It was 10:30 PM CST on the night before Legion’s launch. My girlfriend and I had just finished our fifth invasion of the night on our level 92 Druids. Characters we began leveling months ago when she first resubscribed to WoW (in no small part due to my bad influence) had skipped two whole expansions’ worth of content thanks to the experience rewards from the pre-launch invasions. I have no doubt that had we pushed through to 1:30 AM when the invasions were finally disabled, we could have hit 100.
A few years ago, I would have done it.
It’s a measure of how my relationship with World of Warcraft has evolved over the past few years that I was able to say, “That’s it for me, I’m going to put all of my level 100s in Dalaran and log off for the night.” I still love the game. I have thirteen characters at 100, representing 11 different classes (the druid is the only one I’m missing, actually). I have, at various times since I started playing in 2009, been a progression raider at both 10- and 25-man level, a PvP tryhard who never managed to break 1800 in RBGs but still capped her conquest every week, a role player, and finally a dirty casual. I could spend my evenings after work and responsibilities are finished doing almost anything else, yet I choose to spend it playing WoW. In addition to the $15/month for my sub, I’ve probably spend hundreds over the years on account services – character transfers, name changes, race changes, store mounts and pets, etc.
Yet on the eve of what was probably the most exciting thing to happen in game since I began playing, I logged off and went to sleep.
When Mists of Pandaria launched, I called in sick to work and stayed up to be there at 2AM with my best WoW friend at the time. I remember the server lag, the vanishing airship, and competing with countless players for quest mob kills. In addition, since I played on Emerald Dream at the time, it was a huge clusterfuck of a gank-fest outside of the early quest hubs. Frustrated with these and other inconveniences, my friend and I hopped in my mechano-hog and traveled the length and breadth of the continent, exploring the new zones without anyone else around. We tried to do the same at Warlords launch, but ran into the problem of not being able to bypass the opening scenario and travel the world. It was disappointing in many ways.
For all my excitement leading up to Legion, I’ve grown a bit more practical over the years. Yes, there is something inherently thrilling about being at a midnight release for a movie, or standing in line for your copy of a much-anticipated game, or waiting for the clock to tick over so you can play the newest expansion. But for all of that anticipation, the reality is often disappointing. Lag, glitches, and the need to log off at some point to return to the real world are only a few factors. So when it came time to decide whether or not to take August 30th as a personal day from work, I made the decision to carry on with my life.
Legion will be there waiting for me when I get home. My two rogues, two demon hunters, death knight, hunter, mage, monk, paladin, priest, shaman, warlock, and warrior may not be the first to get their artifacts or set foot in new zones. However, I know that when I do finally log in tonight, after a long day at work and a session with my therapist, I won’t have any regrets or guilt about playing. I’ll be playing on my time, not Blizzard’s. There is something almost equally exciting about that.
To those of you who were online at 1:59, I salute you. I am so happy that this launch went smoothly, and from what I’ve seen on social media you all had a wonderful experience. This time around, the team over at Blizzard pulled off a truly remarkable feat of technological and logistical wizardry. Part of me wishes I had stayed up with you and thrown caution and responsibility to the wind to explore the Broken Isles along with the throng of excited players.
I’ll see you tonight, though. Guilt-free and ready to kill every demon I can find.
Happy launch day.