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Pyromania In Outland
Last time, our brave pajama-clad hero (no, not Little Nemo) had soundly defeated a GIANT ENEMY CRAB and other unimportant people in the dark reaches of the Slave Pens. He then decided to try and do all the quests available to him in Hellfire Peninsula. This... is his story.
I mentioned how I'd started to work on the staggering number of quests in my log last time... this time, since there's a lot to cover, I'll spare you the utter details. Save to say that Jayne(z) and his friends were reminded of a valuable lesson-there is no problem in this world that can't be solved by finding the right person or thing and setting it on fire. I hope each of you take that lesson to heart.
We began by trying to find that pesky Scout Makha that had gone missing. After actually finding her but being unable to rescue her, we realized that we were sorely mistaken... The quest line wasn't at the point yet! Oh, what fools we'd been! So, we found a scroll that asked us to find even MORE signs of Scout Makha (though we knew quite well where she was)... and finally we got to her. By setting a diversion and burning the Fel Orc banner (see, here's the fire lesson again!) we were able to lure out the Warboss, beat him silly, and take the key.
Makha told us that she'd go off and do her own thing, and said that we should go to Spine Breaker Post for the reward.
Hey, Spinebreaker Post? I've never been there before.
...another quest hub. Joyous day of days!
The Makha chain continues with the commander asking my Warlock companion and me to go kill Fel Orcs and find out their plans. We do so gladly, because it's good XP, and eventually finish the chain. I won't spoil it for you, but suffice it to say that you kill many, many orcs. Some of them even have names! (Oh, poor Grunt Bob, how you will be missed)
Sure enough, Spinebreaker Post has more quests... there's a fairly cool quest chain involving a fortress of ghosts of former Alliance soldiers killed back in the days of WarCraft II where you must earn their respect, though it seems bugged. There's also a rather insane Warlock who sends you on missions so he can find a way out of this hellish land, apparently not realizing that the Dark Portal is, like, right over there, dude. Oh well, XP is XP.
Riding back to Thrallmar, we find a pair of Goblins by a crashed Zeppelin. Because the developers hate me, they both have yellow ! marks over their head. Sigh. I accept their quests, but thankfully they aren't too bad.
One by one, the quests in my log dwindle until I find myself on the very last chain... fittingly enough for an introduction to Outland, it asks us to find the demonic Messenger who wanders around the north of the zone and take from him the orders from his boss, Arazzius the Cruel. Naturally, we're going to accomplish this goal by setting him on fire. While I'm on the subject, why the hell are villains always calling themselves stuff like "Doom Lord" or "the Cruel," huh? If I were a super evil villain, I think I'd call myself "Jayne(z) the Bunnyhugger." That way, when I revealed my SUPREMELY DASTARDLY PLAN, everybody would be taken off guard. I'd also take pains to not speak in a low ominous rumble or grow horns on my head and wear a jet black mask or whatever. Do these guys have no concept whatsoever of subtlety at all?
Oh, right, videogame. Nevermind.
Like the Defias Messenger, there's plenty of "/1 Hey, anybody seen the Messenger lately?" flying around the zone. Unlike the Defias Messenger, this guy is elite, fairly rough to kill, and surrounded by murderous demons. Westfall would be so much cooler with elite demons all over, IMHO.
We bring the letter to the Thrallmar guy, who tells us-to our GREAT surprise-that we're going to have to find Arazzius and kill him. I so didn't see that one coming. The rewards for the chain in question are three trinkets that are actually pretty nice, rivaling some standards like the Talisman of Ephemeral Power.
I get a group, we find Arazzius in the slime pools to the north, and-say it with me, now-set him on fire.
And with that, I'm done with Hellfire Peninsula-for now, that is. Time to go West, young Mage... to Zangarmarsh!
Oh hey, I leveled to 62! First, to Orgrimmar to learn new spells-new ranks, some of which I already had thanks to AQ20, nothing too special-and THEN to Zangarmarsh!
Zangarmarsh, in contrast to the blasted wastelands of Hellfire Peninsula, is a relatively fertile land with lots and lots of giant mushrooms-a hippie paradise. The main quest line at Cenarion Ho-er, Cenarion Refuge has me go down to the south and explore a giant lake that's oddly below its normal water level... which is the same with the rest of the marsh. Hm. I wonder if that giant PUMP STATION over there has anything to do with it? Nah, couldn't be. What must I be thinking?
