My first WoW memory is in Stranglethorn Vale. There are other events prior to STV that exist in some strange nebulous place in my mind, but Stranglethorn is the first event that I can really pin down. I was playing my very first character, my undead rogue on the Silver Hand server, trying to kill an elite alligator for the Excelsior quest. This was in December of '04, maybe January of '05. I was absolutely terrible at the game. I simply could not kill that alligator. Everyone I knew did it with no difficulty whatsoever, but I couldn't manage it at all.
The reason I couldn't kill it? I was spamming Sinister Strike while dual wielding white vendor-bought daggers. That was the day I decided I should learn how to play the game rather than hope my friends take pity on me and fly across Azeroth to kill elites for me. Now I'm here, on this site, doing this. That's one heck of a step up.
I never really saw him get that excited about stories, and it was pretty much his fault that I started getting into the lore. If it got him that excited, I figured it must be something pretty amazing. I eventually played through the RTS games, while he told me things about the story. I remember he wistfully mentioned that maybe some day I'd get to kill the Lich King. Six years later, long after everyone I lived with had gone their separate ways, I finally did.
Chase Hasbrouck I started playing WoW some time after launch but didn't stick with it. (College may have had something to do with that.) My only clear memory is killing turtles in the Shimmering Flats on my night elf rogue and dying repeatedly. I quit the game and started up again some time after The Burning Crusade launched. I went looking for that rogue a couple years ago and he's somehow moved himself to Stranglethorn Vale, but he's still got plenty of poison mats, flash and blinding powder, and thieves' tools.
Christian Belt I have a very vivid memory of my undead mage waking up in the cemetery outside Deathknell in Tirisfal Glades. My best friend, who had gotten me into the game with some coaxing, was online at the time, and I kept asking him things like, "OK, so once I click on a monster, I just keep attacking him automatically? I don't have to keep clicking?" and "Holy crap, when do I get a bigger backpack?" I remember comparing it incessantly to Final Fantasy XI and Phantasy Star Online, my two previous experiences with online RPGs, which seems kind of stupid nowadays. Then I remember finding a Forsaken fellow in a ruined cottage near a covered bridge outside Brill. He taught me how to craft pants from the bits of cloth I'd been scavenging from corpses. I was a zombie tailor wizard, and I was hooked.
Teldrassil. Due to a computer breakdown, I didn't get a computer capable of playing WoW until a few months after launch, so my friends were already leveling. I rolled a night elf druid and started my trek to catch up. I remember the first couple days, I got a letter from one of my friends, in character, welcoming me to the guild and offering me a Large Knapsack. I think I still have both the letter and the knapsack somewhere on one of my mules. I also remember later that day, another friend tracked me down while I was killing spiders and handed me some leather armor. We then had an impromptu dance party in the middle of nowhere in the Teldrassil newbie zone. It was pretty sweet.
Elizabeth Wachowski Making a night elf druid while my Horde friend laughed at me, and then falling off of Teldrassil.
Joe Perez While I was in the beta, my first memorable moment was when I made my first tauren shaman, Rum. I played him with my friend who was a warrior, Coke. Me, him and a few more of our friends leveled together and had a blast. Then, due to real life, many of them stopped playing and abandoned me to wander alone on the Horde side.
I then wound up getting an invite with some work friends to play over on Zul'jin. The catch was that I had to ditch my beloved cow and roll Alliance. I rolled a night elf hunter, pulled up my bootstraps and started making my way to top level. Partway through, my little guild decided we wanted to start raiding, so we all applied to a guild named Vex on Zul'jin. Due to some issues, the guild fell apart and we applied to Unpossible! That guild became my home for many many years, and I made so many friends that I've kept through the years. One of them became one of my best friends and is like a brother to me.
