Monday, July 9, 2012

5 Things I Loved and Hated about Cataclysm - #5 Exploration

Exploration is one of my favorite things to do in WoW. Especially new expansions. Discovering new areas or little vignettes. Finding NPC's out lost in the wilderness or happening upon them in conversation, either way I find it fascinating. The small stories and episodes that Blizzard has put into their game is very neat and I have a great bit of respect for the detail that goes into World of Warcraft.

With Cataclysm I really loved the re-exploration of the old content, specifically the 1-60 areas. My guild and I all took off as soon as 4.0 dropped and went out to explore the world. From the new flora in Desolace to the water falls in Stranglethorn, it was very cool to see the world we had "grown up in" turned around and changed, in some cases, in such a drastic way.

There were a couple of areas that struck me particularly. Auberdine; the loss of Auberdine was very heartfelt. I took a worgen through the quests in Darkshore as well as my main and I truly felt the devastation of losing this portside town. The quests to find all the survivors mixed with the new music in the area can pull at your heartstrings.

Along the same vein the areas in Ashenvale where the Horde have encroached, coupled with changes to Stonetalon Mountains and the Northern and Southern Barrens made quite an impression on my Alliance tendencies. 

The changes to the land and the changes to each factions land holdings is just awesome. It was quite a feat I would say, and it leaves me not surprised that the expansion lands of Cataclysm were not as awesome as they could be.

I enjoyed each of the new zones and found them quite expansive and enjoyable in story and for the general exploration factor however the problem is I didn't have to find them.

What I really disliked about Cataclysm in terms of exploration is twofold. One, that it was not really explorable. I had no "place" to go aside from a portal in my home faction city. Wow that takes thought. I enjoy the journey. With portals there is no journey. My exploration seemed to consist of figuring out the best way to port to my bank and get back to where I was in the zone so I could continue questing. I was so excited when I figured out I could fly to Vashj'ir instead of take a portal. Or that Hyjal was just a hop skip and a jump from Darnassus. I know, that seems crazy right? But really when you get ported in, you don't have to think about where the zone is located in relation to everything else...except the portal.
Two; As far as the old content goes, I like the changes but I'm ready for it to go back now. I find I'm missing the old zones and the old quests. Not everywhere. But there are a small handful of zones that I find I'm missing the quests that used to be there. Or the NPC's that used to be there. Perhaps what I am looking for is resolution to some of the conflicts in those zones, I'm not sure. Either way it feels incomplete now. Change is hard for me I guess, and I don't like it one bit!

I think Cataclysm was mostly a success in regards to exploration . I just get nostalgic for the old ways now and again.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Accidental Tourist - Beta Exploration in Error & a bit of Warlockery

I had just finished my second panda in the starter zone when I decided I wasn't quite done with my beta testing for the evening. I still had some time before bed so I went to play around with the current iteration of level 85 warlock spells and found myself wandering around.

The reason I chose to limit my testing in the beta to the Panda starting zone is because I LOVE exploration. I especially love exploration on launch. This habit came from the first expansion launch for Burning Crusade. Where Hellfire Peninsula was so overcrowded and stupid you couldn't complete a quest without being an asshole to everyone else simply because everyone else was being an asshole. Not on purpose but out of close quarters and frustration. So I simply went off on an excursion those first few days. I was probably one of the first on my server to get to Shattrath and wander around, and I dragged along some of my guildies as well. Since then it has become a kind of ritual for me. I go off by myself, or with one or two people, and spend the first few days just wandering around zones trying not to die. It is always exciting, and I have found that those are my best, and some of my most memorable and treasured moments in WoW. There is something about the newness and the anticipation. Not knowing what is around the next corner. The thrill of discovery!

So this is what happened....
It all started innocently enough. "I'll just go see if the new warlock pets are better or worse when using the single more powerful pet or the multiple warlock pets talent". La-de-da and ho-hum off we go. I had rolled a level 85 pre-made warlock to take a look at the spells and talents a while ago, and she was still sitting there. I had taken her through the first quest from Varian to get to the Isle of Pandaria, and then I had just stood there looking over and picking talents. When I was done messing around I had just left her there. So back to her I went. I looked over the talents and skills and decided that I should really understand this burning embers mechanic. I went out into the field there by the landing area and just started killing things to see how these spells worked.  Wow! I was quite affected by the new destro warlock spells. They are so much fun! Blowing up stuff and setting myself on fire and.... let's just say I was hooting, and giggling and then finally laughing maniacally. It was a lot of fun, and I have to say I cannot wait.
I was drunk with my new found power and so elated I got on my horse and started galloping down the road. I'm sure I was thinking I'd just find a few other things to kill where I'm not interfering with people questing. 
Next thing I know I'm looking around and wondering whats around this corner...and that corner...and running from mobs...and seeing mountains and streams and houses and houses on top of mountains I can't get to and OH MY GOD WHAT AM I DOING!!
I had to make myself stop. I told myself all about how I'd ruin my first few days of launch. I forced myself to take her back to the starting field, and made myself log off. It's like a drug! I want to go back just thinking about it. I want to go back and PLAY! Run around and smack things with my new spells. Level up and explore!!

I hate beta. It is like chocolate cake in the house when there is no one else around. You have one piece, and know you shouldn't but you just HAVE to have another. Then you think...well there's no one around to know, I can have the whole thing!
I heard Matt Rossi from WoW Insider share that he always does beta testing in the opposite faction from what he intends to play in game. I have to say that's a good tip I will have to remember. Right now I'm better off abstaining, or sticking to little Panda's. Or maybe rolling an undead warlock? No. I think I'd rather wait and enjoy it when it gets here. Kinda like Christmas!