The Ghost Towns Of World Of Warcraft

The Ghost Towns of World of Warcraft

Digital cities can be abandoned and deserted, just like real-world ones — and World of Warcraft is a prime example of this phenomenon, thanks to its many expansions.

Writing for the AV Club, Samantha Nelson details the hustle and bustle of World of Warcraft--and the cities players have left behind, as they leveled up and more cities became available to them:

These are perfectly preserved digital spaces, so unlike Detroit, they show no physical symptoms of their abandonment. But they are spaces designed for hundreds where it's possible to wander the streets without seeing a single other player. Computer-controlled characters will still cheerily train you in a new skill or peruse your wares, but the cities still feel desolate.

I go anyway. The emptiness feels appropriate in a place like Silvermoon. I imagine that the haughty Blood Elves discourage the other races from coming to their home. On the rare occasions when another player can be seen wandering the city's streets, it's almost always another elf. Maybe they're drawn back by an appreciation for the space's beauty. Without other players to distract you by dancing naked or generally bustling around the screen, a visitor can admire details like self-sweeping brooms and golems on patrol. These are the sights that make the place beautiful and magical — and slightly ominous.

The entire thing is well-worth a read, especially if you're interested in a quick history lesson about how certain spaces in World of Warcraft are populated or deserted over time.

One of these abandoned spaces described is Shattrath — which you can see concept art of at the top of this post, or, if you're interested, there's also an in-game screenshot by effysrponwyrmrestaccord that can give you a taste of what this city looks like:

The Ghost Towns of World of Warcraft

Eerie, considering that MMOs are supposed to have a ton of people in them. But also kind of beautiful, eh?


    I'm a fan of this article. For me it's the nostalgia, I haven't played since just before Cata came out but if I ever ventured back in game, it would purely be just for going back to my "old stomping grounds". But, I guess I can't, vanilla WoW doesn't really exist anymore because of the area being changed. Good times.

    Kind of reminds me of my good olde days in Ragnarok Online. Even when the population lowered there was always towns that held lots of people because it was the best place to farm/level. For example Payon and Geffen where top spots for leveling during early days. When the newer Al De Baran and Labs opened up Geffen became empty as everyone moved to Labs. Louyang was a defacto mid level area due to how easy it was to level from Grasshoppers.... until the global update and Louyang is now a shadow of its former self... Prontera is still the most populated city though xD

    MMO cities are like goldrush towns. People go where the gold (XP/Gear - convenience) is closest. And just like goldrush towns, as soon as the wealth goes elsewhere or runs out they are quickly abandoned.

    Yet players are fine with it, as we can keep the memories. Good old Shattrath.

      "Huh. Ironforge isn't Lagforge anymore. Where is everyone?"
      "Shatt's where it's at!"
      "Dalaran - it's the new Shatt."
      "I've been away. What's the new Dalaran?"
      "You're kidding me."
      "So where's the new Dalaran for the pandapack?"
      "Eeeeenh, Shrine of Two Moons sort of, but also Org."

    Cant wait for the new cities in Draenor.

    This reminds me of one thing that gives me massive feels - an NPC named Ahab Wheathoof in Mulgore.

    He was created and voiced by a kid with brain cancer when he was game designer for a day through the Make-a-Wish program. 6 years after the poor kid passed away and his NPC is still in the village, looking for his dog. And then there's the music. Oh god, the music.


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