Dazed in Outland

It's back to work for me today - not physically, as I'm still working from home, but after five days of time off to binge on Burning Crusade Classic. My hunter is currently sitting at level 67, and what a ride it's been so far.

As I mentioned in my post about Classic BC plans, this launch has been very different for me from original Classic in that it's much less about exploration and more about solving the puzzle that is Outland. There's been the occasional moment of surprise, depending on how familiar I am with the content, which has led to some amusement - I mean, who ever does Auchenai Crypts for example? But a lot of it I still remember all too well - I just quested through all of Hellfire on an alt in retail a few months ago for example (and meant to write about it at the time but kept putting it off until I forgot), so the gist of those quests at least has been very familiar.

What has surprised me though has been how compelling it still is. I mean, if you boil it down to the basics it's all just grinding: mobs, reputations, dungeons... but add a colourful setting, good company and an effort-reward ratio that hits the spot just right and you simply want to keep going, and going, and going... After all, there are so many quests to do, reputations to raise and professions to skill up! Wanting to do all of that - and all at the same time - can actually be somewhat overwhelming.

So I binged pretty hard, especially during the first three days of my holiday, staying up until the early hours of the morning almost every day. (Often that was actually the best time to get things done by the way... the rest of the time, many of the early quest locations were camped pretty badly despite of layering.) And yet, all of that still wasn't enough to keep up with some of my guildies. We had our first level 70 after less than three days, and a draenei shaman no less. I have no idea how that guy did it... does he not need to eat or sleep? And others weren't far behind. One paladin confessed that he'd had a nightmare that everyone else had hit level 70 without him while he was asleep.

It's easy to say that you just want to level and do things at your own pace, but it's hard to not have any feelings of FOMO at all when you see people already getting their attunements done and what not. Sure, official 25-man raiding won't start for a while for my guild, so there's no rush on that front, but it's simple things like seeing someone that you've been levelling with pull ahead by a level and starting on a new dungeon for which you're not ready yet. It shouldn't really matter, and in a few weeks we'll all be 70 and will have forgotten all about this anyway, but at the moment there's a certain competitive pressure that I at least find hard to ignore.

So there's been some discomfort from that, but also on a more personal level. There's nothing wrong with binging on a game for a few hours or even days, but I have to admit that after the third day I nonetheless felt the urge to step back a bit, because the sheer strength of the urge to play more was an uncomfortable reminder of a time when I had a not-so-healthy relationship with WoW as a student - which was back during the original Burning Crusade, incidentally. Coincidence? I don't like feeling compelled to play quite so much, and also, there are simply other games I'm still interested in as well. It's Total Galactic War in SWTOR next week for example (a rare event that I want to capitalise on) and Neverwinter is about to drop a huge update that I'm also curious about.

So it's been a bit of an awkward mix of emotions. I've focused more on the negative in this post so far, but especially running dungeons with guildies has also been genuinely lovely. It's nice to be able to chat and laugh with them in an environment other than a huge raid (where there's limited scope for that to be honest if you actually want to get things done), and the Outland dungeons are all well-designed and fun. Meeting stones having become summoning stones has made it much faster to get a dungeon group together and get going. Different approaches to each dungeon and particularly memorable runs have already spawned a thousand memes. That is great. I just need to find my balance.


  1. You know, I was just having a conversation with one of my friends about this last night. She was feeling the burnout, and I told her she had to take a day off and just not login. But she was concerned about falling behind as well, because her leveling friends had pulled ahead of her...

    "Listen to me," I replied, "You helped me a lot this past week, let me help you. Take a day off. Go play with your family, do something else. You need to step back a day, just to refocus. Let your friends know via Discord that you're taking a day or two break. They'll understand."

    I mean, when I ding 60, I'm going to celebrate by taking a day off as well. Or two.

    So yeah, I understand the fear, and the drivers behind it.

  2. It's easy to lose perspective sometimes when you're so caught up in the game. Just last night I was feeling concerned because I had only just got to level 64, and looking at the guild roster I saw the majority of my fellow raiders were in the 66-68 range. We have also already had 3 people hit 70.But then I remembered, most of those people had taken the whole week off to binge on TBC whereas I had not. In actual fact, level 64 is about average for the playerbase at this point in time according to a recent Reddit poll.

    At the end of the day, TBC endgame content is not going anywhere and there will be plenty of time to get to 70 and get attuned. It's more important to go at your own pace, take all things in moderation and actually enjoy the game.

    1. Indeed. I've noticed that it's also lonely at the top for the people who got there first, in the sense that they have few others to play with right now. Need to wait for everyone to catch up anyway! Like I said, in a few weeks we'll even have forgotten that this was ever a thing, but right now it can be easy to get caught in the moment.