Tuesday, March 8, 2011

It Takes Diff'rent Strokes

Well...  Two down, one to go.

Both Tomakan and Neve dinged last week.  For the record, Tom crept ahead of Neve the past few weeks while she spent some of her time farming for Frostweave, but I didn't really look at it as an Alliance v. Horde competition.

The primary concern I had with this experiment --could a toon go straight into Cata without stopping to farm Northrend Heroics-- was answered well over a month ago.  Of secondary importance was the amount of difficulty melee DPS and ranged DPS would have in making it through Cata, and after that how different the stories each faction would tell.  Now, I'm not completely finished with Twilight Highlands, but I'm far enough along that I can draw some conclusions.

Melee or Ranged DPS:  Who's got the harder time?

The answer for that is that it depends on the zone.

Some people love Vashj'ir, some people hate it.  But for ranged DPS, it's possibly the best zone out there.  The added third dimension to the zone means that ranged DPS can zoom in and attack at odd angles, negating the advantage that melee DPS would get having to grind their way through a particular area.  Sure, your average toon will have a flying mount by then --and zones such as Deepholm and Twilight Highlands pretty much demand one if you want to get to certain areas-- but with a flying mount you still have to land to attack.  in Vashj'ir, the underwater vertical dimension effectively allows ranged DPS to attack from the air.  You don't have to clear out all of the nearby enemy to prevent from being caught from behind, but instead you can use the WoW equivalent of surgical strikes to take out the enemy.

For melee DPS, there's a lot that Vashj'ir has going for it as well.  Plate DPS will find a lot more useful drops in Vashj than in Hyjal, which can be vital in getting your toon Cata-geared.  At the same time, Deepholm seemed more tailor made for melee than ranged DPS.  For a Ret Spec Pally with the Holy Wrath Glyph active, any place with boatloads of elementals on it is a real bonus, and Deepholm was filled with them.  By comparison, Hyjal, Vashj'ir, and Uldum didn't have nearly as many elementals to work with.

After having read the above, you'd think that by omission I must be ragging on Hyjal and Uldum, but that's not the case.  Both zones were pretty much DPS-neutral, not favoring either one.  Hyjal had more tank Plate drops than Vashj, so if a tanking offspec were of vital importance to you, Hyjal is the place to go.  Uldum had one or two quests that were much easier on Plate DPS than on a squishy Mage --The Pit of Scales being the biggest offender, particularly if it's bugged*-- but in general I felt that Uldum was pretty much DPS-neutral in terms of difficulty.

Now Twilight Highlands, that's another story entirely.

If you leveled through Northrend back in the Wrath days, you know that once you dinged L80 --typically in The Storm Peaks-- things weren't bad at all in Icecrown.  Quest greens didn't hold you back much, and the real difficulty came in trying to solo the mulit-person quests.  That was when you needed the T9 set.

Therefore, if you were expecting history to repeat itself upon venturing to Twilight Highlands, you were disabused of that opinion almost immediately.  It was more along the lines of:  "Ding!  You're L85!  Now go to back and start over!"

For people who never experienced what it was like to start the Cata leveling process with Northrend green gear, this had to be a kick in the nuts.  And the Horde's initial Naga quests are particularly brutal to squishy mages, as the waves of them come in so damn fast that you can get completely overwhelmed before you knew what was going on.  Once you get past the initial quest chains, however, the zone becomes pretty DPS-neutral.  Where Twilight Highlands shines, however, is in the story.

"Thundermar ale is 220 proof; I don't know how that's possible."

The story is similar for both factions throughout Vashj'ir, Hyjal, Deepholm, and Uldum.  With Vashj, the story is the same, but the quest givers are Horde or Alliance.  The other three have the faction neutral questgivers, so the story is almost exactly the same.  Then you get to Twilight Highlands, and things suddenly diverge.

The Horde and Alliance stories emphasize dealing with the new additions to each faction --Dragonmaw and Wildhammer-- and the struggles each leader has in exerting control.  The Dragonmaw are initially run by Mor'ghor, last seen on the Netherwing Ledge, and the younger Dragonmaw under the direction of Zaela chafe under his demon-tainted rule.  Once Zaela leads a successful revolt, she then has to consolidate power against the drake riders who think the Wildhammer are the greater threat.  On top of that, the Horde has big issues --as in Wyrmrest type issues-- by aligning with the Dragonmaw.

The Alliance, by comparison, has a slightly more mellow route through the Twilight Highlands.  First, you have to fight off a Horde attack --thanks, Garrosh!-- and then you settle into trying to unite the independent Wildhammer clans.  I know that Blizz basically lifted the stereotypical Scottish blueprint and stuck them on the Dwarves, but after a while the quests devolved into something like having Robin Williams describe golf.  You go rally the clans, but then everything falls apart because the clans can't stand each other.  So you try to arrange a political marriage, and you can guess where this whole thing is going.

Well, the divergent paths of each faction really brings Twilight Highlands to life.  And I haven't even gotten through the Red Dragonflight portion of the program yet!


Heard around Azeroth:

Warrior:  LF Port to Dal
Neve (Me):  I can do that.
[Warrior invites Neve]
Neve (Me):  Um, you're in Dal.
Warrior:  Oh.

Tomakan (Me, during the Cursed Landing quests):  There's something incredibly satisfying about killing 1000 Gnomes.

[Quintalan is helping a couple of people look for a rare spawn in Deepholm while he's finishing up the questlines]
Priest:  Did you find anything yet?
Quintalan (Me):  No.
[Quintalan pauses to acquire another quest]
Priest:  Did you find it?
Quintalan:  No.
[Q completes quest, gets another quest]
Priest:  Did you find it?
Quintalan: Look, you don't have to ask each time I pause.
Priest:  kk.  [10 seconds pass]  Did you find it?
Quintalan: /facepalm

Warrior:  LFM Ring of Blood
Priest:  Wrong location.  You want Outland.
Warrior:  LFM Ring of Blood
Priest:  What level are you?
Warrior:  L84
Tomakan (Me):  You can solo Ring of Blood at L80, much less 84
Warrior:  Tried it.  Didn't work.
Priest:  Just what did you try?
Warrior:  The one here.  The Ring of Blood.
Priest:  That's not the Ring of Blood; that's the Crucible of Carnage.
[One minute passes]
Warrior:  LFM Ring of Blood
Priest: ...


Convoy to L85 Update:

Tomakan:  L85 and in Twilight Highlands
Nevelanthana:  L85 and in Twilight Highlands
Quintalan:  L84 and in Uldum

*You know you've got a bugged quest event when you're out of the Pit and taking damage for no visible reason whatsoever while you're still drinking.

1 comment:

  1. Grats on all your progress! There is something so satisfying about maxxing a character out. :)

    And omg those dialogues are hilarious. To me they really illustrate the impulsive, instant gratification seeking players that are too lazy to look into things on their own, and are too self-absorbed to correct themselves even when someone else does the work. It's like they can't hear or comprehend common sense...