My little human rogue finally completed her journey from the northern tip of Kalimdor down to the very south of the continent and hit level sixty. We last met her in Thousand Needles, so these are my impressions of what I saw of Tanaris, Un'goro and Silithus.
Tanaris is still a good zone, but I struggled to be truly enthusiastic about it because I loved the old Tanaris that much more. I always felt that it was a very evocative zone, making you truly feel like you were on the edge of a desert on the ass end of nowhere. The dunes south of Gadgetzan seemed to go on forever, and the goblins didn't give a rat's ass whether you were Horde or Alliance, as long as you didn't pick any fights while within their walls and helped them steal water from the waste wanderers and booze from the local pirates.
The new Tanaris feels smaller somehow, and it is, seeing how almost a quarter of the zone has been flooded by the Cataclysm. When I flew over the shallows where I used to farm waste wanderers, I felt sad at the sight of the area's emptiness. In general, the zone feels way too busy for a desert now though, with hordes of NPC archaeologists fighting over the various ruins and the Southsea pirates being taken on by an entire army. The Horde vs. Alliance conflict rears its ugly head in Gadgetzan as well, with a girl gnome and a goblin whining endlessly at Marin Noggenfogger that he should join their respective side already. You can't help but feel sorry for the man.
One thing I liked was that there is a sort of intro quest line to Zul'Farrak now, which explains why one of the quest givers you meet on the inside is the ghost of a dead troll. It just strikes me as slightly weird design to make quests like that now, when ninety percent of dungeon runners might never even set foot into the zone associated with the instance anymore.
Another thing I found notable in this zone was that after completing all the quests I could find, there were still several sub-zones that I hadn't even touched. This gives me hope that the Horde quests might not all be mirrors of the Alliance ones this time and might actually utilise different environments to tell different stories. I'm looking forward to seeing this one from the other side.
Un'goro is a wonderful zone. I was always quite fond of it to begin with - if Tanaris was the desert at the ass end of the continent, then Un'goro was the metaphorical pimple on that ass, not to mention a wild and untamed jungle. Plus it used to have lots of quests that led you all over the zone and gave pretty nice XP.
The new Un'goro somehow managed to capture the charm of the old zone (the developers added a small extra quest hub but on the whole the area still feels like proper "adventuring territory"), while also updating it to Cataclysm standards and adding some new bits and pieces. Old quests feel familiar and slightly streamlined, but not to the point where it feels like you're just being led around by the nose. I actually ran into more than one little surprise that made me go "Oho, what's that?" while exploring.
For example I spotted a little mound of earth with a blue question mark above it in the now abandoned Marshal's Refuge. Of course I had to investigate it, and found it to be the burial site of Dadanga the kodo. Nooo, not Dadanga! I still remember gathering dozens of Bloodpetal sprouts for you and being sorely disappointed by the way you rewarded me with a pumpkin and some moonberry juice. I decided to accept the challenge issued by the new repeatable quest and honour her memory by depositing some Bloodpetal sprouts on her grave. This turned out to be harder than I expected since the damned things don't show up on the herb tracker anymore and you need some pretty keen eyes to spot green sprouts on green ground, but in the end I did it. After depositing my gift, I was rewarded with a little speed buff that lasted a whopping twenty minutes. Still the same old disappointing Dadanga, even in death... /sniff.
One old quest that I was surprised hadn't been removed is the one to rescue Ringo the goblin from Fireplume Ridge. I kind of assumed that the way you had to lead him back to camp yourself and keep sprinkling water on him every so often would have triggered the developers' "not fun enough" sense these days. I guess in a way it did, because while you still need to use the water, you can apparently also keep him going by slapping him every so often before he falls over. I never quite figured out how that was supposed to work though, as the response to my /slap emote seemed very delayed and hardly ever seemed to do any good. It felt like a pretty cruel way to "rescue" someone anyway.
My favourite new addition to the zone were the Maximillian of Northshire quests. I don't think there was a single one of them that didn't make me go: "What the...?" They are incredibly silly and funny, but still manage to not feel out of place. The fact that I was doing them on a rogue added an extra layer of hilarity, as knight Maximillian was not at all impressed by my roguish fighting methods, and would idly stand by as I stunlocked mobs to death. Then he would charge off towards the nearest elite before I could restealth and make me facepalm. I would say the zone is worth doing for his quests alone.
Unfortunately, Silithus still sucks. They cleaned it up a bit and removed all those old raid quests and weird currency grinds, plus a couple of quests where I have no idea why they took them out. (The Spirits of Southwind was a rather haunting story in my opinion, and The Calling gave the most interesting bits of lore in the entire zone.) Then they smoothed out a couple of bumps in what was left over, such as adding a remote hand-in here and reducing the number of items needed there (the dwarves down south tell you that "conveniently" another adventurer already brought them the parts they needed from the other two silithid hives, so you only have to go down into the one right next to them)... but that's it. Grinding for encrypted texts is still boring. Killing fifteen dredge strikers just to get a follow-up to kill twenty dredge crushers still feels uninspired.
I found this particularly disappointing since I remembered seeing this video of the 4.1 PTR and fully expected there to be some new and exciting quests with phasing in them. But nope, looks like none of that actually made it into the live game. I guess Silithus was Kalimdor's Arathi Highlands, aka that last zone that the developers didn't find the time for in the end. It's a shame because the story behind the zone has so much potential... but at least with Silithus we're already used to it being a boring place.