Yesterday my boyfriend decided to revive the old shaman that he abandoned in early Outland, and I joined him for the ride on my rarely played death knight. It was great fun, and not just because it had been a while since we last played together as a team.
I just love Outland. Maybe it's because TBC was when I really started to get into the game, experiencing the expansion from start to finish, but I just have a huge fondness for all the content released during that period. At least part of it is probably mere nostalgia, but I do think that Outland quests also just happen to hit the perfect spot for me in terms of balancing challenging gameplay with convenience.
I was delighted when our characters cut their way through a dozen different denizens of Terokkar Forest, and it didn't matter what we killed, it almost always seemed to update at least one quest. People seriously underestimate the fun of "kill ten mobs" quests sometimes. Killing monsters is one of the absolute core features of WoW; it's just what we do. Getting extra cash and a new hat for killing a particular bunch of wolves is simply a bonus and gives us a bit of direction as opposed to just killing things randomly.
In comparison, a quest that has you use a quest item in a cave instead, watch a cut scene, and then run back to hand in, may teach you something interesting about the lore the first time, but the replay value is rather low. Maybe that's why I struggle to repeatedly quest through Northrend on my alts, whereas my Outland experience feels incomplete if I haven't cleared out at least three or four zones worth of quests before moving on to Northrend.
With that in mind, Outland levelling happens way too quickly for my taste these days. I can't be bothered to constantly turn XP gains off and on again, but I do wish it would simply be slower. I already passed on wearing my heirlooms yesterday, and still my death knight gained two and a half levels during our play session. Things like this make it annoyingly hard for me to experience a balanced variety of content while levelling these days. Run a dungeon and you'll have outlevelled all the quests in the zone; focus on questing and before you know it another couple of dungeons will have dropped off your level range. And that's not even factoring in things like battlegrounds... Sure, you can always go back and do it all after it's turned grey, but that's not nearly the same as actually playing through it at level.
In the Bone Wastes we picked up this quest for the Tomb of Light without actually re-reading the quest text properly. It was only after we had cleared a path all the way down into the tomb and I was searching for the quest item to start the event that we realised that it had been completely redone and there was no quest item anymore. What used to be a very challenging quest to defend a friendly arcane guardian type mob against waves of angry draenei spirits has been reduced to nothing but a mission to kill five random draenei ghosts. That made me sad. The commenters on Wowhead suggested that it might be Blizzard's lazy way of "fixing" the bugs with that quest, but while I remember it being atrociously buggy in early TBC (initially you had to wait for a complete server reset to unbug it), I never had any problems in later playthroughs and assumed that it had already been fixed. It's a shame either way.
On the way back to the quest hub we ended up musing about scorpid bonecrawlers and how we were making a point of avoiding them since they weren't the objective of any quests. Wildlife that doesn't serve any particular purpose? What a strange concept.
A bit later I also returned to Hellfire Peninsula to clean up a couple of quests that I had left over there. When I went to hunt bonestripper buzzards for this quest I was confused by their complete and utter disinterest in me. They used to be attracted to the smell of death, which meant that if you killed anything in their vicinity, they would emote and fly over to you (and then attack). I always thought that this was an interesting mechanic and also made the pulls a lot more interesting. Once again, no more. The buzzards have been nerfed. Why? I have no idea. I can only assume that this decision was made by the same department that thought that silvermane stalkers should be black and not stalk anymore.
Finally, I picked up a couple of motes of shadow and a primal life during my quests. When I checked the auction house for their value I was flabbergasted to see that they were worth as much as if not more than their Northrend equivalents. Surely something that's only really good for levelling professions anymore can't be in such high demand?
I thought about it some more and came to the conclusion that the demand probably isn't that large, the things are just a lot more rare. Eternals in WOTLK have become completely trivialised to the point where they are even available from vendors with an unlimited supply. Does anyone even farm for them anymore? I remember back in BC I pretty much had to farm for all types of primals at some point or another, whether this involved flying circles around Shadowmoon Valley with my engineer or killing mana wraiths in Netherstorm for hours on end. I'll be honest and admit that I'm not entirely sure whether I miss that - farming does have its reputation for being tedious for a reason - but I do wish there were more things in the game again that forced you to interact with the world in some way or another. You shouldn't be able to get everything you want without ever moving out of a capital, buying from vendors or the near limitless supplies on the auction house.
F2P and Conversation
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