Questing – A Change of Pace
July 15, 2010 16 Comments
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.
- 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.
- 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 http://www.livestream.com/consider. 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.