Questing – A Change of Pace

I thought the new talent trees would provide me with at least a week’s worth – although likely much more – of post subject to discuss, debate, and otherwise analyze. That isn’t the case, unfortunately! It’s quite obvious that the Death Knight trees are far from complete and that they were simply redesigned to be playable under the new system in the meantime – which, in all fairness, Blizzard freely admits in the very patch notes themselves. There just isn’t a whole ton to talk about – there aren’t any truly new talents (just some old ones combined), there are still numerous talents which are almost certainly slated for removal, and many of my/our previous conclusions (DW Unholy being superior to 2H Unholy, 2H Frost being very competitive, Unholy being GCD capped, etcetera) still hold as true as ever.

Short of wishlisting, which I dislike doing, there’s very little to say which hasn’t already been summed up in numerous other posts, or discussed to death for the past month and, as such, I figured I would branch off to another subject for this evening’s entry: Quests. I’m sure I’ll think of something worth talking about in regards to the new trees, but as exciting as it seems it should be… it just isn’t!

At any rate: Questing is one of the facets of WoW which has improved with every expansion – and for good reason, too; the leveling process is the only experience in this game which, quite literally, every single player undergoes. Some people raid, some don’t. Some people arena, some don’t. Some people craft, grind reputations, and/or load up on achievements… some don’t. Questing, however, is as good as gold. Blizzard knows that when they invest time and resources into further refining it, everyone will be witness to the results. The downside, of course, is that questing has weaker replay value than other developmental alternatives, but what can you do.

Unsurprisingly, questing continues to take a new turn (for the better, as I’ll argue) in Cataclysm.

Gone are the days where you can enter a new town, pile up a dozen quests in your log, then go about doing them.
Gone are the days where if you don’t like a quest, you can just skip it and move on.
Gone are the days where some quests are hidden away by drops you might never see, or NPCs you might never find.

Questing in Cataclysm is generally far superior to WotLK, yes, but it’s also very different – more so than most people probably realize, at least unil they actually experience it.

For the most part, it all goes back to phasing. Just think about it – how can you have a quest phase you when you might still have others left in your log which require mobs/npcs no longer accessible?

Thus, this is how questing functions in Cataclysm, new zones and old alike:

  • You never have more than 4 quests at a time (from a single zone). Usually only 2 or 3.
  • You need to complete all of your current quests (from a specific zone) to unlock the next couple (of that same zone).
  • Each zone has an “epic conclusion”, if you will – think a quest like the final Death Knight one.
    • Hyjal – You kill Ragnaros. Vashj’ir – You witness the naga subdue Neptulon. Etcetera.
  • Group quests appear to be completely gone.
  • Aside from “breadcrumb quests”, there are almost no chains which take you cross-zone.

On top of this, there are the already know features of superior itemization, extensive use of phasing, more varied quest type (not just kill/collect X of Y), and so on.

When you compare this to the current model of questing… suffice is to say, it’s quite the paradigm shift, and not everyone’s going to like it.

The Good

  • You can’t miss quests in a zone. It’s almost literally impossible! Because the questing experienced is so “funnelled”, if you were to miss a quest you wouldn’t be able to progress through the zone. As such, Blizzard has made it so that unless you’re blind, every quest will lead you to a new one.
  • Questhelper and other such addons are completely unnecessary. The fact is, when you have two or three quests at a time, you can reasonably figure out the optimal order in which to do them, not to mention the default UI does a perfectly solid job of telling you where to go these days (although it doesn’t always play nice with phasing).
  • The lore is so much more omnipresent. Because Blizzard can safely assume everyone will experience almost all of these quests without exception, they can incorporate vital aspects of the story into them without having to worry that some people might skip this or that chain and miss out. On top of that, since quests are much more than just “Kill X, Collect Y”, they tend to have more lore  about them regardless – even the boring ones.
  • The lack of group quests make it much more solo friendly.It’s always been a hassle to stop in the midst of leveling to find a couple other people to do a single quest. Most ended up simply skipping over them. No longer a worry.
  • Incredibly casual friendly. Due to phasing and due to the minor number of quests at any given point, each quest appears to progress the storyline so much more – even if it doesn’t actually grant you more experience. When you see the world literally changing around you, or see new quests open up after you just turned one in… that’s character progression, of a sort, and it now comes after every couple quests.
  • Everything Blizzard actually announced – more varied quest type, better rewards, etcetera.

