Guardians of the Dream (Casual 10.2 Review)

Coming back to retail, one thing I really miss about the old days is the community interactions around newly released content. There's still plenty of WoW content being created, but as far as I can tell it's almost exclusively guides or speculation about the future, such as when and what the next patch will be. I miss the days when everyone would gather around the watering hole in comment sections to share their thoughts about the newest current content for example.

The reason I'm bringing this up is that patch 10.2 came out a couple of weeks ago and I basically have no idea how it's been received by the wider player base. Now, I've had to do some spoiler-dodging since I don't want to see the end-of-raid cinematic until I can see it in game for myself, which won't happen until the new raid is fully unlocked in LFR, and that's something that won't happen for another couple of weeks. But there's plenty of other stuff people could be talking about, and I haven't really seen it.

The first thing that really struck me when entering the new Emerald Dream zone for the first time was that there was a loading screen - which isn't really unusual, and we are entering an alternate dimension of sorts, but considering how smoothly all the other Dragonflight zones have been connected until now, it still felt a bit jarring. I guess I would've expected to be able to just fly though the portal seamlessly.

The zone itself is gorgeous and the predominant shade of green kind of reminds me of Zereth Mortis for some reason, which isn't a bad thing, as I quite liked that zone too. Except instead of being slightly alien and filled with strange tech, the Emerald Dream is flowery and druidic.

I have slightly mixed feeling about Amirdrassil, the new world tree central to the zone. I thought the story decision to burn down Teldrassil for shock value in BfA was bad, and the night elves kind of "deserve" a new home... but going from planting its seed mere months ago to having a ginormous tree so quickly feels a bit weird and unearned to me. I know magic is a thing in this world and all, but they don't even attempt to give any sort of explanation for it.

I would also say that the whole story up to the raid is a bit... cheesy? I don't expect particularly deep writing from WoW, but this was somewhat flat even by that standard. I will say that the big battle leading up to the raid had something going for it though. The husband had a good laugh blowing the Horn of Cenarius next to every single NPC to see what they would say, and while he joked about the reinforcements appearing "like the Avengers", I've got to say I appreciated that all those powerful characters actually did show up to help defend an important objective... unlike past expansions, where you'd wonder why e.g. someone like Jaina was a no-show when it came to defending the freaking planet against the Legion.

All that said, I really love the general activities in the zone so far. It's funny because my husband had a peek before we started questing there together, and he commented that the events in it seemed kind of boring to him but he had a hunch that I would like them, and he wasn't wrong. The zone's big public event, called the Superbloom, basically involves following a giant walking tree around while clicking on all kinds of shinies on the ground, with the latter being one of my favourite things to do in any MMO.

I also love the mechanics of the dream seeds. Again, the husband said he found it boring to just plant a seed and wait three minutes. But you don't have to just stand there, you can always collect more shinies around the plant during that time! I think it's pretty ingenious design to be honest, the way the various sources of dew drops appear the moment the plant starts growing. Also, while you can technically plant and boost a seed to its maximum capacity by yourself, it's quite resource-expensive to do it that way, so casual collaboration is heavily encouraged and pays off handsomely. I could happily fly in circles and contribute to other people's seeds for hours.

Speaking of flying, fully exploring the new zone unlocked regular flying on the Dragon Isles, and I've got to say it's been nice to have it available as a supplementary mode of transport. I still use my dragonriding mount most of the time because of how much faster it is, but it's handy to also have the regular flying mount on hand for certain occasions where you want to perform a precision landing on a small branch for example, or if you want to quickly hop around short distances between nearby objectives (such as several gathering nodes), for which mounting and working up momentum on your dragon would be overkill.

We're supposed to be getting more content before the next expansion, but this is supposedly the last major patch. I've gotta say there are worse places to spend the better part of the year waiting for the next expansion.


