I recently embarked on the Loremaster achievement – it seemed like a relaxing time-filler between raids, and an alternative to more soon-to-be-abandonned alts.  And I have to say, it’s turned into something of a mission.

Questing thoroughly for the first time through the revamped old world zones has been an absolute delight. I know some people don’t understand – they find killing low level mobs boring, they hate having their bags full up with junk, they just don’t get the attraction.  But for me, it has been a chance to enjoy the stories, properly read the quest text, and become immersed in the world in a way that hasn’t happened since my very first character.

I have levelled alts since Cata, but with dungeons and heirlooms, the pace is so fast that huge chunks of the world are never visited.  On my travels I have discovered places and characters, and their stories, which I did not previously know existed.  There is a beautiful Cenarion Circle enclave in Desolace – deserted when I visited – which has become one of my favourite spots in the game.  There is a remote quest giver in Arathi Highlands with a couple of fun quests which gave me unexpected Steamwheedle rep.  Everywhere I found little gems of lore and place which I am so happy to have discovered.

Its easy to forget, in all the fuss over patches, expansions and gear upgrades, what it was that first grabbed us about this game.  Loremastering has, for me at least, revived my interest in the core of the game – the evolving story, and the part the player has in it.  Its too easy to be cynical, to fret about how ‘easy’ the game has become, when maybe we should step back and just really look at what Blizzard has created – a place in which to lose oneself, to become something beyond the everyday.

All of the above of course applies to Eastern Kingdoms & Kalimdor.  I’m now halfway through Outland, and I have to say that it’s not quite so much fun. Shadowmoon Valley, while interesting, is so relentlessly gloomy that it is a relief to leave for somewhere with sunshine. And finding the last few quests in Nagrand was a struggle.  But Northrend awaits, with the epic Wrathgate questchain, the quirky quests of Grizzly Hills, and the grandeur of the Stormpeaks.  I am looking forward to all of it.