Unfortunately, the next part of the quest is bugged and so I can't complete it. Oh well... there are plenty of other quests around here, many of which deal with the various Zangarmarsh-ian tribes of Lost Ones... Broken... Broken Ones... I dunno, whatever the hell you call them. Since they, unlike their literally-holier-than-thou Draenei cousins, are all evil, we must kill them. Sounds like a plan to me!
Anyone ever think it's funny that we could very well be destroying the natural ecosystem of a beautiful marsh while on direct orders from the tree-hugging Cenarion Circle? Then again, it'll all just respawn in a few minutes anyway, so I guess it's really not that important. Further quests introduce me to the oddly-adorable Sporeggar tribe of... things... that have somehow survived despite having no combat capabilities whatsoever in an environment where everything seems inclined to eat them.
I also spend about forty-five minutes searching this stupid cave down south for this stupid Draenei's stupid backpack, and matters aren't helped by the fact that the minimap for the area doesn't work. I'm tempted to set the backpack on fire out of spite, but XP has priority over personal satisfaction, I'm afraid.
Riding around the zone, I come to the northern Horde post of Swamprat, um, Post. Apparently, all the NPCs at Swamprat held a council to only give quests to get items from various creatures around the marsh that have a stupidly low drop rate. But I must press on through hell and high water, dear reader-for your sake. See what I do for you? I hope you're thankful, you ingrates.
This just in: insulting your readership isn't a good way to keep them on board. I take it back, I'm sorry... you know how I get when I drink, baby!
There's a second Horde post in Zangarmarsh all the way on the Southwest side of the map (whereas Swamprat is near the very Northeast). I'm admiring the admittedly-beautiful scenery and don't really notice that I'm about to ride into an Alliance town until the level 65 elite Draenei guards have dismounted me and are beating me with sticks that are very sharp and made of metal.
One corpse run later, I find myself at the Troll station of Zabra'Jin. The quests here are the same, though there are three things worth note. First: there's a very amusing quest in which a Troll with two baby Murlocs (so cute!) says that the one thing he misses most about Azeroth is Murlocs. Yes, you read that right. So, he tells us to take this cage full of baby Murlocs and release them up in one of the Broken villages so they can enjoy the presence of the little fishmen too!
XP is XP. Plus, any quest involving baby Murlocs is automatically awesome if only for the sounds they make (and the Murky dance!). Though, when you think about it, this technically makes us responsible for introducing Murlocs to Outland. Whoops.
The second important aspect of Zabra'Jin is a particular enemy nearby. They're known as Marshfang Slicers. Now, by the time the game goes live, I sincerely hope that these creatures will be fixed-so I'll relate their current state here for posterity. Marshfang Slicers have a little debuff they like to do that does insane amounts of damage (I'd estimate at about 1000 every 2 or so seconds, though it's an invisible debuff and doesn't show up in the combat log, so I have no idea)... and it's AoE. They also like to silence you, which makes them really fun fighting them as a caster.
Screw the Legion, Slicers are the embodiment of all that is evil, the antithesis of all that is good and pure in this world. Lo, good reader, when you encounter the fixed-and unbugged-Slicers in the game, do recall that these are merely shades of their true selves, fallen from glory. To see the real face of a genuine Marshfang Slicer is to know true fear.
I freaking HATE Marshfang Slicers.
The third important aspect of Zabra'Jin is the quests involving the Ogre tribe to the North. They're encroaching on the outpost, and the commander wants adventurers to take them out. I assume that the nearby Alliance town has a similar quest, though I don't know for sure. Killing Ogres, though... that I can do! One of the later parts of the chain asks the player to head onto their headquarters (an island floating off the main continent) and kill their leader, known as Gorefist. I get all excited but then remember that the Death Knight was Teron GoreFIEND, and then get sad again. Still, it's pretty cool to be on the bridge to the island and have nothing below you but the Twisting Nether.
There's also a series of quests with the aforementioned Spore People of Sporeggar, given by both one of their own and a nearby Night Elf Druid with a pet cat (Tiger, of course) named Buddy. The scary part is I actually know people who talk to their cats like she does.
But, that's not the point. Apparently, the Swamp Giants around these parts are starving-we later learn that they've been displaced from their usual food source of mushrooms by the Ogres who are using them as some especially fungal lumber. See, it's all interconnected! I've got over 400 Int, but this Ee-kol-oh-gie stuff goes right over my head.
