World of Warcraft has changed a great deal since my last trip.
My return to World of Warcraft began with a difficult question: What character should I create? I initally rolled a Human Hunter in order to relive my glory days across the Eastern Kingdom as a Human Warlock named Beboper. I was struck by inspiration and used my nostalgia to set up a back story for my new character, sending him off on an adventure to seek out his Warlock father who vanished after Deathwing’s cataclysm. Talk about high drama! I was on board with the idea until I felt the pangs of guilt. Why waste time with a race I spent months with previously? I deleted my character and rolled a Dwarf but the guilt didn’t subside. I’ve seen Ironforge, I’ve been to Gnomeregan, I’ve been all over the Eastern Kingdom already. I brought my account up to date by purchasing the Mists of Pandaria expansion, which gives me access to the new Pandas, Goblins, Death Knights, and Blood Elf races. It was high time for something new, damn it, so I hopped the fence and created a female Blood Elf Hunter. With the hardest part of the game behind me, I was finally ready to play! I accepted a small handful of introductory quests and was shocked at how much the game has changed since my last visit.
Thanks to a series of new “Quality of Life” features, everything that made World of Warcraft a total chore have either been adjusted or removed. First and foremost, I love what Blizzard has done to streamline the questing experience. Targets are easier to spot because their names hover above their heads and glow a noticeable bright red. This makes them easier to spot in a crowd and takes away the confusion of accidentally killing non-mission critical enemies. The world and mini-map are more helpful than ever for kill quests because they now highlight a mob’s general area. This means I no longer have to bring up Thottbot and write down map coordinates! Hooray! These changes gives questing a much need boost in pace.
On the topic of speed, I don’t know what Blizzard has done but leveling up my character has never been so fast. My schedule affords me the chance to play a few hours during the week and I am on track to reach level 20 by my next session. Either more experience is rewarded for finishing quests or the amount needed to advance has decreased. Either way, I am seriously booking it. At this point, I am a few quests away from reaching Level 20 and collecting my first mount. I’m excited to get my transportation because having to walk between quest locations and cities is still a major drag. Especially in Silvermoon City. The place is so fucking big and naturally, my profession trainers chose to hang out at the most northern part of the god damned kingdom.
Fortunately, I only have to seek out profession trainers to advance my skills as Class Training has been thoroughly revamped. Between pre-Pandaria WoW and The Old Republic, I have grown accustomed to seeking out trainers to purchase new skills. This no longer applies as they are automatically added to my action bar at certain levels.
This, my friends, is fucking awesome.
It saves SO MUCH time and money! In the “Before Time,” I hated having to take a break from the action to find a trainer (typically confined behind city walls), pay for new abilities and then run back into the field to pick up where I left off. This new setup is so comfortable and streamlined and affords me the chance to try out the new skills immediately. While it’s easy for me to pine for the days of “Vanilla WoW,” there’s no way in hell I’d give up this feature.
The Talent system has also been upgraded. The Old Republic lifted Warcraft‘s skill tree wholesale, so I was thoroughly accustomed to dolling out points towards specializations in order to get new active and passive talents. The new Talent system takes away the skill trees and replaces them with something a little more comprehensible. Rather than use points, I get to select abilities at certain level milestones. I appreciate the simplicity of the new format, though I can’t help but wonder if I’m missing something. I mean, the new system seems too easy to understand. I can only conclude that something important has gone over my head.
The only serious complaint I have so far is inventory management. While I am grateful that a few early quests throw a few bags my way, the space isn’t nearly enough. Stuck with multiple four slot bags leaves very little space for loot drops and mission critical items, leaving me to endure the constant whining of my avatar as she cries out, “I can’t carry any more!” Selling loot, especially the type my character doesn’t need, is the best way to make money in the early game and I hate having to throw away other items, like cooking ingredients and crafting supplies, make room for other stuff. Too bad I don’t have a higher level Horde alt, I could fashion a larger bag and send it to myself! Now that I think about it, I should probably wander into town and see if I could purchase bigger bags.
My first dip into World of Warcraft after four years has been, so far, enjoyable. I haven’t played through any dungeons yet so I haven’t had a chance to group up with other players. As noted in the character select screen, the Hunter class is solo friendly. And it really is. With my range attacks and a pet to back me up, many of the quests and mob encounters are nothing I can’t handle. I’ll occasionally see a few other people but my guess is that they are spending their time outside of the starter zones (Silvermoon is completely barren). Once I get further away from the Ghostlands, hopefully I’ll make contact with my fellow members of the Horde.