New WoW gets thumbs up… for now

Well it’s been quite a long while since my last post. It’s been hard to find time to write something since I’ve been busy at work on a bunch of stuff. And at night, if I’m not taking care of our son (who has been sick for quite a while, the poor bear) I’m busy having fun in WoW.

Thankfully I have no regrets on resubscribing and I’m loving Cataclysm so far. Since starting on Christmas day last year, my goblin shaman has hit 84 and has just a few bars to go to 85. That sounds like I leveled pretty fast, and according to the in-game time played its just under 8 days. In fact I spent a large amount of time afk idling in game as well during times when I get called off to attend to a bawling little carebear, so I suspect the actual time spent would be about a week to go from 1-85. That’s a testament to how fast and easy levelling is now, especially with the dungeon finder.

New old stuff

In fact, just as many have said it’s almost too fast. I love doing the new revamped zones, but I also love the opportunity to run all the old dungeons that I never got to do in classic because it was such a pain putting a group together. Me and my wife used to run each other’s characters through some of them once we had high level characters, but it’s not as much fun as doing it at the level it’s meant to be done at. However, doing all the dungeons made me very quickly outlevel every zone I was questing in. 95% of the time I never managed to see the later half of each zone before the quests became grey. Personally I would have continued on finishing up the grey quests, but my wife was playing my shaman as well before she started work again and she’s the type who just tosses quests as soon as a next zone becomes available (not a completionist like me…). So I levelled though half of Azshara, half of Ashenvale, half of Stonetalon, half of Un’goro, half of Blasted Lands… you get the drift. The new quests are a blast, especially in the zones that received complete revamps like Azshara and Thousand Needles. Instances were fast, with the longest ones like Maraudon and Scarlet Monastery all split up into wings, and quest-givers are conveniently located at the start. No more running all over the world to pick up 4 quests! The goodie bag for doing a random also gives good blue gear for quite a few slots such as neck and rings that are otherwise normally hard to get. Plus there are in-game maps now for the dungeons, with bosses conveniently labelled. Man that’s so much better… Wilhelm from the Ancient Gaming Noob talks about needing 3 hours to do Wailing Caverns in the past, which isn’t an exaggeration since it was so easy to get lost in that darned place. Now it only took me 45 minutes!

Overall 1-60 went by like lightning, so much so that I really want to roll alts to see all the stuff I missed. I hardly even stepped foot on to the Eastern Kingdoms before I was heading through the Dark Portal… again.

Time warp to Outlands

A lot of people have said that there is such a strange disconnect between the Shattering and Burning Crusade. It’s really like going back in time, because everything in Outlands is supposed to be in the past from levels 1-60. Oh well, even if it doesn’t make sense I’m perfectly happy to kill 20 fel orcs for nice clown gear that has double the stats of my old Azeroth gear. Plus now that you can train flying at 60 (with a buff to normal flying speed from 60% to 150%), the quests in Outlands are really a breeze. They were obviously not designed with flying players in mind. Case in point, the quest in Nagrand which requires you to bounce on a trampoline on to a big bird nest to smash a giant egg. Previously I used to use the “epic mount with carrot on a stick” trick to jump onto the nest, since it was really tricky to time the trampoline correctly. Now you just summon flying mount and fly up there… Trampoline? What trampoline?

The quests in Outlands are unchanged, and unfortunately so are the dungeons. This means you have to do the prequests and pick them up from the usual NPCs outside the instances… boohoohoo no more bevy of questgivers awaiting the rabid click-fest at the entrance. This meant that I wasn’t particularly encouraged to do that many instances, especially since we had played a lot during BC and therefore were very very familiar with them. So I mainly quested through Hellfire Peninsula, parts of Zangarmarsh until 65, then headed to my favourite Nagrand where I hit 68. Sadly Outlands has been reduced to 3 zones, since there’s no reason to grind any of the old factions or try to get any gear once Northrend becomes available. I had never played Horde past 60 before, so I was looking forward to some unique quests but sadly they didn’t seem any much different from the Alliance versions.

Snowing again

Once I reached 68, it was time to train cold weather flying and head to Northrend. Again, flying really makes things a breeze, especially with the fact that you can mount up in water. Makes the shaman water walking spell almost redundant actually, unless you really want to fish in the middle of the ocean or something. The Horde quests in Northrend are actually quite different, so it was kind of refreshing and I mostly quested all the way with a few instances done here and there since once again you have to do all the pre-quests first before the instance quests become available. The Outlands clown suit thankfully was replaced pretty quickly with Northrend stuff. At this point I dropped mining for alchemy since I wanted the alchemy trinket for healing at 85 and figured it was a good time to start training up. Plus alchemy should be a decent money maker too, better than flying around mining at least.

I went from Borean Tundra to Dragonblight, some Grizzly Hills, Sholazar Basin and then finally on to Icecrown where I hit 80. Also finally saw a few Alliance players, which were like an extinct breed up till now since Thaurissan is heavily Horde dominated. Even though it is a PvP server, it plays almost exactly like a PvE server. I encountered a gnome DK at a quest giver at Icecrown, but just spent a few moments staring at each other before going our way. I later met him again fighting an elite mob as part of the same quest I was on, and killed him while the mob was on him. I got quest credit for the mob kill too… but I felt kinda bad about it later since he hadn’t done anything to me. I don’t know why but being on a PvP server initially made me crazily try to kill every Alliance I saw for no reason but now I’m much more inclined to just leave them alone.

After hitting 80, I was initially tempted to try to do the new ICC instances which I had never done before such as Halls of Origination and Halls of Reflection. Unfortunately I wasn’t allowed to because my gear level was too low, plus I needed to do some quest to unlock the instances. So too bad, it was off to Cataclysm!

