Somewhat to my surprise (but possibly not to anyone else's) I find myself playing WoW again. I really thought I was finished with this game.
Part of the reason was getting a bit bored with other options. Eve I will love for years but much of what I do in Eve is about setting things in motion then logging off. EQ2 palled after I levelled out of the populated levels. I like EQ2 and I believe it beats WoW on many points (housing, assist mechanics, mentoring) and of course it's fresh to me where WoW was somewhat stale. But level 60 is a horrible place to be. You're a long way past the busy 20s-30s where dungeon groups pop all the time and you feel a long way from the populated level 90 end game. I'll wander back at some point. In fact I've periodically left then returned to EQ2 over the last 6 years even when I had to sub, I'll certainly be back now my characters are sitting there free.
So, what drew me back to WoW? Partly it was the blogs I read and the podcasts I listen to. There's a lot of buzz and Cataclysm has gone down very well with most people. They've done a good job. The blog that broke the camel's back was Stylish Corpse where Ysharros admitted that having decided to not play WoW she'd succumbed so I thought if she can, so can I.
My old account is foobar. I've forgotten what email address I used 6 years ago when I made the account. It's also almost certainly been hacked. To get my account back I would have to undergo a probably arduous recovery progress which would involve sending them photocopies of my ID and so on which I really don't want to do. I am very uncomfortable with the whole RealId direction anyway and despite my incessant cheapskating (or perhaps because of it) I'm actually not short of money to waste on games so I just decided to make a new account with less personal information, a more anonymous version of my name and a throwaway email. In the long term I don't want to be locked out of functionality for privacy concerns. Of course it does mean Blizzard directly profited from me out of its evil scheme with Facebook to monetise our personal information which is a tad annoying. I predict we're moving into an era where everyone online is called John Smith online. If that seems unduly paranoid bear in mind that after our recent student riots hear in the UK the police chief hinted darkly at long term damage to demonstrators' future careers. Big Brother is watching anyway, no need to hand him the keys.
So I made a trial account and started a troll. The 1-5 starter area is new and beautifully done. They've done a really nice job with the new lowbie zones (troll and gnome), so much so that the old zones (eg Tauren, Orc and NElf) seem very bland to someone who's already played them.
And that seems to be the essential problem for questing in Cataclysm from the viewpoint of a veteran. The new stuff is great but there are large chunks of the old and it doesn't compare well. To be fair they've pruned heavily but after playing the wonderful riding shotgun quest to get to the Crossroads it's a bit of a let down to get the 4 zevra hooves, 5 fungal spores, and swim to the bottom of the Forgotten Pools gunk that I've done a thousand times. If only those Pools really were forgotten.
A big change is in the availability of options to the questing though. I'm loving LFD pugs. Maybe I'll burn out but after a long break from WoW I'm finding both good groups and bad groups tremendous fun. Most groups have been good but I've met some spectacularly awful players. I tanked a RFC run where a druid in bear form with ress sickness kept using Growl to take aggro off me. Warriors are needing on cloth, hunters are ninjaing maces it's hilarious. My personal favourite was a SFK run I healed. The dps zerged in before the tank was ready so being a careful and aggro averse healer I kept the tank full while not healing the dps. (Otherwise it's easy to out-threat a dps and get attacked for spamming heals). One dps warrior took great offence to not being healed. Both me and the tank simply stopped healing him or ressing him and continued the run. It was a wierd parallel game of 4 of us doing the instance slickly and professionally with barely a hitch while every 5 minutes or so Rudeboy would catch us up, dps for a couple of pulls, rip aggro and die then start running again. He must have died and corpse ran back to us about 8 times (and of course ended the instance dead on the floor). It was delightful to feel I was educating a new player in why you don't swear at healers in caps the moment you meet them.