[WoW 8th Anniversary Special] The Top 10 Most Memorable Moments in World of Warcraft History

Eight long years have passed since the world stepped forward into the realm of Azeroth, and over those eight years, the monstrous World of Warcraft have seen its share if incredible world events, ground-breaking changes, and individual moments that have left many a player in awe. Some were good. Some were… not so good. Either way, none of them could be forgotten. Though many have been of the opinion that WoW’s golden years are behind it, due to the decline of popularity during Cataclysm, the new influx of players for Mists of Pandaria has given the king of MMOs new life. However, we are left to wonder if it will herald in moments truly as memorable as those listed today. Here is our top list of some of the most memorable moments in World of Warcraft history.

#10. The Brood Mother – Onyxia

World of Warcraft - OnyxiaEvery player that has been on WoW since the beginning will remember this encounter. For those that joined during Wrath of the Lich King and participated in Blizzard’s “remake” of the boss, they will have some semblance of an idea what this was like. Part of the reason the original encounter was so epic though was because before WoW, groups requiring 40 people were not exactly common place. Additionally, the sheer scale of Onyxia was beyond enormous and one of the most imposing creatures to grace the MMOG scene at that time.

What made it so grand, however, was the relative ease in which players could encounter her. Granted, there was an incredibly long quest chain was required to enter her lair, but once in, players could reach the fabled dragon relatively quickly; unlike the other raid instance of the time, Molten Core (whose bosses, save Ragnaros, were far less imposing looking). Along with all of this, there is no one, absolutely no one, that doesn’t remember the bane of “Deep Breath” and the series of death wails that quickly ensued. Suffice it to say, defeating, or just seeing, Onyxia for the first time is definitely one of the most memorable moments for most veteran WoW players.

#9. In Death We Rise – Introduction of the Death Knight

Wrath of the Lich King - Death KnightA slightly more recent moment came at BlizzCon 2007 with the revealing of the second expansion to WoW, Wrath of the Lich King. Though the moment of the announcement was significant, it was the final release of the expansion and the introduction of the very first hero class, Death Knight, that stands out the most.

Enslaved by Arthas, the Lich King, players worked through one of the most epic quest chains to date, obliterating the Scarlet Crusade and any innocents that happened to be in the way. Players were able to become truly evil for a moment, with and epic crescendo at Light’s Hope Chapel. Nevertheless, the true memory comes from just how much it changed class balance in terms of player versus environment and player versus player. The last expansion, The Burning Crusade, had introduced new races, but such didn’t do much for changing play. Death Knights granted players an entirely new class to enjoy if they opted to, while those that didn’t had to learn to play with or against it.

All that said, the introduction of the Monk class in Mists of Pandaria has changed balance once again, but it still pales in comparison (as a memorable moment). Frankly, the Monk was just not nearly as hyped as the Death Knight, and while fantastically fun to play, it doesn’t have the privilege of being the first new class, nor the classification of “hero class.”

#8. The Breaking of the World

Cataclysm Old WorldFor better or for worse, no one will forget “The Breaking of the World.” This refers to the Cataclysm of the last expansion, of the same name, and the emergence of Deathwing from the plane of earth, Deepholm. It marked the most dramatic change in any MMOG to date, as Blizzard went against the norm of simply adding more content on top of old content. Instead, the company completely threw away all of the old world quests from levels 1 to 60. The entirety of Azeroth was changed as the destruction of the Cataclysm visibly scarred the entire world.

Many players disliked the Cataclysm expansion though as they felt the end-game area suffered greatly due to the revamp and many more miss the original quest content. While the former does hold merit, the latter changes to old world content were for the best. Most of the cries to return it are pangs of nostalgia, and in reality, the current quests are far better designed than their predecessors. For one, there is no more running across continents to find the next suitable leveling zone (i.e. running to Desolace from the Eastern Kingdoms). Second, the quests are far more epic and entertaining (less “kill 10 rabbits quests”). Unfortunately for many players, the feelings are not mutual, thus the Cataclysm marked the moment that they finally quit playing the game.

