Over the course of the last week or so, I finally got my hunter Nodens over the hump. The magic moment actually happened in Howling Fjord just outside of Westguard Keep, but that’s skipping ahead a bit.
After the pre-expansion banning incident, he had a few levels to catch up to be able to get rolling in Northrend. Fortunately, the post-3.0 patch leveling curve changes took the edge off the grind. I was able to get him 4 levels (from 64-68) over the course of the weekend following release with the last half done pretty much in purple bar just to get it over with.
Frankly I was surprised how little of Outland I had to see. When I initiated the grind, he was in Zangarmarsh, quested heavily in Terrokar, a bit in Nagrand, a bit in Blade’s Edge and finally in Netherstorm to get to 68. I don’t ordinarily like powerleveling, but I’m very done with Outland for a while. TBC just never grabbed me the way old Azeroth did.
So, before the last kill’s corpse hit the dirt, my hearthstone was firing up to get me back home to Stormwind where I immediately headed for the docks. Having my instance group “main” already in country, I knew a little of what to expect, but I was really looking forward to exploring the four corners with my hunter. So here’s a little bit of a travel log.
All of the Northrend environments that I’ve seen so far have been extremely well done. Very Azerothian, but with a darker and grittier edge. All very Vikingesque and much to my taste.
When The Freezing Jihad Wrath of the Lich King was announced, I immediately thought, “Great. An entire expansion done in Dun Morogh or Winterspring. Well, at least they should be able to get it out on time, they’ve only got one color to work with and they already have the wolf and bear models done.” The dreaded snow environment. Ungoro Crater it would most certainly not be.
I guess I should have known that with a name like Blizzard, they might actually be able to do arctic in something other than builder’s white. And a fine job they did indeed.
I never really felt particularly chilly in Winterspring, but the darker pallete used for most of Northrend makes me want to put on a sweater. The cold grey ocean, the mist effects, the lingering fog in the trees and of course the aurora create a great ambiance.
Having one general climatic theme actually forces the zones to have that worldly feel rather than simply walking from Frontier Land to Tomorrow Land to the Land of the Flying Space Monkeys. As individually interesting as some of the zone in Outland were, I never felt like it was much of a place.
I got that sense of place immediately upon setting foot in Northrend.
Exploration being the call of the day, I took my hunter a-questing and a-wandering. In part simply to see what there was to see, and also looking for some cobalt for my blacksmithing guildy.
As has been mentioned, Northrend essentially has two starting zones– Howling Fjord, accesible from the boat from Menethil Harbor and the Borean Tundra, accessible from the boat from Stormwind. Each of these zones occupy opposite sides of the southern end of the continent with a middling zones in between, so of course I had to explore coast to coast.
One of the more stunning subzones I came across was the burning forest of Ember Clutch. I can’t say I’ve really seen a better burning forest in a game. The flame animation is just mesmerizing.
So far, lots of nooks and crannies to explore, so unlike the trip to get here, I intend to take a while and enjoy a few sunsets while I’m here.