Four years ago this week, World of Warcraft: Legion launched. The world was a simpler place back in September of 2016, and frankly speaking, WoW was in a better place, as well.  And now, four years removed from what I thought was the best expansion of the “modern era” of the game, I’ve not only learned to look at Legion in a new light, but also view myself and my own growths differently throughout the years. 

I remember August 30, 2016 vividly. Legion was set to release at 3am my time. Six hours later, at 9am, I was set to attend my first class of my freshman year at college. In that short, yet momentous timeframe, I was faced with quite possibly the most important decision of my young life. Do I attend my first day of classes, business as usual? Or do I stay home and play WoW?

I did what any reasonable WoW player faced with a launch day dilemma would do. I woke up at an outrageous hour of the morning to not only play the new expansion the minute it dropped on live servers, but I also downloaded the WoW client on my laptop so I could bring the game with me to my first day of classes. 

Most college students don’t master the art of multitasking until some time halfway through their sophomore year. I mastered it on day one. Never before – and never since – has a maneuver as impressive as my swapping between the Highmountain leveling experience and the Creative Writing note taking experience been accomplished at the college level. 

And now, four years removed from that day, and four months removed from graduating college, I can look back at my time playing Legion as a formative part of my life. I underwent more emotional, mental, and personal growth during the lifespan of that expansion than at any other point in my life, and that game was there to accompany me every step of the way. I’ll always look back fondly at Legion and cherish the time I spent playing that expansion, because now, as I approach full-blown adulthood, I don’t think I’ll ever enter another stage of my life quite like the “Legion stage” ever again. 

I’m changed not because of how the last four years of my life progressed, but because of how I adapted alongside them. Especially during those first two years of college, when life was a questionable mess and the world took any and every chance it had to upend my stability, I knew that I could always come home and lose myself in the beauty of WoW: Legion. The captivating magnificence of the Broken Isles is still home to some of my favorite worldbuilding in all of WoW’s history, and as we head into another stage of the game’s lifespan – one that coincidentally lines up with another stage of my life – I can’t help but get strangely excited to enter a new world this October. It’s almost as if that same feeling I had four years ago is rekindling deep inside.

But just as I am different now, so is my beloved World of Warcraft. We’ve both been changed by the years. The game, in particular, just saw its arguable lowest point in the past ten years with its worst-received expansion during that time frame in Battle for Azeroth. If the experience Blizzard is hoping to create with Shadowlands is going to bring the game back from the brink later this year, it’ll have to find the spark that made Legion so amazing exactly four years ago. 

I’m hoping for a great game coming later this year – one that reverts the fundamental mistakes of BfA surrounding core gameplay mechanics like the GCD and ability changes, as well as the nightmares that were infinite AP scaling and the dreaded corruption system (but that’s a different discussion for a different day). But more to the point, I’m praying that Shadowlands is able to find some of that mojo when it comes to worldbuilding and ambience that WoW is so famous for.

Four years ago, they struck gold. This fall, I’m hoping they can strike it again. I’m hoping that Blizzard can create a game that makes me want to bring my laptop to college and sneak in a few quests while my professors hand out assignments on the first day of class. Even an ounce of that Legion magic – that sense of nostalgic rekindling – is what I’m hoping WoW is able to bring to the table with Shadowlands

Daily Quest is Michael Kelly’s daily World of Warcraft column on picksandbans.net. You can follow him on TwitterWordPress, and Youtube for more content, opinions, and musings.

Featured image via Blizzard Entertainment.