Updates to the Hinterlands and WPL (for Alliance)

My dwarf's tour of the Hinterlands felt fairly uneventful. While I've always loved the Hinterlands, I have to admit that it's been ages since I last quested there as Alliance, so my memories of the old Alliance quests were somewhat vague. I know that they involved lots of wolf and troll killing, and a chain to find the missing Featherbeard...

The new and improved Hinterlands simply felt as if Blizzard decided to cut out most of the unnecessary running around and any overly repetitive kill quests, and put more focus on the more interesting storylines instead. Jintha'Alor still feels like a dangerous place and retains a slightly higher mob density than the rest of the zone. You can also hitch a ride on Sharpbeak to get to the top quickly - yay, Sharpbeak! The quest to summon and kill Shadra that only used to be available to Horde is now available on Alliance side as well and doesn't involve running halfway across the world anymore just to ask different people about who Shadra is. There's an interesting quest at the Quel'Danil lodge that actually makes good use of phasing (in my opinion). And silvermane stalkers are actually silver again. Basically this is one of the zones that hasn't undergone any drastic changes, and considering that I was already very fond of it before, I'm okay with that.

Now, the Western Plaguelands were a very different matter. I had heard a lot of good things about the changes to that zone but then that had also been true for other areas which I didn't end up liking as much. This time I couldn't help but agree though. I really loved every single thing the developers did here.

To be fair, I hated the plaguelands in their old form. I know many players loved them due to their lore and what not, but back when I was a WoW noob I had never played another Warcraft game before (and still haven't, actually) and thus had no connection whatsoever to Arthas and the Scourge. For me the plaguelands were just an extremely drab and depressing place, where everything was either undead or diseased, and absolutely everything, from the ground to the trees to the mobs, was a dull shade of brown. Yuck.

The new WPL still carry remnants of the undead taint, but the overall atmosphere of the zone is an optimistic one. The quests reflect this with a nice mix of melancholy (the name "Taelan's Tower", or this quest) and silliness (the brilliantly funny Zen'kiki quests, or the fact that a remote quest turn-in to a priest is explained by her having used mind vision on you - I'm so used to NPCs being completely different from player classes these days that one actually acting like a player just struck me as funny). I was enjoying myself so much...

*record scratch*

...until this quest. The premise is that the humans and the Forsaken are fighting over Andorhal and you're supposed to help kill the deathguards. Except that as I strolled around town looking for them, I saw nothing but bored Andorhal defenders twiddling their thumbs, and sometimes even fighting each other (?!). Turns out, the quest mobs were in a different phase from me. D'oh. Usually I wouldn't consider a single bugged quest that big a deal, but when your entire zone consists of a straight line of quests, that single bug will cause the player's entire quest progression to come a grinding halt since there's no option to skip and move on (other than going to a different zone altogether). Major quality control fail there.

Fortunately the crafty people in the Wowhead comments had figured out a way to complete the quest anyway. Apparently there were two deathguard spawn points even in the wrong phase, and if you ran to the edge of town you'd be able to see the mobs appear inside. With a lot of persistence and some luck I managed to catch a couple of the respawns before the friendly NPCs mullered them to death within seconds, and managed to quickly pull a few mobs out onto the correctly phased edge of town. I don't know how much time this took in the end and I'm not sure I want to know, considering how long the respawn times were and how often the mobs I tried to pull cross-phase reset on me. But in the end I did it and got to see the end of the battle, which was worth it to me. I think that alone says enough about how much I loved the rest of the zone. This quest was a good reminder of the dangers of overly linear quest design though.

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