onsdag 7. januar 2009

I like trolls.

I really do. My favorite ever instance is still Zul'Farrak, I get a small thrill just thinking of the Zul'Jin fight in Zul'Aman, I still remain hopeful that the Zul'Gurub raptor will one day drop for me. I'm not particularly fond of the rastafarian emotes, I'll admit, but at least they didn't make them sound like Canadians or Borat - it could, to a large extent, have been worse.

So the idea of a whole troll zone in Northrend thrilled me from the beginning. Even after release, after listening to weeks of rants both online and IRL about the horridness of the place, after hearing my roomie's yells of "*insert strong curse*" every time a quest there bugged (and they do!) at 4am, I went in there with a sense of expectation. A little bit of "how bad can it be?", a little bit of "mmmm trolls" and a little bit of "I'm sure it's just a hype anyway". Boy, was I wrong.

Zul'Drak is, for all intents and purposes, a questing hell. The topography is ridiculous, the size of the area is far larger than the content presented should allow, the location of elements are often so random it really makes no sense at all, and the lore is (especially after having experienced the Wrathgate and Voldrassil content in previous zones already) plain boring. The worst thing is, however, the constant nuisance of questing.

When doing the regular quest-chains, you start where you're supposed to, clear the hub, move on to the next hub with a "Talk to the NPC"-quest. It's an established pattern that have served the game surprisingly well up until now, considering the blatant simplicity of it. In Zul'Drak, Blizzard appear to have experimented with the scattering of chains. When you start out, you find yourself charged with a 3-man group quest and no less than two new directions through NPCs within the first ten minutes. In short, unless you can find a group or help right away, you're bound to this hub for a while, even after you clear the regular solo-content. The scattering of hubs continues as the first thing you get from one of the new NPCs is yet another "go there and talk"-assignment, and just to put some icing on the cake, you get to pick up random quests in the field while getting there as a bonus. By simply flying around the area without doing anything but establishing hubs, you find yourself on three full hubs within a very short amount of time.

This isn't an ideal situation, nor is it in theory all that bad. What really makes it frustrating, is the aforementioned size and topography. I did this with an epic flying mount, and even then it kinda annoyed me how much travelling you needed to do, and how boring it got after a while to constantly shake off aggro, steer between enough obstacles to make several Disneyland rides while always watching out for the 700K hp elite that roams the road, just waiting to oneshot you. I can't even imagine doing this effectively on a ground mount - the thought alone gives me shivers down my spine. The quests themselves do not help - it is clear that a lot of the ideas Blizzard had for the Death Knight starting area (which really is a powerhouse demonstration of brilliant design) that didn't fit, ended up here. No matter how interesting quests appear to be as they enter your questlog, they all end up in the same repetetive "ride-kill-collect-repeat" pattern. Northrend up until Zul'Drak have been soaring with great quests, fun and interesting ideas from the developers, making the quest process itself as interesting as the rewards. And then, out of nowhere, you enter a zone where everything really is just a disguised grind, bringing the thoughts back to how fun it was to get Exalted with Timbermaw Hold.

I do like trolls. But Zul'Drak is, in terms of design, a low point in World of Warcraft. I hope, for future content, that Blizzard too realize this, and keep up the amazing work they did in Dragonblight and Grizzly Hills.

2 kommentarer:

David sa...

a little bit of "mmmm trolls"??

Grim sa...

The disneyland comment just makes me think of Zul'Drak-Land. Come, come! Watch the amazing Troll That Cant Dance! See the world's smallest Zul'Drak Berserker!

Those who want a thrill will love the Amphitheater's Anguish-Rollercoaster, and we sell cheap Bowls'o Brains at the corner there!

But yes.

Told you.