4.2 - First Impressions

For some reason I always seem to come up with a whole lot of post ideas shortly before a major patch comes out, but then once the patch actually hits I can't think about anything but the new content and end up discarding them. So, to immediately get it out of my system, my initial thoughts on 4.2: (Don't read on if you're concerned about quest spoilers.)

I wonder how many people besides me immediately stopped at the character selection screen and started shuffling. Being able to change the order of your characters is one of those small quality of life changes that just feels like it's been overdue forever. I don't care about visually preserving the order in which I created my characters, I just want the ones I play more often to be on top, damn it! I was very happy to finally be able to do that.

Not everything in the new patch is for max-level characters only. One of my guildies immediately found this little gem for level tens and up for example, which rewards you with a balloon that counts as a non-combat pet and has a rather amusing ending if you hang around to watch after handing in the quest.

Probably not a patch feature, but my guildies only discovered today that doing Ahune in a guild group counts as a full dungeon run for the purposes of the weekly guild challenge. We swapped alts in and out to get goodie bags for all of them and earned over a million guild experience in about ten minutes. I'm not sure that's working as intended, but if it is that's a handy way of racking up the XP in a short amount of time.

Starting work on the new dailies in Hyjal didn't feel very exciting, but I guess it simply takes some time until you get to unlock more. We'll see what things will look like in a few weeks. For now, I don't consider it a problem.

Now, the Thrall quest line was a lot more interesting. I was surprised to see Nozdormu in humanoid form for the first time and immediately decided that he must be evil. Don't get me wrong...

... he looks pretty badass for a man elf dragon, but... he's got a goatee. An evil goatee. He clearly can't be up to anything good.

During the initial cinematic I couldn't help but giggle at Malfurion's reaction to the intruders basically being, "I cast roots on all of them!" Sorry mate, but I can see why Staghelm had trouble taking you seriously there.

The following quest takes you all over the world, to Uldum, Vashj'ir, Deepholm and the Firelands, which would feel quite epic except that Aggra magically teleports you everywhere. I really felt rather torn about this. Part of me was definitely glad that I didn't have to manually go to all those different places just for one quest, but on the other hand I didn't really feel as if I was going anywhere. That's the eternal dilemma with features like this, isn't it?

Blizzard's new phasing-but-not-quite worked very well in my opinion, as you could see all the other players around you and it felt busy, but the NPCs still changed for you personally, depending on which part of the quest you were on. I also thought that the mechanics of the elemental fighting quests were very well suited for the patch day crowds, as mob tagging wasn't really an issue and your "kill credit bar" or whatever you want to call it kept building up as long as you did at least some damage to some mobs. I can imagine it feeling a bit slow though if you end up doing it later when there aren't as many people around.

The only thing that really caused me any grief were other players, as lots of Alliance on my server decided to turn their PvP flag on, and as the elementals were dying in seconds and everyone was maniacally fighting to get a hit in, it was way too easy to hit another player by accident and get flagged without meaning to. I accidentally hit a draenei death knight with a smite during the Firelands portion of the chain myself, which promptly caused him to come over and gank me, so I lost my entire quest progression of what felt like several dozen kills (the bar resets if you die) and then had to take an enforced break of five minutes while waiting for my flag to wear off. Yeah, that wasn't that much fun. When I did the chain on my hunter, my pet randomly decided to go after an Ally as well, without any direction from me, and got me flagged this way, though I managed to escape death that time. It was still annoying. I guess one person's fun world PvP is another one's obstacle.

Also, was I the only one who wondered about Aggra's totems during the Firelands part of the chain? Where the hell does she keep totems that are twice as tall as a tauren? It's funny how some NPCs and items in WoW have increased in size over the years, for no apparent reason other than to make them more obviously visible to players. Most of the time I don't even think about it anymore and just accept that Tirion Fordring is a giant for example, but those totems gave me pause for some reason.

The entire quest chain gives Thrall some interesting characterisation in my opinion, as you basically find out about his most secret thoughts about a lot of issues. A lot of it wasn't exactly unexpected, but I was actually pleasantly surprised to hear that he's had doubts about Garrosh messing up the Horde as well.

