The levelling experience has been improved dramatically. Certainly it seems to have sped up a lot (that or you really do just get caught up so don't notice the time going by!). Each zone feels much more coordinated now - story and quest lines all flow together, leading you logically from one area to the next. There are still some little quests around which you can either skip or come back to later, but the majority seem to be interconnected, often starting with one or two quests to introduce you to the zone which develop into a whole host of additional quests.
For those who will be working on Loremaster in this expansion, the new zone objectives will make it a lot easier, and it's also very easy (and fun) to get all the quests in each zone to get them. Many friends and myself checking out the new zones on alts found it very easy to get the achievements by simply following all the quest lines, completing the zone and moving on to the next.
The quests themselves are a ton of fun. There's a mix of old and new quests as far as I've seen - most all have been revamped in some way, but there are still ones that are unchanged (the two children in Redridge are still losing their necklace in the Lake, for example). The quests are really interesting and fun, and though there are still the 'kill x amount of creatures' and 'collect y amount of items', they're mixed in with a lot of unique tasks and mechanics and just all around fun. I highly recommend reading the quest text! You're definitely missing out if you don't.
I haven't had a chance yet to check out all the zones (some guildies I know have been working quite quickly through all the Loremaster achievements), but I've really enjoyed the ones I've seen so far, and thought I'd share some (...many) screenshots of some of the highlights so far!
Spoiler alert: The screenshots and text below may contain some spoilers if you haven't yet done the zones. I'll try not to give away too much, but just in case, read on with caution!
|Surveying the ruins of Auberdine.|
I was very excited to find Shan'do Stormrage in Darkshore, who had not yet travelled to Mount Hyjal. There are some fun quests as you travel around gathering help for him to repair the land.
|A very sad Moonkin.|
|Assistance from the Green Dragonflight.|
|Protecting Darkshore from trolls.|
|If the new Tree of Life form looked like this, I might not have glyphed Treant form.|
|Finally I returned to Lor'danel and got little Withers.|
After Darkshore I made a quick swing by Alterac Mountains to check out one of the other new pets, the Singing Sunflower. There's also Mr Grubbs from the Eastern Plaguelands, who's not as long a grind as I had first thought (I found him quite quickly). The Sunflower is from the Plants vs Zombies game and quests, which was quite a lot of fun. I'd never played PvZ before so it was an interesting experience!
I then went to the Badlands. There were a ton of great quests here, including a nice long chain involving dragons and some fun little riddles and games. By far though the best quests were the three 'The Day that Deathwing Came' quests. They take place just by Dragon's Mouth at the Scar of the Worldbreaker.
As you can tell just from those screenshots, this is an amazing quest! One of the best quests I've done. I won't include the screenshots from all three of the quests here, as they're definitely best as a surprise, but if there's any quests you make sure to do, these three are it. The only thing I'd change is to implement an option for you to go back and speak to the NPCs and ask to see their stories again, so that you could repeat the little quests over and over (without any XP gain though). I'll be going back on all my alts! I'll include this last shot as the red sky just looks amazing behind Deathwing.
That is really just the smallest sample of some of the amazing new quests out there, and even just those two zones there are a ton of great quests. I've gone through all of Westfall and Redridge now as well, and Alliance (and even Horde who wouldn't mind levelling up a toon 1-20 Alliance-side) should definitely check these zones out.
|Playing in the tornadoes in Westfall.|
|Epic battles in Redridge.|
Unfortunately I don't have a good screenshot of that as it was incredibly unexpected! I was running through the Burning Steppes to Blackrock Mountain, so the sky was already quite red, and had just noticed something large in the sky in the distance and was thinking 'What is that?' when BAM. Dead druid.
I'm looking forward to checking out all the other zones and working on Loremaster. I'm very glad I didn't bother trying to complete it before 4.0, as going through all the new zones is going to be great. I'm also looking forward to levelling a new toon, though I think I'll be waiting for Cata to land so I can roll a Worgen warrior. I just might even level another druid at some point (troll perhaps?) but we'll see!
Also, for those who don't play with the in-game music on, I definitely suggest turning it on! The new music is really great and definitely adds to the atmosphere in the zones.
I'll leave this here for now. Just over a week now until Cataclysm arrives! I can't believe it's almost December already. I'm working on getting the guides updated so they'll be ready for the launch and the push to 85. I imagine they'll be getting many little updates over the initial weeks and months of Cataclysm as well, as I'm sure Blizz will be making adjustments and changes as everything goes live and much more data than they had on Beta starts to flood in.
|Scar of the WorldBreaker.|