I'm playing WoW Classic for the first time and I never want to stop

I was never into MMOs growing up, but I've become well and truly entranced by WoW Classic.

Steph Panecasio Former Editor
Steph Panecasio was an Editor based in Sydney, Australia. She knows a lot about the intersection of death, technology and culture. She's a fantasy geek who covers science, digital trends, video games, subcultures and more. Outside work, you'll most likely find her rewatching Lord of the Rings or listening to D&D podcasts.
Steph Panecasio
4 min read

Fresh from a Scholomance run, my toon is aching to hit 60.

Blizzard Entertainment

Tonight, for the first time in my life, I will hit level 60 in World of Warcraft: Classic. 

In late 2019, WoW Classic took players back in time. Zooming back past countless expansions and patches, Blizzard released the core, vanilla game that first launched in 2004 -- with a couple of upgrades here and there. 

I've been playing as a Night Elf Druid -- specializing in restoration talents, with a dash of balance thrown in -- and I've slogged my way through countless dungeon runs and endless gankings in Stranglethorn Vale to make it here.

To longtime players of the game, this may not be that big of a deal. Level 60 is the traditional level cap, the first big pinnacle of achievement back in 2004 when the journey to 60 was a hundred-hour commitment to the grind -- not the lazy afternoon it can be in regular WoW. 

There are countless players around the world who've hit this goal on not just one, but a myriad of characters. Some dedicated players have multiple level 60 characters, because they need additional digital bag space to hold all their fancy weapons and gear. These people clearly have a lot more time on their hands than I do.

So level 60, for some, is trivial. For me, it's a huge deal. Wow Classic is the first game in a while to sink its claws deep as my manic brain flings me from one activity to the next. It's also the first time I've fallen in love with an MMO.

When it comes to games, I'm either all in, or not interested at all. I can take or leave the games that don't grab me, but if one does, oh boy. I buy the books. I buy art. I read every scrap of lore. I construct vast narratives about my characters in daydreams.

With WoW, I was late to the party. I never played it when I was younger and hadn't gone further than watching a few stray scenes from Warcraft, the movie. 

Let's just say Travis Fimmel's acting made me less inclined to see more.

Watch this: 'Warcraft' director Duncan Jones and fellow fans share their WoW memories

But when social distancing restrictions came into place, I found myself with an awful lot of time on my hands and a partner who logged over 365 days of game time during his formative years, playing through every expansion. That's almost 10,000 hours.

So naturally I made him spend 6 and a half hours running me through every single detail of every single expansion in the World of Warcraft universe. We watched every cutscene, pausing for inevitable questions. We watched Blizzard trade show announcements. We went over strategy for various dungeons. He patiently explained to me the difference between Arthas and Uther and a whole host of characters with frustratingly similar names. 

And we may or may not have even asked his accomodating mother to go scavenging through his old house for the novels, before sending them interstate so I could scour them for lore. 

All this and I was only level 27 at the time. 

In the weeks since, I've been dedicated to leveling my Night Elf Druid to the fullest extent of her capabilities. She is adorned in trinkets and annoyingly unmatched armour to increase her stats and abilities. A few nights a week I'll help lower-leveled members of my guild do dungeon runs -- I'm a guild officer now; I have responsibilities. And that's before I even think about what will happen once I finally make 60. 

I'm only three bars away. I have enough rested experience that those bars should fill quickly (rested experience doubles the XP you receive from killing monsters). I crave the sweet release of leveling up. Nothing could bring me more satisfaction.

And as someone who's never, ever been into MMOs at all, it's all completely new to me. It has been a necessary and utterly foreign experience for me to undertake while social distancing -- and not just because it's fun.

I've needed this in isolation because it has made me feel like I've been vaguely productive, even though I'm not outside. It's social. It's fun. It's brought my partner and I closer together -- he has to be nice to me otherwise I won't pop a heal on him -- and having a distraction has been really, really good for my mental health.

So I'm excited to log off work today and slay some undead to get my character over the line. I'm excited for that rush of adrenaline. It will feel like an accomplishment.

That is, until I earn enough gold for an epic mount (I'm woefully poor), start raiding, get better gear, participate in battlegrounds and, inevitably, start four alt characters to give myself more bag space.