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Ben Davis avatar 5:07 PM on 06.29.2011  (server time)
My World of Warcraft experience: Playing my own way

About a year ago I played World of Warcraft for the first time. My friend who was rooming with me over the summer is kind of an MMO addict, and at the time he had recently started playing WoW again so he convinced me to play it with him while we were living together. I played the game for a few months with him and a few other friends. I've since stopped playing, but I heard recently that they're going to start allowing players to play for free until you reach level 20. I'm considering taking advantage of this and starting a new account, because the earlier parts of the game were actually the parts I enjoyed the most.

My experience playing World of Warcraft was probably a lot different than most other peoples' experiences however. I enjoyed my time with the game, but I tended to play the game my own way rather than trying to emulate what everyone else was doing, the way you're apparently "supposed" to play the game.

My orc did not actually look like this... he had more hair.

I created an orc rogue named Pokeylope (a Psychonauts reference) and began roaming around Durotar and the Barrens completing quests and exploring the world. I eventually got to about level 20, but my friend noticed that I was doing a bunch of quests that weren't giving me much experience.

Friend: You know you don't have to do those quests, they're under your level.
Me: Oh... well what if I want to do them? This one's kinda fun.
Friend: I mean, you could but you'd be wasting your time.

This was probably my first hint that I wanted to play the game differently than how I was supposed to be playing it. My friend would try to get me to do the quests which gave me the most experience, even though they often tended to be particularly boring "kill a certain number of this enemy" kinds of quests. I enjoyed doing the quests where I was sent to explore the area or find a particular item for someone, or quests that triggered certain events in the game which you would never see otherwise. If a quest sounded interesting to me, or if it yielded a particular item that intrigued me, I would choose to do it regardless of the amount of experience it offered. This apparently irked my friends and confused other people in the game, who couldn't understand why I would want to do this. Personally, I couldn't understand why they would want to grind levels by killing the same enemies over and over, but I didn't tell them that.

Another thing I did that confused other players was to wear seemingly random or useless pieces of equipment. At one point while I was around level 20, I was taking a zeppelin from the Undercity to Orgrimmar and some other guy riding the ship with me decided to check out my equipment.

Some dude: Uhh why are you wearing so much white equipment? By your level I had all green and blue stuff.
Me: I like the way they look.
Some dude: Thats fuckin dumb.
Me: Ok.

He then challenged me to a duel, but I'm not particularly fond of PvP so I leapt from the Zeppelin and rode away on my wolf mount. I told my friend about the encounter, and he told me that it wasn't a good idea to wear low level equipment because my DPS would be way down. I decided I didn't really care that much because I was able to kill enemies just fine anyway, even if it took me a little longer than it needed to. I'd rather look cool and take a long time to kill enemies than look like a strange, leather-bound freak that killed them quickly. My friend crafted me a leather helmet to wear, because the Red Defias Mask I was wearing didn't have any stat bonuses, but I decided to stick with the mask because it seemed more befitting of a rogue. I finally switched it out once I got the Ebon Mask, because it looked even cooler and had stat bonuses. Whenever I found new equipment, if it was ugly or clashed with the rest of my outfit I would sell it even if it was better DPS-wise than the item I was currently wearing. I also tended to use weapons that I thought looked cooler than other more powerful ones. My twin Torturing Pokers were a favorite of mine for quite a while.

As I continued playing the game and leveling up, I continued doing things that most other players weren't doing. My favorite thing to do in World of Warcraft turned out to be exploring. I realized that you could get a bunch of achievements for exploring all of the different locations, and if you explored the entirety of Azeroth you could get a title and a tabard, so that became my goal. I began exploring all of the beginner areas for Alliance players, places that I would never have gotten to see otherwise since I didn't plan on creating an Alliance character. This decision also confused my friends.

Friend: Bean! We're gonna do an instance, come join!
Me: Ok! Give me a few seconds.
Friend: What the fuck are you doing in Elwynn?
Me: Trying to get some exploring achievements.

I continued exploring the map, despite my friends' confusion and the confusion of other players. One of my favorite exploration moments happened when I decided to explore Stormwind City. Being a relatively low level member of the Horde, this was clearly a bad idea, but all I needed to do was step foot in the city in order to register the achievement. I turned on Sprint and rushed past the guards into the city, registered the achievement, and was immediately killed by a mob of angry Alliance members, all of whom were probably laughing at my stupidity. But I didn't really care, because I got what I came for.

Eventually, I explored all of Kalimdor, the Eastern Kingdoms, Outland and Northrend, obtained my Tabard of the Explorer and earned the title "Pokeylope the Explorer." I was quite pleased with myself and wore the tabard and title proudly. Some areas were actually quite challenging to explore, especially attempting to infiltrate Teldrassil and the Bloodmyst and Azuremyst Isles, since Horde members are not supposed to be there (being a rogue really helped me out in these areas). This challenge, along with being able to see all of the beautiful environments that the developers created, provided me with a very fulfilling experience. I got to take in all of the various wonderful landscapes and discover all sorts of interesting places and creatures. One of my favorite discoveries was the Terokkarantula in Terokkar Forest, a massive and terrifying spider hiding and waiting in a remote location in the mountains. I defeated the spider for some quest points, and even though the quest didn't yield much experience it was still a thrill to fight such a creature single-handed.

Once my exploration goal was complete, I went on to complete quests and run some instances until I got to level 80, since that appears to be the main goal of the game (although now it's 85). Afterwards, I wasn't really sure what else I wanted to do. Most people seem to enjoy PvPing, or running the highest level instances over and over to get the best items, but those things just seemed boring to me. I'd reached the game's level cap and explored all of the world that the game offered, so there wasn't really much else I thought I could get out of the game.

I quit playing soon after reaching level 80, but I still have fond memories of my time with the game. Sometimes I think about starting a new character just so I can run around Azeroth again, with every intention of playing the exact same way I used to, regardless of how stupid the other players think I might be. I might end up doing this sometime soon, since the experience would now be a free one.

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