So, while the Druid asks us to find a new source for the Giants (by killing Ogres and taking their mushrooms), the Spore guy just asks me to kill the Giants themselves. I like that method better, personally. It's actually fairly easy to get rep with Sporeggar, even though there aren't many rewards I see that I like. Still, at Friendly, I get quests for the next wing of Coilfang Reservoir-the Underbog.
As luck would have it, some guildies of mine are getting an Underbog group together right at the moment! What fortune!
Come, good lads and lasses, for it's into the Underbog we go!
The Slave Pens felt quite a bit like Blackfathom Deeps in their architecture, while Underbog seems to blend aspects from Maraudon Orange and Blackrock Depths (mainly in sheer size of the place). To be honest, though, it's probably the most original-looking dungeon I've seen yet in Outland, and that's a genuine compliment... they all kick varying degrees of ass, for the most part. Thankfully, though it looks BRD-ginormous, it's not nearly as long as that one.
We benefit from having a level 65 Warrior in Dreadnaught tank the place, especially since he'd been there before. So, the run goes rather smoothly. The first boss, Hungerfen, is a large Marsh Giant... just like Quagmirran and all the other guys I killed down for Spore Guy. Huh. I appreciate the new models, Blizz, but don't overdo it TOO much. I'm just waiting for the two-headed dog!
Hungerfen's a pretty cool fight, and it bears similarities to the Emeriss and Kurinaxx fights currently in the game. The big guy himself doesn't really do much, but he randomly spawns mushrooms over the place that slowly grow to full size. If they're full size, they do a nasty DoT to anyone around them-so everyone's having to keep aware of their surroundings and move when they see a mushroom spawn beneath them.
Eventually, Hungerfen falls. Yay for us.
As we move on, we fight more random creepy crawlies and some Naga. Oh, Naga... good, I'd been missing them! We see the second boss of the place, a three-headed hydra. Huh. If you guessed his name was Ghaz'something, you'd be right! The Ghaz'an fight is... well, the fight itself is simple. He does a frontal poison and a knockback, both of which we've seen before from other Ghaz'things in WoW.
There's a giant Naga Overseer on a platform in the middle of the lake, and once the party goes onto the upper ring (looking down on the lake Ghaz'an swims around in), they cry about how the "creature is approaching" (oh noes!). Ghaz'an then leisurely makes his way up the opposite side of the ramp, faces no opposition whatsoever from the groups of Naga soldiers all along the path we're on, and engages the Overseer in combat-which he eventually wins.
This is kind of buggy, though. For one, it's unclear what the point of that fight is-it's not too visually impressive, nothing really COOL happens. Ghaz'an kills the Overseer as you fight your way through the Naga, and then you fight him. It might be possible, with very good gear and super-fast chain pulling, to beat the Naga before the Overseer dies, and some have hypothesized that he gives better loot. On the other hand, it's possible to just jump into the lake from the platform and fight Ghaz'an in the water without ever triggering the event, and all that the Overseer drops is some gold and maybe a random green. I dunno, it's kinda weird.
But it's really not all that important, to tell the truth. I guess we'll see what the purpose is.
We go on and encounter a Druid, who's standing Shadowmelded in a corner. Damn Night Elves. He tells us about his fellow Druid who tried to take on the Marshlord, but did so in animal form-and since the Marshlord can control animals, he made the Druid his servant. (It turns out that there's a quest for these guys, but I'd missed it at the time)
Apparently, the only way we can free his friend is to beat him up! I start to question whether or not the Druids are as peaceful as they claim...
Continuing on, we encounter the aforementioned Swamplord, who-sure enough-has a Bear-Form Druid following him as a pet. This is, of course, the coolest thing ever. I want a Druid pet! I'm sure you Hunters out there feel the same way. Personally, I suggest a mass letter-writing campaign to Blizzard in favor of allowing Hunters to tame Druids as pets.
It turns out that Swamplord Musl'ek is, um, kind of bugged. Around halfway through the fight, he lays Freezing Trap Rank OH MY GOD and instantly freezes the entire party in ice... but after it wears off, he just kind of stands there while we beat on him and does nothing. Huh. Go figure. Shockingly, reducing the bear's HP to 0 does NOT kill him, but returns him to sanity. We refrain from making fun of the fact that he was tamed by a Hunter because hey, that's what his friends are for, right?
The fourth and final boss of the Underbog is just around the bend. Our tank lets us know that this boss is slightly bugged, and we have our group's warlock send his pet in and then pull it back, pulling the boss-a gigantic Marsh Strider-out to us. The Black Stalker has two main abilities, a Chain Lighting (so we all fight her spread quite far apart) and a Levitate that she chains on somebody... if they don't run out of range soon, they get hit with a nasty debuff that does 500 Nature damage every second.
