That’s my hunter in the front there, looking cooler than any level 40 has a right to.
To be fair I haven’t made it out of Vashj’ir or whatever the level 80-82 underwater area is called, so keep that in mind as we move forward. So far I’ve enjoyed Vashj’ir except for a few serious problems. The main one is that the respawn timer for several mob types seems broken. Mobs will respawn as you kill them, and while that’s not exactly a problem, when you combine it with the fact that you’ll probably pull more mobs than usual due to mobs not only being on your plane, but above and below you as well. To limit this I try to ‘walk’ on the sea floor as much as possible, and it helps to a limited extent.
Another problem with Vashj’ir isn’t so much with the zone, but with the number of people playing in it. The mobs respawn crazy fast so that’s not a problem, but when you swim up to an area that is supposed to be swarming with the mobs you need, and all you see is thirty players AOEing like mad in hopes of tagging one of the mobs when it spawns, it gets annoying fast. Compared to the lower level quests Vashj’ir also seems a little lacking in story. There are hundreds of quests it seems, but only a few that continue the main story. Sure most of the random side quests tie into the main story somehow, but until I got to the Battlemaiden quests I wasn’t really enjoying the story at all.
That leads me into what I think of the lowbie zones I’ve done. The first thing I want to comment on is the amazing storyline that runs you through zones at the perfect pace, revealing story bits along the way. One thing I wish the developers had included would be some of the path quests. Quests that didn’t matter in the grand scheme of things, but had little self contained stories that you would only find if you went off the main quest path and just went exploring.
Some people have expressed concern that the lowbie levels are too linear, and that it doesn’t feel as social as an MMO should. The first thing I have to say is that, unless you are playing specifically with friends, most people level solo in WoW, and have for most of it’s existence. If I’m going to be leveling mostly solo anyway, why not give me a really great single player type story? Should I just go play a single player game then? No, because I can enjoy this single player story in a duo with my wife, or if I want to do a dungeon I can gather some friends, or use the LFD tool. Besides, if you are not enjoying the single player story style of Cataclysm, you might as well cancel your pre-order for The Old Republic, because that game looks to be even more story oriented.
One of the great things about the new lowbie experience is that you don’t really have to look like a total idiot until you get to Northrend anymore. It used to be that you had mismatched gear from level 5 to level 68, when you get Northrend and got the muted brown gear that matched. Now though, if you rely completely on quest gear, you can look pretty cool as you level up. Every ten or twenty levels your quest gear will change it’s look, and you’ll be slightly mismatched for a few levels until you get the rest of your gear. Overall it’s nice to look cool early on, something I really missed from Warhammer Online.
The major drawback to the new low level experience is the old high level experience. Sure, Northrend isn’t bad really, and it’s got a few REALLY cool questlines, but in between awesome old world content and good Northrend content is the dreaded eight to ten levels of shitty Outland content. When it first came out the quests weren’t terrible, though most didn’t like Hellfire from the start, but they weren’t great either. Now, after WotLK and Cataclysm, I am seriously dreading going to Outland. It sits there, taunting me, letting me know that I may be having fun now, but the Dark Portal awaits. I don’t even care that the storyline isn’t going to flow naturally, just that there really isn’t much of a story at all in Outland. There are one or two quests per zone that might be considered part of an overall story, but until you get into raid quests it really doesn’t come together.
All in all I’m excited to tank my first Cataclysm instance still, but that’s on the back burner while I level up my Undead Hunter and my Goblin Warrior. I’m really excited for the Warrior too, as I’d love to compare his tanking ability at 85 to my Druid and Paladin when I finally get them those five levels.
The next post won’t be Cataclysm or WoW related, but until then enjoy whatever you are playing!