The State Of Azeroth: How World of Warcraft Has Transformed Over The Years

WoW, MMO, Blizzard, Word of Warcraft, Expansions
With the release of Legion, Blizzard reported seeing active subscriptions reach numbers not seen in nearly the past 5 years upon its launch.

A 12 Year Perspective On Azeroth

Like many of you, I was and have been an avid World of Warcraft player. With Blizzard announcing in 2014 that over 100 million accounts had been created during the games lifetime at that point, it’s hard to meet someone who hasn’t heard about WoW. For myself, the game sits a little closer to home being I have been an on-again, off-again subscriber since 2005. I can’t even mass together the amount of hours I have sunk into the zones, dungeons, battleground and raids spanning over those 12 years of leveling, grinding and adventuring. Having spent so much time in Azeroth, and experiencing each new expansion to the game, I have witnessed firsthand just how much it truly has changed over the past 13 years.

The Early Days

With the original game releasing in November of 2004, players experienced far less content than what’s available today. Behind the sometimes painstaking and endless journey that was simply leveling, was the absence of things such as battlegrounds, a dungeon finder and much, much more. As WoW continued to shock both the developers and the gaming community with its success, multiple expansions began to follow. First was the Burning Crusade in early 2007 followed by Wrath of Lich King in 2008. Between both, entire new continents were introduced filled with new gear, monsters, dungeons and raids along with the first ever flying mounts and attention to PvP in the form of arenas and new battlegrounds.

An image I took back in 2007 of my Alliance Paladin in the new Burning Crusade battleground, Eye of the Storm when being the Retribution specialization wasn’t as common of a sight as it is today.

Expanding and Changing On the Old and the New

2010 arrives, and in enters Cataclysm.

Upon its initial release, Cataclysm’s difficulty level for its dungeons and raids were noticeably higher. Since the days of vanilla, the game still required heads up playing, crowd controlling and communication with everyone understanding their responsibilities and roles. That’s until a nerf came down in patch 4.06, and came down hard. From this point on, dungeons and raids were made substantially easier and have been ever since. Following in these footsteps, the 2012 release of Mists of Pandaria added the raid finder tool. On top of what came in previous expansions, this new system allowed anyone with a high enough gear score to experience all the raids on what felt like effortless cruise control. With Warlords of Draenor came the garrison system which disappointedly acted like no more than an in-game version of any mobile resource game. Leveling continued to be easier and the game continued to feel more casually structured with that seemingly at the developers forefront of goals. While WoW had already turned its capital cities into hubs of standing around and waiting for queues at this point, Legion’s new weapon system and class ability pruning had me throwing my hands up in disappointment wondering why Blizzard would design a game so different from what had once made it so great.

To me, being an active player since 2005, what World of Warcraft is now is far from made me fall in love with it before. While I will continue to keep an eye on its future expansions, I am of the belief that only time will continue to dethrone this giant of a game rather than any other of its kind.

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Beard-clad, pirate-at-heart storyteller from the Pacific Northwest.
Currently Playing: Overwatch, Zelda: Breath of the Wind, Planet Coaster, Astroneer, SMITE, World of Warcraft (Private Server)
Top 3 Favorite Games:Dragon Age: Inquisition, Fable: The Lost Chapters, Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic
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