Perfect Ten: 10 reasons World of Warcraft is pure cozy comfort


There’s something weird and fun that happens in my brain around this time of year, which is that I start to get into a summer mentality that seeks so-called “cozy” gaming experiences for the coming months. I don’t want anything uncertain, high-stress, or requiring a steep learning curve, so I often return to old, tried-and-tested comfort games for that fix.

If you promise not to laugh, I can tell you that I’ve dubbed this my “Summer Gaming Camp.” Hey, it beats sleeping in bug-filled cabins, swimming in leech-infested lakes, and drinking lukewarm fruit punch in the dining hall!

In any case, part of this year’s Summer Gaming Camp for me is diving deep into World of Warcraft, especially with its recent Pandaria Remix event. So I thought I’d share 10 reasons this game hits that cozy comfort sweet spot for me.

Same old story.

Personal history

I know that I’m statistically not alone in having a rather long relationship with World of Warcraft that spans back to launch, then before that to beta, then before that to the multi-year lead-up to the release, then before that to the trilogy of real-time strategy games. In one way, shape, or form, Warcraft’s been with me since the mid-1990s.

And when you have a long history with something or someone, it makes an impression upon you. Sure, WoW and I have had our ups and downs (not to mention “I’m quitting forever this time, seriously guys!” moments), but it’s a significant part of my gaming career. Every time I go back to it, the past brings all of those memories — usually fond ones thanks to nostalgia — into the present. Sometimes that makes me feel like I’m coming home, in a way.

Sound design

In my opinion, not enough words have been spilled about the incredible sound design of this MMO. It’s something nobody really thinks about and discusses, but without it, the game would be poorer and more lackluster.

From ambient noises to the iconic quest turn-in sound to various skills having their own unique audio stamp, what we hear in this game is inexorably tied to our experiences with it. All of those little noises and sound cues add up to make Azeroth feel more substantial and real.

Very mature.

Cartoony visuals

Probably one of the most shrewd moves Blizzard ever made was to fully embrace a more cartoon-like art style for WoW rather than the then-current trend of realism and high-poly counts. Not only did this look appealing (your mileage may vary), but it allowed the game to age well visually — especially as the studio figured out ways to make those cartoony graphics more detailed and expressive.

The vibrant colors and exaggerated architecture, world, and character design always hit me in the right way. I remember early preview screenshots for this MMO that immediately attracted me by the art style alone. That pull’s never gone away.

It’s not that serious

OK, sure, this game’s got a lot of stories with heartbreak, genocide, murder, torture, and kobolds burning the candle at both ends, but I’ve never really taken the lore or stories that seriously, mostly because of the art style. And that’s a good thing! I’m surrounded with realism and real heartbreak every day, so it’s nice to have an escape portal to a world where high fantasy, bold adventure, and convenient quest wrap-ups are bountiful.

You really shouldn't have.

Social scene

Without all of the other players, WoW would feel like a hollow shell to me. I love the lively exuberance of others discussing the game, flinging puns left and right, and romping through dungeons together. Sometimes I like to play alone, but when I’m in a social mood, it’s certainly nice to have “camp buddies” for fellowship and fun.

Slick combat

You know what I always appreciate when I come back to any version of WoW? It’s that the combat system doesn’t struggle against me. Most MMOs require me to make sacrifices or adjustments to like the combat system, but here, everything simply works — and works well. It’s snappy, it’s slick, and it has a good feedback system in terms of visuals and sounds. And since I’m a tab-target baby, it’s heartening that one of the top MMOs on the planet uses this format.

UI icons

I’m going small, real small, for this one, but it’s important to me, so I’m going to mention it anyway. This game has great icons. I’ve almost never had complaints with the art team, and the same care and attention that it gave to the expansive world is given to colorful and identifiable icons.

Ever since first playing in 2004, I’ve thought that these icons are brimming with personality. Some of the food and drink looks scrumptious, some of the icons convey movement/action well, and some are goofy and weird. But all of them are the interface through which my character acts and conveys information (in buffs and debuffs), so they’re absolutely imprinted upon my mind and part of the visual draw.

A world as familiar as my own

While World of Warcraft has certainly changed over the years, it’s still more consistently familiar to me than the world around me. There are certain zones and cities that mean a lot to me, and I’m glad that they’re still present (in various formats, considering Classic). I’ve always been a proponent of smaller regions of hand-crafted content than massive swaths of mostly empty space or procedurally generated stuff because I know that some world designer put that there to establish a mood or tell a story.

Let me put it this way: I’ve never gone back to my high school or college since I graduated, as it’s moved on and I wouldn’t fit there any more. But in this game, it’s like my present self is always welcome in the world of the past. If that makes any sense.

Beautiful music

Even among those who are always waving the flags of “shut off game music!” will often make a concession for WoW’s oft-excellent tunes. I’ve listened to so, so much MMO music over the years, and I can say with some authority that this game’s soundtrack is a rarity in how much it consistently welcomes the player, injects a degree of thrills, and spins a wordless story of its own. Hearing those favorite old tunes dating back to the early expansions and even vanilla unlock all sorts of core memories and reignite old passions.

It feels like this game is turning a corner

The last time that I felt genuine excitement and hope over WoW was during the Legion expansion era. But since 2019, it’s been one terrible thing after another for this game and the company, almost to the point where the question of “Is WoW over for good now?” started to seem plausible.

Yet we love a good comeback story, and I am encouraged to see some positive signs for WoW’s future. It’s not a guarantee or a golden renaissance or anything, but the studio’s willingness to diversify game modes, experiment with limited time events, and map out an entire trilogy of expansions instills me with more confidence in the future than I’ve had in a half-decade.

And when you feel comfortable and confident in a game, I find it’s way easier to relax and let the good times roll.

Everyone likes a good list, and we are no different! Perfect Ten takes an MMO topic and divvies it up into 10 delicious, entertaining, and often informative segments for your snacking pleasure. Got a good idea for a list? Email us at or with the subject line “Perfect Ten.”
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