New shinies

I started in Vashj’ir, after first doing some frantic googling to find out how the hell to actually get there. I really enjoyed the whole zone, not sure how much of it was due to it being totally new. But all the quests flow nicely together and tell a nice story, plus the seahorse mount is so cute. The zone design is amazing and makes me think of Nemo or One Piece, especially all the random sea monsters swimming around like a giant boss whale shark that blots out the sun and some huge elite shark boss too. I wonder if they drop any loot…

Since it’s a new zone my wife was pretty keen to play too, so I think she actually did most of the quests. I felt a bit lost sometimes when logging in because I would be in a totally different place, but that’s ok I’m sure I’ll get to do the quests with one of my numerous alts. The gear is amazing, especially considering I went in with lousy Northrend greens. It was pretty hard to kill mobs initially and I had to heal myself like 3 or 4 times just to kill a single crab, but after getting a few gear upgrades which had like triple the stats of what I was wearing my shaman started WINDFURYing things to death in 2 seconds again. I mean really… some mace dropped with 871 spellpower on it wtf. I think my previous caster mace from Northrend had 303 spellpower… I guess most people were decked out in the free epics from facerolling the later half of WotLK and probably wouldn’t have been as impressed but I still feel shocked seeing gear with like 400 stamina on it. Can’t help but recall the times when I was raiding Molten Core and people would drool all over the Azuresong Magebladewhich had… gasp! 50 spellpower!!!! Funny how the game has changed…

The end of the quest line leads to the new Throne of the Tides instance. I tried it out as DPS first, since I hadn’t done any healing till now and didn’t want to go into an instance totally unfamiliar with my bars and spells. On that topic, respeccing seems to have changed a lot now. I was expecting the usual 10 silver cost to respec for the first time from my elemental dual-spec to resto, but it cost 29 gold instead… seems to be related to how many talent points have already been spent. Not only that, but the dust to change glyphs cost 10 gold per glyph change for characters above 80! Ouch… Anyway, back to Throne of the Tides. Was quite an interesting instance and not too long. A bit confusing since I had no idea what was going on, but that’s why I went in as DPS. Spam buttons and piakpiakpiak!!! The boss fights are quite interesting and much better than the Wrath-style fights which all boil down to “hit boss, move out of bad stuff kill, adds when they come”. I especially liked the squid-headsucker boss, he reminded me of a Justice League episode I had randomly watched about Starro the facehugger starfish. I’m sure someone at Blizzard must have watched that too, the similarities are uncanny. Anyway a dps shaman makes Starro cry, since his Lava Bursts instantly got interrupted and his Absorb Magic buff gets immediately purged. Ahh I love my shaman…

After finishing Vashj’ir, I went to Hyjal even though it was the same level as Vashj’ir. I need to get Hyjal rep eventually anyway, so might as well. I think the Blackrock Caverns instance is unlocked here, but I never managed to run it (although my wife did) and now I can’t go back using the dungeon finder since I’m too high level. Hyjal quests were fun but nothing really much to say about them, although I did like the final battle against Ragnaros. Seems strange to fight him until he retreats and Cenarius says “We can only defeat him in his own elemental plane” when I very obviously killed Ragnaros dozens of times in Molten Core šŸ™‚ It’s not like he retreats there either, I mean he obviously drops down dead in front of the raid and gives you his hand.

Now I’m 84 and questing in Deepholm. I’ve since also done Stonecore and Vortex Pinnacle as resto. Stonecore isn’t very enjoyable to heal and feels very long, even on normal. Plus I once had to heal a 4 melee group in back-to-back runs. Talk about ouch… Vortex Pinnacle is much easier to heal although the bosses are a bit more boring since they are almost tank and spank. I can’t access the other dungeons yet because I haven’t discovered the entrance yet, so I’m going to be holding off on instancing for a while until I hit 85 and unlock the other dungeons. After 85 I still intend to go through Uldum and Twilight Highlands, not to mention Tol Barad and the new BGs.

So far there’s still tons of content left for me to enjoy, so I’m looking forward to seeing lots of new stuff. Even though I haven’t done any heroics yet, I really hope Blizzard doesn’t listen to all the whiners out there and revert back to Wrath-style stupidly easy dungeons. I love the new instances so far, especially when done with proper CC and nice pulling. During my first Stonecore run, some idiot rogue started chafing that the tank was too slow and pulled the first pack by himself (“gogogo!”) while the tank was marking the kill order. I was still setting up my bars when suddenly the whole group started taking massive damage. The next 5 minutes were filled with me spamming my buttons like a blind monkey trying to find the “open” button in front of a peanut dispensing machine. Greater Healing Wave! No wait that’s too slow, Riptide! What’s this Unleash Elements thing, mash it mash it! Oh wait I don’t have earthliving weapon on… I’m running out of mana?!? Doh water shield fell off… chain heal! Bugger that only 1 guy in range??? Mummy!

Somehow we got through that without anyone dying and after being berated by the tank for pulling, the idiot rogue initiated a vote kick against the tank for being “too slow”. Well guess what, he gets 1 strike for being a rogue (therefore useless by definition). 2nd strike for being from Jubei’thos, and I hate the name Jubei (there was an annoying griefer in Duris who went by that name). This was the 3rd strike since I like tanks who mark kill orders instead of charging in like stupid Wrath babies. So I rejected his vote kick and vote kicked the rogue instead for being annoying. Guess I wasn’t alone in my sentiments since he instantly got booted and no one was surprised when a replacement DPS got in immediately. Kek I like this kick feature.

Hopefully the tougher instances will actually teach players how to play properly, or at least encourage the stupider portion of the player-base to quit. That would instantly raise the quality of WoW drastically and make Cataclysm a resounding success in my opinion.

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