When the World Ends…

… I hope it’s as fun as Cataclysm!

I’ve been trying to concentrate on leveling my Sunwalker, but I had to give Cataclysm’s new Level 80+ content a try. That means it’s time to fire up Tamsinela the Hunter!

Minor Vashj’ir introductory spoilers below!

I opted to try out the Vashj’ir area instead of heading to Mount Hyjal, and I half expected there to be a run-of-the-mill portal or similar transportation device to get me to where I needed to go… boy, was I wrong. You’re actually treated to a somewhat lengthy scripted event, complete with voice acting.

Something of note: While waiting on the dock for the ship to Vashj’ir, part of the event features a trio of Orc soldiers standing about and discussing their imminent victory (we’re boarding this boat with the intent to visit an island off the coast of Stormwind, and take it for the Horde). One soldier tries encouraging his fellows to eat the food he has, as it will give them an edge over their foes, and they refuse at first. There’s the typical bit of Orcish machismo, and mention of Hellscream expecting no less than 110% from his men, so on and so forth, and the other two Orcs finally capitulate and take the offered food. This part of the event seemed… strange to me, and to a fellow guildmember who also witnessed it. Perhaps it was simply a reference to how some of the prepared dishes in the game give you buffs that help you fight harder or last longer, but I’m not sure. It seemed too specific to be an offhanded reference to “buffing food.”

At any rate! Now we’re aboard the ship and bound for the mystery isle. Ah, but what’s a sea voyage without a kraken attackin’? That’s right, your ship is attacked by a giant squid and you are sent overboard. The Vashj’ir experience begins!

I won’t go too heavily into what happens next, but I will comment on the zone overall. Questing in 3D (you are swimming underwater, after all) can be a bit disorienting at first. Attacking mobs can come at you from above or below. Also, the zone has a lot of ocean flora, so expect some bright colors, movement, and also a liberal use of the graphics engine’s “bloom” lighting. It may be off-putting to some. The zone is also packed with players, adding to the visual catastrophe… all in all, you may want to wait until things have died down a bit before hitting this zone. Hyjal may be similarly packed, but at least it is dry land and you won’t have Naga, or your fellow players, coming at you from behind and above.

The quest design? Fantastic so far. Of course, quest items are in short supply what with the multitude of players swarming their spawn points, but again, this will die off in the coming weeks. The quests are designed as a part of an overall storytelling experience that progresses you through the zone, and they’ve polished up even your standard, boring old “go out and grab X number of Y” errands. Truly a joy, and never does it feel sluggish. I am halfway to 81 with only a short time played, and much of that time was spent waiting for respawns as the area was filled to the gills (no pun intended) with fellow players competing for the same goodies.

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