And Aggra... well, I'm kind of in two minds about her. I haven't read The Shattering yet so I don't know how she gets introduced, but looking only at the game, she's basically this complete nobody that very obviously only gets shoved into our faces to be Thrall's love interest. I didn't mind her at first, but her new 4.2 voice really grated on my nerves, as it sounded unnecessarily sultry, whiny and somehow entirely un-orcish to me for some reason. On the other hand she's kind of cool, and manages to display some character even while under duress, occasionally snarking at Thrall even while she desperately fears for his life.

The only thing I didn't get was why the big ritual for which we were called to Hyjal in the first place wasn't completed after we saved Thrall. I thought it was supposed to be important?

The quest reward cloak you get at the end is very nice, though I couldn't help but feel like there was suddenly a certain cloak overload going on. Epic cloaks for justice points, cloaks from Ahune, cloaks from this quest, and did you see the first rep reward from the Avengers of Hyjal? Yep, more cloaks.

Speaking of the Avengers of Hyjal, in the evening my guild had its first Firelands raid. I took one step inside and immediately felt like I had ended up in Molten Core 2.0, with the only major difference being that it's open to the sky. But otherwise it's all there: flamewalkers, core hounds, molten giants - lots and lots and lots of them. I guess it's been a while since we last had a raid instance with silly amounts of trash, so fair enough. What with it being our first time, we didn't mind that much anyway because it was all new and amusing to find out about the mobs' different abilities, such as little turtles punting the tanks halfway across the instance.

Our raid leader decided that we should start off with Shannox, aka the guy whose face they pasted onto the tier twelve hunter helm. He doesn't actually appear until you've killed a certain minimum amount of trash, and then he keeps patrolling the entire zone, with each round taking about four minutes. This certainly made for a very different kind of boss fight, as we basically waited in the area that we had cleared out for the fight every time, discussing tactics until he came around again, and then everyone scrambled frantically to be ready immediately while the tanks had to make a good run for it to catch him in time since he moves quite fast. I can foresee a lot of whining about that on the forums and wouldn't be surprised if Blizzard ended up changing it. I think it would be a shame though, because while my first reaction was to find it quite annoying, it also feels a lot more dynamic. Why should all bosses just stand around, waiting for us to kill them?

We didn't make much progress on the fight, but considering that there are only seven bosses in there, I would have been disappointed anyway if the first one had fallen over immediately, on our first night of attempts.


  1. I'll never understand why they can't add a flag which prevents any action that would flag you PvP.

  2. ....must.....not....look.......

  3. The PvP flags pissed me off, and I love PvP. My characters are already wearing full PvP gear to begin with, but that doesn't mean I can take on nine people at once by myself.

    The air sequence was the worst for me because they don't just have to kill you to reset your progress in the quest, they just have to knock you off the platform with their two elemental Shamans after the DK's death grip you to the edge. Being a Druid I could just pop into flight form on my way down and get back up real quick, but off I went again every flipping time.

    Eventually I saw a group of people hanging out on a lower ledge and killing the ones that happened to fly around the ring, so we did eventually get it done, but it took me just shy of an hour for that location alone.

  4. The same I can say for Hordes setting PVP on in my realm. I did the questline with the warrior (fury) and paladin (protection) and while I got at some point pvp flagged with both, I only had troubles with the paladin in the Firelands part where a hunter decided I was his walking target. Most of the time you were ignored (and I won't brag here saying that they cowered in fear before me... hah!) From time to time you could see some rucks and brawls, but even being flagged you were ignored if you kept a minimum distance.
    As you I think Aggra's voice is totally out of place. Well played if she were human, but the sound is totally un-orcish.
    But what ticks me off more is that a bunch of flame druids, lesser in rank than Fandral, have enough power to put out of play the Aspect Dragons!! Even if in human form they're less powerful it's totally crazy that a single flame druid, no matter how much power Ragnaros has verted in him or her, can beat single handledly an Aspect. You then wonder why aren't them the Firelands bosses...
    Oh and I liked the opportunity to see bosses out of the raid, like the (re)birth of Alysrazor and Lord Ryolith striding around. Pity not all were presented, even if with a minimal appearance.

