Draenei Heritage

It tickles me that every post I made on this blog in May has been about a different version or mode of World of Warcraft. First I talked about Classic Cataclysm, then Hardcore, then the upcoming War Within, then Classic era, and finally Pandaria Remix. The only thing missing at this point is something about what's currently going on in regular Dragonflight, so why not do that?

I wrote a little about what I thought of various heritage quest lines last year and always meant to continue doing more of them, but other things ended up distracting me and caused that particular project to fall off my radar again for a bit. However, the most recent patch added heritage quest lines for both Draenei and trolls, two races I associate with characters that are particularly dear to me, so I figured it was a great opportunity to have another go at this. I decided to start with the Draenei.

My first ever Draenei lives on the same server as my original priest and has gathered a similar amount of dust over the years. I originally created her back when Burning Crusade came out, and levelled her with a group of friends I'd made early in the game and who also rolled new Draenei alts for the expansion. (I also met them in real life at one point... those were different times. I was always a bit sad that we didn't really manage to stay in touch after that.)

I remember we jokingly referred to our little posse as "The Blue Man Group". One person quickly lost interest in that particular alt, but the rest of us levelled all the way to the cap together from what I remember, even if that meant doing dungeons with a group of four and without a dedicated healer. Our pally tank mostly spent a lot of time healing himself... For some reason I have a particularly vivid memory of us struggling with the last boss in Uldaman due to this but we eventually figured out a way to beat him. (This was before any of us knew about the trick with pulling him into the room upstairs to make add management easier.)

Anyway... even after the group drifted apart, I kept levelling my little blue mage through the following expansions as I quite enjoyed playing her. Though I must have given up in Cataclysm as she was level 30 post-level squish, which would have been something like... 83 in the old times? Which would mean that she saw some play time in Cata, but not enough to get to the cap.

I accepted the gear upgrade at the character selection screen and chose to stay arcane spec, though I was surprised to be presented with this as I thought she'd been frost or fire last I played. Since I'd opted not to clear my quest log, I had a breadcrumb to talk to the guy in the Cataclysm portal circle, which I thought was the introduction to Deepholm, but when I handed it in, there was no follow-up. I decided to go there anyway, first questing in the "regular" version of the world and eventually switching to Chromie Time when things started to go green.

Finishing Deepholm felt like it didn't take all that much time, though it also struck me that Cataclysm really was kind of a low point for the game's questing, regardless of whether you prefer Vanilla's more "worldly" approach to questing or the more modern storylines. By Cata they had streamlined the hell out of the process so there was no exploring or finding quest hubs involved at all anymore, but at the same time the voice acting and cut scenes were still pretty sparse, so you didn't exactly get a "cinematic" experience either... just a looong chain of formulaic quests (always in sets of threes, usually one kill quest, one collect quest, and one that required you to talk to someone, use an item or kill a boss), many of which gated access to things like portals or quartermasters back in the day and required doing on every character.

Anyway, after completing the zone storyline I was still only level 45, so I started doing Therazane dailies for nostalgia's sake, until it hit me that levelling up without collecting any more gear upgrades was probably not a good idea. On returning to Stormwind I found intro quests for Hyjal and Vashj'ir waiting for me, which confused me because surely I must've done at least one of those back in the day? Either way I opted for a bit of questing in Mount Hyjal until I hit level 50, though I didn't get many gear rewards there either.

I just mention this as I've often expressed annoyance with the way Blizzard's scaling really affects your character's performance if your gear can't keep up with your levels, and by the time I hit 50 I reckon my gear was about 40 item levels lower than it should've been once again. Combined with the fact that I found arcane spec confusing and didn't really know what I was doing, this didn't make for the best experience with the combat portions of the heritage quest line.

For example there was one part where I was suddenly put in combat with two mobs and managed to die... on top of a ledge. I spent a couple of minutes trying to get back to my body until I gave up and just took the spirit res, just to be reminded that the debuff you get from that in retail only lasts a minute nowadays anyway. And the final fight with the add waves followed by a boss was quite a pain too. I actually thought it was kind of funny that I complained in the context of the night elf heritage quest line that it felt kind of boring to have three powerful NPC escorts, and as if someone from Blizzard read that, the NPCs you get to help you out in the Draenei scenario do almost nothing and might as well not be there in terms of how helpful they are in combat.

Anyway, my 100th rant about awkward world scaling aside... this quest chain was really good. It starts a little slow, and I was once again reminded that I've become too good at recognising certain voice actors as I immediately spotted Darin De Paul and Max Mittleman again, but things quickly became more interesting.

Because it was such an enjoyable quest line, I don't want to spoil too much, but I'll say that it was interesting that the Draenei quest chain used the same framing device as the orc one, that of a people reviving an old celebration to look towards a better future... though the Draenei's problems are of course a bit different from those of the orcs.

We got to revisit several important Draenei locations, including the Exodar, Auchindoun and Bloodmyst Isle, a lot of known Draenei NPCs returned, and there were some nice touches with the dialogue. For example the Soultender in Auchindoun noted that he could sense that I had "already partaken of our ritual to see the dead", which I think was a callback to that one Burning Crusade quest line which I clearly must have done back in the day. I'm told there are also some dialogue variations for characters that have one of the new red skin customisations. I didn't look up anything until after I'd finished the quest line myself, but I wasn't surprised to find that reddit absolutely loved this one as well.

The ending definitely tugged at my heart strings... though I wonder if anything will ever come of the Draenei's plans to build a new city for themselves in game. Either way, it was a great piece of content that really struck the right tone and did a lot of world building.

1 comment:

  1. I did the heritage quests with Pallais, who is my oldest Draenei character. I enjoyed all of it and wish we could have more quest chains like this. I wish we had more story content like this in the game, especially when you have ending that can be considered upbeat. Nothing is promised or for certain, but the situation is one of striving for a better future.