Outlands has been set free. Arthas remains at large, plotting for his scourge armies to conquer the world. But most important: The Argent Tournament is coming to Azeroth!
In a new quest hub stylized much in the same manner as Sunwell Isle, the Argent Tournament is looking to provide that extra little thing to make you stay logged in each day after you've done everything else. The plot line behind the Argent Tournament is terrible. The Argent faction has decided that, after all of the bickering and infighting that has happened so far, in order for the combined forces of the Horde and the Alliance to work together and defeat Arthas, they need to kill each other in mounted combat. It has no place in lore or the over arching plot line of the expansion, but who cares about that anymore? It does look like it will be a fun distraction.
The Argent Tournament will be built in the Northeastern corner of Icecrown, at Sindragosa's Fall. Currently in game there is nothing there but a few hills and empty land. Come 3.1 and the view is very changed. In the middle of all of the snow and ice, in what appears to be a location just waiting for an avalanche or a blizzard to destroy everything, there is the foundation for a giant coliseum. There are quests that players complete in order to help build the coliseum, but unlike Sunwell Isle there is no direct tally of how much effort has been put into the system. Blizzard has announced that the coliseum will remain incomplete until its finished state can be patched in at a later time.
Players can still experience growth through effort though. Fresh to the Argent Tournament, players are assigned to the lowliest rank and must prove their worth to their racial city in order to gain the ability to fight and die for them. This is achieved by completing daily quests. It currently takes about 5 days of doing all three available daily quests to get enough Aspirant's Marks, a kind of token, in order to be allowed to challenge for the right to advance in rank. The challenge itself is a 1v1 NPC scripted fight. Moving up in rank gives access to more daily quests which give you a different kind of token which, when enough are accumulated, you can face a new challenge to move up yet another rank. How many ranks there are at the moment isn't really knows, but from reading the Achievements list it appears that the final scripted battle will be against the fabled Black Knight.
The daily quests are mostly there to teach you about the new mounted combat system. Reading Blizzards words on the Argent Tournament the mounted combat concept is the highlight of the entire event. No, it's not real mounted combat. Instead you have to equip a low damage lance, and only when it's equipped in your weapon slot can you actually get on a mount. The interface then changes to show the mounts health and 6 different buttons to press. There's the melee attack ability. A ranged offensive ability called Shield Break. A charge ability. A defensive button that increases your own shields. A button that instantly heals your mount to full health when out of combat. And a duel button, that you use to challenge other players to duels.
Whenever your mount loses all of its health, you are dismounted and have to go back to the stables in order to get a fresh mount. The daily quests cover all that a player needs to know in order to use their mount properly but here's a quick guide. It all really boils down to breaking the opponents shields from a distance, keeping your own shields topped off, charging the enemy when their shields are low and then using the melee attack to deal damage. You can also deal damage from ranged using the shield break ability, assuming that the target has low or no shields. Shields work in a system of power. Each press of the defensive ability shield grants the player a swirling icon, stacking up to 3 for maximum power, and 0 shield active for no defenses at all. The only thing keeping the shield system from feeling like a spaceship MMO is that the shields aren't directional. One last thing about the new mounted combat. The mounts do not turn like a normal mount would. They have a turning delay identical to the one associated with the vehicles in Wintergrasp and Strand of the Ancients. This should allow for a more dogfight feel of play as evasion is not instantaneous.
Besides the coliseum under construction, there are a ton of NPC's and vendors sitting around. Each faction, Alliance and Horde, have their own large tents which act as their quest hubs. There are plenty of guards around to deter PvP as well, but from the looks of it rooftop camping may be very plausible. If anyone was still wondering, this is not a world PvP event. Mounted combat between players is promoted, but nobody dies when it's over. Every possible trainer is here, along with their special vendors. The only things missing from the Argent Tournament that would turn it into a true city are the battle masters for BG queueing and the arena masters. Of course with the introduction of queueing from anywhere in the world coming in the same patch, that won't matter. On high population realms this area is going to be a lag fest the first few days. If you were around for the Sunwell Isle launch on your server, then you know what it's going to be like.
The rewards for participating in the Argent Tournament are a little lackluster. There's a myriad of items to choose from, but the stats on all of them will be outdated with the same content patch they're introduced in. None of them are Naxx 25 comparable as is, and with Uludar coming out they'll be even further behind. There's a few PvP centric items as well, but really no point to buying them since the Hateful Gladiator pieces will be on sale with no rating cost. The only reward that looks like it will be worthwhile to most players is the biggest one. The hippogryph mount. Unlike the Ceneraion Expedition mount which can't graphically land, the Argent Tournament version can. The new mount also looks better. I think so anyway. It takes 5 days of daily quests to hit the second rank in the Argent Tournament. The fastest a person will be able to afford the hippogryph mount will probably be anywhere between 3 weeks and a month and a half of daily quests.