Monday, March 28, 2011

It's the little things

Let's face it, after playing this game for 6 years, you start to take a lot of things for granted. And even your "relaxed pace"--where you're trying to take it all in--will run laps around newer players.

But every now and again you stumble across something that makes you stop for a moment and really appreciate this game that Blizzard has built. Often it's something small. Just a little detail that you happen to catch; almost by accident.

One of my goals last week was to get Siaaryn's Archeology skill maxed out so that I could start seriously hunting for the Vial of the Sands Recipe. At the start of the week he was at 200 skill. I hit 525 Saturday afternoon. </gloat>

Needless to say, I spent a lot of time during the week (especially on Saturday), mindlessly flying around from shovel to shovel on my map.

During the 450->525 home-stretch, once I was back in old Azeroth, I ended up in Feralas. I hit two different digsites and then opened my map to find the next one. And that's when I had one of those moments.

For the first time since Cataclysm's release, I heard the new music that plays in Feralas (anywhere other than around Dire Maul). I'd been through the zone a few times previously. A few for archeology, a few for picking up the new flight points, and Grevioux passed through very briefly while leveling, but didn't quest through the zone. But the music never really registered until this last time.

It's really quiet, unlike so many zones in WoW. I'd say it fades into the background more than anywhere else. Maybe that's a part of why I hadn't heard it before.

Whatever the reason, I heard it, then, while I was staring at my map and I just had to stop and listen.

It's one of the most beautiful pieces of music I've heard in the game. It's so haunting and so...sad.

It's easy to look at the Night Elves and say that everything is their fault. As a race, they've collectively brought about pretty much every bad thing that's happened on Azeroth in the last 10,000 years (give or take). From the day they started getting drunk off the waters from the Well of Eternity, it's all gone to hell.

But if you're going to accuse them of that, then you have to look at the other side of the coin, too. As a collective race, the Night Elves have lost more and fallen further than any other race on Azeroth. Perhaps combined. Their current civilization is hardly a shadow of what it once was.

A lot of the Night Elf music encapsulates that loss. It's almost all down-tempo with long, drawn-out melodies.

Music from later stages of the game (i.e. what you hear in Mount Hyjal) starts to show a revival. There's still sadness, but also resolve and hope. There's a fighting spirit coming back.

But back in Feralas, among the overgrown ruins of one of their most ancient and powerful cities, and the shambles of Feathermoon Stronghold in the wake of the Cataclysm, there's none of that.

Maybe because I'm an established lore-whore (or maybe because I'm just a little bit special), I couldn't help but to stop my Archeology grind for a few minutes and just fly around the zone, listening to that music, and truly feel sorry for the Night Elves.

Kudos, Blizzard.
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