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If there's one thing most WoW players have in common, it's a max-level character. It may have come at 60 before The Burning Crusade came out. Or maybe it came after that, at 70, or even at 80 with Wrath of the Lich King's release. The reason I say "most" instead of "everyone" is because like all things, there are exceptions -- though how many there are, I'm not entirely sure. What I do know is that up until a few weeks ago, I was one of those exceptions.
I've been playing WoW since it launched but never had any max-level characters until last month, when I dinged 80 for the first time. I won't go into details about how that sort of thing happens, mostly because I can't spare the word count, and will simply state that it was caused by server-hopping, altoholism and six-month-plus breaks from the game.
Seeing the game evolve from a constantly lower-than-max-level character was quite the experience. I never got to see what it was like raiding in T2 gear, not to mention never even getting dungeon 1 set. Sure, I experienced some cool world events like the two Scourge invasions, but all I ever saw when the Gates of Ahn'Qiraj were opened was a server message announcing the start of the event. Going through the Dark Portal for the first time to explore Outland? That happened when I re-subbed after one of those extended breaks this past June. I was faced with the challenge of getting from 58 to 80 before the next expansion released.
Of course, it went a lot faster than I expected, and now my account has its first 80. He's more than prepared for the upcoming Cataclysm. Having finally reached the level cap, I finally get to enjoy the next expansion's high-level content from the start, and I finally get to take advantage of WoW's endgame. Holiday quests that were nigh impossible for anyone under 80, the Argent Tournament, raids, heroic dungeons, and all of the other content now available to me. The driving force behind my journey to 80 over the last couple of months was Cataclysm's impending release, and I want to ask my fellow players: What was it that drove you to hit 80, 70 or 60 for the first time?