Josh Myers Oh, gosh. Mulgore. Beautiful, simple, lovely Mulgore. I was a young tauren hunter, enthralled with the idea that I could play a giant cow person, and I simply loved the idea of dual-wielding. I didn't want to play a warrior and couldn't be a tauren rogue, so I rolled a hunter and spent my first few levels trying to Mongoose Strike my way to victory. Thankfully, when my boyfriend and I hit level 10 and got our first talent points, he pointed out that enhancement shaman also had a talent for dual wielding, and off I went to reroll.
Lisa Poisso One of my earliest, earliest memories from WoW's beta was of my guild group deciding on Darkshore as our meetup place after soloing through the earliest levels in our respective racial homelands. (Much hilarity, death running and swimming of coastlines ensued.) We were running about up north, doing I think it was the now-obsolete quest with the fruits and the nuts and the Blackwood furbolg, when our level range eventually fell short of our zeal and we got strung out and slaughtercated. The mobs were way, way too dense for our overall level range, and some of the corpses were in very bad neighborhoods -- the perfect opportunity to save the day with my very first casts of Resurrection! I was such a hero. Our group was so freaking overjoyed to have a healer with that spell. ... Fruits and nuts were eventually acquired, although as I recall, it took the entire evening to orchestrate. Life was good.
Mathew McCurley My first WoW memories were from the beta long before the game even released, back in May of 2004. My first character was a human paladin that I made to duo with my friend Rico who made a gnome rogue named Grody. I had like no attacks except auto-attack and some random skills. It was awful. Eventually he made a shaman and I made an undead priest who would eventually become my main character for all of vanilla. My true first memory of World of Warcraft at launch was that I was the guy who ran around getting enough guild signatures to get the guild up and running. I ran all over the world at level 4, from Orgrimmar to Thunder Bluff, back to Tirisfal Glades and finally returning to Orgrimmar with all of the required signatures. There was this great feeling of getting the guild started that I'll never forget. It was awesome.
draenei starting area and saw the sunset for the first time. With a little excitement, she said, in a surprisingly amazed tone, "Wow. It's all so pretty!"
And then I compare it to my own first character -- a gnome warlock named Fisher. And I remember very clearly my own breathless wonder when I walked into Ironforge the first time, checking out the magnificent architecture and impressive layout. Ironforge is old hat to me now, but I still remember the epic feel of the city from that first time.
Olivia Grace My first WoW memory was starting a human mage, as that was what I'd played in Elder Scrolls: Oblivion, then a friend coming to my house, deleting the mage, and making me a human paladin on the correct server! I was questing around Elwynn Forest under his watchful eye, and unwittingly took on an errant Horde warrior ... I don't know what level he was, but it was a lot higher than mine!
Robin Torres When I first saw WoW, it was over The Spousal Unit's shoulder during the open beta. He had made a night elf hunter and was questing through Teldrassil. I had sworn off all fantasy MMOs and was going to stay loyal to City of Heroes, but I decided to give the open beta a try -- after all, it was free. I made a night elf druid and fell in love with the world, the class, the race, the quests, and all the things they had fixed from when I played EQ. When I got bear form (which used to be at level 10 with a quest and it was the first form), there was no going back. I bought the game at launch and have played it ever since.
Redridge, then Burning Steppes, into Searing Gorge, and finally over into Dun Morogh proper. I managed to get to Lakeshire without incident, but the pack of orcs that hide behind the rocks on the northern side of the town took me by complete surprise and jumped me.
I was rescued by the sweetest hunter ever, and I still remember him saying, "Don't worry young paladin ^_^" and escorting me the rest of the way through Redridge. Once I got to Burning Steppes, he told me it was too high level to go any further and left. I pressed on. After being slaughtered at least 50 times, I finally choose to just remain a ghost and trek that way, only to discover that there was no way over the mountains into Searing Gorge. I never found Blackrock, which promptly caused me to quit and delete my paladin.
Editor's Note: Want more screenshots of the world pre-Cataclysm? We have full galleries of every single zone as they were before Deathwing's return!