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Starting Into Cataclysm Content – Yes, I Know I’m Weeks Behind

January 11, 2011

Well, my Night Elf Druid is finally approaching the level cap.  Well, I shouldn’t say finally.  I took a 50 level break for a Worgen Hunter, so it’s probably more of an “about time” sort of feeling.  I started the character in 4.0.3 so I could have something to work on before I started my hunter (which I did, and I enjoy… I just thought leveling a tank or healer was a good idea.) and I really enjoyed it.  I still do.  However, I really, really didn’t enjoy the Burning Crusade or even Wrath of the Lich King.

I was talking with Naithin about the Wrath content when I first hit the Fjord again.  Now, it isn’t like I’m a stranger to the content.  I’ve seen it several times now, and at one point I really enjoyed it.  This time, though, I hit a wall.  Each level was a grinding lurch of a step towards the top of mountain.  I knew I was leveling back towards new content, but it was excruciating.

So, I resolved to do something that I hadn’t done.  I picked a few zones that I knew I wanted to do (as there were several that I wanted to avoid this go around), and just did those.  For the most part, this worked.  I had never done (as an alliance character) the Howling Fjord from start to finish, or Dragonblight (though I am a little pissed that they took out the Wrathgate event [Cinematic still plays, but no fighting in UC]), or even Sholazar.  I knew that they were generally all the same, but it was something I wanted to do.

I stuck with my plan.  I did the Fjord, and it gave some great insight into where humans came from and what was going on in the Storm Peaks.  Afterwards, I went to Dragonblight.  That was an interesting place for the Alliance.  They just kind of muddle through all of these threats, and really seem involved on the periphery.  There are so many quests that you do for the dragons, it seems to really detract from the idea that there’s a cohesive front marching towards Arthas.  I did make the trip to Zul’drak for the Ampitheatre of Anguish.  It was fun doing those quests with an 81 Mage while I was 75.  I think I only actually managed to die once, but it was close a few times.  Then Sholazar is… well, it’s a Hemet Nesingwary-esque place.

However, I hit a snag at around level 78.  I was at the top end of the spectrum for Sholazar, but the quest density seemed to have dropped.  So, I diverged from my plan and went and did the Argent Crusade stuff and unlocked the Knights of the Ebon Blade quest hub.  Those chains got me to 80.  I felt a rush. I was back into content that I had never seen!

Thankfully, I had a piece of gear that my 80+ mage friend had snagged for me for level 80, and I bought a few BoE greens to help dull the blows of the starting quests.  So, off I went to Vashj’ir.  (Backstory:  I had done a fair amount of Hyjal in the beta, and I just didn’t care for it.  I started into Vashj’ir, but I stopped.  I was enjoying it, and I thought I would enjoy it more if I was doing it on a character I was leveling on Live.)

To get to Vashj’ir you go to Stormwind and the Hero’s Call! Board.  From there, you’ll get a quest to go to the docks.  Find the person with the quest, and you’ll trigger an event.  Walk to the end of the docks to get moving in the right direction.

There were several moments as I was riding around on my Abyssal Sea Horse that I just caught myself looking at the scenery.  It felt like I was questing in an aquarium.  Now, toss in the overall stories being told in those zones?  Holy lord, you’ve got a recipe for win.  My only regret was doing the Throne of Tides dungeon before completing the zone.  There was a spoiler there that I wasn’t expecting, but now that I have context, the whole place makes a lot more sense.  (I may do a full on write-up of the events in the zone, and how I think they’ll relate to later content, but I’m not sure about that.)

Doing a dungeon or two, a few cooking dailies, and the entire Vashj’ir story line got me to 82, with 10% short of 83.  Now, I also did a lot of Deepholm in the beta, but left Uldum for later.  Again, same logic follows here.  So, I did a handful of quests in Deepholm, and I found myself sitting on level 83.  Well, I started into Uldum.  Before the long flight from Darnassus, though, I reset my secondary Specialization.  As I was questing, when I wasn’t picking pieces for my primary melee dps spec, I was picking up resto pieces.  I decided to make my secondary spec resto, as I’m pretty sure my primary spec is going to get reset to a tanking spec at 85.  However, all things being equal, I’m more comfortable in the resto spot.

Anyway, I got through the first round of Harrison Jones quests (which are awesome), and I’m now making the rounds for the Ramakhen ruling council to vote on whether to join Deathwing or not.  The whole thing is very compelling.  Vortex Pinnacle is a very interesting place, too.  I don’t mind having done that one.  There weren’t any real encounters that were spoilers for the direction of the zone, and the place has some very neat encounters (even in the trash packs).

I’m really looking forward to the Twilight Highlands.  I don’t know how likely I am to see them before 85, though.  I still haven’t quite discerned what the pattern is like for leveling for completing zones.  If the goal is almost 3 complete levels per zone (when you start it at the appropriate level), then I’m not going to see anything inside the Highlands except for ~10% of a level.  I’m still genuinely excited about the content in general, and I keep getting surprised at some of the steps Blizzard has taken to make Azeroth more engaging.

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