I've fallen in love with Tol Barad recently - not so much the PvP battle, which I join only rarely, but the zone itself (which includes the peninsula). I know, I'm very much behind the times, considering that it's all happening at the Molten Front these days. Nonetheless it was only recently that I realised that Tol Barad is a zone with a certain "old school" charm, reminding me more of what the game used to be like than some of the revamped low-level zones do these days.
For one thing, you can actually die in Tol Barad, and once again I'm not referring to PvP here. Presumably this is already becoming rarer and rarer, what with people having better gear available to them faster than a few months ago, but still... when I first started doing dailies in Tol Barad, I got my little green butt kicked by mobs quite a few times. I was questing in a healing spec, true, but for the better part of Wrath this hadn't been a problem, so it was still a shock to the system for me. Initially I was rather ticked off by this too - it doesn't matter how much I want the game to encourage grouping, when you're used to tackling content on your own and then it unexpectedly knocks you down a peg, that's off-putting. However, as it often goes with these things (for me at least), what frustrates me initially becomes all the more fun once I've mastered it, and this was the case with the Tol Barad dailies as well.
Then there's the fact that it's an outdoor zone where you can't fly. Don't get me wrong, flying mounts are great when you just want to get from one point to the other as quickly as possible, but if you're actually playing out there in the world, there is something to be said for experiencing it from the ground (as I already discovered over a year ago).
Varied terrain makes for great gameplay. Hands up if you've ever got yourself killed trying to ride past a load of densely packed mobs straight towards your quest objective, just to end up getting dismounted and mugged. (Or maybe that's just me...) Ever got caught off-guard by Tank because you couldn't move as fast underwater as he swims? Personally I love levitating off Largo's Overlook. I've also hurled myself off the bridge connecting the two islands and swam around to escape gankers that were trying to prevent people from returning to the peninsula right after a battle. All of these little things would never happen in that form if we could just have our multi-coloured dragons drop us off exactly where we want to be at any time.
Also, you actually get to meet people. With all the portals and teleports and phasing, I don't get to see much of the rest of my server other than whoever happens to be standing next to me when I log on in Orgrimmar. But in Tol Barad, people actually come together to do things other than read their mail, and it increases awareness of (what's left of) the server community. You remember the guild tag of the guy who stepped in to help you take down Problim. You happily wave at the former guildie whom you haven't seen in a long time, and he follows you around to skin the dead crocolisks you leave behind. Nothing invokes a feeling of "the good old days" for me like little interactions like that.
Finally, and this may sound a bit weird, I like Tol Barad because its quests are a little dull. No exciting adventures here, just lots and lots of quests to kill ten spiders/pirates/ghosts and gather eight hides/ghoul bits/rifles. Again, this is very reminiscent of vanilla WoW and makes the zone a great place to quest in if you just want to kill some time pressing your buttons, without having to worry about story, cut scenes, activating the right quest item or any of that fancy stuff. Just kill everything that moves and click on the sparkles.
The lore is also somewhat thin, and I actually find this amusing because it allows people to make up their own stories. As one of my guildies remarked, the quests tend to not really tell you anything about what you are supposed to do and why beyond "these things are in our way, so kill them". What is up with Rustberg Village? Why are we being sent to kill its poor villagers over and over? Every time I go there I just see people trying to build houses and catch some fish, races of the Alliance and the Horde living together in remarkable harmony. Or as one of my guildies put it: "I just see 'suspicious villagers'. I'd be suspicious too if someone kept stealing all my seabass every day!" Are we really the good guys here? /cue ominous music. For some reason little mysteries like that are way more entertaining to me in game than epic cut scenes.
I wonder if the Molten Front dailies will ever invoke similar feelings in me. From what I've seen of it so far, the Firelands look very different.
The Run for CSM 12 Begins Soon
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