Release date: 2004
WoW consumed my life for almost the entirety of 2004/05, when I was studying for my A-levels, and was probably a key contributor to my D-grades. I’m probably not the only person who would admit to daydreaming of roaming through Elwynn Forest, even many years after I stopped playing. I just spent so much time there, and other places of that world, sometimes roleplaying, always questing, but best of all simply exploring an unknown land. Even though I LOVE what Blizzard did in Cataclysm, my favourite memories all come from what they call Vanilla WoW, the original version of the game.
Swimming from Westfall down to Booty Bay and gawping at the raptors roaming the shores of Stranglethorn Vale. “There’s even DINOSAURS in this game!?” Flying on a gryphon from Stormwind to Ironforge, feeling small as an ant as I soared past Blackrock Mountain… Finally being able to buy my first Mount, a simple brown horse from the stables in Elwynn Forest, after saving up for over 6 MONTHS…
But I want to tell you about the Battle of Lakeshire.
It took me about a week or two of playing in the noobie zones of Elwynn Forest and Westfall before I was able to venture East to the pleasant region of Redridge Mountains. There lies a peaceful village called Lakeshire. When I arrived, it was under siege. Two fearsomely big fire ogres had somehow managed to wander through the dark and scary pass of the Burning Steppes and were murdering everyone within smashing distance. (Basically, two high level trolls had lured them down to kill the low level players.)
This scene blew my fragile little mind. There must have been over a hundred people fighting the ogres, all swarming around them swinging their weapons and casting spells. It was an absolute frenzy. Most of the people involved couldn’t even hit the things, myself included. My level 24 Human Warrior was so inexperienced that he couldn’t even see what level the ogres were – their level was marked by a creepy skull icon instead. Which only made it all the more tempting to slay the foul creatures! So I waded in head first, swinging my hammer with reckless futility, floating text that said “missed!” repeatedly floating skywards from my pathetic blows.
I died again and again. Along with everyone else. The battle went on for well over an hour, as more people joined the fray. I kept getting burned to death by the ogres’ area-of-effect fire rain attacks, then would run back as a ghost, respawn and try again. It was amazing to see so many players in the same space all with a single cause.
You can find countless stories of huge organised guild raids as they battle the likes of Onyxia, or Kel Thusad or even other tales where huge beasts were lured into the city walls of Stormwind. But I never saw any of that. For me the epic battle of Lakeshire between two nameless ogres was the pinnacle of what online gaming could be, and cemented itself in my memory forever.