#7. Lord Kazzak Invades Stormwind

Lord KazzakSome might remember this fiasco. Before the Burning Crusade expansion, there was an outdoor raid boss by the name of Lord Kazzak that spawned out in the Blasted Lands. Well, once upon a time, this demon of the Burning Legion was lured all the way to the Alliance city of Stormwind where he pretty much took over and was unkillable due to his fight mechanics.

The abilities that caused the problem were the spells of “Shadowbolt Volley” and “Capture Soul.” Periodically, Lord Kazzak would fire several Shadowbolts at everything within range and it was a spell that ignored line of sight (meaning it would shoot through walls). Upon killing anything, Kazzak would heal himself significantly. Due to these abilities, he continually slaughtered low level players and guards, making him impossible to defeat by higher level users. Eventually, Blizzard had to actually reset the server to remedy the problem! Suffice it to say, Blizzard quickly changed the boss so that he could no longer be dragged away from his spawn point.

#6. Leeeeeeroooooy Jenkins!!!

Leeroy JenkinsThis next pick is not so much a global moment for WoW as it is a WoW moment for the world: Leeroy Jenkins. One of the better known YouTube videos to come out of the long running game, it features the overly complex, and staged, preparation for a relatively easy section of the then level 60, 10-person dungeon of Upper Blackrock Spire. The long and short of it is that the entire group ends up dead due to the “over exuberant” Leeroy Jenkins who runs into an area full of dragon eggs and breaks them all, leading to an amusing, and chaotic, battle with around 50+ black dragon whelplings. The video is so memorable, that even gamers that have never even seen the actual World of Warcraft know who Leeroy Jenkins. They also know of his love for chicken.

#5. Winning a Week Long Alterac Valley

Original Alterac ValleyThe current iteration of the 40 vs. 40 PvP Battleground of Alterac Valley is a far cry from its original design. It has long since become nothing more than a race to kill an opposing faction’s general, with minimal actual PvP most of the time. However, veteran PvP’ers will remember the original Alterac Valley as a battle that would take up to a week to complete sometimes.

Back during its original version, in Patch 1.5, there were no “reinforcements” that ticked down to zero, and mines were used to summon elite foot soldiers. Moreover, as players garnered reputation with the Frostwolf Clan or Stormpike Dwarves, they could gather materials for, and command, various NPCs, such as a regiment of cavalry. They could even summon aerial units like gryphon riders and wyverns, or the oversized raid bosses of Lokholar the Ice Lord and Ivus. Players may also remember armies of respawning NPCs, the giant troll of Korrak the Bloodrager, and land mines that defended towers and bases.

The original Alterac Valley was one of the most difficult PvP endeavors to win, and finally succeeding was one of the greatest accomplishments of the time.

#4. The Corrupted Blood of Hakkar

Hakkar Corrupted BloodIn Patch 1.7, WoW saw the opening of its first 20-man raid instance, Zul’Gurub. With its opening, players could battle against the troll Blood God, Hakkar the Soulflayer. However, that wasn’t the memorable part of it. It was the attack Hakkar used called “Corrupted Blood.”

The debuff was a spell that would gradually drain the life of anyone, or anything, afflicted by it. If someone with Corrupted Blood was standing near someone else, it would spread to them. Back during these days, players could infect their pets and unsummon them so they would not die. When it was resummoned, it would still have the Corrupted Blood, thus players would call it back it within a crowded city, allowing it to spread like an actual plague. Since there was no way to cure the disease (other than death), it would circulate the cities for extended periods of time. In fact, it was so bad that several non-gaming news sites covered it. The event was also noted to have show an actual human behavior pattern seen in real life outbreak situations as players did all they could to survive and avoid it.