The Bad

  • When progressing through a zone, you can’t skip any quests (aside from a very few, very rare exceptions). If you do, you can’t unlock the next couple, and thus you get bottlenecked. The downside here is obvious – what if you genuinely dislike a specific quest, for one reason or another, or what if there’s a bug which prevents you from completing a specific quest? You’re stuck in either situation.
  • Phasing can hamper the ability of a higher level player assisting a low level one, although with the seeming lack of group quests, I’m not sure that’s horribly meaningful.
  • From a time-to-level perspective, only being able to have a couple quests at a time is much less efficient. I wouldn’t worry too much about this, however – the quests you do have are much more streamlined, and the experience is adjusted appropriately. 80 -> 81 took me no longer than 70 -> 71 likely did way back when.
  • Loremaster is a pretty meaningless achievement, for obvious reasons.

Questing has never been more different… and never been more fun. It might trip you up the first time you get to a new town to only pick up a single quest, or you finish a zone only to notice that you didn’t have to group even once. It certainly caught me by surprise. But then you also realize how pleasant of an experience it was, and simply shrug your shoulders!

If you’re impatianet to experience it yourself, I will be streaming some time in Deepholm later this evening at 10 EST/7 PST (and going for several hours, most likely). It went rather well last time, and the few issues we had (server being unstable, crashing due to a bug… the fact that I didn’t realize until about 75% of the way through that my music was streaming too!) should all be resolved. Feel free to jump on by, over at All streaming is, apparently, recorded and saved by default, so feel free to peruse my initial start of the zone last night – just be aware of those aforementioned issues (the game crashing due to a bug in some random rock file in the zone, which affected most everyone but there’s a workaround, being the reason why the stream is split into like 7 actual clips) – and don’t worry if you miss this evening but would like to see it later on.

16 Responses to Questing – A Change of Pace

  1. zelmaru says:

    I really feel nervous about the possibility of getting bottlenecked by one lousy quest that won’t cooperate. I nearly didn’t get my DK out of the starting area because I repeatedly (like 5+ times) died on the same quest – and you can’t skip quests there.

    Excessive phasing can also be a pain. Hell, we can barely do summons to ICC because the stone is in a weird phasing area. It’s not so much about whether the “higher level” characters can help you, but it will even be hard to group with similar levels if they are on different phases of the same quest. Before, when we were on different steps of a chain, we’d just help groupmates catch up and then proceed together. Will that still be possible with phasing?

    Thanks for your beta reports!

    • Consider says:

      It depends on the specific happening of phasing in question. Sometimes you just won’t be able to see the same npcs as your friend, other times you won’t be able to see the mobs or, potentially, access the very area there at.

  2. Olanai says:

    “[W]hat if there’s a bug which prevents you from completing a specific quest?”
    Since everyone has to do the same quests (if they are questing in that zone), presumably it will be easier to find this kind of bug during beta 😉

    How does all this work for lower-level characters? For example, I have low-level alts I’m looking to level up come Cataclysm. How many “entry points” are there along the quest progression path in a zone, or quest hub? Do you have to basically do the whole quest hub from the start? Are the quest hubs dependent on one another to any extent or can you skip whole hubs to move on to the next one?

    And speaking of quests and death knights (mostly out of curiosity, not that I want to level another death knight in particular), has the series of Death Knight intro quests changed at all?

    • Consider says:

      Very true about the bug issue. Sometimes, though, patches break random things, so even if the questing experience is largely bug free at launch (which it almost certainly will be – Blizzard is pretty good about this type of thing), it doesn’t mean you can’t potentially get bottlenecked later on. On the plus side, it does mean Blizz would likely be quicker about fixing it.

      I’m not sure how it will play for characters who are in the middle of an Azeroth zone on live. I, unfortunately, don’t have any real sub 60 alts at the moment of which to transfer and see with. I could probably level a quick alt to the middle of Westfall, transfer, and see what becomes of it. It’s an interesting question.

