A Glimpse of The Burning Crusade
Hasani Davis gives MMORPG.com our first peek inside the new World of Warcraft expansion, The Burning Crusade.
After months of hype, pushed back release dates, countless banner ads, and lots of forum hype, the Burning Crusade has finally come out. Boys and girls, I won’t over romanticize this and make it long winded in the beginning. I am going to cut straight to the chase and then go into detail. Okay are you ready, here we go…Burning Crusade is …the same World of Warcraft as before, just more of it. There, I said it. You can click the minimize button and stop reading, or follow along while I start my long winded comments.
I waited in line for The Burning Crusade at 12 am on January 16th. Yes, I was one of many gamer geeks to get their copy that night. I even had the next four days off work, so I had plenty of time to sit back and get into Outland. It is funny putting faces to the many types of people that play WOW. Most of the crowds at the store that night were typical gamers. You could even pick out the “hard core” players based on how similar they looked to the South Park incarnations. A few others in the crowd didn’t fit the bill at all. There were a few older players, even one old enough to be my dad, a guy very much into hip-hop, and about five female gamers as well. After listening to various stories from the people I was in line with, I asked the crowd what they wanted out of World of Warcraft: The Burning Crusade. Answers came back varied, but after one person said “more fun” they all agreed they wanted more “fun” out of this expansion. Having myself played MMOs for the past 15 years wanted a little more “fun” out of the game as well. Here was my chance, I stepped up in line and got my copy and raced to my car to get home for the install.
I must congratulate Blizzard Entertainment. The transition to The Burning Crusade was flawless. It was the smoothest install that I have seen in quite some time from a gaming company on a release date. No servers crashed, no horrid downloads, I simply logged in, downloaded two quick patches, and I was inside Hellfire Peninsula by 12:30 am able to begin my fight against the Burning Legion and the Alliance.
The first thing I see as I zone through, yellow con orcs. Wait a minute, neutral faction orcs? Ok, it’s a faction-based starting town, that’s not a problem. We had faction in the old game. The graphics in the starting zone look and make you feel like you’re in the movie Mortal Kombat. The quests are fun and plentiful. With the bombing runs being the most fun. However, I decided that I was here to explore the whole game and not just the first zone of Hellfire Peninsula, so I moved on to the second zone which is a lush blue marshland named Zangarmarsh.
I enter Zangarmarsh and what is the first thing I find as I walk into the zone? You got it, another yellow con town, named Cenarion Outpost. Once again, I start out having a neutral faction there. Did Blizzard not learn anything about the pain of faction grinding in the first two years of the game? I played a few hours and already two new factions to impress, yikes! I press on to try to get to the next zone, named Terokkar Forest. But, before I leave Zangarmarsh, I trip over a small town full of unfriendly fuzzy little spore-like people who won’t talk to me, yet are not attacking me either. Wait a second; *DING*, yet another faction slot pops up on my bar!
I press on and finally get to Terokkar Forest. This is the zone I am playing in now. The first city I come to is, guess what sports fans, something new! It is a blue city in which all Horde and Alliance are friendly (boy doesn’t that fit in with the story of the Warcraft Universe really well?) and not one, not two, but four factions inside of one town. The town is called Shattrath City.
Each town that had its own faction will offer its own rewards and gear. Faction, faction and more faction! This expansion is 80% about the faction grind. The quests are also the same as before. It is the very typical quest, kill fifty swamp rats and then kill ten evil swamp rats and collect their tails. Once done, return all the tails to a specific NPC in the faction based town. Swamp rats are plentiful and drop tails often, EVIL swamp rats on the other hand are very hard to find and are spread out all over the zone, combine that with a low drop rate and DING you are questing for hours. Taking a page out of Dark Age of Camelot, you also have a lot of “seek out this huge elite boss and slay him” type quests, where the bosses you are looking for spawn randomly and wander around an area. The problem with this type of quest is that these bosses and areas are usually camped (especially in the beginning), so actually getting a kill can take a long time. Heck with eight million players in the zone across various servers, these bosses have become public enemies of the population and are on the highest hit list.
Even the PvP is now based on the faction grind (not like it wasn’t before), by taking general strong points in the zone you will give people from your side who are leveling in that zone a bonus to damage, experience, or critical strike rate. Taking the strong points, as they are called, will also let you earn credit for repeatable quests. These quests again allow you to gain higher faction so you can buy the gear you want.
Every one of the first four instances I have finished was faction based as well. From the Hellfire Ramparts to the Slave Pen, gaining rep with said faction and working up to one day become exalted will get you the items. The items are very much needed, as what you get in The Burning Crusade far outshines what you gained in poor old Azeroth. I replaced my old items within 2 days. Yes, even my Epics. I have almost double my starting hit points and four times my old spell effectiveness. I truly feel sorry for anyone who did not buy The Burning Crusade that still plans on playing this game. In most games, the expansion is optional and you in theory can still play using the old client, just minus a few bells and whistles. That is not the case with this expansion. If you want to stay in the arms race of Warcraft, go buy The Burning Crusade now.
One thing that has changed so far, it’s very funny to see the raider vs. non-raider fights break out. I play on a PvP server and the guilds who were notorious for having a large advantage because of their item power level are now constantly being assaulted by guilds that formerly where powerless against them. Because the gear is so strong in the expansion, players in green items can beat some of the old players in their epics.
It leads me to wonder, even though it’s the same type of quests and same faction grind, it will be a lot of fun to see the new order of players rise as old guilds fall. I find this story more compelling than Illidan at the moment.
All in all, I find the expansion interesting, but it’s still too early to tell exactly what is going to become of World of Warcraft. I myself am only level 64 at this point. So there is a lot of the game left for me to explore. I will say this though, with all the new factions, objectives, and recipes, this game is twice as deep as the original was. It will take two years for people to get bored with this product due to lack of content. Too bad the game may lose many players due to the repetition and unimaginative nature of the game mechanics.
Despite the new look, because the questing and grinding is the same, Burning Crusade is just Warcraft plain and simple.
Were they prepared?