Since we rerolled and started a new small five person group on a new server a few months ago, I didn’t really need WoW’s long-awaited Burning Crusade expansion to make my gaming life whole again. Been playing a little EQ2, doing a beta, and of course leveling alts on the new server to aid my new main’s economy.
So, I wasn’t really focused on digging my 60s out of mothballs to dive into BC. Nonetheless, curiosity did get the better of me and in addition to my launch day exploration of the Dranei, I dusted off my 60 pally, Megis, and stepped through the Dark Portal to see what BC had to offer.
Through the Portal, Darkly
I hooked up with a few of my friends from our old group to check it all out. We stepped through the portal and were immediately taken by the new visuals. Hellfire peninsula resembles the Blasted Lands, but the sky over Outland is more reminiscent of that of EQ2 or even Eve. You can see what it looks like on the current title graphic.
After stepping through the portal, we gaped at the demonic permabattle among NPCs that rages on the steps leading down from the portal. We were certainly not in Kansas anymore. The initial go-see-a-guy quest led us to the initial flightpath for the zone and instructed us to report to the quest hub at Honor Hold via griffon. Blizzard cleverly gave us an opportunity to survey the new landscape on our way to post-60 adventure.
Honor Hold is quest rich and was crowded and busy with experience starved 60s. Can’t click on the NPC vendor crowded. Even this crowded, there really wasn’t any appreciable lag. Frame rates dipped, but overall it seemed to be handling the load. Likewise, the dynamic spawn system seemed to be more or less keeping up with the demand for things to smash and collect in the not-so-noob zone.
We picked up a few of the initial quests and headed out to see how tough the new world would be.
I killed your god
We were all a bit disappointed when we picked up the initial quests—kill x, collect y, go-see-a-guy. Still for casual players like us, it was amusing to see Über 1337 3pkk Playrz reduced to kill ten rats status. They might have been taking Rags down yesterday, but now they’re collecting them.
So we thought, kinda ho hum until we noticed the rewards. We definitely weren’t in Kansas anymore. Despite the criticisms that WoW is already overly-gear dependent, Blizzard itself had noted that BC would require a significant step up in gear for players to be successful in Outland.
Likewise, Blizzard also needed to create sufficient incentive to lure the Über 1337 players out of Azerothian endgame content and into Outland to make it a success. This will undoubtedly have a giant impact on what used to be the Azerothian endgame—for casual players and raiders alike.
A few examples:
Megis the pally was basically the guild blacksmith and a solo alt I took to 60. He had collected some Lightforge set gear and a few blues, but nothing spectacular. I have to be in a particularly tolerant mood to subject myself to PUGatory.
Megis had been shield poor for some time. He had an Ironhide Shield with an int buff he had picked up off the auction house. Nothing special but serviceable and it looked cool. He had lusted after the Sacred Protector which was a 100% guaranteed quest reward from the Blightcaller raid quest in Eastern Plaguelands, but never got around to organizing or getting into a PUG to do it.
Next best would have been a Rattlecage Buckler which drops from Rattlecage in Scholomance. Of course, that means you need to get a group to do Scholomance, the shield must drop (~10% drop rate) and you’ve got to win the roll or be gifted the drop. Because of the dearth of good shields, many pallys/shammies would find themselves competing with warriors for this drop.
So what does BC offer up? Landslide Buckler as a quest reward for killing 20 orcs just outside Honor Hold. Green shield. Dude.
Now hold on to your pantaloons. After our regular little group disintegrated last year, our tank decided to at least complete his warrior Valor (Tier 0.5) armor set. To his credit, he set out across PUGatory to seek the rarified drops from Strat, Scholo and UBRS. Early on he got pretty lucky and completed most of his set from fortuitous drops and apparently bearable PUGs. Then the dry spell set in. 80 Baron runs through Strat (honest and for true) and still no Legplates of Valor. As a result, he was wearing one of the many pairs of Lightforge Legplates that had dropped.
So what does BC offer up for our intrepid warrior in the first 30 minutes of the expansion? Magistrate’s Greaves as a quest reward for picking up 8 pieces of wood and 8 pieces of metal off the ground outside the quest hub. Ouch.
And on and on. In our first hour of play in BC, we gleefully discarded more than a few of our most cherished and hard won (at least for casual players) gear in favor of significant upgrades that rained out of the sky like manna from heaven. I hear the situation is not much different even with old world epics.
I hearthstoned back to a deserted IF to unload bags, and do some other admin stuff wearing my new gear. At the mailbox, another pally was happening by decked out in his complete Lightforge set. No mean feat at all. Not being Über, I’m still impressed by stuff like that. He was walking by then stopped abruptly near me. I could only assume he was inspecting my still unfamiliar looking gear (the shield most likely as it has a completely different look than most Azerothian shields).
I took the opportunity to inspect his gear. All Lightforge and blues and included an Intricately Runed Shield which drops from Ras Frostwhisper in the lower levels of Scholomance. Not an easy fight, not all groups fight Ras and about a 12% drop. A nice shield. A better shield for a warrior than a pally, but good shields were few and far between. You took what came along and liked it. I could almost feel his sense of disappointment as the moment wore on. I killed his god.
Baron doesn’t live here any more?
Since we are all playing with a new lowbie static group we were thinking about what the path to BC looks like for our newer characters. It took about five seconds for one of us to ask, “Why would anyone do Strat, Scholo or ever try to complete their dungeon sets?” And we didn’t really have an answer.
Now I like five person groups and Scholo, Strat, UBRS and Dire Maul have always been both interesting and fun even if a bit challenging for those undergeared or too far below 60. But as relatively undergeared 60s running around solo or in small oneseys or twoseys, the gear obtainable in Outland may well completely trivialize these dungeons (and to an even greater degree the 20 and 40 person raid content in Azeroth as well. I can see a jump from Sunken Temple or BRD straight through to Outland once a player hits 58.
How long until we see “Looking for a few 70s to run me through Onyxia. Will pay 5G.” in chat? I’m not really sure what Blizzard has in mind for the world left behind. As our little group becomes “portal worthy” I wonder if we’ll bother to run the former higher level instances in anything other than a “Pirates of the Carribean” ride fashion. Do it once, see it, move on. The Baron may get very lonely indeed.