      At any rate, quest hubs are generally dependent on the previous one of the same area – the first of each zone being the obvious exception. To open up a quest hub at the end of the zone, you typically have to have done the vast majority of the beginning/middle of the zone. Hyjal is a bit less linear, in the sense you have some leeway in how you do the various Ancient series, but you still have to have all of them done before you can then move on to the next part.

      I haven’t personally tried the DK beginnings, but it’s the same from what I’m told.

  3. Blighted says:

    Questing in beta has been a truly amazing experience. Just about every blends together with the next o9ne so you really feel like “YOU” are helping the NPCs, as opposed to being the next guy in line doing their bidding.

    One aspect you didnt touch on, that I think deserves merit is the occasional quest where you can turn it into yourself. Its difficult to explain how it works, or the feel of it, but the intention is almost as if Blizzard is using it as a means of your character itself determining what needs to be done next.

    For Example, in Vashj’ir (it happens a few times in Hyjal, but the example I am going to use is from last nights exploration in Vashj’ir) One of the quests has you kill an elite naga, who then drops a quest starting item. Right clicking on the quest informs you that you have found a treasure map, and asks you to find the key for the treasure. Upon killing the mob that has the key, the Objectives menu opens up, informing you that you have completed the quest, and instead of turning the key into someone, who tell you to go get the treasure, you turn it into yourself, and decide that you should go find the treasure, and turn it into X NPC later.

    The overall feel is almost like your character is making the decision, instead of being told what to do. This accomplishes a few things, but most notably, provides a feel of personal “opinion” for the quest, as opposed to being someone’s Gopher.

    Granted its in early development, and could be fine tuned a bit more, but I think as an early implementation that this method of questing could streamline a lot of the travel associated with leveling, taking some of the “boredom” out of it, while providing a more ‘personal’ feel.

    Other things to note, was the addition of a ‘free’ underwater mount in vashj’ir to help speed movement (all seen in the low level troll quest lines with you ‘hot rod’.

    Overall, the phasing, while occasionally annoying (I found a couple bread crumbs slightly lacking in Hyjal, and the in-game ‘quest helper’ pointing to some previously phased locations of certain mobs as opposed to their new location (but feedback will fix that in time), has allowed for ‘cut scene’ like events, introduction of newer characters (have to admit I laughed hard when the Shammy showed up in Vashj’ir to save my life, tossed a lava burst at a mob, and it blew up mortal kombat/corpse explosion style).

    All in all, I have been very pleased with the questing experience, and the higher level of thought put into the new aspects of cataclysm.

    As a side note, voices have been added for the goblins since this last patch, and by far my favorite thing they say is:

    “I like my women like I like my fuses, Short, hot, and ready to blow!”

    • Alrenous says:

      There’s new tech letting you hand in some Azshara quests by radio. It seems Blizzard’s putting real thought into the questing.

      I like Azshara but sadly the goblin levelling isn’t tuned yet and you end up overpowering everything. As per the earlier question…the zone is much lighter on the phasing than Vashj’ir or Hyjal. There are multiple quest hubs that are independent, at least as far as I’ve got.

  4. Coldfire989 says:


    I know it isnt about questing but since you make mention of it I REALLY dont want to be forced to be DW Unholy to be able to raid.

    • Rebellion says:

      While I understand you and don’t want to be pigeonholed into some kind of gameplay, the class never was build for, I have to admit, that DW Unholy at least makes alot more sense then DW Frost. DW Frost depends heavily on ToT while unholy already works without it. But I already mentioned that in an earlier reply, and I am probably biased about it, because Unholy just does not appeal to me any more with the runesystem changes.

      Anyway, as for the questing in Cataclysm, I’m eager to experience it myself. I enjoy it alot and beeing more part of the story is defineatly a good thing.

      Btw, while I’m at it, maybe I missed it until now, but when was Dark Simulacrum’s tooltip altered to:

      “Places a dark ward on an enemy that persists for 8 sec, triggering when the enemy next spends mana on a single-target spell, and allowing the Death Knight to unleash an exact duplicate of that spell. Against nonplayers, only absorbs some harmful spells.”

