It was the best of times, it was the worst of times

8th January 2011 – 3.49 pm

Don't go to Arathi Highlands! It's not dangerous, just the same old zone and a stark reminder of how tolerant you once had to be to get anything done in Azeroth. I move on from Westfall to Redridge Mountains, but immediately get a quest asking me to visit the mayor of Darkshire in Duskwood. I was expecting that and am happy to take a stroll, but I end up collecting quests in Darkshire and don't actually return to the mountains. I'm quite happy to adventure in Duskwood. The quests are familiar, but updated. I no longer have to wander from one side of the region to the other on the whim of an NPC, and even the embalmer is being considerate having moved just outside the town.

A major improvement is the culmination of the embalmer's quests. Before, the final encounter seemed to be when the embalmer woke his corpse bride and you were to defeat her, after he gives you a cryptic note to take back to the mayor. But the real danger referred to in the note was from Stitches, the abomination sent to Darkshire as part of the embalmer's revenge. The problem was that the abomination had to make his way between the cemetery and Darkshire, lumbering along the road where he was inevitably stumbled upon by other adventurers, who either were crushed underfoot or killed Stitches themselves. If Stitches ever made it to Darkshire, chances were you weren't just sitting on your hands but had gone on to more adventures, and you may never have been aware of Stitches or, at least, the connection between it and the embalmer. Now, the embalmer not only calls Stitches directly in to the town, which uses phasing to make sure you get a personal fight, but also rides the abomination's shoulder. Seeing cause and effect in this way makes a stronger connection between your actions and the consequences, and is an excellent change.

From Duskwood I am asked to pop in to Stranglethorn Vale, historically a lengthy grind from top-to-bottom. I am game to give it another look, though. And it is game I will be seeking, with the hunters' camp still wanting adventurers to prove their worth by killing local wildlife. I accept the quests and start a local one for tigers, at least to see what has changed. I am pleased and impressed when the dynamic quest tracker upgrades me from one quest to the next without having to revisit the camp, but I'm not sure I want to wade through so many mob kills again. Instead I head northwards to seek further change. But what a mistake.

My running takes me through Dun Morogh and to Loch Modan, where there are interesting changes to investigate, but examining the damage to the Stonewrought Dam only makes me fall through immaterial solid stone. My ghost then does the same to confirm it is stupid design and not flailing fingers, effectively putting an end to exploring the loch, and so I wander Wetlands, which are even wetter now. Progress is again visible but nothing really grabs my attention as markedly different. It mostly seems that NPCs and mobs have been relocated slightly, but that probably similar quests as before are available. I suppose that's not bad, as I found out in Duskwood, but my level places my ambition higher than can be sated here. I double-back slightly to investigate the Twilight Highlands, but when it turns out to be a high-level zone that I ought to avoid my destination becomes Arathi Highlands.

Haven't we taken Stromgarde Keep back yet? The Alliance forces disappointingly remain out in the cold in Refuge Point and ask me to do the same quests I remember from every other visit, which I accept if only to see what improvements have been made here. None, apparently. I fight my way through Duskwhisper Gorge to pluck crystal fragments off kobolds, but I run out of rats by the time I get to the stone at the end of the quest and am still several shards shy. I have to run out again to wait for respawns, which are quick in coming but only mean that I have to then fight my way back in to the stone through more respawns, before fighting through them all again to get out of the horrid cave. The drop rate for the quest item is as low as it ever was, hunting for the rats is tedious, and getting out after completing the quest is frustrating. It is a reminder of how much of a grind questing used to be, and sits starkly in comparison to the updated quests I've experienced so far.

There is still the quest to intercept the Forsaken Courier, curiously named 'Just Like Old Times', which I can't decide is supposed to be a nod to nostalgia or dire warning to leave this zone. I wrongly guess nostalgia, although am glad to see that at least the four bodyguards are no longer present. The same enemies in Stromgarde Keep need to be defeated and, unlike previous updated quests, I have to stuff their heads in my bag to carry as proof of their demise. I can't face any more of this out-dated drudgery. Despite its familiarity the deficiencies in adventuring here after experiencing the revamped content are too much to bear, and I am thankful to get a request to report to the Hinterlands, leaving this sorry region behind me.

Sorry, comments for this entry are closed.