(Thanks To The Rev for the PICs)
Blizzard has clearly put forth a good deal of effort in Cataclysm to make the experience for new players a more friendly and positive undertaking. A new player who enjoys the first hour or so of gameplay is going to be thirsting for more. A new player who is frustrated or bored may let their trial account expire without a second thought. Having personally seen new players try the game, not finding it to their liking, and give it up rather quickly, I wanted to take a closer look at the newbie quests and zones in Cataclysm and see how Blizzard’s efforts in creating an engaging and enjoyable starting experience have developed. For the purposes of this article, the starting zone is limited to the area for characters levels 1 through 5, just as they are taking their first steps into the world of Azeroth. For these rankings, I took the following three major aspects into account:
・ Does the starting zone give a good idea of what it means to be a member of the race?
・ Are your actions important? Do the stakes presented give you a feeling of accomplishment?
・ Are you enjoying it? Is it exciting? Is it fun?
All reviews based on content available in World of Warcraft Cataclysm Beta Patch 184.108.40.20617
Warning! Spoilers ahead!
THE BEST OF THE BUNCH
Worgen – You’re thrown right into the thick of things and the pressure is on! Will your people survive? Excellent atmosphere and you feel like the actions you are taking are making a difference in the battle for survival. It would be tough to rip the keyboard out of someone’s hand while they’re in the middle of these quests.
Troll – I found myself saying “Wow!” out loud many times during these starter quests. The new starter town for trolls looks great. A pit fight at level 2? Yes please! Getting to ride a mount in the first five levels is a nice treat. I laughed out loud when my baby raptor pack assaulted my enemy. The end boss fight of this area is nothing short of terrific, and at the conclusion you find yourself feeling both the pain of loss and hope for better times ahead. A new player could definitely find themselves bit by the MMO bug after emerging from Echo Isles.
Goblin – A very different tone and feel compared to other starting areas, and that’s a good thing. You really learn the swagger of being a goblin in this zone. Driving a hot rod and throwing a huge party contrasts nicely with the disaster that befalls the populace. An engaging cut scene on the ship caps off the start of an intense but whimsical journey.
Gnome – Drops you right into the contaminated city of Gnomeregan “in media res” and gives a good impression that you’ve been working hard in the effort to reclaim your city from the vicious trogs, scheming usurpers, and deadly radiation. A series of quests given from the leadership of your race puts you in the forefront of a major confrontation to reclaim your rightful stomping grounds. This area does a good job of grasping the gadgetry, quirky fun, and dedication that makes gnomes one of the most identifiable races of the land.
Undead – The interactions with those just discovering their Forsaken selves lay the foundation of a dreary atmosphere that covers over the zone like a fine mist. This is an area that scores high in the areas of race identification and atmosphere, but lower in importance of actions.
Human – The combat and story is fairly ordinary, but using the “fire extinguisher” in the woods is probably the best fun of any quest 1-5 in the game! The graphic of the extinguisher alone is enough to make you laugh and say “Yeah!!! Who you gonna call?!” Are your actions important? Sure. Are the struggles of your race clearly laid out? Somewhat. Is it fun? Oh, absolutely!
RUN OF THE MILL
Tauren – Not enough emphasis is placed on the recent political turmoil and controvery of the Tauren leadership. This needs to be more prominent from the get go. There is little sense of urgency or purpose here.
Dwarf – A couple of token quests dealing with beer and finding relics really only provide a surface level exploration of what the dwarven race is about. The conflict with trolls seems lackluster and almost unimportant. At least the gyrocopter ride out of the area is interesting.
Blood Elves – There’s a focus on the Blood Elves interest in mana, but other than that there really isn’t anything compelling or engaging about the experience. The spiral tower assaulted in the final quest looks pretty good.
Orc – In serious need of help. A variety of uninspired kill quests that serve little purpose. The only saving grace is “Lazy Peon” which remains a great source of humor. Whack those lazy orcs back into shape! Desperately needs some sort of sense of Orcish honor and lust for battle.
Night Elf – Zzzzzzz. One might struggle to stay awake during this series of quests. There is zero sense of accomplishment. Zero sense of excitement. Zero sense of fun. What one learns about Night Elves from these opening quests is that Night Elves appear to be very boring.
Draenai – Is this getting updated? It desperately needs to be. It has been nearly four years since Draenai crash landed onto Azeroth, and yet the opening quests still deal with a crashed ship, looking for survivors, and finding supplies. Four years later. This is not acceptable. It makes no sense at all. Cataclysm is all about changes in the world and confronting those changes. Although the opening cinematic for the race discusses current events, Draenai are apparently discussing events that transpired 4 years ago as if they just happend 4 minutes ago. Fix this zone! They deserve better.
All things considered, Blizzard has done a nice job making the newbie zones very accessable and easy to navigate for all types of players. There are some excellent storylines in place for some races, while others still need some work. Overall, the future for players in Azeroth is looking quite bright indeed despite the influence of a Cataclysm!