|Looks nothing like Oz Clarke. Discuss.|
The days of Alpha for Frostfire Ridge may now have passed, at least in their current form.
It is hard to tell at this point if the Server will return as it was or whether Blizzard will push ahead with giving us the Alliance experience, but what we need to remember is that THE CLOCK IS TICKING. It's almost the end of June and we've not seen what happens past 92 yet, and that is going to continue to be a concern for the Developers because, you know, THEY NEED A WORKING EXPANSION. Let us take a moment therefore to look back on what we've learnt in the last couple of weeks.
1. Garrisons ARE AWESOME.
|SHUT UP PUNY ALLIANCE.|
I know I go on about this quite a bit, and there will be those of you who will argue that I am intentionally biased and all, but really, Garrisons are awesome. The killer now is whether they can work with everything else in the time-scales available, and if there will in fact be anyone left to play them when they launch. I'll still be here, whatever happens, and I'll continue to report on how integration stops your journey to 100 from being more of the same and transforms life into something considerably more interesting. Of course there are inevitably going to be those people who won't care either way because you never did to begin with, and you're life's not worth living without SOMETHING TO MOAN AT. It's okay, it's been that way for ten years, I'd be amazed if things changed now. For the rest of us? Time to sing along: take the 'Everything is Awesome' song from The Lego Movie and AWAY WE GO:
If I just earwormed you? YOU'RE WELCOME \o/
2. Questing is Very Engaging.
|Precedent. IT IS.|
I've done a decent amount of quest pokeage, both related to Garrisons and otherwise, and I think it is fair to say that I wasn't discouraged or put off by anything, despite having to spend large portions of my time without a pet to help out. I killed things, I gathered stuff but it wasn't the same: not just because its a new world, but because mobs behave differently. There are options to distract you and simply completing the tasks you are given is not the only option. The opening zone really is HUGE and it is quite easy to wander off the beaten track. The only thing I didn't get to have a poke at were the Bonus Objectives but I'll be making sure those get ticked off the list when we change sides.
I also include this screenie quite deliberately: there will be those who might complain about a wife staying at home to defend the town, but speaking as a woman whose Grandmother did just that during World War Two there is a fair lump of precedent here that means the 'past' (as this is) is probably quite accurate. Anyway, it's almost the weekend and I really don't want to bring that argument back up here. We all know Blizzard need to do better. I'm going to wait until I've seen the ENTIRE Expansion before I start making any kind of judgement call on social content.
3. More Rares than you could Shake a Stick At.
|That's ONE BIG Basilisk.|
They are everywhere, no really, you can't move for new experiences that have nothing to do with the questing 'norm.' The choice is yours: you can do the straight run to level and ignore them or take them all in, and they're no longer all static fights. Some, like the Canyon Icemother here are 'vignettes': as hard (at least IMO) as a dungeon bossfight, with as many different abilities to learn and counter. The rewards aren't too shabby either at level, and form part of a 'palette' of different items you can mix and match to gear yourself, as a suitable alternative to Dungeons or running PvP.
Even if you don't do it on the first character you choose to level to 100 I strongly suggest you spend time with an alt doing the Grand Tour in a different way. I'm also really glad that Blizzard are sticking to the 'no flying' rule because with zones this size it is very easy to see just how that would negate an awful lot of the content's longevity. Oh and before people jump on me again about there are ways to involve flying that need not impact on such things, I go back to thinking how different life would have been if at 70 you didn't recieve a Flying Mount, and how part of me wished it had now never happened.
4. It all looks SUITABLY EPIC.
|Riding Away from Home.|
This zone really does look spectacular from the air, and if we're meant to be reminded of Outland there are prompts everywhere, quite apart from the fact that this zone is what Blade's Edge Mountains finally ends up as (NOT A SPOILER.) I am aware that many people will get the hump on the Horde side about ICY WASTELAND but actually, it's not all it seems and you will need to explore to really understand what's going on. There are countless nooks and crannies too, odd places in the Hills that hint of interesting potential future use. It was kinda nice to be able to just wander around for a bit, frankly, while everyone else was off doing the boring stuff like testing abilities and running 5 mans. Yes, I KNOW that stuff matters, but SO DOES FAFFING, because the measure of a game's longevity is what the good people do when they run out of current content to keep them occupied.
Needless to say I feel there's plenty not simply to do, but also to look at, and that matters in equal measure.
5. Stuff changes REALLY Fast.
|Rare, not rare? LOOK AT THE DROP ^^|
It is also REALLY important at this point to refer you good people to the Post-It note I now have stuck to the corner of my PC Monitor which states, simply: THIS IS ONLY ALPHA. Many, MANY things have the likelihood of change written on them depending on what players say in testing. For instance, Materials were not specific enough for players to understand they are connected to the Garrison, so they got a redo (see yesterday.) It is entirely possible some of the stuff I have catalogued here may never see the light of day and will be consigned to my memory as history. The trick in all of this, especially to those who lament not having the Alpha to play with currently, is that what stays and what goes is still very much in flux. Therefore, robust testing may not take away your enjoyment of the final product because not all of it could remain.
My rare 'friend' up here wasn't completely done either, at least that's how I felt when I killed him. I just gotta remember where everyone is when it comes to Live so I can make a beeline for the places I know have goodies in them :D
Needless to say, as soon as there's a working Client up, wherever we end up, you'll see me there. I'll also do my best this weekend to put together some of my Twitch footage from the last couple of weeks so people can get a sense of what I've encountered in my journeys thus far.