Pure Heavy Prepared: World of Warcraft, Burning Crusade
“Look to my coming on the first light of the fifth day, at dawn look to the east.” is exactly what I said to my mum the night before the release of World of Warcraft’s second expansion The Burning Crusade. In truth though, my body gave up after the third night. This was my favourite time whilst playing World of Warcraft and for me, no other MMORPG will come close to its level during The Burning Crusade.
It was 1.55am, standing outside the Dark Portal, waiting for that realm restart to then make your way through. I still remember my excitement. It was a journey into the unknown, a feeling that you don’t really get with games these days, even new Warcraft expansions. In those days, there was no cross-server play, all the players you came across were from your realm. The dark portal stairs were packed!
Being on a PvP server (Thanks James), there were dead bodies everywhere. Players trying to be the first to enter the world of Outland, and failing miserably. We made our way, slowly and surely to the steps and waited for the clock to strike two. It seemed to take an eternity, constant fear that some dick of a Tauren would have his way with me, but it didn’t come and when the clock struck 2, we charged forward! I’ll never really forget that feeling, running through to be greeted with the warzone that is Hellfire Peninsula. Covered with Pit Bosses and demons, fire from the sky and destroyed settlements, Hellfire was a furious place. It doesn’t have the same lustre nowadays, but my goodness was that an awesome sight. We pillaged, looted and levelled. Items being constantly linked into guild chat, chat on Teamspeak or Ventrillo about how much more damage we could all now deal, and the occasional expletive when one of our merry band were stomped by a Fel Reaver.
The second night was our first LAN and it as enjoyable as the first night, journeys into Zangarmarsh and Nagrand were as fruitful as our exploits in Hellfire Peninsula and onwards we pushed. Fuelled on coca-cola, pizza and a ton of sweets we had a smashing night at our Rogue’s place. I don’t remember if we done anything out of the ordinary that night. We maybe ran a few of the new dungeons, probably got pissy with each other if we both needed the same item and then just laughed it off an hour later when something better dropped. The sun came up again, and we ventured to Microplay for the 3rd night.
Microplay was a gaming center just behind Central Station in Glasgow. It’s no longer there, like literally no longer there, they demolished it. I have nothing but fond memories of Microplay. Many a Counter Strike: Source game was had in that hallowed room. Several hours killed between lectures at Uni and some good friendships started. Occasionally, I do miss it. My fondest memory is definitely that LAN. Our merry band of adventurers, now sitting around level 64 or 65 decided to run Zul Gurub, a level 60, 20 man raid. We had 7. So you can imagine that it levelled itself out. We fought and fought and eventually killed a few bosses and grabbed some loot. Bloodlord Mandokir was our last kill after numerous attempts, and we cheered louder than anyone in Glasgow that night when the boss dropped down dead. These bosses, in that form, are now no longer available and some of the items are gone for good. I have a kept few for nostalgia value and a little reminder of that night.
There was one zone in The Burning Crusade that was more enjoyable than the rest. Karazhan, this was a 10 player raid and was balanced beautifully. It was difficult enough to be enjoyable, yet allowed you to progress at a level relative to your gear and skill. In my honest opinion, it was (and has not yet been matched) the most balanced raid experience in an MMO. We cleared Karazhan on a number of occasions but it did have its scope for a little fun.
An instance of this would be by breaking crowd control intentionally. Crowd control is a term used to control a pack of enemies. For example, you could stun an enemy, turn them into a sheep or a frog or if they were undead and shackle them with chains of light. Further into Karazhan when you are ascending the tower itself there’s a room, full of undead enemies. Packed. It took a lot of time to slowly pick off each enemy one at a time and plan your route through the room. What made it more fun was to break the shackle. This was extremely easy to do even by mistake. An area of effect spell that hit that enemy would allow it to run free and attack. Honestly, there was nothing more fun than breaking a shackle when James was your tank. He hated it. Literally hated it, you see it made him work harder as the tank and you could just stay back and fire off spells or attacks. If the group dies, doesn’t matter, James’ fault. This was similar to fighting “Shade of Aran” who would cast a flame wreath around you and if you moved through it, it pretty much exploded the raid. Not as fun, as you got the blame, but still quite fun if you had enough time to keep going and you wanted to piss off someone in the group!
My utmost fondest memory of Burning Crusade was within Karazhan. Prince Malchezaar was the last boss of the dungeon. Famed for being notoriously dickish with his infernal spawns that would constantly spread fel fire across the room, and for knocking everyone’s health down to 1HP with a spell. An unlucky run could see you go down to Prince several times without it really being your fault. It’s about 4am, we’ve been in Karazhan for about 3 hours. We took our sweet ass time at this LAN, stopping for pizza midway through and then with a groan “Suppose we best finish this then”. One of our rogues wasn’t at the LAN. He was with us on Ventrillo though and knew the score. Prince Malchezaar was being a King Troll. We had died a few times, gear needing repairs, frustration setting in. Another run came and we got him down to about 10% health, at this point an Infernal came down and pretty much landed on James and he went down. Still watching his health tick away whilst the boss was now loose killing everything in sight. 5…4…3…2… Only our Rogue left alive and while Prince made his demonic charge towards our helpless softy, something wonderful happened. A massive critical hit brought the demon to his knees and down he went. The place erupted! We scared the cats, hell we probably scared half the neighbourhood. 4am on a Sunday and BOOM! Milton on Campsie was rocking! I don’t even remember what loot we got that night, does it really matter? I just always picture our Rogue sitting in the dark, by himself, and letting out the smallest “Yas” he could muster.