World of Warcraft: The Burning Crusade - First Impression

"He will win who, prepared himself, waits to take the enemy unprepared." - Sun Tzu

"You are not prepared." - Illidan Stormrage, The Betrayer

IMAGE(http://www.gamerswithjobs.com/files/images/wowmain_0.jpg)

The last time I invaded the world of Draenor through the Dark Portal it was being torn asunder in its 2-D tileset glory by the old Orc shaman Ner'zhul in the Warcraft 2 expansion Beyond the Dark Portal. In the closing of that game, the storied Alliance generals Turalyon and Khadgar, in a final bid of ultimate sacrifice, destroyed the great Dark Portal at the edge of the Hellfire Penninsula, closing the rift between the Outland of Draenor and Azeroth forever.

Or, at least until Blizzard Entertainment, developers of the super-ultra-mega-hit World of Warcraft could figure a reasonable enough deus ex machina to open the damn thing back up and open a new world to high level characters for their storied MMORPG.

Game: World of Warcraft: The Burning Crusade
Platform: PC
Hours Played: 16 + 830 w/out expansion
*First Impressions*

The Great Equalizer

The Dark Portal is the center of Warcraftian lore, and has been abused and penetrated more often than the new girl at the Moonlite Bunny Ranch. For players who have invested themselves in the history of Azeroth since the first Warcraft: Orcs vs. Humans, to stand before the open portal from which the Horde spawned and surged is to feel a sense of grand accomplishment for one's virtual avatar. When finally, with the The Burning Crusade installed and my account upgraded, the Dark Portal opened for me, I mounted my Kodo and stepped through to a world I'd not seen since my 486DX was a top-of-the-line rig.

The expansion does a remarkable job of building on one of World of Warcraft's most significant strengths, creating an engaging world that demands your participation. Players are met with a grand sight on entering the world of Draenor, a monumental battle against titanic creatures of the Burning Legion who seek to halt the Azerothian advance through the portal. For active members of a raiding guild, the harder-core segment of players with complete sets of gear and memories of slaying demi-gods, it is a tantalizing hint of content to come, but for those multitude who have never faced creatures of this grand stature before, to step through the Dark Portal is to feel like finally you are getting a taste of heretofore inaccessible content.

The Outland, and the immediately accessible content within, levels the playing field between hardcore and casual players. Within hours, as soloable quest rewards to be dropped for players of any experience and ability replace gear that demanded months of coordinated raiding or endless PvP sessions, those once locked out of Azeroth's more remarkable wonders because they couldn't meet gear or time demands will be wearing armor and wielding weapons superior to what anyone of any ability was equipping the day before.

One might imagine that negating two years of work for long-time World of Warcraft players in the span of an evening might alienate hardcore players, but instead most have reacted with a lust for vaulting the bar, which was so quickly raised so high. Instead of jealousy there is giddiness as the anticipation and enthusiasm for new content, new skills and new equipment vastly outweighs any sense of futility. With so much to look forward to in Draenor, Blizzard makes it very hard to feel any regret for the lands, creatures and equipment you leave behind.

Outlandish Content

For such an unfriendly land as Draenor, it is remarkably well partitioned into discreet and engaging encounters. Quests are plentiful, and though most are narrative disguises for familiar kill or collect quests, the areas are visually compelling, the enemies interesting and the story that develops of Outland expansion satisfying. While the game, by nature of the genre, constantly risks putting the player in a position of feeling exhausted of repetition, Blizzard has a good sense of putting small twists and events into their quests that gives players a sense of accomplishment even as hundreds of other characters are doing the exact same thing the exact same way. One centerpiece quest, gloriously repeatable, involves riding a flying mount over elite-level creatures and dropping bombs on an enemy staging area. It's a remarkably fun, if easy quest, and does a wonderful job of breaking up any sense of monotony.

The Hellfire Peninsula, the first of seven new high-level world zones, offers virtually every opportunity for the full complement of players. Solo questers have no shortage of duties to fill out. Gamers looking to build on new tradeskills have immediate access to content, recipes and components. Fans of player-versus-player combat are given three contested areas to fight over with worthy rewards for battle. And, those seeking instanced quests will find multiple wings of the Hellfire Citadel to explore with four friends.

