Sunday, November 16, 2008

Wrath of the Lich King - Very Early Impressions

WotLK has been out for a few days now, and of course it's having the usual effect on office productivity and kids feigning illness for a chance to get in a few uninterrupted hours of play in the new continent of Northrend. I've spent about five hours total playing in the new areas, and here are my very preliminary impressions:

  • Graphically, very nice. I've only been to the Borean Tundra area (taking the zeppelin from Ogrimmar), and even then I've only really visited a few areas, but they all look very interesting so far. The one really impressive spot is the area just SW of Warsong Hold (the main Horde hub in the area), where Kel'Thuzzad is waging a big war with these amazing floating pyramids. My framerates have varied from 30 to 80 fps, not too bad, but there has been quite a bit of stutter, and on one occasion I got kicked off the server (and fortunately not in a terrible spot).
  • The mobs seem to be buffed up a bit, and I'd imagine that if you had a poorly spec'ed or geared character coming in at level 68 you'd find your work cut out for you. Even I, a level 70 feral druid (arguably the most buffed class in the game), found myself having to fight off quite a few of the spideroids that fill the quarry around Warsong Hold at a time. Those things respawn at a murderous rate, and at one point I found myself fighting seven in a row, barely surviving and then finding myself being attacked while I healed up a bit. Yikes.
  • Quests are what you'd expect - quest chains in specific areas that fill you in on the environment (the beach area gets you familiar with the walrusoids, for example), and the usual stuff - find x of this, kill y of that, escort Princess Moo Cow across the beach. There are a lot of characters running around, so you spend a lot of time trying to find x of this or y of that to kill, but the escort or task-based quests are very easy because everyone is killing things. The one really cool quest, based off of the misty beach, is to drive a tank around and kill Scourge led by Kel'Thuzzad. You have a new interface to do this, lots of interesting weapons to deploy, fuel drums to run over that give you more mana to run the various weapons, and some of the weapons are seriously bad-ass. When you're done, you get ejected from the tank and parachute down to the ground. That was a cool surprise!
  • Warsong Hold is a good hub, but for some reason they chose to put profession trainers for pretty much everything but the Skinning and Leatherworking professions there. For those (which my character is), you have to run up to a quasi-Tauren village up the road, something you're unlikely to do as a new player to the area. On the plus side, there are a *lot* of things to skin, they all skin very easily if you're at 375 skill (as you almost certainly will be), and the scraps can be combined pretty easily. Plus, everyone and their dog is running around killing stuff, so lots of targets of opportunity. That may be why the profession trainers got put in a different location, but it sure was frustrating running around the Hold for an hour trying to find if there was somewhere I'd missed. 
  • Death Knights are already getting old. This is the new "hero" class that you can train in once you hit level 55. Since my characters were either at 70 or 40 and below, that means I'm unlikely to create one for a little while. Right now they are all over the place as many players were very excited about this new class and had characters all prepped to go as soon as the expansion came out. For now, I think I'll wait a while until the novelty wears off, then maybe start working my orc shammy (the one 40 I have) up once I've forgotten what it was like to grind in what was once the high levels of the game. 
  • I haven't seen any new instances yet, nor the siege going on as one of the major new parts of the game in Northrend. In fact, I'm only at 353 in Leatherworking, and will probably have to grind quite a bit in Outland just to level up to 375 so that I can use all of the new leather I found. I expect it will take something like 120 knothide leather just to create enough to get me to 360, and those last 15 levels might take a month. I know I spent a huge amount of time getting up to 300 in preparation for Outland. I'll tell you one thing - the odds of me working fishing up to 375 just so I can fish in Northrend is going south rapidly. 
  • For those wondering, I did indeed pick up the collector's edition, and I did it solely so that I could get the vanity pet, a little ice dragon whelp. Call me pathetic. The art book that comes with it is very cool, and I suspect the DVD is cool as well. Oh, and some CCG cards from one of the expansion sets I don't own, which will be great for playing the game with... no one at all. Sigh. 
All in all, I'm happy the expansion is out, but unlike some this game isn't about me getting to 80 first (saw a global achievement for the first orc character to hit 80 on my realm, Hydraxis). To be honest, the fact that Blizzard made it really easy to level up to 70 (this character took me a mere five months, unlike Leonadril who took nearly a year), and the only grinding level was getting from 60 to 61, which has always been a huge effort. Leo did every quest he could find in most of the Outland areas that didn't require a group, and did get to 70 but it was hard work. Amahiah was pretty easy in comparison. As such, I'm in no hurry to explore the entire map in a month, but would much rather be discovering things in a more organic way. Maybe I should do some fishing just to experience the entire game. Heck, I might try out some battlegrounds as well. 

One nice thing - the number of level 70's hogging the various PvP areas in Outland has gone down dramatically, although there are now a lot of level 65 Death Knights instead. Still, this gives me more of a chance to enjoy some of these aspects of the game, as before the Alliance on my server tended to camp on the towers whenever the time finally went down around Auchindown, and I never got a single tower converted. I mean, sheesh. Let the other guy convert one without have three level 70's sitting around waiting to gank them. No wonder I don't play on PvP servers. 

So, in general, a good expansion, although it is bringing a lot of players back to our server and actually forcing queues of players waiting to log in. So far I've been lucky with that, but it's just a matter of time. 

I love this game. 

1 comment:

Laurent said...

I also got the Collector Edition.
I've not read the rules of the TCG yet but I thought the packages were 2 starters and you could play them as is.
If it's the case, we should give it a try