Jelica's travels

18th January 2011 – 5.53 pm

I've got a request to report to the Hinterlands, which I dutifully ignore to go exploring instead. Adventuring is fun, but I am intrigued as to the changes wreaked to the land about me. The cataclysm—or 'shattering', as I believe it's referred to—has rent great tears in the earth, destroyed settlements, and in some cases revitalised barren landscape. The Scourge has been pushed back in some areas, overrun others. The relations between Horde and Alliance are both stronger from seeing a need to overcome the shattering together and strained by opportunistic boundary shifts. In short, there is a whole world to explore.

Being a low-level character limits my exploration somewhat, but there are still plenty of places to go. Instead of venturing north, along the new path out of Arathi Highlands to the Hinterlands, I head west towards Hillsbrad Foothills. Thoradin's Wall, the border between the two regions, is now Horde-controlled, but there is a convenient break in the wall where I can sneak through, much like how the Scots get in to England. But Hillsbrad is an entirely different region, the old Alliance town of Southshore being overwhelmed by the Horde, and there not appearing to be any Alliance encampment where I can rest.

I head north, along the river, towards Chillwind Camp just inside the Western Plaguelands. The camp remains, and I grab the flight point for future reference, but not yet realising that Western Plaguelands is now fodder for 35th level characters I turn back south for a safe route onwards. Just short of Strongbad Strahnbrad in the Alterac Mountains I wander through the Uplands, to come around the back of Undercity. I am prepared to avoid a good number of mobs on my route, but it looks like when the Defias Brotherhood were removed from Azeroth no one remembered that remnants of their organisation were once here. Uplands now consists of rabbits and the occasional squirrel, making it a scenic but rather dull run down to the coast.

Undercity is just as I remember it, at least from the outside, being an impressive entrance that automatically flags you for PvP should you dare to 'discover' it. Naturally, I turn and run once I have the XP from revealing the previously unknown city on my map, rather worried that a high-level character will stomp me in to oblivion 'for the lols', as the kids say these days. Sticking to the road is probably a bad idea in this case, but the quickest route away from here is the road, bounded on one side by the city itself. Luckily, the only Horde character around, whilst high enough level to squish me and on a mount that could catch me in seconds, appears to be AFK.

The road in to Silverpine Forest looks rather more imposing than Undercity, barricaded from all angles and regularly patrolled by undead guards. I move off the road where I become conveniently invisible to the guards on the other side of the barricade, letting me continue south. Lordaeron has clearly been bolstered by the changes, no longer amenable to wandering adventurers, and keen to keep its borders clear. Pyrewood Village, previous home of the worgen, is deserted, and moving through the Greymane Wall in to Gilneas finds no signs of life at all. My people, all gone, scattered to the winds! The entire zone is empty, most likely because I am entirely out of phase with anything happening here. It's the story of my life.

I am about to complete a loop, heading out of Silverpine Forest to Hillsbrad Foothills, which will only lead me to the horrible Arathi Highlands again. I have explored the area as far as I am comfortable doing currently, my best choice is to use my hearthstone to get home. Home being Stormwind City at the moment. But where to now? I quite fancy taking a look at the Barrens, having heard that is no longer living up to its name. I catch a flight north to flooded Menethil Harbour, where I board a ship to Theramore Isle on the western continent of Kalimdor.

Dustwallow Marsh looks relatively unchanged, although the Alliance have built a handy road cutting through the marsh to connect directly to the Barrens. I only realise this is its ultimate destination after having run the long way around, once the only safe route, but at least I get to see the old scenery again. Fort Triumph shows that the Alliance now has claim on lands in the Barrens, but my call to arms is further north. I pass by the fallen Camp Taurajo—take that, cows!—and am interested to see Mulgore entirely shuttered off by a massive gate. That may make getting to the Darkmoon Faire more difficult.

A little further north and I see why I am in what is now called Southern Barrens. The Horde apparently got fed up with the constant raids on Crossroads and detonated a goblin nuclear device to deter further incursions, a huge rift in the middle of the region now splitting it in to northern and southern territories. Wandering east brings me to a flight point with a quest, which I accept, sending me to flying over the rift for an excellent view of the destruction. Expecting to return to my starting position to report on my flying survey I am a little disappointed to find I am simply dropped at Northwatch Hold and expected to continue my adventures there.

As it turns out, I merely came to the region from the wrong direction. I was expected to catch a boat to elfland and work my way south, encountering creatures and players of my own ability, and not to wander through the rather more dangerous Dustwallow Marsh. Had I approached from Stonetalon Mountains my contact would have greeted me along the road and offered some quests to continue to push me in the right direction, culminating in the free gryphon flight to Northwatch Hold. But I didn't really want to run all the way down through the broken elven landscape.

My desire to explore freely thwarts the attempt to tell a linear story. It's not much of an issue here, as the quest to send me to Northwatch Hold was available to me none the less, but gated content and assuming a strictly linear progression can feel quite restrictive to explorers like me. But at least I've found new scenery and new content, and I am keen to experience it, much more so than the same tired quests I was disappointed to find in Arathi Highlands. Let's see what the Alliance is up to in the Barrens.

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