So apparently the pre-Cataclysm event entered a new phase a couple of days ago. To be perfectly honest, I wouldn't even have noticed if my boyfriend hadn't started rambling about running into elemental invaders on his low-level alt all of a sudden.
First off, there are some new quests to do in the capitals, in my case Orgrimmar. The first just tells you to talk to another Earthen Ring representative in Thrall's throne room and then ends there, presumably to give players a reason to go there and observe the conversation between Thrall and his advisors that was added a bit earlier already. I'm trying not to hate on Garrosh too much, but honestly, the way he talks to Vol'jin just makes me want to slap him.
The other quest leads to a pretty amusing chain that has you investigating what's going on with some cultists that recently started getting active in the area. I do have to admit that running around Durotar with a board strapped to my chest and yelling "The end is nigh!" cracked me up. I also liked the quest where you place warning signs around town and various grunts walk up to them and comment.
Still, where were all the elementals? I had to read up on the event on multiple websites to actually find out what was going on with them, because I don't think I ever would have run into any on my own. That's also where I found out about the Tripping the Rifts achievement and decided that I'd give it a go.
Over an hour of flying around Northrend to check various confirmed rift spawn locations later... I had encountered one rift. One. Weakest invasion ever. Of course none of the sources I consulted seemed to be able to agree on much about the way the event actually works, so for all I know the elementals might have always spawned just after I flew away and then wrecked the landscape, but eh...
Eventually I decided to have a look around Outland instead, just in case the scarcity of elementals in Northrend was due to everyone repelling them with a bit too much enthusiasm, and fortunately for me, I found three more rifts there within only ten minutes. It helped that I knew of at least one spawn point right inside a Horde base, so I just sat there, semi-AFK, and waited for the sounds of fighting to start.
I did like that all NPCs in the area felt the urge to fight the elementals, whether they were usually friendly to you or not. I always thought that it was a bit weird when creatures that very clearly shouldn't get along completely ignored each other because they were only trained to attack players, so it's nice to see NPCs react in a more "natural" manner for once.
Still, on the whole this part of the event didn't feel hugely engaging to me. The quest chain is alright but not as exciting as freeing the Echo Isles was, and the elemental spawns currently appear to be so uncommon that you can continue playing quite easily without ever running into any, if you don't just happen to be questing in the right area. Hopefully the next part will be more exciting; I believe it will actually affect the main cities and require teamwork?