Okay, maybe that was a bit inflammatory… Outland doesn’t completely suck. Foreman Razelcraz, however, would have you believe it does. He’d rather be back in Booty Bay, and really, can you blame him? At least in Stranglethorn there’s no chance of you falling off the edge of the world.
So yes, we’re in Outland. This time around, we already have out Windrider and we can fly anywhere we’d like, and Experience Points are going so fast it’s like they’re 99% Off in a Goblin Bargain Bin. I haven’t left Hellfire Peninsula, and I’ve already gone from Level 58 to 62 — I’ll likely be 63 or nearly so by the time I step foot into Zangarmarsh. That’s incredible.
Very little has changed in Outland. For Horde players, I am sad to report that Thrall’s involvement in the Mag’har questline has been removed. When you discover the Mag’har in Hellfire, the questline simply ends. You are not sent back to Warchief Thrall to deliver the news, because at this point in time — on Azeroth — there is no Warchief Thrall.
This is what fans are talking about when they say Outland, and now Northrend, now exist outside the normal Warcraft timeline.
Otherwise, all is proceeding as it had back when The Burning Crusade launched, albeit far more quickly thanks to increased experience gains from Heirloom items, a Guild Perk, and a reduction in the leveling curve from 60-70. I’m not stopping to smell the roses, either — I leveled 5 alternate characters in Burning Crusade, so I’ve seen enough of Outland to last me a lifetime. The sooner I hit 68 and can get to Northrend, the better.
If anything, this experience shows how far Blizzard has come with their quest design and storytelling within the game. Here, in Outland, you begin to see where the designers departed from the standard “fetch X” or “deliver Y” quests. There are more NPCs going about and having their scripted conversations. The environments are alien and colorful, with more dramatic sky-maps. The next big technology leap for them will come in Wrath, with the addition of Vehicles and a heavy use of Phasing, then Cataclysm with refinements (Terrain Phasing) and quests that can be completed (or received) while out in the field. As a trip down memory lane, Outland isn’t that bad.