These early instances, including The Ramparts and The Blood Furnace offer strong rewards with relatively minor time investment. Both instances can be completed in an evening, and each one offers numerous fights that are challenging without being inapproachable. Even pickup groups of relatively inexperienced level 60 characters can enjoy the Citadel while seasoned groups will be able to complete both instances without much trouble, though the rewards and the dynamics of the fights should make the time more than worthwhile for both sets of players.

Newbieville

But, the high level content is only one half of what The Burning Crusade has to offer. The expansion also opens the door on two new playable races, the Horde Blood Elf and Alliance Dranei, both with new cities and two low-level starter zones. Through these new races the Paladin and Shaman classes are, for the first time, available to both Horde and Alliance, hopefully ending the long and bitter cross-faction jealousy where the Horde endlessly complained about the game-breaking Paladin qualities of temporary invulnerability and the Alliance endlessly complaining about the game-breaking Shaman qualities of frost shock. Of course, in the infant hours of the expansion, both factions endlessly complained about how many level 1 Dranei Shaman and level 1 Blood Elf Paladins were running around hacking at things, but in time it's reasonable to expect things to balance out nicely.

While the new low-level areas provide a relatively organized path through the early levels, they are not quite as inspired as the world beyond the Dark Portal. By necessity much of the content is a glorified tutorial introducing the new abilities and conflicts while offering the same kinds of quests players experienced in Brill, Goldshire or Razor Hill. Fortunately, the organization of both areas makes leveling an efficient process, and pushes you in relatively short order out into the familiar world proper.

And once ejected into the traditional world of warcraft, even the familiar world has changed in some subtle, and occasionally not so subtle ways. Instead of leaving the existing continents of Azeroth and Kalimdor completely unscathed in the aftermath of the reopened Dark Portal, the expansion has given Blizzard a nice opportunity to shake up existing zones while adding new content previously barren locations.

Time Sinks Like The Titanic "… Again

The expansion is, in short, grand and almost overwhelming in its scope. Sixteen hours of play, usually a reasonable volume of time to get a firm grasp on even epic games, grants me only the barest glimpse of what awaits. To speak in an informed manner on the full scope of the expansion, to be able to talk about flying mounts, and socketed items, and jewelcrafting, and the new epic raids, and the full potential of the new classes, and the new PvP areas, and the new post-60 talents and abilities and the hundreds or thousands of tiny Blizzard touches that consistently elevates their products above most others will require hundreds of hours on top of the hundreds of hours countless players have already invested.

But, this first impression is incredibly positive, and fairly representative of the mood of the player base. Server stability and population maintenance in the aftermath of the launch was near flawless, a starling result for a game trying to manage eight million players. The party atmosphere that anxiously awaited the opening of the Dark Portal hasn't really abated, and the reaction to the new worlds of warcraft has, it seems, exceeded the incredible expectations of many players.

It seems that The Burning Crusade is exactly what many players hoped it might be. Maybe even better.

IMAGE(http://www.gamerswithjobs.com/files/images/WoWScrnShot_011707_193821.thumbnail.jpg) IMAGE(http://www.gamerswithjobs.com/files/images/wowshot.thumbnail.jpg) IMAGE(http://www.gamerswithjobs.com/files/images/WoWScrnShot_011507_214130.thumbnail.jpg)

IMAGE(http://www.gamerswithjobs.com/files/images/WoWScrnShot_011807_130038.thumbnail.jpg) IMAGE(http://www.gamerswithjobs.com/files/images/WoWScrnShot_011807_125631.thumbnail.jpg)

- Elysium

Comments

While the new low-level areas provide a relatively organized path through the early levels, they are not quite as inspired as the world beyond the Dark Portal.

On an artistic level, I have to disagree. I was not planning on starting YAA (yet another alt), but I started playing in the blood elf area and was constantly overwhelmed and compelled by it's aesthetic. The synergy of the art style with the terrain and buildings is just fascinating. Hence, I now have a level 10 paladin.

