Mount Hyjal: Like Stepping Into The Past (and Other Day One Cata Impressions)

As you all know, Cataclysm released yesterday and let the masses finally get a taste of the new 80-85 game. I didn’t try logging in last night, even WITH the digital download, since it would have been 3AM here and probably queued to boot. I took the day off and logged in at noon, queue-free, to see what the new world had to offer.

Aside: isn’t it funny how the “old world” has become the “new world” again, changing places with Outland and Northrend? In the matter of a couple weeks, our parlance has officially pushed the exploits of Arthas Menethil and into the broom closet, right alongside Illidan. It’s Ragnaros’s time to shine, baby!

Anyways, even without a queue, the server was absolutely packed. It was nice to see so many of the HFGs in game at one time, excitedly talking about the new stuff they were seeing and doing. A couple of us even decided to push through server transfers last night, so we could fill whatever roles our groups needed and avoid the zerg happening now.

The first thing I did was pick up a quest in Undercity to visit the Moonglade. Once there, you pick up another quest to ride a golden dragon into Mount Hyjal. I didn’t see any of this in beta, so needless to say I was a little bit floored at the destruction that had been wrought; there’s nothing green in that first pass through. And after that, when you meet Deathwing for the first time, I don’t think it’s an understatement to say he’s one of the most intimidating bosses to ever line Azeroth up in his sights. Seriously, this guy could easily swallow Arthas and half the Scourge in one mouthful.

I won’t spoil anything for you, but those first steps into Azeroth from the Frozen Wastes are exciting. If you’ve been bored with Wrath, get out there as quick as you can and breathe a big gulp of fresh air.

Stepping into the actual zone was pretty sweet, too. The questing is fairly rote. Streamlined, varied, kill/collect, all the stuff we’re used to and expect from WoW. The atmosphere is what really makes it stand out, however. Mount Hyjal retains more of that old-school-WoW feeling than anything in TBC or WotLK. The lush yet war-torn landscapes remind me of some blend of Ashenvale and Feralas. There’s a lot of little touches, like sap and water dripping from tree branches, that make it feel vibrant and alive.

As you’d expect, though, it’s often the other players that drag it down. On Emerald Dream, players felt the need to crowd the quest givers so much that they were, literally, unclickable. It’s no fun to have to zoom all the way in just to see a 1/4” of Malfurion’s backside to click on.

Chat was alive, however, and it was overflowing with positivity. Talk about a change! When you’re used to listening to people complain about “achievements this” and “n00b that” in trade chat, seeing players excited and, dare I say, happy was a very nice change.

PvP was, well, less than honorable, if we’re being nice. One level 84 paladin discovered he could cast Exorcism while flying and decided to hover just out of sight and pick off any 80s questing below him. All told, I think he killed me three times, but he picked off lots of other players too. I’m normally not bothered by open world PvP, at all, really, but killing people who have no way to retaliate or defend themselves is the baseline of cheap gameplay.

Before I left, I also got the chance to try tanking my first dungeon, Black Rock Caverns. I failed. Hard. Now, back in the days of Wrath, tanking was what I did. Death Knights were straight forward, easy to understand, and fun to play. I had a good handle on them. Emphasis on the ‘had’. They’ve changed things around so much (blood is the ONLY tanking tree now… say whaaaaat?) that I felt totally unfamiliar with my class. Even after reading guides, that first boss made me look like a noob. We died, twice, in pretty rapid succession. I don’t doubt that most players will have these instances on farm before the week is out, but the learning curve is definitely a bit steeper than it was for Utgarde Keep. Atmosphere was top notch, however.

Overall, I had a good day. I definitely have a lot to re-learn on the tanking end of things but it will come. Tanking is a trial by fire sport and everybody has to burn before they get good at it. If you haven’t picked up the expansion yet, I’ll be reporting throughout the week on my play.

Happy Monday, Folks!

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  1. The Cataclysm That Was… « Voodoo Gamer

    […] like several other folks, I didn’t end up logging into WoW at “midnight” like I thought I might.  I […]

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