What have I been up to this past month with the latest expansion?
Well, I’ve taken two characters to Level 85.
On his own, my hunter, Arcarius, and with my wife, my warrior, Msaker. And reaching that goal couldn’t have been more different.
Arcarius, not being a gatherer of herbs or metals, and not taking archaeology, took the traditional route: quests. He started in Vashj’ir, spent some time in Deepholm, some more time in Uldum, and reached level 85 in the Twilight Highlands.
More specifically, I “completed” Vashj’ir, doing every quest until I reached the entrance to the Throne of Tides. And here is where my first feeling of worry comes in. I exhausted the content and left the zone wrung dry. Outlands had a bit of this, but I’d always left some quests undone. Northrend seemed to have quests in every corner that I’d left undone, and could go back to if I decided on that later. Vashj’ir seemed to drive me always onward, to the end, and leave me nothing to go back to. What use is the coolest mount in the game (the armored seahorse) if all you need it for is to play tourist or gather skins? You’d get 1-3 quests, which you needed to complete, to open up the next 1-3 quests, which you needed to complete… It’s nice if your goal is a mad rush to 85 to raid. HOOOOOOAH! (But I don’t raid.) For me the world of World of Warcraft is the sandbox in which I “live” and play. I seriously don’t expect, or want to see, the scrolling credits at the end of the game. “Well, you’re done. Here’s the credits. (More of a reward for the people in the credits, than you, wouldn’t you say?)” But that’s not to say I did not enjoy what I’d seen and done there in Vashj’ir. I enjoyed that I was playing through a story. But perhaps the story would have been better if it were just one in a book of content I could keep with for a longer time. But in the case of Vashj’ir, you’ve got the story arc, story’s over, you leave the theater and you’ll see repeats on DVD later when you’re next characters roll through it.
Deepholm was graphically just as stunning. But I only did enough to get to level 83, which would then allow me to go to Uldum. There were several stories here too. You work with the Earthen and their version of the Trogg menace. You’ve got Horde and Alliance helping/hindering each other to repair the damage left by the Shattering. There’s some cult activity with the Twilight Hammer. But it’s dark, so I moved on when I could.
Ah, Uldum. The environment and quests are stunning and feels very much “Lawrence of Arabia meets Indiana Jones.” The questing in Uldum too was very much on rails, but two story lines, that of the Ramkahen cat-people, and Harrison Jones. Oh, and the machinery, a third side, has an amusing quest where you become a raging ball of fire. Harrison Jones appeared satisfied with what all I’d done with him, offering me no new quests. The cat-people weren’t going to allow their enemies to roll over them, and they seemed satisfied with all I’d done for them. (In other words no new quests for me from them, though we had battles yet to finish it seemed to me.) Just one “breadcrumb” quest taking me to the coast where the Nazis where busy setting up their plundering operations. Sorry, not Nazis. Schnottzis. But by then I was level 84 and could proceed to the Twilight Highlands where my leatherworking recipes were.
The Twilight Highlands intro, the Stormwind City version of it, was interesting. Kind of a pause in things, doing quests there *in* Stormwind City, but I liked the premise of it. And then the flight out to the Twilight Highlands, and where I discovered the reason I hadn’t seen flight points where I was expecting them earlier. It’s all phased. It won’t open up an area until you quested for it. And that really sucks if you’re trying to quest as a couple, yet you’re a little ahead of your partner, and all you want is access to some crafting plans, (alright, ALL the crafting level 500+ recipes for ALL professions) and that doesn’t open up for you until you do those quests, and thereby preventing you from doing those quests with your questing partner, and, worse, you can’t help her with them either since you’ve phased past that point. That aside, the Twilight Highlands quests were also nice. Also on rails. And I quested till I hit 85 and called it “good for now.” And that was just a day or two ago, so I was fully a month with that character reaching 85.
