Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Mist's Edge revisited


There was never any doubt about where I would take my farewell of this expansion. Mist's Edge, by the deserted coast of Darkshore, the same place where I spent the last night before Wrath arrived. Not once had I visited this beech since that moment. It's not a place where you go to seek out adventures or company. It's a place for solitude and contemplation.

I always knew where to go for this ceremony, but I wasn't certain on how to schedule it.

For the longest I imagined that I'd go there the night before the launch of Cataclysm, on December 6. This was until the blogosphere exploded with posts where bloggers took a fond farewell of the old world, soon to be washed away by the tides of time, and I realized that my timing was wrong. If I wanted to come back to the same spot where TBC ended to me and Wrath took off, I had better do it at this point, before the Shattering had shaken up the world forever. Who knew if this piece of coast will even exist tomorrow? Maybe it had been replaced by a murloc heaven or a new quest hub?

I for sure didn't have a clue, since I miraculously not only had stayed out of the beta, but also managed to stay fairly oblivious about the incoming changes. I had been told that Thousand Needles would be flooded and I thought that I might have caught a glimpse of some new holiday resort looking place, probably operated by goblins. Considering the cinematic trailer I assumed that Stormwind would change. But I certainly had no idea about the whereabouts of Darkshore.

One thing was clear: If I wanted to take a proper goodbye of Wrath at Mist's Edge, I'd better hurry up.

Steady progression
There is a saying that once is a trend and twice makes a tradition, and since rituals is something to hold onto in times of change, I kept it. First I lit a campfire. Then I used it to cook a Delicious Chocolate Cake with the ingredients I had brought, including some small eggs I just had farmed from the crazy owls in the camp nearby.

Two years! How quickly hadn't they passed? It felt like yesterday I was here, thinking back on my journey which had brought me from Zul Farrak to Black Temple. It had been quite a career, with a lot of bumps and jumps on the way, including server change and guild changes a couple of times.

Wrath had been different and way more stable. Adrenaline had steadily progressed through the tiers, week after week, boss after boss until we got our Lich King 25 man kill this spring. Sure, we had had some raiders joining us in Northrend and others leaving us on the way. But we were basically a well oiled raiding machine. While many guilds on our server succumbed, split up, stopped, departed, disbanded, we kept going on. We were never in the very top of the progression chart, but always right below it. Our raiding team for Cataclysm was already set, and it was pretty much the same team as had participated in the last official 25 man raids in June. A few of us have switched classes, but the people are the same.

The good stuff
But what about the game play? I asked myself if I had enjoyed Wrath. Was it a good expansion? Yes, definitely. There was so much good stuff when I thought about it. The landscape. I really had learned to love that continent at the other side of the sea. Outland had some nice places, especially Zangarmarsh, but in comparison to Northrend it didn't stand a chance. I loved the snow theme, the wilderness, the mountains and the Scandinavian influences. It all held nicely together and it felt appropriate for a fantasy themed game where you fight with swords and spells rather than lasers.

And then there was the questing - far superior to anything we had seen before in WoW. Phasing, vehicles, nicely put together questlines, even cinematics, you name it. Gone were the days of kill-ten-pigs! And they assembled them together so nicely in quest hubs and a logical order, which made levelling guides unnecessary.

Then I thought about the raiding. It hadn't gone free from criticism in the community. According to some it had been way too easy. A faceroll. And what about the hardmodes, did they really offer variety and options for the players, or was it just lazy design, giving Blizzard an excuse not to provide more content?

For my own part I actually thought the raiding in Wrath was pretty good. I can understand if Naxx had been a disappointment for those who had done it in the original, but for me those encounters were new and fun, even if they could have been slightly more challenging. They certainly didn't feel like a step up from Black Temple.

Ulduar on the other hand was brilliant, probably on par with Karazhan in quality, and with the teleport devices which made it a much more enjoyable experience than most of the 25 man instances in TBC. ToC... well what to say of ToC? The bosses weren't that bad, but it showed clearly that for all our complaints and grumbles about trash, it fills a purpose. To only fight boss after boss in the one and same room doesn't make a good raid experience.

