Putting the title of this post in the past tense is not entirely correct since Silithus still sucks at the time of writing this, but since Cataclysm is supposed to come out in less than two months or so it seemed kind of appropriate.
There's been a fair bit of talk about nostalgia and the like in the WoW blogosphere lately, and I'm guilty of frequently feeling quite nostalgic for the Burning Crusade myself (I thought WOTLK has been a decent expansion, just not as good). As a bit of a counterpoint I want to write a post about a piece of vanilla WoW today that I consider to be utter rubbish, and I think no matter what Blizzard does with it in Cataclysm, it can only get better: Silithus.
I generally prefer the lush and healthy-looking zones in the game, but Silithus isn't just barren, it's seriously dull and ugly. Sand, rocks and... giant twitching insect legs sticking out of the ground WTF? The zone's soundtrack is boring and grating as well, and not just because of the incessant buzzing in the background. I suppose you've got to give the Blizzard designers credit for creating a zone that feels truly unpleasant and unwelcoming, but when it makes your players feel so alienated that they'd rather go play somewhere else, you've kind of overshot your goal a little.
I remember going to Silithus to quest when I hit level sixty for the first time. I had a friend with me so it was reasonably fun (even if we wiped to Deathclasp way too many times), but I still found the zone so unappealing that I never returned on any of the characters that I levelled afterwards. I always just go there once to grab the flight point at Cenarion Hold, but then I'm off and never look back.
However, when my recent Loremaster adventures took me down to Silithus I was strangely looking forward to it. Maybe my memories were tainted and I'd simply forgot about all the good times. I thought that I might even have a moment of revelation like I had in Gnomeregan!
Alas, it was not to be. I got excited when I saw all the exclamation marks on my minimap the moment I entered Cenarion Hold, but that excitement quickly turned into frustration when I realised that many of these quests were what I'd consider "fake" quests to turn in some raid currency from Ahn'Qiraj for epic gear. I mean, I admit that you can call these things quests from a purely technical point of view but... imagine if all those emblem armour vendors in Dalaran and at the Argent Tournament presented their activities as quests instead of just being vendors. "Bring me so-and-so many emblems of frost and I shall reward you with a new headpiece!" And that for every armour slot and every class - it would be a confusing and convoluted mess! Which basically summed up my feelings as I was trying to find anything at Cenarion Hold that I could actually just go out and do, instead of being asked to run a couple of old raids by every other NPC.
I did finally find a couple of good old "kill these mobs and bring me their body parts" quests, but they didn't last for long. I even did that silithyst collection quest - did anyone seriously do these even when they were current content? The whole concept just seems incredibly lame.
One NPC "gifted" me with a couple of combat task briefings... to kill 120 silithid in one of the hives. Are you kidding me? I mean, I'm really quite fond of simple grind quests in general, but 120? Keep in mind that these used to be elite too... even at level eighty and being able to one-shot all the mobs I must have spent a good hour scouring Hive'Zora for the right mobs, especially as one type seemed to be incredibly rare. The amazing reward then consisted of one Cenarion Combat Badge per assignment, which turned out to be one of the many currencies that one of the vendors wanted, but I didn't have any of the other things he asked for. If you think the current emblem system is complicated, you've clearly never tried to get anything done in Silithus.
One more thing that was left to do was to farm Twilight cultists. I had two quests for their encrypted texts, and had a bit of an a-ha moment when I quickly found my inventory filling up with weird green outfits as well. I actually managed to reconstruct their purpose from memory: some kind of weird fashion pyramid scheme, where you wear three items to summon what was formerly an elite elemental, kill it, and after you've done it a couple of times one of the vendors disguised as quest givers will give you another piece for your outfit which you can then use to summon an even more powerful guy... or whatever. I think you needed a raid for the biggest ones but can't remember for sure now. It seemed like a rather lacking endgame occupation though. I think I summoned a couple out of curiosity, but when my bags overflowed with dozens of cowls and mantles for the umpteenth time (the abyssals wouldn't talk to me if I didn't have the right chest piece as well, boohoo) I grew bored and gave up.
The one thing that I thought was vaguely cool was the quest The Calling, which resulted in a friendly dwarf NPC giving me a massive info dump about the history of the zone, which is admittedly quite interesting. The problem is that I never got that far back at level sixty, because back then this quest required a full-fledged raid to complete and was thus simply impossible to do for a lot of people. Good job at hiding the most interesting thing about the whole zone, Silithus.
Seriously, just bring on the Cataclysm. I only hope that Brann Bronzebeard remembers to pick up his pet monkey.