Monday, December 6, 2010

No Portals? No Problem!

The Shattering gave us lots of great things: new quests for low levels, some new dailies, the ability to level up for picking flowers (hmm, I actually think that should go; my wife was getting 5K for picking flowers the other day). It’s given us rifts and lava flows, ruins in Stormwind, new construction almost everywhere else, and green – actual green – in Western Plaguelands. There’s also been one of the funniest quest lines in the game (The Day that Deathwing Came) and a lot of hullabaloo about getting roasted by the mighty dragon himself (note that the thread I quoted in my last post has been deleted by Blizz. Not sure if they object to people helping each other that much, or are embarrassed by the notion of people spending close to 60 hours of continuous camping in an effort to die).

Of course, probably the biggest hullabaloo since the Shattering has been over the removal of portals from Dalaran and Shattrath. Apparently a large portion of the player base either fails to read about the game or has very bad retention, for it seemed to catch a ton of people by surprise. Trade chat was filled to the brim with variations of ‘Can someone port me to…’ and ‘WTF happened to the portals?’, along with all manner of complaining about how rotten Blizzard is for removing them. No one seemed to mention that you can’t swing a dead cat without running into a gryphon master or bat handler, or the fact that said aerial transportation definitely seems faster than it used to. Even mages, who stand to make a killing porting people, are irritated over the constant interruptions and rude behavior of people either demanding portals or not tipping/paying once they get one.

Yet it really isn’t all bad. I spent several hours riding, flying and boating around the world to see the changes that Deathwing wrought with his 'Renovation Breath', as my daughter calls it, and enjoyed the hell out of it. It wasn’t just because it was fun to see changes; in fact, some of the changes are downright startling and upsetting (see the Furlbrows and Old Blanchy in Westfall, for example). No, it has been fun to be actually in the world again, to be a part of it. For too long my WoW world had been Dalaran (Stormwind as of Patch 4.0.1); occasional forays to Icecrown glacier for tournament dailies to make some extra cash; and the summoning stone of whatever raid we were doing that night, which have been relatively few in November (though we did finally go back and kill Yogg Saron, hooray!). Even when I flew around Northrend in search of some extra herbs I really wasn’t part of the world – I was above it, cruising around and only descending upon the appearance of a yellow dot.

Don’t get me wrong, I love flying, and tomorrow morning I will make straight for the flight trainer in Stormwind in order to learn ‘Old Weather Flying’. Still, there’s something about riding through the land that makes you feel more a part of it than flying above it. It’s been an enjoyable couple of weeks.

I also had an interesting bit of déjà vu the other day, an experience that sort of bookends the beginning and end of Wrath rather nicely. We were heading off to Icecrown Citadel’s five mans to help my wife get her latest 80 some gear, and the Dungeon Finder wouldn’t let her queue for them, due to her poor gear. We had to actually go to the instance entrance itself. Normally from Stormwind I would use my Argent Crusader’s Tabard to go to the Tournament and fly over; for some reason I opted to take the boat from Stormwind to Valiance Keep and fly (I’m not sure why – I guess I was in no hurry or my tabard was already on cooldown). I got on the boat to find two of my guildies already there, as well as about 10 or so other people heading off to Northrend. It reminded me of opening day of Wrath, when the boats were jammed and the excitement was high. It’s good to have that excitement back again. Enjoy it while it lasts, and have a great time tomorrow.

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