I had aspirations of posting my initial impressions on Tuesday night, or at least Wednesday. Well now it’s Friday, and I have no excuse.
Worgen Starting Area
The first thing I did was the worgen starting area, as planned. I rolled my female worgen druid, named Kaeluna (I really like this name, it fits well with wolves howling at the moon, and the night elf tie with Elune).
I was thoroughly impressed. It felt like a completely different game. The story was immersive and very linear, more so even than the Death Knight starting area. The first thing I noticed though, was the art. I found myself just wandering around at first through the city of Gilneas, instead of completing the quests. The dark/apocalyptic London/horror movie vibe was spectacularly captured. Little details like paper blowing in the wind, laundry on the close lines, and piles of boxes in the alleys made it very impressive. I completely forgot that I was playing a 6-year-old game. The terrain phasing was also brilliant – seeing the world immediately change around you has been a huge void in MMOs.
I do wonder if the story will be impactful or as engaging on subsequent play-throughs. I do plan on rolling a Worgen hunter at some point, but after just having completed the area, I’m not really interested in doing it again right away. A part of that might just be my personality – I’m not one of those who can watch the same movie or episode of a TV show over and over again. My husband, on the other hand never tires of his favorite movies. He also has rolled at least 10 Death Knights and always enjoys the starting area experience. I imagine that repeating the Worgen starting area won’t be a problem for him.
I think that when I do repeat it, the visual details and nuances of quest text phrasing will be what I notice. If your goal is to “level a bunch of worgen”, then repeating the starting area might get tedious, but if you like lore and pop culture references, and beautifully detailed backdrops, then I think it’s satisfying. Those are the things I don’t always notice the first time through. The other thing to remember, I suppose, is that Blizzard really wants to get new players “hooked”, and this is a truly impressive beginning to the game. They don’t expect the casual player to roll 6 worgen.
My only other criticism is that the transition from being human to worgen, separated by the cinematic, is rather jarring. I can’t quite pin down why it doesn’t flow, but I felt a tad confused even though I knew exactly what was happening. I feel like the cinematic team and the quest team didn’t sit down together enough and go through that transition. Maybe I needed to see the actually transformation of my character into a worgen, with blood splashed on the screen as I tore apart my companions in the Chapel?
It was quite crowded in the starting area, but nothing unbearable. The only real issue was I kept getting pwned by respawns due to so many players in the area.
As for being a druid? Well the leveling experience has definitely improved since my last attempt. It still feels like you get overwhelmed with spells the instant you learn Cat form.
Journey To 85
My shaman and my husband’s druid have begun their journey to 85. We chose Hyjal due to loving Night Elf lore. I absolutely adore the zone. It is full of stunningly beautiful scenery, and an epic storyline. The stark contrast between the ethereal, sparkly night elf areas and the Twilight Cult/Ragnaros ravaged forests is heartbreaking, and its great to see your effect on the zone as you continue on. The quests are the kind I love to do – full of restoring the earth, dispelling corruption, and saving wee animals (as is typical Druid/night elf fashion).
I’m pleased that they’ve decided to voice more NPCs than in past expansions – it adds to my immersion, and saves my tired eyes from reading.
Hyjal is chock full of major lore figures, like Ysera, Hamuul Runetotem, Baron Geddon, and many characters from the War of the Ancients.
My favorite quests in Hyjal are mostly the ones that involve adorable animals. From saving rabbits from the fire, to escorting turtles, to flinging bear cubs on a trampoline, the zone is full of pure adorable-ness.
My favorite villain is without a doubt, the turtle called Nemesis.
Maybe we should build a turtle fence?
Least favorite quest? Well that one is obvious.
I can just imagine the Blizzard developers sitting in a room and thinking, “what sort of quest would piss players off the most?”
I’ve also dabbled a little bit with Vashj’ir on my rogue, and its not at all “clicking” with me. The whole underwater zone thing makes me feel waterlogged, like I’m just about to drown. It also seems slower that Hyjal. The lore whole storyline really just doesn’t grab ahold of me, which is a big contrast to Hyjal. It can be a lovely zone at times, but I don’t think it will ever be among my favorites.
I’m very excited by guild leveling, but I will admit to being more excited when achievements counted towards guild XP. The achievements are something bite-sized and tangible that you can achieve in a night, and make you feel valuable to the guild. Even in a small guild like mine, we’ve reached the cap without even thinking about it every day so far. This means that what I do basically doesn’t “count”. Sure, some of the achievements have tangible rewards, but those are usually not the bite-sized ones – like making X flasks, or catching X fish.
I do understand though that Blizzard doesn’t want guilds to be level 25 by next week. They want the guild leveling process to mean something, and to do that it has to take a significant amount of time. Allowing achievements to contribute to the XP was breaking that.
Definitely more addicting than fishing. At low levels, it’s not really rewarding in any sense other than a feeling of accomplishment – you just get vendor grays. I know as you get higher it will be fairly profitable, and there is the chance of getting some very cool rare stuff.
Archaeology does give you XP, which is a difficulty for those of us leveling with other people. It’s not a ton at low skill level, but it does add up. The same thing of course applies to Herbing and Mining.
Love the cooking and fishing dailies in Stormwind. I love that you can do them on any character, regardless of skill level or actual level. This means that my alts can do the dailies, earn XP and profession skill, as well as providing Cataclysm meat to my main via the Box.
I get a huge kick out of leveling professions. I’m enjoying Jewelcrafting so far – I even got a drop of the Ruby Monocle recipe, which will be a fun vanity item.
I’ve only gone into Blackrock Caverns (henceforth known as BRC) so far with some guildies. Jardal and I were the lowest leveled toons at 81, so we rather over-powered the instance. I’m OK with it though, it gave me a chance to experience a Cata dungeon with a sense of comfort. I was shocked to discover that my mana bar seemed like it refused to go down at all. I’ve heard that changes at 85, but i’d expected it sooner.
I’ve replaced most of my ICC 10 epics already with the exception of trinkets and relics. I’m a little disappointed that I keep finding gear with Mastery instead of Haste – but I’m not interesting in reforging at this point – reforging quest greens seems like a waste of money. It’s nice to be able to exclude anything thing that isn’t mail from my decision-making. Another thing – I wish there were more mail skirts/robes. The entire concept of a mail skirt/robe is ridiculous, but I think they look so much better on my female draenei.
So there you have my first brain-dump of initial reactions to Cataclysm. I’ve read a lot of reactions from various bloggers out there, but I always enjoy hearing more opinions. What has been most memorable about Cataclysm for you?