When talking about Azeroth, the lands of Warcraft, I have to stress how big the Barrens is. You could conceivably spend 20 real-time hours there leveling and questing alone. It was a sprawling savannah that entertained Horde players in the level ranges of 10 to about 25, which was, back in the day, a good chunk of playtime. Therefore, it was a nexus of countless “lowbies”, or low-level characters, earning it an unforgettable reputation. For a more detailed look at what the Barrens “community” was like, I highly suggest you just type “Barrens Chat” into google and gander at what it gives you. Don’t worry, you won’t run into anything not safe for work. Image-wise anyway.
I did specify that it was a place for Horde players. In World of Warcraft there are 2 factions, the Alliance and the Horde. The Alliance are a goody two-shoes pretty faction consisting of Humans, Dwarves, Elves, and Hobb-I mean Gnomes. The Horde are a lot more savage, dirty and ugly, consisting of beefy green orcs, gangly rastafarian trolls, spiritual Tauren (minotaurs, COW PEOPLE!), and as I once mentioned, Undead. Though I characterized the Alliance as goody-two-shoes and Horde as savage and ugly, that was my 14-year old way of looking at things. In truth, neither faction falls into black-and-white definition of “good” or “bad”, which is one of the concepts that I loved about Warcraft’s world building. Humans are equally capable of being dirty and savage as the orcs, and Tauren are arguably the race with the most sensible, gentle character, which clashes ironically with their appearance. As for myself, being an edgy teenager at the time, I found myself comfortable with the most sinister of races, the death-metal-wannabes the undead. I’m not an edgy teenager anymore, but I still prefer the horde.
I finally left the barrens at… somewhere in my level 20’s, I don’t remember. I poked at multiple zones after that, such as the mystical elven forest of Ashenvale, the dingy dark desert of Desolace, the rocky Thousand Needles and the homely farmlands of the Hillsbrad Foothills. I wanted a taste of everything, and this feeling I had conveyed to me two of WoW’s greatest assets: its beauteous variety in environments, and the ability for the player to PICK AND CHOOSE between those environments. You had two continents to explore, each jam packed with diverse locales. You take a few steps past the northern border of the dry, arid, orange tinted Barrens and suddenly there are leaves and foliage and purple trees everywhere, and you don’t care how unrealistic this literal polar opposite change is because HOLY CRAP IT’S AN ENCHANTED FOREST WOW! That was what discovering Ashenvale was like. Alternately, I could’ve gone far to the south to a less abrupt border to Thousand Needles, a dry zone that also catered to my new level range. I did both of course. There was no railroading of any sort, and I could quest as I pleased. I even jumped back and forth between the two continents, leveling a bit in Ashenvale and then flying all the way to Hillsbrad when I got bored.
Level 40 was a great milestone for me, which, as I remember, was about when WoW’s first expansion pack, the Burning Crusade released. Back then, level 40 was when a player was to get their first mount, a nice boost to movement speed making questing a lot more relaxing and less time-consuming, but most importantly it granted the privilege to shout “MUST SUCK TO WALK HUH” to lowbies. At level 60 you you got an even faster one at a more exorbitantly expensive price. My experience getting both of them was shameful. For my level 40 mount I sorely needed 100 gold to get it but only managed to save up about 60. As luck would have it I managed to get an extraordinarily rare item that I could sell to someone for a really expensive price, but I was so impatient that I sold it for far less than what it was worth just so I could cap the amount I needed. In essence I scammed myself.
Later, level 60 was even worse. Once again I was short, but this time by A LOT more. EPIC level 60 mounts were 500 gold, and I had around 90. So in in my horrid impatience, ignorance, and financial irresponsibility, I cheated and bought gold with real money off of a sketchy third party site. It was a pissing contest I had with a friend just so I could show him that I got one. It wasn’t worth it.