It seems that The Burning Crusade is exactly what many players hoped it might be. Maybe even better.

My first impression is "better".

Wow, 8 million. That's just an incredible number, when you think about it. Playing a game of this scope, never thought it would happen.

Elysium wrote:

has been abused and penetrated more often than the new girl at the Moonlite Bunny Ranch.

Hey, they got to earn a living too.

The geography of the new worlds is incredible. The craftmanship shows that the same teams who created the amazing and varied vistas in Feralas and Azshara were really let loose in the Outlands. The visuals are like a battle of one-upmanship. Before getting knee deep in the new quests and recipes and instances I suggest going for a ride. A few of us managed to explore 3 zones without much trouble, very little fighting just riding and looking. There's a faction town (everyone is unfriendly, but will not attack) in Nagrand called Aeris that I particularly recommend.

Dont forget to look up too.

I agree. Everything just fits, and even though some of the stuff is still a bit repetitive, they do a great job of covering it up. The new world is extremely fun to explore, and I've only put 30 or so hour into it and just peeked into the neighboring zones.

I was a bit hesitant, but like a few of you in the beta told me before, it would be like I was starting over fresh again. That was the most important thing to me playing again, to explore a really cool new world, and Blizzard has succeeded and exceeded my expectations.

I'll have to say: "What Swat and Elysium have said"...I've only been in Draeni areas and while the quests et.al. are familiar, I like the graphics, the pallette colors, etc. The Erador is amazing....

its awesome so far... Blizzard really puts effort into their products.. and damn them they take their sweet time doing it but in the end the polish shows.

So, is the flying mount in fact mandatory for completing key missions ? Do I absolutely HAVE to grind my ass off to get the mount ?

Did they make the distances between areas pointlessly large as to make the player go "Man, my horse sucks. I need a mount." ?

shihonage wrote:

So, is the flying mount in fact mandatory for completing key missions ? Do I absolutely HAVE to grind my ass off to get the mount ?

Did they make the distances between areas pointlessly large as to make the player go "Man, my horse sucks. I need a mount." ?

I heard that the last instance(s?) (level 70 stuff) is only accessible by flying, but I could be wrong. It's going to be awhile before anyone has a flying mount; I believe you have to be level 70 before you can buy one. As for the zones being too big, I've stuck close to Hellfire Peninsula, but it seems that they are pretty good about parceling out flightpoints.

So, is the flying mount in fact mandatory for completing key missions ? Do I absolutely HAVE to grind my ass off to get the mount ?

Not that I'm aware of. The quest I was referring to you are put on a flying mount, but it flies a static path and returns.

Elysium wrote:

The last time gamers invaded the world of Draenor through the Dark Portal it was being torn asunder in its 2-D tileset glory by the old Orc shaman Ner'zhul in the Warcraft 2 expansion Beyond the Dark Portal.

Wrong. Frozen Throne was the last time gamers were in Draenor. Obviously, I'm the superior nerd. Whether I'm proud of that, I will decide later.

Shiho, I can see what you're getting at, implying that Blizzard is artificially trying to make you want to keep playing so you can save up to access new content with a new mount, etc.

The skeptic in me totally agrees that a system is in place to keep getting your $15 a month. However, the gamer in me is relishing at the amount of polish and tender love and care this company has put into it's product. It really is a testament to it's franchise, and a excellent treat to it's fans.

I quit playing before after having "been there, done that" too many times. As soon as games stop being fun, mechanics or not, I'm not paying $15 a month. With the Burning Crusade however, I know they've got me hooked for quite a while - so far, the content is absolutely amazing.

And again, I bid a bit of a farewell to some of my other games. Although this time I'm going to try my hardest to pace myself and enjoy them at the same time. I have a feeling it will be a while until the next expansion anyway

shihonage wrote:

So, is the flying mount in fact mandatory for completing key missions ? Do I absolutely HAVE to grind my ass off to get the mount ?

Did they make the distances between areas pointlessly large as to make the player go "Man, my horse sucks. I need a mount." ?

The Outland is a broken plane so there are bits of land that you can see floating here and there. I imagine there is some content/quests etc on those bits and maybe some of it is significant. They would certainly want to make getting the mount both desirable and worthwhile.

