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Beyond the Dark Portal
When we last left our intrepid hero (yours truly,) he was on his way to the Dark Portal.
And, well, he got there. That part of the story isn't too interesting.
But after getting there, he went through! And then he was in Outland! And he saw it, and he knew that it was good. On the seventh day, Jayne(z) quested.
The first place on the other side of the Dark Portal is the Hellfire Peninsula, a dreary and warscorched land, populated with demons and Fel Orcs. Above me, I saw an infinity of stars and planets amidst the Twisting Nether-and believe me when I tell you that Blizzard's art department has done a fantastic job on the sky. It's easily one of the most visually impressive things I've seen in this game-unfortunately, that means for me that it takes a huge toll on my sub-par laptop CPU. I do kinda wish that there were an option to scale it down or remove it (like there are with weather effects) because it's a HUGE hit to my efficiency while playing.
Immediately after crossing the Portal, I'm witness to what seems to be a perpetual battle between a gigantic Mannoroth-style demon, his cronies, and a joint force of Horde and Alliance. Perhaps at level 70 there'll be a quest to take him down, but after having 20 fireballs in a row resisted, I don't think I'm up for it yet.
I get a quest to go for reinforcements, and the wind rider takes me to Thrallmar-the Horde quest hub. There, I talk to Nazgrel-you may remember him from games such as Warcraft 3: The Frozen Throne and World of Warcraft-and he pretty much tells me that things aren't too peachy-keen on this end of the Portal (because they're totally perfect on the other side, y'know?)
Before I go on, I'll talk a bit about the Hellfire Peninsula PvP system. It's kind of like the outdoor PvP we currently see in the Eastern Plaguelands, except a bit better-there are three towers that you can capture by being there for a length of time. If any faction controls all three simultaneously, they get a nice little 5% damage increase to everything they do in both PvP and PvE. A tad more useful than the EPL buff, I believe.
I'm completely lost in Thrallmar, but eventually find my way to the Grand Master instructors of both Tailoring and Enchanting-they teach me Master (375) in those two skills and a slew of new recipes (well, new Enchanting formula... all of the Tailoring ones for the most part were older recipes like Wizardweave). I get a bunch of quests from around the zone and decide to explore.
Blizzard has really done a great job on the feel of Hellfire Peninsula. Maybe it'll get old or lose the novelty in a bit, but for now it's quite cool. There are agents of the Burning Legion all over the place and it's not uncommon to watch a squad of Blood Elf Mages fend off a pack of Infernals, or to be squashed by a random OH MY GOD GIGANTIC DEMON.
One really gets the feel that this is a total war going on against the Legion.
However, the Burning Legion isn't the only foes that you'll find yourself up against. There are helboars-remember them from the Blasted Lands?-everywhere, and hidden mini-sandworms that resemble AQ40's Ouro. They're buried under the ground and then like to pop up and shoot Poison at you. Won't lie, I was rather startled the first time that happened to me :P
There's another primary source of villainy in Hellfire Peninsula, though. The nefarious Fel Orcs of the Hellfire Citadel are big, red, and nasty. One of the first quests I received was to venture into the Ramparts of the Citadel and start to break them from within-y'know, that whole shebang. Kill the bosses, take their hand/head/hoof, get rewarded. Groovy.
So, I got me a party, and we were off to the Citadel!
Hellfire Citadel: Ramparts
Note: I plan on writing a full in-depth guide to HFC soon (like the other guides I've done for WarCry,) but for the sake of time and spoilers, this is just a quick run-through.
My party entered the dungeon, spells and weapons at the ready. We didn't know what horrors lurked within, but we knew that we would be ready for them. And then we would kill them and take their stuff.
Though the sentries and guardians of the Rampart were many, I did not stand against them alone. My allies were four: a Hunter, a Rogue, a Druid, and a Warrior. And we were all kinds of leet, so it was pretty cool. The dungeon itself went smoothly except for a wipe on the first "miniboss," an Orcish beastmaster that will summon four or five nonelite hounds if he and his bodyguards aren't killed quickly.
Aside from a myriad of Fel Orcs in the Ramparts, we encountered three of their commanders. The first, Watchkeeper Gargolmar, was a giant Orc-possibly Mok'Nathal?-with two companions that would heal him and cast Shadow Word: Pain on us. When he was near death, he bellowed for his allies to heal him, but he obviously didn't notice that they were already dead.
The second encounter was one of the cooler five-man bosses I've seen in a while. Vazruden the Herald, an armored Fel Orc, flies around a platform on his Dragon-ish mount, Nazan. My party couldn't really figure out how to attack him, as he was out of range for both myself and the Hunter in the group.
It turns out that the moment you finish killing the packs of Fel Orcs on the ground he attacks you. Yeah, that kinda caught us by surprise. Vazruden himself will dismount and battle you on the ground, while Nazan flies around above and shoots fireballs-like a weaker version of Onyxia. Once Vazzy is down, his mount lands and attacks you personally.
The final boss was Omor the Unscarred (I wonder if he's related to Beaky from AQ20?), a large Doomguard-ish demon. Not particularly difficult, though his ability to make himself reflective to spells when he gets low on health surprised me-and nearly killed me. Note to my fellow casters: don't use your cooldowns when he's at low health if you like your durability.
With Omor's head, Nazan's hoof, and Gargolmar's hand in my pockets, I returned to Thrallmar a champion and hero!
Stay tuned for more!