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Vashj’ir and Hyjal – New Zones, New Experiences

September 12, 2010

There will be screenshots of a lot of stuff, so I’m going to go ahead and put a cut in there.  As well, there will be spoilers.

So, you have been warned.

I started out with Hyjal on the premade warrior.  I wanted to see what that was like.  My initial thoughts are as follows.  Prot is broken for leveling.  Period.  I know they wanted to increase mob health and damage, but it doesn’t have any effect on characters that can reduce that damage by stupid amounts like a tanking class.  And yes, I anticipated hearing that, so I also specced into fury.  No change, really.  Yes, there were a few dicey moments, but instead of going slow, it turns into a blender of death and destruction.

As you fly into Hyjal, you’re treated to the sounds of a dragon going nuts, “O noes!  Mah d00dz r daed!”  You keep flying, and there’s Deathwing!  And Ragnaros! It’s not all that great a screenshot.  They need to really consider the scaling of Deathwing to Ragnaros, and they should move his placement.  But you get the idea.

Then you continue questing, and you meet our old friend, Malfurion Stormrage!  These aren’t really new spoilers, but I didn’t expect to see him outside the Nelf areas.  But yes, he is here being all druidy.  Oh… and he has you move Fandral Staghelm from his prison in the Barrow Dens.  It’s pretty neat, they have characters that use the model that Maiev had in Warcraft 3.  I didn’t expect that.

So, I’m cruising through here, doing quests, when I see… Baron Geddon!  And yes, he can kill you pretty quickly.  And after you banish him he DOES make you the Bomb.  I wonder if we’ll get any more moments where you can quick hearth and kill a bunch of NPCs with it.  That would be pretty funny.  However, that’s not the only person you see.  This one is a pretty good throwback to the olden days:That’s right, ladies and gentlemen… he’s back!  And he serves as the pointer to the new Blackrock instance.  Pretty cool, I think.  So, yeah, I kept questing here, and it was neat… but it’s a very story heavy zone without any real innovation in questing.  However, I saw some banter going on in guild chat, indicating that if you wanted a fun, interesting zone to quest in, go to Vashj’ir.  So, I switched to the Gobbo, and did just that.

Now, I like homage’s to movies and popular culture… but the sequence that lands you in Vashj’ir feels a lot like a certain pirate movie trilogy featuring wooden actors.  Anyway, that said, it was an interesting enough segue, but the questing/zone experience is pretty cool.  One of the big things (at the start) that was a worry was, “Oh shit, this is all underwater!  How do I keep going back for air?”  And then the first quest fixes that for you.  A member of the earthen ring casts a spell that lets you breathe and move faster underwater.  I think it’s a zone based thing, so you just have to do it that once and you always have that ability there.  Pretty cool.

Then you do some quests, arm your compatriots to fend off the naga, and… get a seahorse mount.  Not joking:  As well, it has a +450% movement speed buff underwater.  Wow.  You move stupidly fast underwater, but it’s fun.  Then you kill a giant shark with a harpoon gun… and there’s a cursed treasure that makes someone a skeleton… and yeah, you get the idea.  However, it doesn’t really distract you from the feel of the zone… which is huge, by the way… and easy to get lost in.  But, you can eventually snag a flight point out.

So, overall impressions:  leveling is fun, the new abilities for classes I’ve never played past 30 are awesome, and the zones are interesting.  I think that’s all that really needs to be said.

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