The year was 2010 and my freshman year of college was in full swing. Parties were being thrown and broken up. Beer continuously graced my dorm room floor. I may, or may not, have tried to do battle with a coat hanger thinking it was some sort of foul beast. These were the days of the Wrath of the Lich King. Now, World of Warcraft always maintained a sort of, reserved parking spot in the video game library of the inner workings of my brain. It sort of sat there and collected tickets and bird shit like a worn down beater. It was the kind of car you would wonder if someone would ever come claim it or not. No one was around to ever see it if it did happen. But, never fail, an old lady would hobble down there once a year, remove the tickets and take that 1990s Lincoln town car for the ride of its life. This is similar to my experience with the world of Azeroth; a slow punishing burn in the back of my head. A pulsing heat that neither dims or strengthens.
There are a lot of things that made Wrath of the Lich King special to me, and not because it may have kept me out of some of the more unsavory nights that were to be spent by those around me in college. Coming off of the end of Warcraft 3: Frozen Throne I longed for the conclusion to the lore that was built up around Arthas and the Lich King. Which, in hindsight, was probably awful and real trash just like the rest of the Warcraft lore has become. It is, however, trash I like and I claim. It is my trash. The quest for the Frozen Throne ends with a cliffhanger that was not resolved in the vanilla version of WoW. Playing vanilla WoW and the Burning Crusade felt like a holdover. Almost a stand-in until the real end of the game could take place. The many nefarious enemies in vanilla and Burning Crusade had memorable names and dungeons but none could compete with the Lich King himself.
I think one of the reasons that Wrath hit so hard was the general feeling of shrouded disappointment in BC. I remember playing it in junior high and the early years of high school, but it leaves me with no great imprint on my mind. All I can think of is mostly vulgar images of Hellfire Penninsula and how I loathe that place. I never could figure out where the Draenei came from. I assume the shattered lands but they look nothing like I thought they did while playing other Warcraft games. No one wants to play as goblin, Blizzard. I know, wrong expansion, but really. However, one redeeming quality of BC was the Blood Elves. I cannot seem to pick a race I prefer over that one. Maybe, Tauren. I am not sure. Maybe they look too much like a dairy cow for my liking, and look funny as paladins.
Lich King hit me during a time in my life that was not going well. Things had begun to look up, but something about flying around Shlozar Basin and doing dailies with those goddamn green fish people was just so stress relieving. Even now, as I write this, I can feel the melancholy sadness of that year coming back into my body. I don’t think I could return to WoW now. It’s a part of my life I think I have grown away from. It left a massive imprint on my gaming life and how I judge games, but going back there is like going back to an ex that abused you and made you feel bad about yourself but the sex was great so you just went along with it anyway and then you were looking for forty people to do a raid. It felt something like that but with big snakes that lived in the snow.
With Wrath of the Lich King, it felt like the world of the game was actually taking shape. Azeroth had a new land finally and more of the universe that already existed was coming back into play. Instead of creating places most players did not care to go or see, they added in the final part of the story. I wonder if they decided that Warcraft 4 was never going to happen and that they needed to finish their storyline one way or another so the fans did not get upset so they just added it to WoW, or if it was always the plan.
Icecrown Citadel remains one of my favorite raid dungeons. I am not even sure if it counts as a good one, because most of them run together at this point. Even the parts that sort of let me down were at least interesting. The airship battle was really badly made and hard to comprehend but doing it right always felt great. Throughout my time as a raider in Warcraft I never had so much fun as I did on those late nights freshman year of college. At the end of the month another expansion launches and hopes to capitalize on the lore like Lich King did. It brings back in Gul’Dan and Illidan are back at it again and they have finally added another hero class, ten years in and it’s only the second one. I have not decided if I will be cleaning off that rusty old car and taking it for a spin again but I will always have fond memories of my paladin and warlock raiding in those Icecrown halls.