So in continuing previews of Cataclysm, we wanted to take a look at Mt. Hyjal. The zone really is the first place that many level 80s will venture to when the expansion opens. I transferred by shaman over to have a look around the zone and learned that for all of the new features coming with Cataclysm, WoW remains WoW as we have known it for the last six years.
You start in the zone by doing quests with the Druids to help restore the World Tree. The area instantly opens with starting quests to take out some rock elementals and some fanatics using Fairy Dragons to snuff them out. Two quick and easy quests that most experienced players will go through in less than ten minutes. It is World of Warcraft all over again, day one. The zone is nice and does have some great terrain features to it, but the game play and design are the same as we have known for a long time.
One thing that was a shocking reminder to the old days of WoW I had known was that I chose a PvP server (Gilneas) for my beta, since I play on a PvP server in regular WoW. Instantly I am reminded of ganking as two level 82 Alliance are standing there waiting for me. Well, on a PvP server you take your lumps and keep going. So I did after a few fights though it was time to move on. I do like PvP servers in WoW and would never change over, it was just that I had grown comfortable in my Dalaran home base, with various raid and battleground trips. You can easily forget what it is like leveling in the open world as well as becoming a target for the other faction.
After running a few quests, I took flight to check out the zone as a whole. It is definitely telling of the Cataclysm story line as the Druids and their great tree look to be coming back from the brink of fire and brimstone disaster. In one giant crater where there are fire elementals running wild, it was good to see old Baron Geddon sitting in the middle holding court. I spent many nights on massive raids in Molten Core back in the old days of WoW. It’s nice to see the characters returning.
The one not-so-great thing about Mount Hyjal is that the quest lines are very linear, similar to the starting zones for Worgen and Goblin. The game moves much faster now and Hyjal proves that. While running quests from the various hubs in the zone I truly did not feel like I was lost in terms of story and grinding experience. The system is much more streamlined and give players a better experience overall. If this has been done overall with Cataclysm, which I have heard the Blizzard devs talk about, then the game will move better for players. Finding and completing the quest hubs improved with Wrath of the Lich King and is now much smoother in the news zones for Cataclysm.
Overall Mt. Hyjal has been a good experience, even with the PvP fights going on at almost every quest hub. Still, that is my choice as a player. The zone is solid, has a good story line and keeps you moving through areas at a nice pace so you don’t get tired. There is one thing that I must point out that always kills me when Warcraft does an expansion when it comes to gear. With all of my raid gear from Ice Crown, the minute I get the first drop in Mount Hyjal, the Green item I get is instantly better. I know it has been a while and I know that Blizzard has to find ways to motivate characters to play and gear is always one of those major factors. It still hurts when you see a first drop green item that is better than your epic rig. Call it a personal feeling, I just always felt that Blizzard should keep the epics strong, at least until the first blue drop from the instances.
Now that my shaman has transferred I will continue to explore and review the new zones in Cataclysm. I am looking forward to checking out the new under water area, Vashj’ir. I have to admit, there is no way I can look at the zone and not think of Dark Age of Camelot’s Trials of Atlantis expansion. So when I write that article I will be doing a close comparison of the two. Which leads me to think about how Cataclysm is being presented and what similarities there are between the two games, are they alike? There certainly are comparisons that can be drawn. Next week we will start looking at the other zones as well as some new features from some older games.