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.
Orcs and Trolls – Durotar
To begin with, the Orcs and Trolls are separated for the first time in many years. Until the retaking of Echo Isles, both races started out at The Den in the Valley of Trials and went through Durotar that way. Only the Orcs do that now, and the Trolls start on the Isles.
Overall, the quest progression from beginning until the level 6 departure to Sen’jin Village are very close to the same. Thankfully, my favourite quest in the Valley of Trials remains: Lazy Peons. This quest, along with the Booterang, are still among my favourites in the game. One new addition is a quest to kill some Northwatch soldiers who are starting to encroach upon the Horde areas. A very minor change that I noticed right away is that the boars that you kill for the first quest are in pens now, instead of wandering freely. In the end, you still go to the cave and kill the Burning Blade guy, report back to The Den, then move on to Sen’jin Village.
The Trolls are now back home on the Echo Isles for the first time in many years. The pre-Cataclysm event to take back the islands was a nice chain that included getting the blessing of Bwonsamdi, the Troll death god, and destroying Zalazane once and for all. After this concludes, the Trolls make the Echo Isles their own.
Questwise, the Isles are fairly neat. They involve some of the new quest mechanincs like vehicles, as well as having a NPC helper join you for a few parts of it. One part that left me hanging a little bit was when Vol’jin is talking about Thrall, it seems like a vision is supposed to appear, but nothing ever actually happens. The end quest is a fight against a Naga priestess, which you get to team up with Vol’jin and Zen’tabra to do. It gives you a bit of an epic feeling to these starting zones which were normally so slow.
The two races meet up at the old stomping grounds of Sen’jin Village. There, Master Gadrin is still waiting to encourage young adventurers in their journeys, but this time to different things. The Centaur are out of Kolkar Crag, and instead the Alliance is using it as a staging post for an invasion of Horde territory. You get to stop the supplies going in there, as well as do the usual attack plan-burning. Soon enough, you get to take a wolf and head off to Razor Hill.
In Razor Hill, there are a few more changes. You still go to Tiragarde Keep to kill the Alliance, but this time it’s a bit more pressing because of the other Alliance activity in the area. When the Cataclysm hit, it washed all the old shipwrecks onto the shores along with a bunch of angry water elementals. The Razormane Grounds are partially flooded from the river, and all of Thunder Ridge is underwater. The quests themselves are fairly similar, with a few exceptions. In the end, you get sent to the Northern Barrens to continue there after level 10. If you go into Orgrimmar, the Warchief’s Command board also has a breadcrumb quest to go to help the Goblins in Azshara.
All in all, the changes definitely brought the 1-12 experience to a state where it’s lot more fun. The Trolls have a slightly more epic feel to them, as the final battle before moving on to Sen’jin is really well done. If the purpose was to make Durotar less boring, Blizzard succeeded.
Tauren – Mulgore
The Tauren are my favourite race in the game. Their stature, their looks, just everything about them are all kinds of awesome. Yet, from the very first time that I stepped foot into Mulgore, there was something about it that I just didn’t like. I’m not sure exactly why, but the zone was just a little bit too boring for me.
It’s also possible that because of how big the Tauren model is, it always looks like you’re running slow. Even though it’s the exact same speed as everyone else, the relative size messes it up.
Red Cloud Mesa is now an all-out war with the Quillboar. The entire time until you move to Bloodhoof Village at level 6 is a fight for survival. The new pacing is an incredible change to what it was before – no more running all the way to the bottom of the map to get cougar pelts. In the end, you kill the Quillboar Chieftan, then move on to Bloodhoof Village.
One part that I never liked about Mulgore was the amount of running around that you had to do. A few key parts where you had to run all the way across the zone have been made a lot quicker, and a lot less frustrating. Where you would have to follow the vision quest to the cave, then over to Red Rocks, you instead become the wolf and go to a mini quest hub just north of Thunder Bluff to do the quests in that area. The consolidation of quests to a relevant area was a great addition.
In the end, you get to team up with Baine Bloodhoof and get some revenge on the Grimtotem. With Cairne gone, he’s a good replacement. The new Mulgore is infinitely better than the old one. I can go through it and not be pounding my head against the desk, which is a plus to me.
Blood Elves – Eversong Woods
This will be short and sweet, since there was extremely little change to the zone after the Cataclysm. The major changes were the additions of flight paths to Falconwing Square and Fairbreeze Village, as well as the little things like adding warrior trainers.
I truly do hope that Blizzard goes back and updates the Burning Crusade and Northrend areas. They were great additions at the time, but they just pale so much in comparison to the new hotness.
Forsaken – Tirisfal Glades
Of all the new areas, this has been my clear favourite. The changes that were made give a whole new life to the zone that it desperately needed. Previously, as stated before, I would get my character out of Deathknell and then head right to Eversong. Now, I’ll be bringing characters to Tirisfal so I can get the questlines all the way through it, and on to Silverpine and Hillsbrad. It really is that good.
You start as a freshly risen Forsaken, brought back to unlife by the Val’kyr who are now working for Sylvanas. It’s explained that you have a choice of serving Sylvanas or not, and both sides are shown as the zone goes on. During one of the first quests you meet a recurring character through the zone, Lilian Voss. She considers herself a monster, and can’t stand the fact that she has returned undead. Through Deathknell many quests remain the same, including killing spiders, with some new additions. Darnell, the newly risen along with you, provides some good comic relief as he’s carrying a number of corpses around. At the end of the area, you end up killing some other newly risen Forsaken who have gone against Sylvanas and try to attack the village. Of course, this just won’t do.
Moving out of Deathknell, you go to a new mini quest hub just beyond the gates at a place called the Calston Estate. It is here that you get the classic Laced Pumpkins quest, as well as the Gloom Weed quest for Gordo. After doing the few things in the area you move along to Brill, which has received a very nice facelift. Rather than being the delapidated collection of old human buildings, the Forsaken have embraced their own architecture that was present in Northrend, and brought it back home.
The rest of the zone has more familiar quests, including the undead gnolls just north of Brill. The new chain of Scarlet Crusade quests is where it’s at, in my opinion. This continues the story of Lilian Voss, where it is found out that she is not only a former Scarlet Crusader, but the daughter of a High Priest. She is imprisoned at one point, and she pleads with her captors to send word to her father to save her, but the soldier says that her father has disowned her and had ordered her execution. Naturally, this didn’t sit so well with her, so she decides to utterly destroy the solider and any other Scarlet Crusader in her path.
We don’t see much of her for a little while until some quests at the Bulwark, which has also been reinforced with better walls and quests for low levels. You go north to Venomweb Vale to a small Scarlet camp that has been decimated, and find Lilian hanging around. She has found out that her father is nearby, close to the Scarlet Monastery, and would like to pay him a visit. With absolutely no surprise to anyone, it’s not a very happy family reunion, and she goes about her business. Unfortunately, there no word about what happens to her afterwards.
After these parts are done, you get sent off to Silverpine Forest, one of the best zones in the game right now. This is where the Worgen storyline that starts in Gilneas is concluded.
With the exception of the Blood Elves, the new areas are incredible. Each zone has good and bad parts, but of all of them Tirisfal Glades has become my new favourite. It really is that awesome.
It’ll be a little while before I get a post up about the Alliance areas, since I haven’t done any of them yet.