World of Warcraft

World of Warcraft - Grand Design: Exploration

On my to-do list for WoW has always been those big projects that aren't necessarily complicated or difficult to complete, but require some time and perseverance. Reputation grind, archeology, epic weapons from the past, pet battles. One of them is exploration.

I like maps. If I suddenly went back in time to my teenage years and had to choose a new career path - well, one possibility would be something related to maps. It's one of my hobbies. On my multiple trips, I like to get all the maps I can - I research Google maps of the place I'm going, I always have a map app on my iphone, and when I'm there, I buy some paper ones.

What I've always hated about WoW is the blank spaces on the maps. If I'm questing in a zone, I try to explore the map of that zone in its entirety - not just the places I've been sent to by the questmakers. If there was even one empty spot left, I would go and open it deliberately. But of course, you can't be in every zone while leveling up.

In my first few months of playing WoW, I completed World Explorer with my main - even before Pandaria. But thanks to my map obsession hobby, I always knew that when I logged in with any toon, any alt, it had to have all the maps open and ready. It was a big, long game project that came to an end yesterday. From time to time I'd deliberately cover one zone or another with my toon when he felt like traveling, but it still required deliberate sessions of opening maps over huge areas.

The whole expedition is not that difficult, really. Smaller continents like Outland, Northrend, Pandaria, and Draenor will take you an hour or less to go through in their entirety. Depending on how much of the map you opened up during quests.

The larger continents, EK and Kalimdor, are 2-3 hours of travel or more. The worst are the Blood Elf and Draenei starting zones, which still don't let you fly. It's been... 10 years how they can't draw textures of Silvermoon and Exodar rooftops so we can see them? Well. Anyway, you have to drive on the ground through the 4 zones on the list.

There you have the mandatory dangerous parts for factions. To open the Ammen Vale piece where the Draenei start with the Horde toon, you have to die 3-4 times, pushing through 105 elite guards and resurrecting yourself as much as the spirit leash allows. Silvermoon is more forgiving of Alliance toons. You simply drive into the gate, make a circle of honor around it, and four guards run after you. I always picture the music from the Benny Hill show when I do that :) If you're lucky, they won't take you down and there won't be high level Horde players there to kick your ass as you frantically flee into the golden wilderness. Well, Silvermoon is usually the least populated town, located in the ass end of the world, with no points of attraction for high levels. Still, Kellers, my Human Mage, picked the worst time to go there - there was a fireworks party, so she got ambushed 4 times by a horde of Hordies before she was allowed to leave :)

Now all my toons are great explorers, have all the continents on their maps, and the big project is closed. One more thing ready for Legion & Broken Isles!