  1. Based on the contents that the YouTube algorithm generates, either people hate it or love it. Of course, those titles of YouTube posts are designed to generate clicks, but still, I get the impression that YouTube content creators think the story is trash --and has been trash throughout most of Dragonflight-- which makes me wonder just what they're expecting anyway.

    1. I did hear some mutterings that the post-raid cinematic is not good, but as I said I can't judge that one yet. As for the rest of the story, I think it has been okay. Not amazing, but okay. I did appreciate that it was more thematically coherent across the expansion than usual and focused on some new and positive themes like family and rebuilding. Some people seemed to hate that though, arguing that Warcraft should only ever be about war. At that, I can only shake my head.

    2. I think that those people who think that Warcraft should only be about faction war are very much a minority. A loud minority, to be certain, but still a minority.

  2. I do miss having those casual conversations about Wow (or other MMOs I play). I feel like I'm out of sync with others I used to do group activities with. Now I'm more back to when I started, mostly solo with a few bits of group activity with random strangers. :sigh: Such is the flow of life.

    I do find I'm enjoying 10.2. I dusted off my druid and have focused on those casual bits and have found myself playing quite a bit! I like the Superbloom event and the seed planting. Over time I've found that things that aren't just 'kill x mobs' are more fun than all of the tedious kill quests.

    As far as flying goes, I'm happier now that I can use "BC flying" again. Dragonflight ("dynamic flight") is a bit too micro-manage-y for me with the annoyance of the Vigor mechanic. I'll use dragonflight if I need to get to a rare quickly (hopefully quickly enough ^_^), but for everything else I prefer the original version more. (It is telling that they are going to limit the speed of dragonflight in the original zones of Eastern Kingdom and Kalimdor so as to not trivialize the distances there.)

    1. Oh, I forgot to add, as far as the cinematics and the story go I've made my peace with that. Accepting that the story will never be a Wow strength in the way it is for a Swtor or Secret World I find it doesn't now detract from enjoying playing my characters and the game. I can appreciate the production values while not rolling my eyes (too much ;)) at the plot holes and story inconsistency.

  3. I think the post-raid cinematic suffers if you didn't see the interractions in the raid, which is hard to do if 1) you can't raid yet 2) have raid leaders talking over the dialogue while you are also trying not to die and 3) have the sound turned down which a lot of players do. Datamining and watching these scenes (or watching people who live to complain about WoW for clicks and sponsorships on YouTube) out of context definitely hurts them most of all. I think the reaction to Aberrus' ending happened for the same reasons. Was the Amirdrassil raid ending cutscene my favorite of all time? No. But I liked it and I get what it was referencing. I also absolutely loved what is called the "Avengers" scene and made sure to run around and blow that horn at everyone I could for some extra dialogue. Re: Amirdrassil growing too fast. Teldrassil also grew in a very short amount of time ("Four years have passed" since the battle of Mt. Hyjal at the start of WoW) and it didn't get help from incubating in the Emerald Dream, nor was blessed by both Elune and The Winter Queen nor tended by the green flight so I can let its quick growth pass. Also I thought it was planted soon after (or even during given when Tyrande gets the seed) Shadowlands which means it had at least three years with the time skip. (I main a night elf, for the record and I'm fine with how this all turned out, btw.) I've loved all of DF and if the Emerald Dream is where we are going to spend most of our time until TWW, I'm extremely happy with that. And some of the stuff on the PTR for 10.2.5 has me very excited already.

    1. Teldrassil also grew in a very short amount of time

      You know, it did occur to me after writing this that I had no clue how long Teldrassil took to grow; I just always assumed it was a long time. I never played the Warcraft RTS games and to this day, it causes me confusion at times!

      Also I thought it was planted soon after Shadowlands

      Didn't Tyrande give it to Merithra during one of the Dragonflight campaign quests and then they plant it in the Emerald Dream?

      I'm glad that you've been happy with how things have turned out as a night elf main! You guys sure have had it rough.