Ah Gilneas, where somehow Azeroth turned into eighteenth century Europe. The Worgen opening zone plays more like a first chapter in Underworld or The Wolf Man than anything else. The Alliance gets the Worgen, for some, they are the cooler looking race with Cataclysm than the Goblins. I mean who doesn’t like Werewolves? Well the Worgen have some great play options and a racial ability that is similar to a Sprint. Let’s take a look at the new race, their starting zone, and how they measure up to the Goblins on the Horde side.
Gilneas is the area where you begin your journey as a Worgen, but you don’t actually. You start as a human and from levels one to five you are given a random human avatar to run around as. The opening quest chain is very linear and events move throughout the zone as you work with the Greymane court to rid the various districts of Rampaging Worgen. In terms of story, I found it strange that I was constantly killing Worgen in the first five levels, only to eventually become one. Also, I found it disappointing to design my own cool looking Worgen only to see my character on the screen be a human when I first logged in. It’s okay though. I’m putting my faith in Blizzard that the transformation movie will be worth the quests for the change, sadly, it was not yet in the beta. Hopefully next patch, I cannot wait to see it.
Again the opening Worgen area plays a lot like the Goblins and the Death Knight starting experience. It’s more like a story than an MMO. Events are going on around you as the Worgen are attacking townsfolk and battling with Greymane nobility, who look like something out of a Sherlock Holmes movie. I chose a Druid to play and found that running around an 18th century gothic looking setting casting plant and moon spells felt funny for me, but it was only the beginning. There’s a lot of story for your character to follow and events move from district to district in the town. At one point in the Military District I went back to find my Druid trainer and the NPCs were gone because the event had closed.
The pacing of these story style quests is a breath of fresh air to WoW. Even though you are still killing eight Rampaging Worgen or collecting five Supply Crates, the environment still has a sense of urgency to it. Two quests that stand out were helping Lord Darius fight the Worgen on the top of the wall. You have to survive and onslaught of Worgen as they storm the wall for two minutes. It racked up some nice XP and had a fun feeling, when done I had already gained another level. The other quest was the Rescue of Krennan. You are given a Horse and have to jump up to save an NPC who is hanging from a tree. My only complaint with the Worgen is that unlike the Goblins, they are not given a mount to drive around the zone with. However, the zone and quests do have a much more streamlined linear model than the Goblins do. So while the Goblin zone is wide open you are given a hot rod to get around in, the Worgen zone is more streamlined.
So after running the quests I woke up in the stocks as a Worgen. Finally my character looked like the one I designed. I do like the look of the race, but the movement seemed a bit clumsy. Still the speed boost was great and gives the Worgen a racial ability that is actually useful in game play. I do think that the race overall is a great addition to the Alliance. If I played Alliance, I would definitely be a Worgen.
The biggest thing to remember is that Blizzard is going for more variety and different quest styles in their new starting zones. With the addition of minigames and more themed style quests, the zone actually moves faster and plays better. Also this was the first time I had played WoW in a long time where I did not care about my experience bar. I never once looked down to see how I was progressing. That to me is an achievement because the story kept me going. I know some think Blizzard is going for the fast food MMO approach, but some of those changes are definitely for the better. If anything the Worgen starting zone did not seem like a grind to me, even with the kill ten mobs quests.
We will continue our look at Cataclysm next week with some features on Mount Hyjal and other high levels zones. I’ll be bringing in my shaman for some leveling and exploration. Unfortunately he is Resto main spec, so I’ll have to use Enhancement again, which is fine, my gear is not as good, but come this fall we all start with the same gear score again.