Memorable (and not so much) experiences of an adventurer on the way up.
This post over at WOW.com got me thinking about my levelling experience, how it affected my characters (particularly Durkon) and which parts in particular were memorable to me. I’d tend to agree with Mr. Bowers when he says that the Outland and Northrend levelling experiences ‘felt’ better and that they had a more significant effect on who Kell is today. On the other hand, there are a few things in the Old World that made a lasting impression on me and on my various characters, too.
It has to be said that a lot of Old Azeroth could do with a bit of a… uh, restructure. There IS a lot of running about on seemingly unimportant and irrelevant errands unlinked to any kind of story or thread. Admittedly, you can’t expect to start your career as a mercenary adventurer one day and the King is sending you to lead his armies the next. You’re willing to go and shoot things and generally go into extremely dangerous situations in exchange for cash and shiny things? You should probably expect at first that alchemists will want you to slaughter some animals for some kind of gland or perhaps their brains. Maybe someone would like a letter delivered to a friend (who naturally lives in a warzone of some kind). Or some troublesome murlocs are making rude gestures at passing sea traffic. Hardly world-changing quests of an epic nature, but everyone starts somewhere and it’s usually not saving the world.
This may make sense, but is it that much fun to play? Delivering messages? Killing a dozen gnolls for their livers / because the questgiver told you to / for no adequately explained reason at all? Playing alchemist’s assistant for one quest only? In my experience… no, not really. It’s not that great the first time, and it’s certainly not that great when you level through the place a second time. Some streamlining of the 1-60 process would certainly be welcome!
Old Azeroth is not entirely composed of dire quests of +5 boredom, however. There are some quests, chains and events that have really contributed to my experience of the game and to my characters – particularly Durkon’s – well, character!
I remember the Night Elf starting quests on Teldrassil. I’ve done them three times, once with my hunter (pursuing Darnassus reputation for a snowsabre), once with my semi-retired rogue, and once with my Druid. As you begin, you are tasked with culling some of the local wildlife. It is not long before you are summoned to your class trainer and instructed to make yourself useful around the village. You do so, tracking down and rescuing a villager and pruning back the errant local wildlife in the name of preserving the balance. Soon, you are called to meet with the leader of Aldrassil who suggests that it is time you ventured outside of Shadowglen. He issues you with a seemingly irrelevant task: Collect some water from the local moonwell and he will tell you something of Teldrassil’s past. This thread continues throughout your adventures on Teldrassil, each collection of water yielding a little more history. Finally, you are sent to Darnassus to deliver your collected water to Archdruid Staghelm who fails to grasp the nature of your lesson, merely questioning how long it took you to get here.
During your time on the giant tree, you venture into the overrun (and from a player’s perspective, dreaded!) Ban’ethil barrow den and the (equally dreaded) Fel Rock caves. Such complicated places designed solely to kill lone adventurers shall never again be encountered. They’re not even marked as group quests, damn it!
I enjoyed my time on Teldrassil enough to do it three times. While I remember my first ten levels in Dun Morogh fondly (and that requires a separate post for me to discuss properly), I think the initial levelling experience on Teldrassil is tied together a little better. It just feels more coherent, somehow.
We all know that some quests and chains were long, hard, complicated or just disinteresting but I’m more interested in documenting those quests which were worthwhile and compelling – after all, they may not be around indefinitely. If anyone has thoughts on that, I’d be interested to hear them!