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Memories of Azeroth – Hellfire Peninsula

Through my Screenshots of the Week, I’ve had a few people comment about perhaps expanding it. One person suggested I do a whole post about Nagrand, since I said how much I loved it.  So, here’s the first of my focus on a specific zone – in screenshots. I try to limit myself on how many I will use, as it’s quite easy to take a whole lot of them.

Click for full size

The first thing anyone notices going into Hellfire Peninsula, and the rest of Outland, is the Dark Portal. Anyone who has played any of the RTS games will know about this, and I know the first time that I went through it I was a little bit in awe. The Azeroth size of it is quite small, but seeing the enormity of the Outland side was amazing.

Thrallmar - Click for full size

Honor Hold - Click for full size

After going through the portal, the next stop would be your faction’s respective home base: Thrallmar for the Horde, and Honor Hold for the Alliance.  Each of the bases has a history, but the Alliance has a little bit more – it was founded by the Alliance Expedition Force who went through the Dark Portal many years back (the events of Warcraft II: Beyond the Dark Portal expansion).  Alleria and Turalyon and the rest of the force prevented the corruption of Outland to spread into Azeroth, and basically saved the world… along with beating up Deathwing and a few others.

Falcon Watch - Click for full size

Temple of Telhamat - Click for full size

Other quest hubs in the zone include Falcon Watch for the Horde, run by the Blood Elves who were longing to get to Outland to drink in the energies, and the Temple of Telhamat, run by Draenei who are also wanting to get back to Outland for different reasons.  The landscapes here always strike me, even through how desolate it all is. Take the large red crystal, a focus for a small quest chain. Simply adding that in gives the area a lot more character.

Skies of Outland - Click for full size

Pools of Aggonar - Click for full size

Since Outland is an alien world, there has to be things that set it apart from what is considered normal. Simply looking up at the sky, and seeing energies flow across will show you that you’re not in Azeroth anymore. That, along with multiple moons, gives the zone that much more of an exotic look. Before Outland was what it is now, it was a world called Draenor, but succumed to demonic corruption. One area is called the Pools of Aggonar, which is where a pit lord was once killed. His skeleton remains, along with many pools of his sickly green “blood”, and creatures that feed off of it and are born of it. Definitely corrupted.

Hellfire Citadel - Click for full size

Towards Zangarmarsh - Click for full size

In the middle of the zone is Hellfire Citadel, where there are four instances – three 5-man dungeons and a 25-man raid. The biggest change of the instances from Vanilla to Burning Crusade was that many of them were tremendously shorter and more streamlined than before. People weren’t used to being able to complete an instance in under three hours.

Once Hellfire Peninsula was done the next destination was Zangarmarsh, which will be the subject of next week’s Memories of Azeroth.

Character Identity

This is part of a Shared Topic, started by Akabeko of Red Cow Rise. Make sure to check out more great posts from other Blog Azeroth authors!

What defines a person? What is the thing that is at their core, which makes them who they are? There can be many things that do this, which can be small or large parts of their lives. As a gamer, we have a way to extend these definitions of ourselves into the virtual world through the characters we play.

Of course, not everyone does this. There are people who play only for the enjoyment of what a certain character can do or a role that is required. I believe that someone who truly enjoys playing a certain character does so because it’s something they can identify with.

Looking back at the characters I’ve played over the years, I can see a progression of how I identified with these characters and why I chose what I did. More so, I can see why I’ve stuck with my Tauren Druid so long and still really enjoy playing him.

Of my many characters, I’m only going to focus on two: my previous main, a Blood Elf Paladin and my current main, a Tauren Druid.

I stuck with my Paladin for a long time, starting on BC launch day and raiding as a healer through Tier 5 stuff (Serpentshrine Cavern and Tempest Keep). This was my first experience playing a melee oriented class that I actually enjoyed, as previously I had played only ranged/magic classes in my online gaming career. With this character, I found that I could identify with him somewhat.

In real life, I’m a very ordinary guy. I work for a living, I have a great family, I do very normal stuff. However, part of what I do in my job is help people out (since I work for a bank, it just happens to be financial help), and that is part of who I am.

When I focused on being a healer and a paladin, I could identify with what the paladin is supposed to be. A protector of others, putting other people ahead of one’s self. As I was healing my guildmates and keeping them alive through these encounters, I could see myself in that role as well. Because of this, I believe that I stayed with the character for a while.

The Paladin was a member of the Blood Knights, originally siphoning power from M’uru, and thinking that he was just doing this for his own advancement. Yet, as time went on he realized that he actually liked being able to help others out. Rather than just being another Blood Elf minion, he established himself as a member of his guild and a vital member of a raiding team. When he found out about the betrayal of Prince Kael’thas, he decided to focus on the friends he had made in his guild and only be loosely affiliated with the Blood Knights, even though the Sunwell was restored.

My current main character was born because my wife had recently started playing WoW as well, and we wanted to level characters together. She had created a Tauren Shaman, and I wanted to create a new Druid – hoping that it was better than the original time I tried to level one in Vanilla. We had a lot of fun, and made it to max level in Burning Crusade, and I eventually made him my new main.

I see my Druid’s identity as part of that original experience. He was going through the world with his wife, trying to help people out and bring glory to the Horde. His loyalty is first to his family, then to his fellow Tauren, then the Horde. This is basically how I am in my real life situation.

Our experiences shape who we are, in-game and out. Whether that is a traumatic experience that makes you cringe when you see spiders, or a smile whenever you see kittens because you just love them. If you value protecting others by keeping them safe, a healer or tank might be a good option for you because it aligns with natural personality. If you protect others by removing things that would cause others harm, there’s DPS for you. What type of DPS? Take out your frustration by stabbing things as a rogue. Enjoy setting things on fire as a warlock.

WoW’s longevity can be credited to a number of things, and I believe that relatable characters is a very big part. I wrote about this before regarding NPCs, but this definitely also applies to player-controlled characters as well. Why have a hero if you hate being that person?

Cataclysmic Beginnings, Part 2: Horde

In my continuing coverage of the new starting areas for the changed Azeroth, we come to the Horde. My preferred faction, the one that I’ve played a majority of my World of Warcraft career with. I’ve rolled alts galore before the changes, and I’m pretty sure that I wasn’t the only one who has. After a while, the mind just goes numb and the starting zones became a blur until you just plow through it and get it over and done with.

Pre-Cataclysm, I know that all of my characters went over to Eversong Forest and Ghostlands as soon as possible. The rewards were better than any given in the other areas, and the flow was much smoother than doing the other ones. It’s a little bit sad that it’s now the opposite – any Blood Elf will likely try to go to Tirisfal Glades and Silverpine Forest as fast as they can, and with good reason.

One great thing that has been changed for all starting zones that is extremely useful is that there are flight paths in the starting towns, like Razor Hill or Bloodhoof Village. Less travel time is always appreciated.

Each of the remaining Horde races will be covered here: Orcs and Trolls in Durotar, Tauren in Mulgore, Blood Elves in Eversong Forest, and Forsaken in Tirisfal Glades. There will be spoilers ahead.

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