On September 25th, something very interesting happened. Mists of Pandaria was released to a horde of fans who were eager to have something different, and hopefully better than what Cataclysm had been. They were chomping at the bit, desperate for something more than running a raid for the past 9 months.
Most people I had spoken to were completely done with Cataclysm. Dragon Soul had been out for about 9 months, they had cleared everything and had all of the mounts and achievements they could get or wanted to get. All of their professions were maxed, they had all the reputations they needed, or whatever their case may have been.
Personally, I wasn’t playing as much as I had before. I would log on a few nights a week to do a couple randoms, maybe a Raid Finder group (if it didn’t blow up). Leveling alts only stays exciting for so long. Not having time to raid took out the only regular thing I had ever relied on in previous expansions. The only thing I was doing was leveling my Alliance Mage on my friends’ server.
When Mists launched, all of a sudden I had so much stuff to do again. True to what I had been expecting, the very first thing I did was do some pet battles. I had only done a little bit of them in beta, and they were just as much fun as I remembered. Memories of playing Pokemon in junior high school came back in a very big way.
For the first time since Burning Crusade, my wife and I decided to level our mains together. I play a Feral Druid and she plays an Enhancement Shaman, so we were able to power through most mobs without much problem (except for some of the rares that we stumbled across). We hit 90 this past weekend, and really enjoyed all of the zones that we quested through.
Overall, the quest design of this expansion is absolutely amazing. There were quests where we laughed – mainly the Hozen quests, especially Riko expressing his undying (see what I did there?) love for Kiryn – some quests that were quite touching, but the most important thing is that pretty much all of them were a lot of fun.
There is one thing that I keep coming back to, something that I find myself saying all the time, which is how absolutely beautiful the new content is. It’s hard to believe that the engine running this is over 8 years old, yet we’re still given these amazing views. Everything from the grand temples and structures, down to the small little tumbleweeds that blow around Kun-Lai Summit. The environment is gorgeous and incredibly immersive.
At the moment, I have yet to find something about this expansion that I don’t like. The closest thing that I could label as a complaint is that there’s just too much to do. Once I hit level 90, I have at least four different factions that I want to raise my reptutation with immediately, and being the completionist that I am, I want to eventually get them all up to exalted.
I still have yet to fully do many dungeons or scenarios – the only ones I’ve done is one run of the new heroic Scholomance, and one instance of the Arena of Annihilation.
All I know is that I’m more excited about this expansion than I have been for any other, possibly having Burning Crusade for the exception (only because at the time, it was the first expansion). One last note: a few friends of mine were extremely critical of the Mists of Pandaria announcement after BlizzCon. They were complaining about how much it looked like a very weak expansion without much content. Now, after talking with them after the release, they have completely changed their stances and are quite happy with the result.
Bring it on!
After Hellfire Peninsula, the next stop is Zangarmarsh. Whereas Hellfire looked a lot like the Blasted Lands, and wasn’t too “alien”, Zangarmarsh is a completely brand new world. It’s basically a reminder of the Warcraft II expansion set “Beyond the Dark Portal”, as there were forests of mushrooms there. Well, here’s your forest of mushrooms!
Starting in the zone, characters would have breadcrumb quests leading to Cenarion Refuge, and their respective faction camps of Swamprat Post for the Horde or Telredor fot the Alliance. I must admit that I was always a little choked that the Alliance got this amazing looking outpost built into a mushroom, and the Horde just gets a generic Troll camp. The quests here would take up half the zone, eventually leading west.
The zone’s story has a lot to do with the Naga, and how they’re draining the lakes for their own purposes. They don’t say exactly what purpose that is, but I think it’s along the lines of: “It’s MINE! Go away!” The Dead Mire is an example of what happens to an area once the water has been drained out completely. Among the inhabitants affected by this are the mushroom people of Sporeggar. There are some quests to help them out, and a faction associated with them. The rewards include a non-combat pet, but it takes a very long time to get the reputation required.
The west side of the zone dealt mainly with the Ogres, and that they were chopping down the mushrooms for themselves and messing things up for Sporeggar. Because the fungal giants didn’t have mushrooms to eat, they decided to eat Sporeggar’s young while they were growing in the Spawning Glen. It’s up to the player to go and crush the Ogres at their stronghold, which is a small island using a downed mushroom as a bridge. Altogether you get to lay a beat down on a bunch of things to try and bring things as close to normal as possible.