Finally ICC. It was a good instance and I think the LK fight beats most other encounters in the game, but one year is way too long time to spend in the same place. We were burned out on it and yet we kept going, since there was no alternative.

If anything should be criticized about Wrath it was the fact that we only did one instance at a time until the next tier was released and we finally could move on. We never had much of a choice, if you don't count the single-bosses such as Malygos and Sartharion. The menu was too short to satisfy our appetite. But I think Blizzard has listened and learned their lesson, and Cataclysm will fix it. Amen.

Goodbye and hello
I took a bite of my chocolate cake and saw the fireworks light up the sky. I smiled to myself in anticipation.

Goodbye old world! Hello new world!

I can’t wait to see what awaits us on the other side of the reset.

16 comments:

Anonymous said...

A fine post Larisa. Nicely written. I enjoyed Wrath as well on the whole and have high hopes for the next round.

My mage logged out in Azshara by accident. I'd meant to just finish up one last quest and then head back to a city. But I fell off the cliffs and couldn't get back up and it was late. So I sat down on a rock overlooking the ocean with the sun low in the sky. It was one of those moments when frustration is interrupted by beauty. I gave in and realized that it was a fine place to end this adventure. I don't know where I'll be when I log in next but perhaps this is now a trend. Next time, I'll have to bring cake.

Rodolfo said...

Heh, me and a friend had a slumber party inside Naxxramas when 3.0 launched. It was fun.

Not so much having your client crash after server reset because the zone no longer existed and having to wait 2 days for a GM to port our toons to a tavern.

Since then I no longer have slumber parties inside undead necropoli. nossir.

Boleuge said...

Puts my efforts to shame, I just managed to teleport all my level 80s to IF and set their Hearthstones there, only my druid did something special and had one last play in the Stormwind park. Damn you Deathwing damn you!!!

Nils said...

I see you, too, enjoy to look at the nocturnal ocean while it's raining. I did the same thing at the other end of the world; North Western Silverpine Forrest. Great place. Once there was a quest there to learn your druids fish form. Of course, it has been removed with WotLK.

I, too, wrote a Farewell a week ago. It's no secret that I did not like WotLK. But I seriously tried to only list what I liked in this post :)

Wolflore said...

Nice post Larisa. I logged off in one of my favorite spots, Stonewrought dam. I still find it is a pretty incredible place and specially how it geographically makes sense with the Wetlands below. But it will be destroyed, so I thought I woud pay tribute to that fine piece of dwarven engineering and go down with it.

Helistar said...

I logged out in the best zone of the old world: Ashzara, soon to be defaced by hordes of green ugly goblins....

To be more precise, I chose a high rock outcropping at the north, near the temple.

Larísa said...

@Anonymous: Oh, Azshara! I've got a special relation to that place as well. I remember how excited I was the first time I used the teleporter elevator up to the archmage in the tower and how much I enjoyed the polymorph pig class quest. There was something very satisfying in spamming AE on tons of minuature sheep. I also liked the slightly sinister autumn-feeling in the landscape. Admittedly the fp was WAY too far away from the questing area though... Anyway it could definitely have been an alternative for ending the world. But somehow I always liked to be on the western coast, facing the big unknown sea rather than the lake between the continents.

And also: thanks! I'm glad you liked the post.

@Rodolfo: awww. Lesson learned I assume. ;)

@Boleuge: Oh you were a wise guy. I didn't reflect over that at ALL. I suspect my druid alt is stuck in Dalaran. Stupid me. I reckon I'll bug one of our alt mages for help. I can return the services ofc!

@Nils: I remember that post. It was surprisingly positive! Beware or I'll label you as just as a big fanboy as I am ;)

@Wolflore: that's an interesting spot, really. I re-discovered it recently as I was levelling herbalism. Such a pity though you couldn't actually be on the spot when cataclysm happened. Only before and after... Well apart from the cinematic thing then.

