Monday, June 29, 2009

Belated first impressions

Sure. I made the unimaginable thing.

I activated the WotLK trial. Without my brothers, I entered Northrend, trying to fight the expectations posed to me throughout the months the expansion itself has been around.

First of all, I have to say that the downloading and updating of the game client sucks. Big time. The game client took about 4-5 hours to download: not due to my connection, but because the downloader just couldn't get enough data to deliver. Secondly, after this was through, the updates from 3.00.00 till 3.1.9XX took 3 hours and 38 minutes (that's what the downloader told me). PLUS the installation/initialisation of the install.

So, it took almost 10 hours from the beginning of the download to the final, playable game.

Purchased game would have cut that in half, because the 3+ hours of patches would have been there, still.

Enough technicalities. Off to Stormwind and Northrend.

Valiance Keep. The entry to the city-castle is impressive: the icebergs floating in the sea, the flashes of the cannons and the occasional trembling of the ground. The game-not-to-be-named had a slogan which suits here exceptionally well, and is in fact the carrying theme of the Borean Tundra: The War is Everywhere.

The recruiting queue, the mission briefings, everything in the Valiance Keep points to the fact that this keep is doing it's best to keep the foothold of the Alliance in the area. And as you move outside of the keep, the war hits you in the face: the marauding troops of the Nerubians keep pushing the human defenders to the brink of falling.

What really pleased me to see was the fact that your character was greeted as a hero by all the people in Valiance Keep. The initial questgiver giving the directions to the keep's master especially stated so and thus the initial storyline was started.

But then started the congestion of storylines and all of a sudden -even though I read all the story texts- I was swamped with a notion that I don't know what story this specific quest belongs to!

My first impressions can be summed up in one sentence: Outlands, but more of the same.

Ok, have to have something positive to say. The initial quests give gear rewards which improve the easily acquired Outlands blue gear pretty nicely, which was to be expected. The way how the gear is handed out is just plain slap on the face though: every quest gives you a choice of all basic types and the initial plate is geared towards warriors... protection warriors especially, being +STA gear. With odds and ends of other bonuses.

The loot, on the other hand, has proven to be a bit disappointing. Where in Outlands you could hope for an easy blue or good green as a drop, here in the six+ hours I played I got only three adequate greens. A couple of recipes were a plus, but otherwise the drops have been disappointing.

Like I said, there is too much to get oneself immersed into the problems and difficulties of the human settlers and Tuskarr/Kvaldir-conflicts, and the amount of factions poured over my poor head was way too much.

There is no coherrence in the area, all is just a jumbled mess.

What I realized was that the way to steer a character on a 'route' in this kind of a world would have been the Fighting Fantasy gamebook approach: at the questgiver you can decline or approve the quest, and either choice would open different opportunities at the next quest. In this 'every quest is open to everyone right away' approach the stories in the game get lost and I have to say that I enjoyed more the few hours I hunted down a couple of elites in Netherstorm with my brother, than the jumbled mess of stories in the Borean Tundra.

I can only wish it gets more interesting later on.