[Cataclysm Beta Report: These articles are based upon what we see and experience in the World of Warcraft: Cataclysm beta test. Keep in mind that this is not based off a finished product and things may change upon later beta versions and the final release. Also, be aware that, although we try to avoid major spoilers, there are so many major changes to the world of Azeroth that some spoilers are inevitable.]
I want to start off my Cataclysm topics talking about the redefined troll starting experience. You may wonder why I’d like to focus on that instead of one of the new races. I’ll tell you – I’m used to new zones and experiences being added to World of Warcraft. However, what is more interesting to me this time around is the restructuring of existing zones and redefining our experiences. That is why I believe this will be the best expansion for the game to date.
Currently on the live servers, if you start a troll character you’re given the same experience a new orc character would receive. You start in the Valley of Trials in southern Durotar and follow the same quest chains to Sen’jin Village, then to Razor Hill and on into Orgrimmar. There is nothing that really defines the trolls as a race. I’m happy to say that will all be changing once the cataclysm hits.
All of Durotar has been streamlined, and the quests are significantly different – both to fill in new geographical areas of the zone and to take into consideration new lore developments. The orcs still start in the Valley of Trials and work their way up, but the trolls have retaken the Echo Isles off the southeastern coast of Durotar. Those islands have been expanded and comprise the new troll levels 1-5 experience.
I created a troll druid, mostly because I wanted to see the new cat and bear forms (which, I’m happy to report, are incredibly hot). Starting off, you’re fighting Tiki Targets that don’t strike back, but by time you finish your questing in the Echo Isles, you’re getting glimpses into the situation the Horde now finds itself in, you fight alongside Vol’jin and get a hint as to what Thrall is up to these days. Exciting, no?
Moving past the islands, the quest progression takes you to an expanded Sen’jin Village, complete with flight master. It isn’t really a full quest hub, as there are only a handful of quests, but the expanded nature of the area is nice, and a much welcome change to the small coast village that exists now on the live servers. In the Durotar quest progression, you eventually make it to Razor Hill once again, which is also expanded with a full complement of class and profession trainers, a flight master and tons of quest-givers (including a new goblin NPC). It is from here that the majority of you Durotar quests originate.
What I enjoyed most here was the way trolls seem to get their own identity, especially early on. Before, following the same track of quests as the orcs, they seemed like just another member of the Horde, nothing really set them apart besides their accent. Now, it seems, more focus has been given to the race overall – you actually know who the trolls are and what their purpose is. This expands into the newly renovated “troll area” of Orgrimmar, back in the Valley of Spirits.
Another nice thing about the entire renovated Durotar experience is the inclusion of both phasing and new quest mechanics. While there are no vehicle-type quests, you do get to ride automatic mounts and there is one quest that has manual quest triggers you must hit to advance (it is kind of hard to explain, but it is a mechanic that only recently popped up in a few Northrend quests). Phasing is done subtly, but very well here. I was hoping we would see some drastic phasing like in the goblin starting area, perhaps actually experiencing the cataclysm and the flooding of the river that seperates Durotar from Northern Barrens, instead of that built into the geography from the start. Regardless of what I was hoping for, the subtleness of the mechanic in this zone comes across very nicely.
I did my best to avoid major quest spoilers while talking about this, but let’s just say that, if you’re a fan of Horde lore, you’ll love the new troll starting experience and I think Blizzard did an excellent job of establishing the trolls as their own people and giving them their own identity within the Horde. I’m big on the role playing aspect of World of Warcraft, my main characters being on RP servers, so all this new lore and the new troll identity actually makes me want to make myself a troll character once all this goes live. Remember to stay away from the voodoo!