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World of Warcraft: Cataclysm -- Hyjal Preview

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World of Warcraft: Cataclysm -- Hyjal Preview

Post by Yaznee! L4DS on Tue Jul 20, 2010 8:12 am

Some of you might have fond memories of the Hyjal of yesteryear. I
speak not of the Burning Crusade raid, where Archimonde would repeatedly
eat your face, but the Hyjal that could be accessed by ghost-walking
through the gates in Darkwhisper Gorge. You might recall passing several
ramparts, walking through ancient Highborne ruins, scraping past a
massive crater, and eventually stumbling upon Nordrassil, the massive
world-tree, where Archimonde's skeletal remains greeted you. The zone
was empty, and at the end of the path lay a little roadwork gate,
showing the zone was still under construction. For those who had the
opportunity to see it before the zone was shut, it was a showcase of
lore and awesome set pieces. That is where I headed when I first got my
hands on World of Warcraft:
Cataclysm
a month or so ago at Blizzard
Entertainment
, and that is, once again, where I spent my last few
days.


The Hyjal of today maintains several of the important landmarks -- most
notably Nordrassil, the crater, and the ruins. It is the first zone most
World of Warcraft: Cataclysm players are likely to visit, as it serves
the 79-81 level range. On the beta test realms at the moment, players
can teleport straight to the zone and begin questing, but it is likely
that, come launch, players will have to make their own way to Hyjal, and
it is likely that they will head to the largest and most recognizable
landmark -- the enormous world tree Nordrassil.


Nordrassil has become a sanctuary of sorts, and it -- and the entirety
of the zone -- is under the protection of a group known as the Guardians
of Hyjal. The Guardians are spread across the zone in several pockets
and serve as your quest givers. The head honcho of the Guardians may
ring a bell; Ysera is one of the five dragon aspects, like Alextrasza
and Malygos from Wrath of the Lich King. She's half-stuck in the Emerald
Dream (a sort of sister-world to Azeroth), and she commands you, after a
couple simple quests, to check on the status of some important nature
spirits at their respective shrines.




The quests in Hyjal mostly involve locating and reviving/protecting
these spirits and their shrines, but the nature of these quests is
varied, and some people won't help you with your task until you've
helped them. There are, of course, the standard fetch-quests, and the
"Kill This Rat/These Rats" quests, but often they have an interesting
spin put on them, or are tied to an interesting story. Take, for
example, an early quest in which players must collect and construct an
ancient staff. After all the pieces are collected and the staff has been
reconstructed, I was tasked with subduing a raging elemental in the
center of the famous crater. The elemental's name? None other than
Molten Core's Baron Geddon. The Baron retained a couple of his Molten
Core abilities, including Inferno, which would do an increasing amount
of damage to anyone in range, which meant that I had to time my attempts
to subdue him so that I wouldn't get fried. After that was done, I was
hit with his second retained ability -- Living Bomb. It's a cool little
nod to content that has since fallen by the wayside.


Later, you discover that the bottom half of Hyjal is basically in flames
(you might have also discovered this by using your eyeballs while
flying up to the tree). Trying to prevent further damage and undo the
damage that has already befallen Hyjal is another persistent theme. Deep
within the burnt territory, however, are some very cool locations, such
as Sulfuron Spire, which houses an as-of-yet inaccessible instance
(though Deathwing is perched outside at the moment).


The mighty Deathwing.




Further down the quest chain, I found myself entering the Realm of the
Firelord (Ragnaros!) for a quest of the kind I'd never encountered
before. I was told to grab a "Twilight Firelance" and hop aboard a giant
bird, and start knocking flying members of the Twilight's Hammer out of
the sky. I'd played the jousting quests that were released a few
patches ago, but these were different. The bird I was mounted on
basically moved by jumping mid-air. The reason, according to the quest
text, was because of the heat. My task was to basically maneuver the
beast near one of a dozen flying Twilight's Hammer members. When I got
close enough, my character would automatically smack 'em and they'd
fall. The following quest saw me doing the same thing, but while dodging
flaming boulders that fell from the sky. It was simple in theory, but
the bizarre movement method made it fun.





I'm also one of those players who enjoy reading the quest text, so I
could appreciate a quest on a different chain which sent me to collect
ten fuzzy, wuzzy critters from a burning forest. Sure, it wasn't super
involved, but the quest text was genuinely funny, and I don't mind the
occasional fluff-quest.


Another standout quest involved throwing bear cubs from atop a tree onto
a makeshift trampoline in order to rescue them. Naturally, I tested
what would happen if I were to "miss" the trampoline. Apparently, when a
bear falls from a great height and hits the hard, unforgiving earth, he
literally turns to dust. Both this, and the bird-back jousting, used
the vehicle system introduced in Wrath of the Lich King. It's the same
system that is used for many of the early quests for Goblins and Worgen.
It seems that Blizzard is using it to break away from tradition quest
models, and it's certainly working.


At this point in the beta, most things are still bugged or broken. Some
quests don't work, some of the rewards need to be tweaked, and most of
the difficulty needs to be either ramped up or ramped down. That said,
as a zone, Hyjal is interesting and varied, and the quest chains contain
an interesting mix of traditional and non-traditional quests.


Which zone are you most excited for? Spill the beans in the comments
below.

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Yaznee! L4DS
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