High Expectations

After reinstalling Vista, reinstalling Nvidia drivers five times and spending all of my limited free time time between release and Sunday fixing those issues, I finally got to play Wrath of the Lich King. Suffice to say, I was somewhat grumpy and thinking that Wrath better be the best expansion ever.

Naturally, it isn't. People are dinging 80 already, so I missed the initial leveling rush, so the initial instances are inaccessible. I've been more than 12 hours in the LFG queue so far. Unfortunately, some of the more undesirable parts of the leveling rush are still there, like about a dozen people fighting over drops from two mobs. Fortunately, all of the supposed group quests have been soloable so far. One of the more annoying things is that several hunters have read Big Red Kitty's posts about AoE grinding with a gorilla. I wouldn't mind otherwise, but they suck at it. When they inevitably fail and get their pet killed, the resulting zerg goes after me. Especially when I'm escorting an NPC who relies on proximity aggro. In one instance, I was questing in Shield Hills southeast of New Agamand when a gorilla hunter started AoEing. The only way to save myself was to jump into the water, which resulted in a long swim to the nearest elevator. I should have reserved Howling Fjord to my deathknight alt, at least he can ride on water. I suddently see the appeal of games like Fable, which are like MMORPGs, only with the other players are usually safely tucked away behind a chat screen, unable to mess things up. Hell is other people.

Note: None of the above is Blizzard's fault. The zone looks decent, and it has it's moments. Blizzard has it's own shortcomings, though. For example, quest hub design. New Agamand, a rather large settlement for the Forsaken has a handful of quests, and a two-hut Taun'ka village has at least three times as many. And that's just two of half a dozen or so quest hubs in the zone. There's the Vengeance Landing, the walrus village, pirates, Taun'ka spying on the Explorer's League, another Forsaken settlement.. It's like they wanted to have a quest hub every few quests.. and then failed to apply that principle to Winterhoof. That two-hut Taun'ka village has almost half of the whole zone's quests. Howling Fjord is classic WoW, in both good and bad. In TBC, you could pick up a bunch of quests from a well-defined quest hub, play for an hour or so and then return the quests, all at once. Fjord has plenty of quest chains where you first do fetch something, then go back to turn it in, only to return to the same area to fetch or kill something else. Granted, many of the quests suffering from that disease are about either testing the New Plague, assaulting the Vry'kul or researching the rune dwarves, and experimentation questlines do require some travel back-and-forth. But it's not like Blizzard doesn't know how to do these kinds of questlines. Terokkar Forest had a perfect example with the mana bomb questline. The first questgiver is right next to the village you're supposed to explore. You then eventually get sent near the Blood Elf camp, where there's an another NPC hidden close by, who serves as your primary questgiver from that point onward. The whole zone could make do with just a few settlements. There's also the concept of a summonable questgiver, which was introduced in Blade's Edge and is actually used in one of the Vry'kul questlines. But whoever made the Taun'ka quests obviously didn't compare notes with the other quest designers. Blizzard, learn from yourself.

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