Leveling in World of Warcraft is an experience that seemingly always has an ominous dark cloud looming above it. The grind to the endgame can be lengthy, tedious, and oftentimes, empty. And throughout much of my time playing World of Warcraft, I’ve always carried the notion with me that there are only so many zones on the journey to max level that are actually worth playing. Every so often, I’d stop in places like the Western Plaguelands and the Jade Forest to actually enjoy what the leveling process had to offer.
Never did I think that a starting area could provide me with such an incredible experience. And then I played through the Blood Elf starting zones, Eversong Woods and the Ghostlands.
Now, mind you, I’ve leveled a Blood Elf before – a couple of times, in fact. But, I’ve never actually sat down and read through all the quest text, taken in the atmosphere, and let the game take control of my experience. With more time on my hands to sit inside and play video games – namely World of Warcraft – I’m taking the extra time to breathe a little deeper and actually play through much of the leveling content.
I always lived and died by the idea that the “real game” starts at max level, but I continuously failed to realize that a plethora of gameplay and story stood all around me in a completely massive world.
And now, after playing through both zones – Eversong and Ghostlands – I can firmly say that the Blood Elves have the best starting experience in the game. I’d even go as far to say that they have some of the best zones in the game to their name. And if you haven’t played through the entire experience by now, you’re seriously missing out.
The game takes you on a winding journey through Eversong Woods and the Ghostlands – two zones that have remained largely unchanged since they launched alongside The Burning Crusade all the way back in 2007. With this in mind, it’s clear that the Blood Elf experience has stood the test of time. The playability of the experience is what makes it so simple to jump onto WoW, make a new character and feel no regret whatsoever. Even though, on the surface, you’re just leveling a character again, taking the time to immerse yourself in the story that World of Warcraft offers is something that can’t be replicated in many other games.
What I found so amazing about the Blood Elf starting zone is that the experience from level 1 all the way to level 40 (that’s where I ended up thanks to some heirlooms and the ‘Winds of Wisdom’ buff) felt fluid. It flowed naturally from zone to zone, level to level, quest to quest.
In many cases, WoW zones are designed to have several storylines packed within them while one major, overarching story dominates the narrative of the zone. Between Eversong and Ghostlands, the objectives are classic and date all the way back to TBC: clean up Arthas’ mess in Quel’Thalas and join the Horde.
And over the course of two zones that could easily be stretched into 8 or more hours of gameplay, those goals and all of their surrounding themes are hammered home and executed perfectly. With in-game architecture that was ahead of its time, and unique subzones and quest hubs around every corner to guide your way, you could have easily told me that the entire Blood Elf starting experience was released in the late 2010’s instead of the late 2000’s and you would have had me fooled.
Still, those two zones have stood dormant for well over a decade now. If anything, Eversong Woods and the Ghostlands are a perfectly crafted time capsule in which the history of World of Warcraft, and the essence of what the game is all about, are captured.
Photo Credit: World of Warcraft, Blizzard Entertainment