This weekend, I made the push to 85. On my Hunter. I know, blasphemy, right?
Having come from Vashj’ir, Deepholm was a welcome return to your ‘standard’ questing environment. No strange underwater movement mechanics, just a giant chasm filled with phosphorescent stones and crystals, giants, tunneling worms, and a beleaguered Earthen Ring. You’re also introduced to the zone via Thrall and Aggra at the Maelstrom, and the event there is something definitely worth experiencing!
I can’t say enough good things about Uldum. Uldum is a geek fantasy land. I’ll just say it. You have this omnipresent homage to Stargate, what with all the Titan technology built into Egyptianesque facades, plus you have cat-centaur people (Tol’vir), and most of all you have Harrison Jones. Harrison Freakin’ Jones. Harrison’s entire storyline here is one gigantic Indiana Jones geek-out. It’s shameless. It’s hilarious. It’s fun. It’s probably the most fun I’ve had in World of Warcraft yet — though some zones and events do come pretty close.
If you’re reading this and haven’t experienced Uldum yet, I won’t spoil much. It is worth the experience. Trust me. However, I will say that although the Harrison Jones questline does feature numerous (and I mean numerous) nods to the Indiana Jones mythos and movies, it is also integrated fairly well into the overall Titan theme and the ongoing storyline there. You have your moments of fan-service, but not everything here was manufactured purely as a Indy reference — and truly, I welcomed how it all was tied into the Cataclysm storyline. It reminded me that I wasn’t here just goofing off and grinning like an idiot, and there’s more at stake than just an archeological find.
Not to be sold short, the Tol’vir (Ramkahen) storyline is also engaging. You’re helping decide the fate of a nation here, and that’s nothing to take lightly.
All in all, between the Tol’vir and the Harrison Jones quests, you’re treated to some of the latest and greatest interface technologies present in Cataclysm. Many of these quests feel more like mini-games than your usual “get me 20 of X” or “Fed Ex” quests. You direct units almost in RTS style or bombard emplacements from afar, among many others — it really was surprising to see the diversity in quest types and how you complete them. This isn’t to say other Cataclysm zones aren’t also employing this sort of technology, but in Uldum it seemed almost like a highlight reel. And it was a hell of a lot of fun.
I thought Uldum’s “cinematics” (in-game events where you do not have control over your character) were interesting or outright exciting… and then I went to Twilight Highlands. I thought Vashj’ir’s introductory cinematic was amazing… and then I went to Twilight Highlands. Here, the introductory cinematic (Horde side) is astounding. That’s right. Bold and italics. It’s nothing short of magic, and you’re right in the middle of it.
The storyline for the zone is no less compelling. It must be said, however — a guildmate mentioned this last night, and I found it made a lot of sense — the zone has a faction versus faction vibe to it, and almost a “Warhammer Online” feel. Orcs versus Dwarves. Initially, it hits you square in the face, but after time the tensions seem to fade away as your efforts return to snuffing out the Twilight’s Hammer and assisting the Red Dragonflight. The Daily Quests, however, again put the focus back on smashing dwarves and stealing their food.
And the Dragonmaw Orcs? They’re great, and also a little unsettling, too. I like how their introduction to the Horde was handled — it made sense. I do not, however, condone their dominion over dragonkind. Taking Tamsinela though the zone, I couldn’t help but feel she’d want to bust a few heads, or would at least be extremely conflicted when having to do the Dragonmaw’s various anti-draconic tasks. Tamsinela became Exalted with the Netherwing dragons back when they were introduced in The Burning Crusade. She has been riding her Netherwing Drake, Blackbolt, for years. The creature is intelligent, sapient as dragons tend to be, and they’ve become a team — it isn’t far off the mark for her to feel a sort of remorse over what the Dragonmaw are doing.
At any rate. Twilight Highlands has a lot of satisfying anti-Alliance gameplay, if you’re up to that. Further into the zone, you’re back to battling the Twilight cultists. There’s a culmination cinematic that I hear is absolutely awesome, and I should be experiencing it very, very soon. But not right away. Why?
Because I reached Level 85!
And I promptly went on some dungeon runs with my guild. 🙂 No Hunter loot dropped. 😦