@Helistar: Again as I said to Anonymous: a good choice for a farewell. There's no spot like the sea for contemplation, nostalgia and an inch of sentimentality.

Anonymous said...

Oh, Larisa. Your posts do so move me. I haven't played WoW in 6 months. I have kept your blog in my few favorites, though, and do read it from time to time. I've followed your ups and downs with WoW, your guild, your frustrations and now your anticipation.

You've inspired me, Larisa. Your pink pony tails, your love of the game, your joy and happiness have convinced me to reinstall. And, so last night, I dug out my discs and began the tedious process of reinstalling WoW from scratch.

It wasn't until this morning as I was getting ready for work that the patch had finally finished downloading and installing. It was a really big patch even after installing WoW (orig), BC, and WOTLK. But, finally the task was completed and I got to see the opening cinematic of Cata.

I wasn't able to park one of my many toons (played for 5+ years) and watch a sunset, but after reading your experience and your fond farewell I feel good inside and sometimes that's enough.

So, thanks Larisa. Keep sharing and I hope you enjoy the New World as much as I'm sure I will.

Tam said...

Awwww, that's lovely. I spend my final night side by side with Cairne, with him totally respecting me and everything. For once.

You know, I'm such a Hordie, I have no idea where this even *is* :/

SpiritusRex said...

Me and a few my elven bretheren, after spending some time skinny-dipping in the mage quarter of Stormwind with a few scantilly clad human women, decided to head back to our beginnings and returned to the docks of Rut'theran Village to relax at the place where it all began. Sipping on some fine elven wine, we, too, determined that our ventures to Northrend culminating in the slaying of Arthas, although tragic, were nonetheless positive and had a profound impact on our character's lives. I am hopeful for peace amongst the races, but rumblings beneath the earth may portend something sinister in the making....

Anonymous said...

I know this was not the main focus of your post, but I have my 2 cents to add to your comments on WOTLK...

Disclaimer: I actually did all the content I comment on, including hardmodes, so I'm not one of those people who bitch about how 'ezy' wrath was but can't kill LK 10 normal, or how 'pro' they are when they haven't done a single hardmode.

Tier 7: Naxx was bad because it was, admittedly pretty easy. 3D Sarth was okay but plagued with imbalances (DK tank lololol) and was only one fight. Malygos was actually pretty good, and a reasonably challenging fight but P3 was stupid and boring. The other problem with that tier, other then lack of challenge was that the gear sucked, the pvp in that season sucked (lowest arena team count of any season), and it dragged on too long. Plus people were not in the habit of doing achves yet for raids, and Immortal was a pain to get (Don't even remind me).

Tier 8: Ulduar was amazing, and stands out along with ICC in WOTLK as the two good raid tiers (ICC had it's problems ofc, but I'll get to that). Frankly, Ulduar had a good balance of difficulty through the instance, with good progression through normal yogg into hardmodes. Anyone who says normal modes are 'faceroll' probably is thinking about Naxx/ToC/ICC normal with 30% buff. The biggest criticism I can give about Tier 8 was it was too short (the shortest, but best tier).

Tier 9: Another tier people point to when they complain about WOTLK. ToC's problems were mostly that it was too short, you did it 4 times a week, and it had TERRIBLE difficulty progression/difficulty to reward ratios. For example, 25 normal was a total faceroll (admittedly) all the way through, but then 25 Heroic Beasts was a brick wall for many guilds. After that, the biggest jump was Heroic 25 Anub. Absolutely retardedly hard fight. But the problem was it was about 5 steps above every other fight on heroic (intentially but still). The other problem was 10 Heroic Anub was a total joke, even to 10 man guilds compared to 25 (just the differences in how you handle 2 adds on 1 tank vs 4 on 2 tanks is HUGE and it's not even the same fight because of that).

