The Wrath of the Lich King expansion for WoW has been out for nearly two weeks now. I love it. The new dungeons, new areas, new achievements, its all really really cool. And yet I've hardly played it. The reason - my daughter was born on launch day :) I was in fact in a queue for a midnight release at my local Tesco while my wife was starting to have contractions. I just about got the game installed before we had to go in to the local hospital.
Since then, as you can imagine, I've been busier than I've ever been before, taking care of my newborn and her mum and so I've had very little time to myself to play WoW. I've actually only had enough time to level up twice since WotLK launched.
But that's not the only unusual thing about my toon. You see, I'm a paladin who is still Holy. Yes, unlike pretty much all my pally contemporaries, I did not respec to Retribution when the last patch made them so powerful and I have not respecced since WotLK launch just to level up to 80.
Maybe I would have if I had had more time to play - the temptation to 'level fast' might have been too much to resist. But I have to say I hope I would not have gone over to the Dark Side, taken the 'easy' route, if I had had the time.
I understand why so many Holy and Protection paladins went over to Ret until they got to 80. Everyone wants to see the 'endgame'. Get to the raids, get to the Heroics, get to the real phat lootz. But what about the content that comes before the end?
As a Holy Paladin I can fill a specific slot in groups - the healer and debuffer. I've healed in the Nexus and Utgarde Keep several times already. I'm looking forward to the challenge of the rest of the dungeons in Northrend. The loot I get won't be kept for long, sure. But the experiences will be fun and good training for that endgame content everyone is so mad about when I eventually get to it.
Then there are all the quests along the way. All the beautiful zones, factions, and rewards to be found and seen. I could respec to ret and powerlevel to 80 in a few days, but then again, I could just pay a professional service to do it for me and read dungeon guides on wowwiki.
The point is, there is more to WoW or any MMO than the endgame. Endgame is the stuff developers put in to keep us playing once we've finished all the main game's content. It is an important part of the game sure, but not all of it. But a lot of players today don't seem to have the patience to enjoy the game itself - they just want to race through to the highest level possible. There's a sort of insecurity about being anything 'less'. But by doing so they deprive themselves and other players of a lot of fun. Players are being given the choice of being useful or powerful - and sadly seem to largely be choosing the latter.
Personally I'm glad I've been slowed down a little, that I'm being forced to take my time in Northrend. The slow rate of exposure means I'm seeing things more clearly, having more meaningful experiences than I would were I to be charging through the levels as fast as I can. I'm happy to level more slowly than I could (although I do still feel somewhat envious when I see guildmates getting all those cool achievements and fancy mounts and loot).
But that gives me something to look forward to. When I get to 80 (if my baby ever lets me!) it will be the end of a long journey. Hopefully I will have experienced a lot of the game along the way and been useful to a lot of groups too. And presumably I'll be that much further away from the burnout many players inevitably feel when they've rerun the same dungeons at max level and seen next to no progress for all the weeks and months in the meantime.