#3. The Lich King’s Plague of Undeath

Wrath of the Lich King - Undead PlagueThis next world event follows the same thread of Hakkar’s Corrupted Blood, but was far more entertaining due to the level of control granted to players. Prior to the release of Wrath of the Lich King, Blizzard introduced a bit of the undead plague into the world through infected crates of grain. If interacted with, players would receive a debuff with a 10 minute duration. It could be removed by Priests, Paladins, and a few Argent Crusade, non-player healers that peppered the main cities. If the disease was not cured by the end of the duration, or should the player die, they would come back to life as the undead.

Upon reanimation, they could infect other players and NPCs who would also become undead upon death, or after 10 minutes. Granted special abilities, undead players began to infect outlying towns with the plague, but were easily dispatched. As the week long event progressed, the plague became stronger, healers were disappearing, and NPC undead attacked the city gates. As a side note, undead players could communicate with the undead of the opposing faction, while all living players saw was “braaiiinnns!!!”

It was incredibly fun to play the undead underdog and try to infect the major cities, but by the end of the event’s week-long duration, it was the living that was the weaker of the two. Entire cities had to be evacuated as there were, literally, hundreds of undead swarming them. By that point, the debuff only lasted 60 seconds and most NPC healers were gone, thus the challenge was simply trying to survive.

#2. Opening the Gates of Ahn’Qiraj

Gates of Ahn'QuirajThe first and perhaps most monumental event on the live WoW servers was the opening of the 40-man raid instance Ahn’Qiraj. Upon the event’s activation, players of all levels had to gather crafting materials in preparation of a war against the Old God of C’Thun and his Silithid and Qiraji armies. For weeks, players built up Horde and Alliance armies that would eventually move to the desert zone of Silithus. Meanwhile, top raiding guilds performed one of the longest and most epic quest lines in the history of the game to recreate an ancient scepter (The Scepter of the Shifting Sands) that would open the Gates of Ahn’Qiraj to the world; breaking a seal cast centuries ago.

The quest line itself was memorable in its own right as players battled against some of the most powerful raid bosses of the time, such as Eranikus and Maws; fighting alongside powerful, friendly NPCs in the process. However, most never saw this. What they did witness, was the ringing of the Qiraji gong, with the scepter, and the gates opening. Assuming the server didn’t crash, the onlookers were greeted with gargantuan, Anubis-inspired creatures that instantly attacked and spread throughout the regions of lower Kalimdor. By the end of the event, wave after wave of these creatures, and their smaller, bug-like Silithid counterparts, crashed against the NPC armies at Cenarion Hold (the primary town in Silithus) in a battle larger than anything seen prior. In fact, there hasn’t been anything quite as large since, but that is probably because high population servers crashed numerous times.

#1. World of Warcraft End of Beta Event

World of Warcraft Beta EventTo be perfectly fair, the #1 most memorable moment in WoW isn’t one from the actual live release, but just three days before it. At the end of the beta testing phase for the original World of Warcraft, 500,000 players met their end at the hands of The Burning Legion. There was no extravagance here. No epic storyline. No gradually increasing danger. At the end of the MMOG’s beta, hordes of massive demons fell from the sky and attacked the whole of Azeroth, slaughtering everything in their path.

During the onslaught, players were able to fight back in defense of the major cities, but were only greeted with even more powerful foes. Along with towering demons, creatures such as dragonkin, giants, and core hounds also lit the world aflame. The streets were literally paved with the skeletons of dead players. On top of all of this,  there was something referred to as “El Pollo Muerte,” or The Death Chicken, which pretty much did exactly what the name suggests. Not everyone saw him, but at the very least, many saw other players and NPCs turned randomly into chickens. Weird though that may seem, the event was the most menacing thing ever seen in World of Warcraft, and easily the most memorable event to those that had the privilege of seeing it unfold.


Posted on November 20, 2012, in Core Games, MMO, Top Lists, World of Warcraft and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.