After Zangarmarsh, it’s off to Terokkar Forest – normally. I try to skip Terokkar, as I’m not too fond of the zone, so I try to go right to Nagrand. There are entrances to Terokkar, Nagrand, and Blade’s Edge from Zangarmarsh, very much the crossroads of the continent.
Even though I said my next Memories of Azeroth post would be coming this past week, unfortunately real life got in the way. It should be up this coming week.
A while back when I was working on my Explorer achievement, I was able to have a nice view on the Night Elf boat from Darkshore to Teldrassil. Looking back at this makes me extremely glad that the old cat form model is ancient history.
My hunter just finished leveling through Nagrand again, and I can never get enough of the zone. It truly is absolutely beautiful – I could have a post full of the many different areas of it. Not only that, but after reading Rise of the Horde by Christie Golden, I can appreciate the history of Orcs that is throughout the zone.
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?
I was thinking the other day about the leaders of the Horde, and our current Warchief. After looking them all over, each has their own reasons for wanting to be in power and has the experience to warrant it. So I thought I’d put down a brief job application for each of the six leaders and what they would have said to Thrall if they had applied for the job of Warchief.
Enjoy this humourous representation of what I think the different people would say.
Gender: MANLY ORC!
Race: DID YOU NOT SEE MANLY ORC?
Previous Employer: Mopey emo-Orc based out of Garadar
References: Greatmother Geyah. Don’t talk to Mor’ghor. My Dad was Grom Hellscream! That counts for something, right? Hey, how did Magatha’s name get on here?!
Experience: Running Warsong Hold with the “help” of Saurfang. Smashing things with Gorehowl. Cleaving things with Gorehowl. Beating more things with Gorehowl. Oh, is that a basic campfire? So pretty… er, um, I like beating things. Good history of arguing for the sake of arguing. Lack of foresight. Dueling.
Previous Employer: Chief of Bloodhoof Village
References: My father’s legacy, and I’m sure Magatha will attest to my battle prowess.
Experience: Not being Garrosh Hellscream. Having honour. Running Bloodhoof Village for many years while my father was leading our people. Battle experience notably includes taking back Thunder Bluff from traitors. Do you want to see the dents in my totem from those pummeled by it?
Race: Previously High Elf, currently a banshee inhabiting the dead body
Previous Employer: Arthas (*spits*), Quel’Thalas Rangers
References: There’s a few Val’kyr here who will be willing to say how awesome I am. Oh, and an entire nation of followers.
Experience: Leading formerly enthralled minions of the Lich King under one banner to oppose him. Helping kill Arthas through the various parts of Icecrown Citadel. Destroying many enemies while in the Rangers. Not making plague (*coughs*).
Previous Employer: Masta’ o’ da Darkspear Trolls
References: Afta’ Bwonsamdi blessed de Darkspears, I be sure he happy wit’ me. Thrall be me brudda in arms.
Experience: Leading da Trolls away from massacre of da Gurubashi. Kickin’ heathen Trolls out of Zul’Aman. Emissary to other Troll tribes. Loyal member o’ da Horde since we came to Kalimdor. Lay down a beat, and I be de masta’ dancah!
Gender: Male, right?
Race: Blood Elf
Previous Employer: Prince Kael’thas
References: Nobody knows who I am…
Experience: Looking good while doing anything, or nothing. Standing around in Silvermoon for the past few years. I look amazing. My hair looks fabulous.
Previous Employer: ME!
References: Ask any Goblin, they’ll know what to say. YOU KNOW WHAT TO SAY OR YOU’LL PAY!
Experience: Swindling the life savings out of a brazen young upstart who wants my job. Hostile takeovers. Insulting others, especially people who want my job or Gnomes. Being the best at everything… except sailing, I guess.
Another blast from the past this week, venturing into Arathi Highlands and the former city-state of Stromgarde. The questing through there is both better and worse, in the fact that previously you could knock everything out at once – now you have to go back and forth a few times to finish everything. Hopefully one day we’ll see Danath Trollbane come back, reclaim the city, and have a cool new place. For the Alliance – to quest; for the Horde – to burn.
Flying around doing archaeology one day, I was passing through Uldum and was wondering why it was on fire. There are times I’m not very observant, but the last time I checked I was at the south end of Kalimdor and not by Blackrock Mountain. Deathwing had apparently just been through, and had unleashed his swath of destruction. I would be upset, except for the fact that he roasted me a while back.