the fact that I've spent the last seven years focusing on Star Wars: The Old Republic, in which water isn't more than an environmental effect and a bit of an illusion: While planets have lakes and rivers, they are never more than knee-deep, which makes the bridges and dams built around them all the more bizarre.

While some have (understandably) mocked this design choice, I can't say that I ever minded it much myself. I don't have any particularly fond memories of what you could call water-related gameplay in WoW. If anything, it's the opposite! I'm sure many an old-school WoW player has traumatic memories of a quest or two that required them to dive underwater among hostile mobs and caused them to suffer many a death while trying to juggle fighting with not drowning.

For me it was mostly the underwater troll ruin off the coast of Stranglethorn Vale that's filled with elite murlocs. You have to dive so deep that you can barely hold your breath for long enough to grab your quest items as it is, and then you're supposed to fight elite murlocs on top of it at all? Come on! I still have that quest in my hunter's log as well and am unsure when I'll actually dare to brave it this time around.

More generally speaking though, I've actually been kind of enjoying my time underwater this time around. Having to swim, dive and fight mobs underwater is simultaneously annoying and an interesting obstacle. On my hunter I at least have the advantage of my pets all seemingly coming equipped with a set of gills, so I can send them to fight underwater while I stay near the surface most of the time, just firing at things from a distance.

While swimming around, I also found myself strangely enchanted by watching my pets' swimming animations. I love how the wind serpent turns into a proper snake for example, folds its wings and wiggles along just like real snakes do. I seem to recall that not all pets originally had swimming animations, which included my hyena back in the day, so having my current set of pets move in an appropriate way has been a pleasant surprise.

On my shaman I've been able to enjoy a different kind of water-related perk, as her command over the elements includes Water Breathing and Water Walking. Both spells require reagents that can't be bought from a vendor (though they are cheap and easy to come by in the world), so that many shamans don't always carry them around... which of course gives me the opportunity to distinguish myself as the kind of shaman who is always prepared.

Underwater breathing makes the aforementioned quests that require diving a real breeze, and water walking allows you to cross bodies of water in a nice straight line, whether it's a lake or an easy way to travel along an uneven coast line without having to take detours or worry about mobs. Nothing quite like gracefully leaping over the head of a gnome submerged in the water while chuckling to yourself about the small advantages of being Horde.

Who knew that something as simple as water could be this much fun?


  1. An MMO needs unexplored parts and unfinished tasks to feel big.

    When I see water in WoW I think "I could go there but I won't", which makes the world a bit bigger. In these other games I think "hey, look, water that isn't. Must be a game and not a world".

  2. I started doing those quests around the underwater ruins in Stranglethorn on my hunter a couple of weeks ago and they were very hard work for the reasons you suggest, and also because I was under level for them. I dropped them for a while but I was thinking about them and it occured to me that, in every other MMORPG I've played that had both underwater content and drowning there was some device or method provided to let all classes cope, not just the few who got specific spells.

    So I went to the Auction House and searched through the Elixirs and Potions and guess what? There's a player-made potion called Elixir of Water Breathing that lets you breathe underwater for thirty minutes. And they're dirt cheap!

    I bought five and it only took one to finish all the underwater Stranglethorn quests. It completely transformed underwater content from a pain to a pleasure. I also had my Tailor craft a belt that adds 15% to swim speed and I have it hot-keyed on my hunter so he can swap to it as soon as he hits water.

    Looking at Wowhead, there are literally dozens of underwater breathing options although how many are valid in Classic I'm not sure. Probably a lot, judging by the level restrictions and locations they're found. It makes underwater content a lot more appealing.

    1. Yep, Elixir of Waterbreathing can be crafted by alchemists at quite a low level too... I'll have to make sure to have mine send a couple over to my hunter.

      When I was new I didn't know about any of that stuff though. I just remember being in utter awe of this staff from Gnomeregan the first time I saw it.

      It's basically a challenge of its own to figure out how to get around the restrictions of underwater combat. This was heavily watered down (heh) in Burning Crusade when they made sure to have quest givers give you some sort of free consumable to breathe underwater from the start so that you didn't have to think about it anymore.