As Shadowlands (opens in new tab) grows closer, I have once again been dragged back into World of Warcraft. I want to get all my ducks in a row before it begins so I can jump in without missing a beat. There have been a lot of big updates since my Demon Hunter and I last visited Azeroth, however, and trying to catch up has chipped away at my spirit.
I didn't set myself many big tasks. I want to get up to speed with my faction's storyline, get my flying license for Kul Tiras and maybe get a very flashy set of armour to show off with. But I'm finding it tough to even get through even this simple list, as I feel like a Night Elf out of time.
See, I've got a lot of story threads to go down, which originally appeared in the game in order, but now following the sequence of quests requires a trip to places like WoWhead (opens in new tab). Otherwise, they are impossible to follow, sending me off to finally end massive threats that I've never even met yet.
Instead of being able to ease back into things, I've buckled under the weight of all the stuff being thrown at me all at once—not just the multiple storylines, but mechanics, factions, a huge parade of raids and dungeons. I'm not encountering it as I level up, I'm already 120, and I'm not playing through it at the pace or even in the order it was designed for—but I'm compelled to keep pushing forward.
So much of the stuff I'm muddling my way through is great, but collectively it's just a massive chore. And I've not even started grinding the mechagnome faction rep yet, which is sure to add weeks of world quests to my docket, and even more in the likely situation that I'll decide to unlock the race. Battle for Azeroth really loves its rep grind, and it's all the more unbearable when it's not broken up into digestible chunks.
The more I play, the more my self-imposed list of tasks grows. There's a mountain of gear and nearly as many mounts that I want to get my hands on, and I know I'll be unlikely to bother once Shadowlands appears. It's worse not knowing exactly when it's going to arrive, too, so it constantly seems imminent. These should be things I'm excited about owning, but instead it's another job to cram into my impossible schedule.
Other things I've ignored completely, like PvP, or only just tipped my toes into, like warzones, because I don't need more distractions, which is a rather miserable way to look at big parts of a game. No time for frivolity—I'm too busy ruining WoW for myself.
The flying license will be good for my inevitable alts, even if my Demon Hunter never visits Kul Tiras again, and after 15 years of playing through it, there are few videogame stories that I'm this invested in, so I want to make sure I haven't missed anything before I head to the afterlife. More than most expansions, however, Shadowlands offers a kind of fresh start, squashing the level cap back down to 60 and naturally making some big changes with progression. So much of the effort I'm putting into it is going to be meaningless when the expansion hits, then, with new gear and mounts and mechanics that will probably make me forget all about Battle for Azeroth.
I resent it. But mostly I resent myself for deciding I absolutely had to get ready, again, for yet another expansion. And it's frustrating because Battle for Azeroth has a lot going for it, even if it proved to be divisive and Blizzard dropped the ball when it came to gear. But I can't savour it, and I'm too committed to this destructive path to turn back now.