  5. I too enjoyed the preliminary quests, and had no trouble with players of the opposing faction. I have not yet ventured into the Firelands raid, but its an exciting prospect.

  6. The Horde on my server did that as well. Everywhere you went. They where not even doing the quest, they where just hanging out in the quest areas in mass killing anything that was unlucky enough to make contact with it. I personally think behavior like this should be classified as greifing and get them a nice three day ban. I don't mind if they want to flag while doing the quest but finish it and move on. Do not flag and hang out there for hours on end like the horde on my server did.

    The cloaks everywhere thing popped in my mind too. They could have mixed it up a little. I know a ton of players that had bracer problems. Bracers would have been nice instead for some.

    Having new dailies to do for the molten front is a nice addition. Been looking for something worth doing that I could do solo for a long time now.

  7. I'm personally rather pleased that they're trying out something where the bosses don't just stand in place. It makes perfect sense for some bosses, such as the preaching Deathwhisper, Shannox in her lair, or the end boss in his throne room. But an entire tier of bosses standing like dummies waiting for you to attack them, while you run rampant through their fortress? Cataclysm's first raids felt significantly anti-climactic.

  8. @Redbeard: I guess it's safe to read up to the screenshot and then the last four paragraphs? :P

    @Psynister: That sounds like a particularly annoying type of griefing.

    @Kurnak: I have to admit I wondered about those flame druids taking out all the dragon aspects so easily myself. I guess the element of surprise counts for something, and it did look to me like the entire group was helping to channel the spell, but even so...

    @Homeschool: I agree that it's overall a welcome bit of variety. Many aspects of the game that I'm very fond of were at least mildly annoying at some point, so if I say that something annoys me that doesn't necessarily make it bad in my eyes. :)

  9. On my pvp server, ganking was certainly an issue, but not for Horde, as we way out number the Alliance. However, I did the Thrall chain again on an alt and noticed how annoying it is to be ganked and lose all your progress, as it was overrun with Alliance at that point.
    I like Aggra, even though I haven't read the book yet though. I was really pleasantly surprised by the voice acting and loved her Outland accent. (I assume that's what that's supposed to be.) Her crack at him being green skinned was cute too.
    Also: yes, giving people cloaks from that quest line is insanely stupid when most people can replace it within hours from the new rep.

  10. I dunno why they didn't just make the areas - which are obviously phased - sanctuary zones, or give a buff that prevents PvP combat, as they did with the Argent Tournament.

    Going the Sanctuary route : It's phased, it wouldn't interfere with normal questing and such. It would also make sense that players trying save the damn world would be working together, instead of getting a cheap kill.

    Going the buff route : We did this at the Argent Tournament. Even if you were flagged for PvP, or on a PvP realm, the entire hub had the 'armistice' buff automatically placed on all players. There are quests that automatically flag you until completion. I see no reason why Aggra's quests don't put the same sort of buff on you.

  11. I didn't get to do the new quests until this weekend, but I had the same reaction re: casting thorns on the fire druids and not ever completing the ritual. I mean, it's sweet that Aggre and Thrall are totally In Love and need to get married right away, but weren't we in the middle of a hugely important activity before we were interrupted? You'd think the threat presented in that interruption would be enough reason to hurry up with the ritual they were gonna do!

  12. @Shintar-- That's okay. I've been doing my regular routine, avoiding the crowd and waiting for things to thin out a bit. Also been checking out newly F2P Age of Conan based on Rohan's recommendations.

  13. There's a chance that the ritual was already done by the time you got back to Hyjal or it will be right after the wedding. Thrall, in the quest text: "And due to the combined efforts of the Cenarion Circle and the Earthen Ring - the World Tree will bring new life to Azeroth as well."

  14. @BethE: That's true. Still, in that case I'd find it disappointing that it was all done off-screen, after they made such a big fuss about summoning us to watch it.