That particular debuff seems bugged on its own, because the tooltip says that it's supposed to hit people around you (which it does)... but still, that's quite a bit of healing to keep up. The room itself features some weird thingies that like to use a Death Coil on people periodically, so I can see why fighting the Stalker inside there would be rough, given the Chain Lightning and AoE damage debuff. Still, pulling it out seems kind of... cheating. Bleh.
Done with the Underbog, I realize elatedly that I'm almost done with Zangarmarsh. This is partly because Zangarmarsh, while having a good many quests, doesn't have NEARLY as many as Hellfire Peninsula does. It's also due to the fact that I skipped over a huge ton of the quests beforehand, because that would have droned on worse than my Chinese History professor.
The next quest tells me to investigate a Cenarion place in Terokkar Forest, to the South. I head down, but continue on the road and find myself in front of Shattrath City. Shattrath, unlike most other towns in the game, is a genuine, full-fledged city on the same level as places like Undercity and Stormwind. It's pretty damn big, and will definitely be one of the, if not the only "World Hubs" in Outland, doing for Outland what Orgrimmar and Ironforge currently do for Azeroth.
It's also absolutely gorgeous. Terokkar Forest in general is a beautiful zone, but Shattrath is pretty damn cool. The first thing I notice is the gigantic beam of light shooting out from the center of the city and stretching, well, about as far as I can see. I wonder what that's from-but a Haggard War Veteran tells me that if I'm new to the city, I should go see A'Dal, the leader of Shattrath.
Oh, hey... that's a Naaru, and the source of the beam of light. He's also a BIG Naaru. My bewilderment lasts until I notice a small (by comparison) Human Mage standing beside him. He looks familiar... I mouse over him, and find that my jaw, quite literally, drops.
You know, hung out with Medivh? Led the Expedition into Outland back in the Warcraft 2 expansion? Probably second only to Medivh (and Aegwynn, I guess) as the greatest Mage Azeroth has ever known? Apparently shaved a lot to the delight of mid-level herbalists everywhere? We thought he died when Outland kerploded at the end of Beyond the Dark Portal, but here he is standing right in front of me.
I talk to Khadgar, find out why he's there... he tells me a bit, and then sends his servant (an Arcane Elemental) to show me around Shattrath. (If you're trying to avoid spoilers, you may want to skip this next section)
I've got some screenshots recapping the story, but a quick summary: Shattrath was a holy city of the Draenei. Evil Blood-fury Orcs sacked it. Some Draenei went back and rebuilt. A'Dal and his Naaru (called the Sha'tar) joined them. A faction of Blood Elves ordered by Kael'Thas to take the city marched on it, until the leader announced that he'd seen A'Dal in a dream, and that the Naaru was "the only hope for his people."
So, you have two main factions in Shattrath. The Blood Elf Scryers and the Draenei Aldor. By default, Horde start friendly with the Scryers and Alliance with the Aldor, though it is possible to raise one's standing with either faction (though doing so incurs the other's disfavor). Both the factions have their own reputation rewards, so it is, in effect, a more important version of the Gelkis/Magram choice we made way back in Desolace.
Shattrath is a "Sanctuary Zone," which means that even on PvP servers you can't attack anybody. I think it would also have been cool to keep PvP enabled, but any hostile actions result in you immediately being ported to A'Dal who melts your face off with NAARU POWER. This way's fine, though.
I still can't get over Khadgar. Apparently, Danath Trollbane is the Alliance commander at Honor Hold (the Alliance counterpart to Thrallmar back in Hellfire Peninsula) and Allerian Stronghold (to the south of Terokkar) is where Sylvanas's sister hangs out. Incidentally, both of those are Alliance towns, so Horde can't stop in and say hi. Bah, say I! No word on Kurdran Wildhammer, though.
This City is pretty darn cool. It's got battlemasters for both sides, for one thing (Adam Heman, the League of Arathor battlemaster, faces off with the Defilers' Keldor the Lost... by the power of Grayskull, I sense a pop-culture reference!)
Also cool, it has portals to every major city in the game. Speaking of portals, Mages can learn to Teleport to Shattrath at level 62, and open Portals at 65. The trainer is a Scryer, though... so I don't know if Alliance Mages are screwed or what, or if there's a counterpart Aldor trainer as well.
Here is as good a place as any to stop off... so, until next time, keep cool!