As far as grinding to get it goes, it seems like gold is flowing a lot more freely. In 2 nights of playing with no grinding and a lot of time spent just sightseeing, I've collected about 70gold. Even if things just stay on the same pace and I never grind for gold or find great loot to sell, it seems like I'll hit the gold payment for the mount in a couple of weeks.

Yeah the gold advancement is pretty quick, I was a couple hundred shy of an epic mount on my hunter, but I got that fairly quickly.

It's nice having a bunch of vendor trash items worth 1-2.5g each, as well as a single quest can give you 5g as well as an item you can vendor for 5g. And there's a lot of quests.

Starting over with a new character, playing a class I hadn't every played before and playing as a new race, plus seeing all new content, beautiful content at that, really brought the joy of Wow back. I'll probably never get a character to 60, let alone 70, but damn if I'm not having a blast again playing BC.

Good review.

Arrrghhh. I haven't played WoW for 2 years. This is making me want to pick it up again. Stop tempting me!

I have 2 things to add.

The first is that everyone must visit Silvermoon just for the aesthetic.

The second is everyone should start up a newb blood elf and Draenei and go to a crowded city and use the dressing room on ever level 60 you see. The new races, especially the females, make everything look astounding!

The quest design in the newbie areas is one of the strongest parts. Its seems like the more quests you do the more open up. Also the quest givers are always near the objectives rather than running across the Barrens and back. It was so hard to go back to regular WoW once I played the beta.

I wasn't in on the beta - and I'm glad I wasn't. The fun I've had in exploring, experiencing and seeing Outland for the first time has been beyond my expectations. From the perspective of a player the release was flawless (aside from the patch issue and blizzard downloader).

I've been playing WoW since it's initial release and it's sweet seeing new content, worlds, items, and quests. Everything just fits and it works - and I'm digging that. They've added complexity without complicating the game. That's rare.

The lands are more dense and lush, environments more complex and interesting in their layout. The music is better, the background sound effects have more depth and are more emotionally tied to their environs.

Once I get my bearings (I've only put in 12 hours) I can't wait to start doing runs with all you guildies in all the new instances. Let's rock.

-Ubiq

Just a note - you'll notice Jason Hayes (who did the Warcraft III and original WoW soundtrack) is absent from the music credits. Blizzard actually pulled in the quinessential fantasy-yanni music talent, David Arkenstone FTW. http://www.google.com/musica?aid=xs6qmzzl6&sa=X&oi=music&ct=result. Among his body of work he's known for the "Music Inspired By Lord of the Rings" soundtrack. Good stuff IMHO - even if it has the tinge of a 70's uber fantasy epic (which might be the point). Rock on.

EBGames never ceases to provide comprehensive, well thought-out game reviews from your average Joe.

The WoW games are just totally boring the Wii, xbox 360, and playstation 3 are all way better than PC games console games have sweet games like Halo 3, Gears of War, Grand theft auto, Guitar Hero,etc. DOWN WITH PC UP WITH CONSELE

Thank you, Joe. Now let's move on to our next contestant, Joe's retarded brother.

this is probably the best game ever made i mean come on the graphics are untouchable espically using the new keyboard its uber cool i waited in line for 3 hoursLOL i play bout a 7 - a dozen hours depending how long i stay online ar am outsude picking up my old horses @%$# but yea so. if ur playing and one of the glitches come up like the one with the dog in the picture frame and the fly swatter. Just DO NOT PANIC trust me very seroiusly just press ! and the glitch is gone yes ur welcome so i have no life at all and neither do any of u other ginger half breed day walkers who play this game. im out THE DAWG peace out bra's.

Blizzard just gets it right.

Yes, the whole levelling thing is repetitive, even for the level 60s...the Blood Elves look like hentai extras, and I can't say the Draeni really add anything to the alliance other than the capablity to sate that "I wish I rolled a Tauren" urge....but the artwork, the whole vibe of the new areas, the quest structure for the new races....it's dead on.

