Five years. It has been five years and three expansions since I last departed Azeroth, with no intention of returning. So, Twillÿ, what changed?
World of Warcraft was my first (and pretty much only) MMO for a long, long while. I have had serious history with this game, going all the way back to vanilla. I first started playing WoW heavily in 2007, around the time of the Burning Crusade expansion. Those were the days! I made so many great friends and became extremely immersed within the world and it's lore. TL;DR -- it was my shit. Alas, all good things come to an end. Sometimes, only a temporary end.
I abandoned WoW for various reasons back in 2010. First off (and probably the most mundane reason) my gaming laptop at the time broke. Dead. Beyond repair dead. Secondly, I just couldn't afford it anymore at that stage of my life. Last on the list, the game was starting to take over that life. I'm sure a lot of you have heard the horror stories of people being unable to control their WoW addiction, so I'll spare you the details, but I was part of that category for some time (luckily age grants you an experience buff to juggle responsibilities better). So, one might wonder why anyone would return to something with that kind of stigma surrounding it. Well, my friends.. I'm here to explain to you how I am just that specific kind of crazy.
The world of Azeroth (Draenor and Outlands included, for those politically correct ones out there) is my home away from home. It always has been. Only a few games have stayed with me for so long and kept me thinking about them for years and years, even without being an active player. My brother and I have actually always talked about lore advances and gameplay changes, long after our departures. World of Warcraft boasts one of the best, if not the best, library of lore out there. Second to only that of Bethesda's Elder Scrolls series -- and even then, I bite my lip in frustration trying to choose who writes a better novel. Seriously, look some of this stuff up. It's fantastic.
As far as gameplay is concerned, I have always loved what WoW had to offer. I am not one to bicker about "this nerf" or "that hotfix" and I really just enjoy how the game does things. The best thing about World of Warcraft, is that there is always something to do and someone to do it with; or alone, if that's your flavor. Personally, I love collecting the plethora of mounts, pets and toys more than focusing on gearing up for the end game content and raids. And that's okay! Players of any pace can find their niche when jumping into this MMO.
Since my return, I have been having a blast! It was like muscle memory, as everything came back to me almost instantaneously. Exploring all of the content I have missed over the past few years has been a real treat. Seeing the plot advances firsthand and catching up on my rare item collecting reminds me of the best of times and really puts me in a happy place. With all of these different aspects to experience, it's as if the game is completely new for me. Now, with 'Legion' (the newest expansion) releasing around summer 2016, I gave myself the perfect amount of time to rewind, collect and explore to my heart's content.
Maybe it's my steeped history with this game. Maybe it's the long hours that I have spent farming, camping, grinding and exploring the vast reaches of Azeroth and beyond. Or maybe it's the simple fact that WoW, at it's core, is a really fun MMO (and storybook) that truly proves to me time and time again that it is the king of the massively multiplayer universe. Whatever it is deep down, it was enough to bring me back. I honestly never thought I'd ever return, but I am so glad I did. The world may have changed in my absence, but my characters were right there waiting for me, just where I left them half a decade ago. Seriously, when your gaming handle (heck, the real-life nickname that everyone knows you by) originates from the name of your main WoW character like mine does -- and when there is so much more history than can be explained in words behind that little avatar -- it's quite the beautiful reunion. WoW makes me happy and I can't wait to see what other adventures lie for all of us just beyond the horizon.