Tier 10: ICC was actually a good raid, for all the crap people give it. Some bosses (Lootship) were too easy, and some hardmodes (Loopship, BQL, Rotface, Marrowgar) were too easy, but honestly, it's hard to argue that LK was a 'faceroll' even on normal. Many, MANY guilds could not kill him even on 10 man with 25 gear till the buff started stacking to 15%+, so honestly that shows to me that he was hard. Putri and Sindi also get honorable mentions, and BQL with 0% buff (trivialized by even 5-10% however). The real problem with ICC? Too long. 1 year is ridiculous for that little content. Not 'faceroll bosses' or 'lol 30% buff noobs can kill heroic LK 25 now lololol (100% a lie, requires great execution and at least decent DPS even at 30%)'.

Kind of a rant, but honestly, I love how every week there is a new thread on MMO champ or another WoW forum about how 'wrath is a joke', 'wrath is faceroll', 'wrath babies aren't real raiders', and then I look up the guys char (from his sig that shows his Gear Score, cuz GS = Great Skill rite?), he hasn't even done 10 normal LK with 30% buff. Of course I'm sure he would say it's because 'his guild sucks', or 'not worth the effort lol too ez 4 me', but honestly I don't feel you can criticize wrath raiding so harshly without having even done normal modes, much less hard modes.

TLDR: Wrath had too little content that was poorly paced, and SOME content was too easy (uneven difficulty), but the hardmodes were a success, and there were many things it did right, such as giving actually harder content then in BC/Classic.

I could probably go on for about 3 more pages about how gear was handed out, and other things, but frankly this comment is long enough already and too ranty.

lonomonkey said...

Started a new alt just to experience the new world from a lowbie perspective. It's all so familiar but new... this is great and I plan to enjoy it for as long as I can.

Syl said...

I realize now I should've taken a proper ingame goodbye from the old world myself..

that is a lovely screenshot =)

Syrien said...

I logged out in Stormwind. Moving back home :)

On the transition: I must say I like the cinematic much better placed in context as it was now. It made lots of sense to me that there were few people and much nature, when it was all about "this happened while you slept/were in Northrend". If one considers it more like a in-game cinematic about this moment, I think it really does its job well.

Fitz said...

What an awesome little tradition. I hope you can look back on cataclysm with such fondness even if the shoreline is a bit different.

Larísa said...

@Anonymous 2: Thank you so much for your kind words! I swear I'm not sponsored by Blizzard for writing enthusiastically about WoW. And I DO bash them from time to time as well. But yes, for the flaws there are, WoW is still an amazing game and from what I've seen of the revamp so far I'm positive you won't get disappointed at what you see when you log in once again.

@Tam: And your farewell to Cairne was about as foreign to me! It happens that I think about it, how sad it is that I'm basically only seeing half of the game.

@SpiritusRex: I honestly neglected my nelf as I prepared for the farewell. If I would have thought of it though I might have headed for Moonglade. A druid is a druid.

@Anonymous 3: I never came to terms with p3 of Malygos but I don't know if I can call it stupid and boring. Just... frustrating for someone who sucks at 3d navigation. But I agree with most of what you say. I always thought hardmodes was a reasonable solution to the issue of how to give many players the chance to enjoy raiding content, while yet giving the elite of players a challenge. I think the whining about facerolling many times is some sort of stealth bragging, sometimes without even any substance whatsoever since the whiner hasn't done the content he's claiming is too easy...

@Lonomonkey: Oh, if I had the time I'd go all out altoholist, making a new alt for every class!

@Syl: I'm the worst screenshotter ever tbh and I rarely take any of them at all for this reason. But this one was one I wanted to do. And I actually think I'll make something online with this when Cataclysm comes to an end. The place isn't worse changed than that it should be possible.

@Syrien: Yeah, I agree about the cinematic. It looked better now, especially since I had completely forgotten about it. I was honestly taken by surprise!

@Fitz: I think I'll be back to this spot. It remains to see if I'm as pleased as I was with Wrath. At least the start is good; I like the changes to the world after the shattering.