Now my Orc Warrior partnered with my wife’s Shaman and we’re taking a similar route with the quests. Vashj’ir (horde side now), Deepholm, and we’ve just started the Uldum quests.
However, my Orc Warrior beat my Hunter to level 85, and much earlier. But my wife’s Shaman is still only level 83. What was the difference between my Hunter and my Warrior? Two things: Mining ore nets you xp for each node. Decent xp, and you need to hit A LOT of nodes. And Archaeology. Archaeology is the ticket to reaching 85 at blazing speeds. Because I’ve got two other level 80 miners that are maxed now, and only one’s reached level 81 (albeit only doing mining), so the difference can only be Archaeology. And I’m nearly 450 Archaeology (not quite) and can now survey in Northrend. Next level will add Uldum. I’ve gotten a couple blue toys (a mirror, and a teleporter), a pet (the fossilized raptor hatchling), a mount (the fossilized raptor), and have Queen Azshara’s Dressing Gown in the queue. Now the latter will serve my two new characters, both clothies, well, since it’s a level 60 bind to account item. (Although I do have the Dreadmist heirloom too. Maybe not.) The whole goal of Archaeology is to get my hands on the Zin’rokh, Destroyer of Worlds, given I’ve got a Warrior looking for it, a Death Knight, and two Paladins, who could use it.
The wife and I have also quested through both the Worgen and Goblin beginning areas. (Both well done, both very different) and our Worgens and Goblins are nearly level 20, and enjoying all the new questing opportunities in the “old” world.
On the crafting front, my miners, my Orc Warrior, Belf Paladin, and Human Paladin, mined enough ore to max their mining at 525 for the toughness buff. All of them did so at level 80. (One small leg up hitting the new level 80 quests.)
My Orc Warrior blacksmith has crafted, six obsidium executioners (two for my Warrior, though he switched back to Arms anyway, two for my paladins, two for the wife and my deathknights), three decapitator’s razors (for my warrior and both paladins), a lifeforce hammer (for the wife’s shaman), two fire-etched daggers (for my wife’s druid and mage), and an obsidium bladespear (for my Druid). He’s also crafted three full sets of the level 80 (nice!) tanking plate (for my warrior and both paladins), a lot of the redsteel dps plate (for my paladin and our deathknights). And … I’m exhausted. Kaput. I’m just going to rely on quests rewards for a little while to gear up the gaps. That was a crap load of mining and it gets old when you’re mining someone else phases in, also trying to mine the node /saying “NINJA YOU STOLE MY NODE MY HUSBAND IS A GM NO MY BOYFRIEND WORKS AT BLIZZARD AND IM GONNA GET YOU BANNED YOU NINJA”. (This Night Elf actually logged off, and created a level 1 horde character to harass me. I reminded them that harassment was probably more of a bannable offense. Ah, silence.) I’m not banned, that only happened once, but petulent little tirades from 13 year old boys confused about who they need to be in relationships with to scare other people (I play a girl so it must be … HUSBAND that works as a GM – lying isn’t easy), not fun, and sticks with you. Okay, it happened twice. The other guy phased in on me and /said “Rude.” I said I didn’t see him, thought it was free, he saw me back away once I saw him. He said “Lag” and we left it at that. I suspect it was a phasing issue. Anyway, this blacksmith, since he’s questing with the wife, can’t start the Twilight Highlands stuff to get access to those plans and move on. Not until we get Uldum completed to a point where the wife reaches level 84 and we can go together.
Damn, it’s going to be a month to write this.
So, in summary, my month with Cataclysm has seen me level two characters up to 85, do no small amount of blacksmithing, a little leatherworking (metal is sooo much easier to get than leather), some jewelcrafting, enchanting (mending enchant looks nice, avalanche is okay) and enjoy our new Worgen and Goblins. My only concern is the new “quest story on rails” approach will exhaust this content more quickly than previous expansion. Maybe we’ll see the follow-up expansion in one year, rather than two, this next time around.