World of Warcraft has been in a pretty rotten spot since the Battle for Azeroth expansion was released. And while the next patch — Tides of Vengeance — looks to improve a lot of what’s frustrating players, the expansion still has a dark cloud hanging over it. But ultimately, World of Warcraft is still a video game enjoyed by millions of players every month.
World of Warcraft YouTubers Taliesin and Evitel are two such people. Even thought it’s their job — Taliesin has worked full-time on the channel for a year now — to offer advice to players, shout about the news and run through the recent lore, the recently married couple still manage to find the fun in the game itself.
“Of course there’s still fun in WoW,” said Taliesin in a interview with Polygon at BlizzCon 2018. “Because we wouldn’t play otherwise. I mean, and that’s the thing, that’s why I don’t understand people who say they hate it and I actually kind of really pity people who clearly hate the game but their livings are tied to it in some way — maybe in some kind of creation — and so they have to do it and the way that they get through that is to be over the top down it. I like to think that even though our living is tied up quite heavily in it, if it wasn’t fun to play, I wouldn’t, I’d just do something else. We’d make some different videos and take a massive hit.”
Taliesin told us that he still finds logging into World of Warcraft for non-work reasons to be a treat. Jumping in to play a raid or simply do something that the team doesn’t plan to make a video about is as rewarding as it was before their YouTube channel even started.
Taliesin and Evitel’s channel, which has nearly 250,000 subscribers, exudes joy at every step, through every video. Even when the two are clearly making fun of the game and how frustrating it can be, their love for World of Warcraft itself shines through. But that isn’t to say that they don’t have their own criticisms with Battle for Azeroth.
“Of course there are moments when we get tired or frustrated with the game,” said Evitel. “You know, in the past year I’ve taken breaks from it. Lately I haven’t because I’m actually really enjoying it.”
“No one believes that,” Taliesin interjected with a laugh.
“I know, I know,” said Evitel. “But at the end of the day there’s so many different things that pull me back into the game. I’m really sick of grinding through [in-game] reputations [...], but I do come back to raid because I love raiding and I love hanging out with my guild and I love chatting with my guild. So there are always elements that draw you back.”
In an older game like World of Warcraft, it can be easy to lose your way and suddenly fall out from the experience entirely. What was once fun is now boring, and it can be confounding as to why people still enjoy it. But World of Warcraft has always been about that constant ebb and flow, and the game has changed a lot in 14 years — just try and go play Classic.
There are some players who’ve stuck with World of Warcraft since the beginning, and they still log in every day. Others quit years ago and will never come back, while some players come in fresh and new every expansion. World of Warcraft has always been about creating a world that can bring you joy in one way or another.
Capturing that joy in a video seems easy for Taliesin and Evitel.
“The channel kind of came out of us, you know, seeing a few videos popping up on YouTube,” said Evitel. “But then [we were] literally just having a bottle of wine over dinner one day and getting really, really excited about games you played as teenagers and kids and sharing that love and enthusiasm for it. So for me the channel has always kind of come from this kernel of ‘we love playing video games.’ At the moment, we love WoW and we have a really long history with WoW. [...] So it always kind of comes from a place of love.”
That love for games, each other and World of Warcraft comes out so clearly in Taliesin and Evitel’s videos. Despite BlizzCon’s air of frustration — what with the Diablo: Immortal fiasco and the general unhappiness with Battle for Azeroth — it was still a place filled with passionate people who just want to chat about their favorite games.
Taliesin and Evitel understand why players get frustrated — they often feel the same way — but ultimately they’re coming together and making videos about something they have a great deal of affection for.
“I totally understand how a game can make you feel really angry,” said Evitel, after a story of why she won’t let herself play Hearthstone anymore for fear of her iPad’s safety. “It’s because you might lose, but also because you care about it and you want it to be good. But on the other hand, there are communities and players and people who just become this, like, shouting match online. And while I see the value of venting about something, at one point it’s no longer constructive. But yeah, if we see something that’s wrong or bad, we’ll report on — we’ll also probably laugh at it.”
The two started their channel during Warlords of Draenor — widely regarded as Blizzard’s worst World of Warcraft expansion. They’ve had a lot of practice staying upbeat through the hard times, and poking fun of the mistakes being made in the game’s development.
But even through those rough patches, there’s never been any doubt in their viewers that they like each other — “maybe even more than we like WoW,” Taliesin said — and that they care about the game and its community. Even through the hard times of World of Warcraft, when the entire community is worried about the game’s future, Taliesin and Evitel remain a beacon of light; a reminder of why the game has stayed relevant for 14 years.