Exile's Reach

Here is a thing you may not have known about me — I am a huge sucker for World of Warcraft. I played it all through high school and a little bit in college. I was never a hardcore raider nor a stereotypical addict: I deeply enjoyed the grind to max level and a lot of the entry-level PvE combat but lacked the gumption and determination/desperation to really commit to the vagaries and hoopla of a serious raiding schedule. (This was, to be clear, a very good thing.)

All of that is to say I have a soft spot in my heart for the game, despite not playing for around ten years now. I'll keep my eyes peeled for upcoming expansions and follow the news cycle, less out of a desire to resubscribe and more out of a soft longing to see what an old friend has been up to.

The upcoming expansion (Dragonflight) features a return to the old-style talent tree that I dearly loved about WoW 1, and on a lark I downloaded the game last week to play through the trial content.

I was surprised and a little delighted to see the 'starting zones' with which I was so familiar (Coldridge, Northshire Valley, and so on) replaced with a new one. Blizzard is really good at onboarding, and their new starter zone — Exile's Reach — is emblematic of that. It immediately draws you into all of the Skinner Box excitement for which the game is notorious — over here a treasure chest, over there an optional quest with a movement boost, and a mini-dungeon climax to cap things off. It felt very smoothed-over (especially in comparison to the relatively barren starter zones) but deeply pleasurable in a way that I find missing from a lot of JRPGs.

All of which is to say — I don't think I'll be resubscribing, but I still have a fond little ember in my heart for WoW.


  1. It's also why, I think, I've bounced off Final Fantasy XIV so many times. Even if character customization is, at the end of the day, an illusion, illusions matter. Character development in FFXIV feels so boring and railroad-y.

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