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Demon Hunting in Alpha

Paul Nadin Posted:
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The setup will instantly feel familiar to anyone who has played a Death Knight, but this experience feels a lot less grand than that opening. So far, at least. Despite the wonderful visuals there just isn’t the same sense of scale and story. It’s serviceable, but it almost feels like it’s impatient to get out of its own way.

The NPC dialogue is really above and beyond what I’ve seen in this game before, from the presentation, the delivery and writing all the way down; it’s a noticeable improvement. Having said that, it doesn’t move me like the DK intro, or excite me like barreling through Draenor.

The zone itself is obviously very Burning Crusade in aesthetic, with a level design reminiscent of WildStar, but the questing feels more like Cataclysm to me. It leads you along without overloading you or making you feel like you’re being dragged at a pace that’s out of your control. It’s nice, for a veteran it feels cozy and I slipped into WoW mode very quickly. Sometimes it’s scary how easy that still is.

There are a few tricks with the way quests are delivered and presented that help this feeling. Quests that are presented as ‘optional’ will pop up, but the objectives are spread over a wide area so that you complete them as you move through the zone naturally. It’s a subtle change, but a welcome one.

As anyone who has played DK or a character boosted to 90 will be familiar with, you are given new abilities as quest rewards as you move through the zone. It’s a neat way of introducing them at a pace a veteran player will feel comfortable with, and the zone is tuned in such a way that spamming is an option.

If and when spamming fails, and the old green bar isn’t green any more, you get a little bit of exposition from Illidan about why you aren’t dead. It’s cool, but I have no idea why it’s there. Maybe it’s there because it’s cool, and I don’t understand because I’m dead inside.

I did find it odd that I was given a very useful interrupt ability just after a fight that it would have been very useful in, but that’s nit-picking.

I’m trying to find the negatives to my experience but I keep coming back to all the same reasons I have for loving and criticising WoW, the same reasons I’ve had for many years. I’m not saying it hasn’t changed in all that time, it’s just that it’s always WoW.

At the end of the day, whether that leaves you hyped or disappointed tells you all you need to know.

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Paul Nadin