It took me a few days to realise that the new and revamped Darkmoon Faire still seems to follow the same old pattern of only being available for one week per month. It's easy enough to make the portals unavailable I suppose, but since the new Island is a dedicated zone instead of a temporary addition to existing scenery, I can't help but wonder how limited it will really be. What happens if you log out on the Island before the Darkmoon Faire is supposed to end? Do you get teleported out? Can you stay but find the whole site abandoned? Or will you be able to do dailies all month if you're insane enough to never leave the area? There's probably a very simple and straightforward answer to this, but I haven't seen anyone mention it yet.
My first impression of the new Island was actually very positive simply due to the sights evoking pleasant memories. The portal dumps you in a dark forest with scary eyes blinking at you from the bushes, with the faire in the distance, and the whole scenery reminded me a lot of Melee Island in the original Secret of Monkey Island, a game that I enjoyed very much.
A quick look around the place didn't really reveal anything amazing or surprising. The main impression I got was that the Faire as a whole has simply been streamlined and brought up to par with the rest of the game, so instead of trying to work out an obscure hand-in system for otherwise useless items, you simply do some dailies now. I reckon that Soft Bushy Tails and the like will soon be turned into greys - which is kind of a shame, as I still have tons of them, evil bat eyes, scorpid blood and whatever else there was, left in my bank.
The first thing I did was do the non-daily quests for professions. They are very simple along the lines of "pick five flowers" but award five profession skill-ups at once. Irrelevant to a level-capped character but probably nice for levelling alts. While they weren't dailies, I would be very surprised if they didn't end up being repeatable at least once a month.
The new daily quests are all little mini games which are decent enough fun. My favourite so far is Whack-a-Gnoll, which is incidentally also the only one where I can currently complete the whole daily in one go. I truly am a born healer. The only thing that bugged me a little bit was that I had positioning issues with some games. More specifically I would get an error message when trying to use the shooting gallery, telling me that I had to stand at the booth (even though I already was), and then I had to step back, forward and sideways a few times until the game would actually let me play. Not a big deal in principle but annoying when you have to pay for each attempt and it only lasts a limited amount of time, so time spent fiddling around in an attempt to find the right spot is wasted money too.
I was glad to see that they kept the big cannon, even though I'm terrible at it. I swear I got a bullseye once but the game disagreed with me and only awarded me three points.
They didn't completely get rid of the hand-in idea though, and I was pleased to see that there are several things that you can collect in PvP. I was just a bit disappointed that the drop rate for Grisly Trophies seems to be low and generally weird... I've seen comments from people saying that they managed to gather hundreds in a single dungeon run, but after a whole night of doing battlegrounds I had barely collected a dozen. At first I thought it was related to me being a healer and generally not scoring any killing blows, but I didn't notice myself getting any more trophies once I made an attempt to do more damage. In fact, sometimes I would still get them from enemies that I hadn't even touched, so I still don't really understand how it works.
Journals, banners and insignia dropping from enemy players in PvP is a strange adjustment as well, as I stopped trying to loot player corpses years ago (usually they are only a distraction and drop nothing but a few silver). Now it's suddenly worth doing again, but you have to be lucky to be the first one to click on a body and actually get a drop. I only managed to pick up one item all night but a friend was nice enough to gift me the other two needed for the Darkmoon Defender achievement.
Speaking of PvP, the new Deathmatch Pit is pretty fun. It's basically identical to the Gurubashi Arena except that you need to go through a click and a cast bar to actually enter it (presumably to avoid players falling in by accident) and that it's located smack in the middle of a new quest hub and thus always busy. In the Gurubashi Arena you can get lucky as a low level at a quiet time of day and grab the chest there unopposed, but I reckon that there's no chance of this happening at the Faire anytime soon. Even at 3am the pit was absolutely packed - I went in with a group of friends and we wiped everyone else out; I imagine that it must be very difficult to win this fight on your own right now. Of course only one person can actually get the loot, but nobody seemed to begrudge the mage in our group the achievement.
My absolute favourite part of the new Faire are actually the small things though, such as noticing a gnome mage NPC near the shoreline when I crawled out of the water after failing to hit the cannon target for the umpteenth time. When I clicked on him he offered to teleport me straight back to the cannon for a small fee of thirty silver. Thanks, Blizzard, for anticipating my repeated failure and giving me a shortcut to repeating it even faster!
And while I haven't really been playing Alliance very seriously in a while, there are some things that you never forget... and I actually burst out laughing when I spotted this little fellow in one of the animal holding pens:
Holy Paladin columnist at Blizzard Watch!
3 hours ago