A Confusing Retail Journey

Pretty much as expected, my interest in retail is already fading again, but the husband seems to be quite keen on it so we're still doing some questing together. Yesterday was also the last day of Hallow's End, and I had a couple of event quests left in my log that I hadn't finished yet, so I decided to do that. What followed was pretty much a perfect encapsulation of how foreign and confusing retail feels to me nowadays.

The two quests I had were Hallow's End Treats for Jesper and A Time to Lose. The former requires you to visit NPCs in Stormwind, Ironforge and Darnassus (yes, really), and the latter asks you to put out the Horde's Wickerman at the entrance to the Undercity.

I started in Stormwind and then realised that due to my monk having been ferried straight to Kul Tiras after Exile's Reach, she had zero flight paths unlocked anywhere in Azeroth. No biggie though, she'd unlocked the ability to fly on her own at this point, so I put on auto-run/fly and set off northward. Making it to Ironforge and finding the relevant quest NPCs there was easy enough.

After that I continued northward to Tirisfal. I actually saw the Wickerman but there was an optional objective to speak to Ziodormi to "visit Tirisfal Glades in the past". I'd read somewhere that the zone had been revamped after the BfA intro that saw the Alliance attacking Undercity and now existed in two versions, and that a member of the bronze dragonflight could be consulted to allow players to switch between both states.

As there was no quest marker for this optional objective however, I got a bit lost and eventually had to consult Wowhead. I couldn't find the NPC in the location described there either, however there were helpful comments talking about also being unable to find her, and finally one that stated that you had to be in the past version of the zone to be able to see the Wickerman and do the quest. At this point it dawned on me that I was apparently already in the past by default... just with no option to go into the future. Or at least the whole Battle for Lordaeron scenario had not been part of the new levelling experience; I'm not sure if you can still go back and do it later. Either way, I accepted that the optional objective was clearly not for me, doused the Wickerman and moved on.

This is where things got tricky because I realised that to complete the second quest, I'd have to move to the western continent. My last memory of retail was that they had changed the boats in some manner that confused me, but I flew back down towards Menethil Harbour anyway. As I picked up the flight point there, I was reminded that it's been underwater ever since the Cataclysm and that boats were redirected to the (then new) Stormwind Harbour at that point.

So I continued my trip back down the map and flew around the waterfront in Stormwind for a bit. There were some boats parked there seemingly as decorations but I couldn't find anything that I could clearly identify as a functional pier. I tried looking for an NPC that would tell me what boats were going where since I remembered that being a thing at one point but had no luck on that front either.

Remembering the portal room in the mage tower, I decided to try my luck there instead and found a portal to the Exodar. Close enough!

From the Exodar, I rode to the Azuremyst Isle pier, where I was greeted by... another portal? This one lead to Darkshore, so once again I clicked on it. It took me until my arrival there to remember that Darnassus does in fact not exist anymore in retail, and that Darkshore, too, has undergone a transformation in the latest expansion. Fortunately I had no trouble finding the time-travelling person in this zone, who sent me right back to the Cata version of Darkshore, from which I could then fly to Darnassus, casually defying space-time to have a cheerful innkeeper there hand me some marzipan.

At that point I was glad that my hearthstone was on cooldown, because hell if I knew how to get back to the Eastern Kingdoms manually.

I don't know if my scattered memories of how things used to be are actually helpful or more of a hindrance at this point... but navigating a world with all these portals, no directions, and now also time-travel on top honestly seems pretty confusing to me.


  1. I find it interesting that you have found the leveling experience confusing, while Rohan at Blessing of Kings found it pleasant. I have to wonder if the reason for the difference in opinion is that you're coming back to Retail having been away for a long time while Rohan never left.

    1. The levelling experience was fine and fun! It just doesn't really leave you in any way prepared to deal with the rest of Azeroth, after getting funnelled to the level cap through a single expansion.

    2. The reason for the confusion, in my opinion, is twofold. Firstly, Redbeard is right in that having any previous experience and memory of WoW other than a very recent one makes things more confusing. I'm pretty sure someone who had never played WoW at all and had no preconceptions about where things were ()or when) would find it all less confusing than a complete newcomer.

      On the other hand, looking at it from the point of view of someone who's played literally hundreds of MMOs across twenty years, I'd say Blizzard have made one of the less-successful attempts I've ever seen at binding all the disparare content they've accrued over the years together. It's a hot mess even compared to EQII or GW2, neither of which is exactly exemplary in this regard.

      The upside for me is that the individual content, when you locate it, is significantly better than I expected. The writing, while clearly adhering very closely to a somewhat stilted house style, is really pretty good and the visuals are excellent. The questing has been great... just so long as you stick to one place and don't try to get too ambitious. If you do, it all starts to come apart at the seams.

  2. Traveling is a mess. Experienced players tend to have learned the heirloom items - it makes them toys accessible to your account - that give a reasonable selection of flight points for each continent. A new player? Good luck, you're going to have to unlock them all.

    Boat to Darnassus? Ask the NPC about it and she'll tell you to take the portal, but ... you need to know where to find her to ask her the question. Traveling across the continents could use a breadcrumb quest (maybe have it reward a different hearthstone animation, title, basic mount, etc.?).

    Zidormi is never in a convenient spot. Instead of being where you enter a zone, she's off in some odd spot. At least if you see a small speech bubble on the zone map you can see where she's at. Though you need to know what the speech bubble stands for...

    It gets worse when Blizzard decides to remove portals from the older content. They didn't want things to be too convenient as that made the world 'smaller'. :sigh: At least they committed to have the the large portal rooms in Stormwind & Orgrimmar.

    I think a lot of this shows just how big Wow is compared to the team. There's just too much stuff there for them to give everything a good polish when they change basic things.

  3. Yeah, those zones where there's a future and a past are tricky to navigate, even for experienced players.

    I remember doing one quest last month. I got an item from an Island Expedition which had to be delivered to an NPC in Uldum. I went to Uldum, the NPC was there, but no turn in. I went to the past Uldum (via Zoridormi), but no turn in. I then thought that maybe it was because the N'Zoth Invasion was happening in Uldum that week. So I waited for next week. No luck in the present, or in the past. Then I looked more carefully, and it turned out that you have to turn in the item to the same NPC, but at a different location in Uldum.

    Honestly, as much as we want a "living world" where there are changes, I think in practice it is a bad idea. Maybe SWTOR's use of explicitly phased areas is just better all around.

    1. Yeah, I think I definitely prefer that myself. I generally like to have things happen "in world" instead of via UI elements, but with some mechanics that are only there for practical reasons, I think it makes sense to just bite the bullet and give the player an obvious UI as well. These phasing mechanics feel like an awkward compromise that doesn't really work for me.

  4. :chuckle: The hotfixes for Nov 4th mention, "Zidormi in Tirisfal Glades is now visible to new characters that have completed Exile’s Reach". I'm like how is a zone marker dependent on the starter zone you picked? Such is the messy nature of MMOs...