      Isn’t that just another AMS (only absorbs dmg) with a way more clunky mechanic (enemy has to spend mana) and a longer cooldown, from a pve perspective ? Kind of sad compared to what other classes get ..

      • Sag says:

        How long is the CD on Dark Simulacrum? I have heard that it was like 2 minutes. I think that is a bit long since I know a warrior’s spell reflect happens to me in pvp about every 30 seconds at least.

        It could be that the tooltip is still not 100% correct. I remember GC saying something like a DK can’t use dark simulacrum on a spell that cannot be spell reflected. Think like Sarth 3D, when sarth does a breathe attack that is a magic spell. A DK would not be able to simulate that, but he could still use dark simulacrum to absorb some of the damage. I’m sure when random NPC A casts shadowbolt and you cast Dark Simulacrum that after that shadowbolt hits you it does damage and you can cast it back at him. Maybe I am wrong in that assumption. Is this even testable yet?

  5. Abd says:

    Anyone knows if this going to apply to Outland and Northrend? I mean these questing changes.

    • Sag says:

      Some of these changes already happened for Outlands. There weren’t enough rare spawn mobs for those mobs to start quests, while in the vanilla areas there were a relative ton of rare mobs. 2nd NE town before Darnassus has a few quests that are like that, you have to go way the hell out of the way to find 3 quests, one a follow quest for a cat, you get a quest to kill harpies in the area, but never actually have to go as far north as the cat is. North east of where the cat is there is an odd fungus/plant growing. When you get near it there is a quest for you to take a plant sample across the zone to a guy. And lastly there is a rare mob that spawns on or near the river in that area that flows north out of the tree. That rare spawn drops an item that starts a quest, PITA.

      Also from the south sea pirates, they had a small chance to drop a pirate footlocker. In the footlocker they may possibly be 1 of 3 map fragments. Yeah… never got everything in order to do that quest, until I needed to grind up some BB rep… Yay Bloodsail Admiral Sag! Boo those damned goblin bruisers…

      Lastly the rare elite spawn in BB, near the goblin statue. He drops a quest item, as I recall that item actually starts a chain. It’s been a while since i have done it.

      The only times I remember things like that were drops off of the BEs in netherstorm, which you beat the crap out of on a daily basis (literally everyday kill them and intercept orders) anyway, and the tunnelers in hellfire. Those guys have drop items for quests, but they always seemed to drop within the first 2-3 mobs I killed.

      In wrath there were a few quests that if you looked where in the area you were sent to, but weren’t told to do. In stormpeaks you are sent to kill the val’kyr on the western side of the zone, north of frost hold. When you kill the named out there next to her there is a harpoon or something. The quest says something like”I’m sure greta wouldn’t mind if you destroyed more of the town…” I thought that was fun, and I had hoped to see more things like that.

      The dynamic questing stuff in beta though, I have no idea about. I was just saying the rough foundation for that has been set.

  6. Hinenuitepo says:

    I guess another question, which is I suppose off the topic a bit is leveling in general.
    Say we don’t want to quest to level.
    Can we still grind mobs or instance run repeatedly to level?
    Can we BG to level?

    Just nice to have those options…. at least as we level additional toons.

  7. Zeran says:

    Another question: since all the quests sound “sequential” in nature, are we going to be at a disadvantage if we switch progression tracks, so to speak? I mean if I level through LFD and BGs from 80-81, then I have to goto Mt. Hyjal and blow through the level 78 quests, getting iffy at best experience, to get to the level 80 quests, which I have to do to get the level 81 quests?

    I guess the short way to say this is, “Can I skip parts of the questing path, or am I going to be forced to skip the whole zone if I skip parts?”

    • Consider says:

      You’re going to be forced to skip the whole zone if you skip a part. For the most part. Some zones are more/less linearly than others, but in almost all of them, you have to at least complete one hub to go to the next to go to the next; the quests within a hub may not always have a set order, and rare ones are skippable, but still. You can’t just jump into a zone half-way.

      Particularly Hyjal. Hyjal is very linear. As is Vashjr. As is Deepholm. The old, lower level zones are less so, but even then.

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