The new zones are stunning. There were zones in Outland that I really liked, but only Zangarmarsh made me say, “Ooooooh” when I first walked in there. So far, each of the new zones I’ve seen in Northrend have left me with my jaw hanging open. I’m exploring entire areas not just for the achievement, but because I want to see the view from every cliff top. My screenshot folder overfloweth. I’ve not died exploring yet, but I’ve had a few close calls with getting too close to Alliance camps and stepping off cliffs when I accidentally hit my autorun keybinding instead of the screenshot one. (This latter type of close call is especially exciting when you’ve got the camera zoomed in all the way so that the view is first person.)
Not as crowded as I thought.
It was a great move on Blizzard’s part to offer several different starting zones for folks coming into the expansion. Dividing folks between Borean Tundra and the Howling Fjord, not to mention the death knight starting area, has meant that although there is some competition for mobs, it’s not ridiculous. There were a few moments on Thursday evening where I had to wait for a respawn, but again, nothing like the frustration of trying to do collection quests in the beta. As the weekend continued and folks got more spread out during their questing, it got even easier. I still see people as I’m riding around, but it’s a far cry from the mad rush the day that everyone stepped through the portal into Hellfire Peninsula (from what I’ve heard — I wasn’t there for that).
I was concerned for the folks in my guild that decided to take several days off work to play the expansion right away. I thought they would have nothing but downtime and severe lag to look forward to those first few days. Our server has been very stable, however. I haven’t been disconnected a single time, in fact. There was a little bit of loot lag and latency yesterday, but it didn’t last long. I didn’t even have trouble with my addons!
Filled with jealous, petty people.
I think it’s really cool to see the server firsts pop up. Our realm’s first 80 was Horde (woo!), which made me proud, but there wasn’t much rejoicing in General chat. Instead, it was all speculation about how that person was wasting their life for “just a game.” Uh, that’s what we’re all doing to some extent, dude. Get some perspective. For these kids, anyone who plays less than they do is a noob and anyone who plays more is a basement dwelling virgin. General chat was actually sort of enjoyable until the realm firsts started hitting — lots of folks helping each other, discovering the content together, etc. But after, it was all this jealous crap. Lame. In any case, our realm had their first level 80 on Saturday afternoon and their first level 80 death knight on Sunday. True to my altoholic form, I have two 71’s. (I’ve leveled my hunter and my priest, while my mage is gaining rested XP). We have one 75 in the guild at the moment, a handful of 74’s, and I’m guessing a bunch of folks will hit 73 this week.
Filled with helpful people.
I did run into a lot of helpful people, too, as I was questing. I had no problem finding folks to complete group quests, and in some cases found groups by just wandering in the area where the quest was. This is certainly because there are so many people doing these quests at the same time. Coming to Outland so late, I guess I’d become accustomed to having to ask for help or watch something ninja’d out from under me. In my experience, people in Northrend have been generous, in comparison. I’ve always loved WoW, but right now, It feels more like what I’d hope an MMO would be. If I’m waiting for a respawn next to someone else, there’s always an invite (well, unless they’re alliance). Nice.
I love the way the quests are presented. You pick up a few quests, finish them, and when you turn them in, a couple more quests pop up. It’s not like some of the Outland zones where you arrive at the town and get 15 quests at once that are scattered all over, so you have to dig through them and figure out how best to nest them. The game feels slightly more linear in Northrend. My quest log is more manageable and it makes it a bit easier to pay attention to the story, in a way.
I’m having a blast. The new types of quests are really cool and even the standard fare (kill X mobs, collect X thingies) often has a twist. I’ve had a chance to run both Utgarde Keep and the Nexus a couple times with my priest and have met some really nice folks. Both dungeons are pretty cool, too, particularly the Nexus, part of which reminded me of the Arcane Sanctuary from Diablo II (without the portals — can you imagine if it had them?). I found myself wondering if they might toss in a boss called The Summoner who would two shot me if I got too close to his platform. Hee hee… It’s also nice to see so many folks from our guild who had taken time off come back for the expansion. We’ve also been recruiting lately, so we have a crop of new folks to add to this, and I’d guess we have 15-20 folks on each evening. There’s lots of grouping, instancing, and guild chat has been very lively… Woo!
On the whole, I’m really impressed with the expansion so far. I’m not rushing through, but I’m still playing quite a lot. I won’t be the first to 80, but I won’t be the last, either. 🙂