And then I went through the portal. OMG. The quests in Outland are a distillation of everything that makes the upper level instances so good: tough fights, great drops, a sense of satisfaction for nailing two bosses in a row (wiped on the third)....absolutely perfect.

I really wonder what the other MMOs, hell, the other RPGs are going to do to compensate. This expansion is the gaming equivalent of the iPhone: it takes something familiar, and improves upon it in just about every way.

I looove the Blood elf male hair choices.. So very androgenous..and sexy!
Also Dranei females are kinda hot! The expansion is great so far for me, I'm enjoying just looking at stuff and seeing my hot little hooved legs and tail sashay back and forth as I kill giant moths for a while.

....
Too much info?

I'm 1/2 way to 63 and the comment I've made the most is "Holy crap, more quests!"

LOL, oh snap, Illidan just pwned Sun Tzu.

Yeah, there really are a lot of quests, and it doesn't get any fewer when you get to the new zones. Netherstorm in particular has a crap-load of quests.

And I have to say that flying mounts are the best thing ever. It gives you a sense of freedom I have never felt in a game before. Blizzard really did outdo themselves on that. Even though they are expensive as hell.

And everyone should look forward to Nagrand and Zangarmarsh. The two most beautiful zones in the game. Love them, just love them

Ganguro wrote:

I looove the Blood elf male hair choices.. So very androgenous..and sexy!

Translation: Very Anime

Sounds like a great thing. I don't play the game, but I did get sent this link and you might be interested. Some French guy ground his way to level 70 in 28 hours.

http://www.pro-g.co.uk/news/17-01-20...

The Outland, and the immediately accessible content within, levels the playing field between hardcore and casual players. Within hours, as soloable quest rewards to be dropped for players of any experience and ability replace gear that demanded months of coordinated raiding or endless PvP sessions, those once locked out of Azeroth's more remarkable wonders because they couldn't meet gear or time demands will be wearing armor and wielding weapons superior to what anyone of any ability was equipping the day before.

This is not really true, at least for me as a warrior. The caster gear is what seems to be getting upgraded quick in the first few levels, with lots of plus damage and healing items dropping in Ramparts and the Furnace. I have yet to replace any of my BWL or ZG epic dps gear after doing the majority of Thrallmar quests and running the first two instances several times. This is fine by me, considering how much time, gold, and DKP I invested in this stuff. Hopefully it will last me until level 64-65. Nothing I've seen yet even comes close to what the top-tier guilds raiding AQ40 and Naxx the last few months are wearing. Casual players who think TBC will suddenly propel them to this level in the first day are mistaken...

No, but the majority of players I've seen aren't in Naxx or AQ40 gear, so it's fine by me. What it has done is brought a lot of people who didn't raid before a lot closer to the median player base. The ultra high end raiding nerds should still be fine for the next few levels i'd imagine I'm sure if you're already decked out you don't see what the fuss is about, but for us mortals, it's been a significant upgrade from our Tier-0 and 1 dungeon sets etc.

And that level 70 guy had the help of 39 friends so while it's cool he hit it that fast, it's hardly fair to compare to people soloing the content I bet you he owes his guild big time!

The caster gear is what seems to be getting upgraded quick in the first few levels, with lots of plus damage and healing items dropping in Ramparts and the Furnace.

Just sounds like bad luck. We did Ramparts and the Tank upgraded 3 items with Blue drops.

Last night was the most fun I've had on WoW in a long time.

I bought an engineering bag, so I was going through my bank, rearranging some stuff, cleaning out some stuff I don't really use anymore, and I came across a trinket I made that I hadn't used since probably Gnomeregan.

And then I had a thought.

Went back to Hellfire Peninsula, stripped down to my undies, and charged a Fel Reaver. Yes, one of those giant, level ?? mechanical elites. The key word being... mechanical.

I zapped him with my Gnomish Universal Remote. Yes, I was in control of a 700 foot monstrosity. It was amazing. I couldn't stop laughing. Granted, he was mightily pissed off when I lost control, and died in about 3 hits, but it was worth it. Attempted it a few more times, didn't always work, but when it did, it was beautiful. I didn't even mind the 4g repair bill at the end of the night.

Best WoW moment I ever had.