Second Wind Returning to Wurm Online is a process
After being away from Wurm Online for almost a year, I have to admit I was a bit scared to return. Anxiety levels are high as you log in and have a quick scan of the area to see if you're surrounded by something that will immediately eat your face. It's also fairly unsettling to see how much of your stuff has rotted or been stolen since you left.

In fact, once I determined that my house, my boat, and most of my possessions hadn't been taken by other players in my absence, I had to log back off. I just had to do something else offline for a bit while that anxiety flow slowed to a trickle.

But I soon answered that unexplainable call to log back in and start my new life as a reborn Wurmian. I've heard so many great things about the game's improvements over the last few months that I just had to check them out for myself.

Before doing anything else, I made sure to re-up my premium time. Sure, you can play the game for free, but all of your skill levels are capped at 20 for free players, and before I started repairing any rotting items, I wanted to make sure I'd be able to gain skill points over 20 again.

Second Wind Returning to Wurm Online is a processMy repair session was interrupted by the cries of an explorer who had wandered into my local chat range. Apparently, a crocodile was having its way with his foot, and he was shouting out for my village's guards to help him. I figured I'd try the old rusty sword arm and help out with the mighty croc.

This really helped me get my bearings with the game and realize just how much it had improved. This beast I was fighting was moving! For any fan of any other MMO out there, this might be an odd testament to improvement, but Wurm Online fans know what I'm talking about. The number one reason my friends and colleagues have given for not playing Wurm is the horrible graphics and lack of animations. Well, friends, Romans, and countrymen, you no longer have that excuse.

I took a stroll through the old 'hood to see blowing leaves, swaying signs, crawling spiders, foraging horses, and flying birds. Textures are much more realistic, animal models are greatly improved, and you can now see what your character is wearing! Yes, this means that the entire population of Wurm is no longer floating around with the same green outfits and the same page-boy haircuts or ponytails.

Second Wind Returning to Wurm Online is a process
I headed over to a sister village that was deeded specifically as a farm, only to find it completely retaken by nature. Where crops, farm animals, walls, and small farm sheds once stood, knee-high grass and full-grown trees now ruled. I imagine this deed was abandoned months ago, but it's another testament to how the Wurm world can be brutal in its own special way.

While the visual improvements are exciting, I was even more intrigued by the promise of architectural improvements -- namely, multi-story buildings. My original plan was to grab my best tools, jump into my boat, and explore other players' creations for a few weeks, but I just had to update my own house first and play with the multi-story features a bit.

Second Wind Returning to Wurm Online is a process
As you can see from the quick video I shot below, I was a busy bee. I started with a second floor and two small balconies over parts of my existing home but soon decided to reach for the sky and make a tower in the back of the structure. My Carpentry skill (currently 46) isn't high enough to go any further than five stories, but that should be plenty for now.

So you could say that the improvements to the game have sucked me right back in. Despite the expected sadness from the loss of my farm and all the animals I bred so carefully, I'm excited about the new beginning of sorts. I still have my tools and my home, so rebuilding the farm and livestock will only be an added adventure. I guess I'm weird like that, but the item decay is actually one of the things that keeps me coming back to Wurm Online. Sure, it's scary and nerve-racking at first, but I can think of no other MMO with such realistic consequences for not playing. If I have time some day, I may even hop on my boat and make the two-hour-long trek to go revisit the old deeds I once built and maintained when I was a noob. It's like going back and seeing the house you grew up in: You may not agree with the new owner's paint color choices, but that piece of property still holds some great memories.

And that's really what it's all about in this game. Sure, you can build some amazing things, enchant them, improve them, and even sell them to other players for currency that can be used for premium game time, but it ultimately boils down to the specific skills you're leveling while building these items. Those skills don't decay like the items do, so when you do decide to jump back in six or nine months later, your character has the knowledge to start from scratch with bigger and better stuff.

Some of you might be reading this and wondering why on Earth anyone would get enjoyment from this type of game, and I understand that. Maybe it's my personal fascination with everything post-apocalyptic. Maybe it's my Explorer Bartle type. Either way, I'm glad to be back, and I look forward to rebuilding my collection. And then rebuilding it again some other time.

MMOs are constantly changing, and our opinions can change with them. That's why we're here to give some beloved (or not) games a second (or third) look. Has that game that was a wreck at launch finally pulled itself together? How do the hits of yesteryear hold up today? That's what we're here to find out as Massively gets its Second Wind!

This article was originally published on Massively.