Friday, December 3, 2010

Played Lately: World of Warcraft

  • I'm trying something a little different in World of Warcraft this time around. I've decided to try playing with other people.

  • Feel free to get all of the snarky comments out of your system now before we move on.

  • A few weeks ago, I got an email from an old high school friend I haven't heard from in years. He knew that I was a WoW player and wondered if I wanted to level up a new character with him so that we could experience The Shattering from a level appropriate perspective. Plus, and this may just be me, leveling up is fun. I'm an achiever type through and through and there is nothing I like more than watching my character grow in power.

  • The first night we got together, we all rolled new characters and leveled through our own starting zone until 10. Although I had planned on waiting until I could trip with a worgen, I rolled a night elf druid. It's a very different experience for me. I've never played a druid before and I deleted every one of my night elves. None of them stuck for some reason.

  • Those first ten levels were, unsurprisingly, a breeze. Teldrassil was always a pain previously. But the new story flow, and the redesigned quests, made it much less annoying than before. In a couple of quests, I was joined by an NPC who helped me through a particularly tough events. It was a nice touch to allow you to take on greater challenges while giving you the feel of adventuring with another player. I'm also liking the new quest-level enemies, as Rohan calls them. Having hard enemies to take on that are still soloable is a great boon.

  • Unfortunately, I hit level 10 before I finished out the zone, so I don't know if there was a big event at the end. Instead, we ended the night by gathering in Stormwind to take on the great terror of Elwynn Forest, Hogger. Blizzard turned taking on Hogger into an huge event. Taking down the renowned villain was a great way to end our first night.

  • The second day, our party journeyed into Westfall. I couldn't believe how much the zone has been redesigned. The main quest line has you investigating a murder as you travel across the zone. Like Teldrassil, you move pretty quickly from quest hub to quest hub. Most of the time, I felt like I got everything out of a location before moving on so it did not feel too rushed. Westfall has an amazing storyline, one that I'm looking forward to coming back to from time to time. Blizzard's use of phasing in the zone was phenomenal, really allowing the story to move forward without relying on an overabundance of quest text. But if you are a conscientious reader like me, you will be rewarded by reading the quest items you pick up along the way.

  • As much as I loved the main quest line, I did appreciate that they left two of the off-the-beaten-path quest series in the game. So you can still wander the zone is search of the pirate's treasure. And the lighthouse ghost is still around to give you a tour of the coast. As much as I like the heavy story approach Blizzard took with the zone, I'm glad they gave us reasons to explore on our own.

  • This was also the first night we tried the new Deadmines. The quest giver was right inside the zone, just as we'd heard, and it was a great addition. The only issue we ran into was that we had to run back to the entrance every time we needed to pick up the next quest, except for the very last one. But the instance itself was great. Blizzard did an excellent job updating the zone so that it fell new again. And the boss encounters felt like something out of a Northrend dungeon. I couldn't believe how involved the encounters were. No more tank-and-spank for the low level newbies anymore. The final two battles were a lot of fun, if completely chaotic. I look forward to trying Deadmines again on heroic difficulty.

  • The third night we got together, we journeyed to Redridge Mountains. However, we did run into the issue of overleveling the zone. You might have read that dungeon quests were giving too much experience. Well, it was true. We started Redridge at levels 17 and 18, quite a bit higher than the 15 expected. Nonetheless, we enjoyed the new zone just fine. Like Westfall, Redridge was overhauled and its story advanced nicely. There were some great sights for long time players like ourselves. Were once a lonely guard patrolled Three Corners, there is now a guard tower dominating the region. Darcy, the waitress in Lakeshire who sent you out with a lunch for the guard, Parker, is now Darcy Parker who, along with their daughter, Libby, resides in the tower. And the infamous unfinished bridge has finally been completed. Blizzard even teases you that they might destroy the bridge, but you are able to nearly avoid that fate.

  • The main quest line sees you assembling a strike force to take on an Orcish incursion. My friend immediately identified the story as an homage to First Blood. Like Westfall and its nod to CSI, Blizzard likes it's pop culture references. But they always to a great job to make the story compelling anyway, so you can chuckle at the references even while enjoying the adventure. One funny thing to note. There are several quests where you are joined by NPCs. But even though we are in a group, each player is assigned their own copy of the NPC. So at some points the three of us had five NPCs each, making our party into a raid force instead. But again, we really enjoyed the action movie story that we played. We ended the night when we completed the main quest and headed back to Lakeshire, having saved the town from the orcs.

  • So far, Blizzard has done an amazing job of using each zone to tell a full and complete story, something I have been wanting for a long time. My favorite original WoW zone has always been Duskwood and that is where we are headed to next. I'm greatly looking forward to what Blizzard has in store for us, both in Duskwood and the rest of our journey.

© 2010 Marty Runyon. All rights reserved.


  1. Awesome post! I'll be diving back into the game when Cataclysm launches. I haven't seen any of the new stuff and look forward to the new experience after 6 years of playing the game.

  2. I know what you mean about Teldrassil. I was doing that with my friend showing her the ropes of the game, but I myself had a lot to learn too. That NPC you were talking about that came along and helped us out was a real surprise, and took a bit to get used to! It made handing in quests so easy, and it didn't even make you run back out to turn the final quest in! I was shocked when I got warped back outside. I can get used to this...

    And Westfall was AMAZING. I'd say all the other zones I've done so far range from decent to pretty good, but I absolutely LOVED the storyline in Westfall. I thought it was perfect how everything you did somehow came together to culminate at the big "shocker" at the end, and everything just...made sense! Very few quests in that zone feel trivial now. It was just an impressive feat in storytelling, and in less than 35 quests too!

  3. @ Scarybooster - Thanks! Hope you enjoy yourself.

    @ MMOGC - I was so happy that I didn't have to fight my way out of that cave again. I hope Blizzard offers that in further quests.

  4. You nailed what I really have been enjoying most about the revamped lowbie game, the story lines in most zones are much stronger. They are often more compelling than the old ones, and almost always presented more clearly (at least if you read the quest text). In addition, Zones that used to annoy me with seemingly endless travel are also now laid out much more logically.

    I also like that the "gaps" have been removed from quest chains. I don't get stuck on quests in one zone and then have to spend time either grinding mobs or leveling elsewhere to continue progressing. The lack of gaps means more re-playability. For example, if I start a human they can likely make it to 60 without setting foot in any of the zones my gnome is using.

  5. @ Yeebo - While some might decry that Blizzard is pulling out the last vestiges of their "virtural world" design, I can only see this as a good thing. WoW is finally a coherent game experience from beginning to end (even if the story is broken between 60-80).