[Cataclysm] Darkshore – How to destroy and rebuild a zone right

cata_darkshore

(Looks a bit less … purple …)

I must admit, I have never been a fan of Darkshore. It was a very long zone that required much running up and down. It contained one of the most hated quests in the old unrevamped Azeroth (Deep Ocean, Vast Sea). I’ve also never been fond of night elves, who never quite fulfilled their initial promise of being wilder and more savage than the priggish Tolkien inspired elves of standard fantasy fic.

But BOY have Blizzard done a number on that zone now.

cata_deadgriffs

Wait, I remember those hippogriffs and the flight master – what happened to them all?

When you get to Darkshore now, Auberdine is gone, swept away in a tidal wave caused by the Cataclysm. Your first quests are to try to help find and save survivors. If you’ve ever run the zone in the past, you may recognise some of their names. They’re the old quest givers and NPC denizens of Auberdine. You’re finding their bodies washed up on the beach, Some you can help to safety and … some you can’t.

The most poignant of the early quests is from one of the hunters you save who wants to know what happened to his beloved pet. (You may even remember seeing him and his bear in old Darkshore as a quest giver.) Usually in these types  “Please find my lost NPC!” quests, the prognosis for the lost redshirt isn’t good. In this case, Blizzard turn the trope around on its head to provide one of the more emotional questlines in the game.

And as for Deep Ocean, Vast Sea? It’s gone of course. In it’s place a quest that cheekily makes reference to it and allows you to take out a little mining robot and blow up zillions of murlocs – revenge for that old annoying quest, if you will.

Then it’s off to fight the horde with the help of tree ancients as your allies. Blizzard haven’t changed the shape of the zone but you now get some help with the travelling in the shape of night elf catriders who let you use their cats to ride up and down the zone.

But wait, you haven’t even started on the good stuff yet!

cata_greendragon_darkshore (riding a green dragon out of the emerald dream …)

Before you are done with this zone you will:

  • Meet some of the signature racial and Cataclysm NPCs (Malfurion, leader of the night elves)
  • Help fight elemental lords who entered Azeroth through the Cataclysm rift
  • Explore the ruins of Auberdine and try to bring some solace to both the dead and to the surviving refugees
  • Ride on a dragon.
  • Fight Naga lords (ditto)
  • Fight the twilight cultists and help to banish AN ACTUAL OLD GOD

In short, this zone is now the perfect introduction to Cataclysm, bringing in lots of the key storylines and introducing new players to fairly major lore concepts and villains who they will encounter again.

Not only that but it’s bitter-sweet for older players too, with constant references to the way the zone used to be, the old NPCs (both the ones who survived and the ones who didn’t) and the old quests as well, neatly tweaked to be fun in the 2.0 world. You will feel that the world really changed and that you are affected by it.

cata_aetherion

(spirits of the dead night elves help to fight off an elemental lord)

The only downsides are:

  • It’s still a bit of a pain to navigate. The path is broken up in the lower part of the zone which requires a bit of climbing, swimming, and creative navigation to get around. I don’t mind this, I think it is a cool way to make you really interact with the terrain in a way which long straight roads don’t allow, but some players will hate it.
  • It IS a brilliant introduction to Cataclysm. But when Malfurion tasks you with finishing the job of banishing the old god because he has to rush off to Hyjal, it’s hard not to think, “See you in …. 60 levels time …”. You will have to wait awhile to see the next part of that storyline, during which you will travel to both Outland and Northrend, even though your character knows that Hyjal is where the main action is.

If you’d like to see more of the zone, View Through Branches has a lovely photojourney through Darkshore, and covers it in more detail than I have here.

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12 thoughts on “[Cataclysm] Darkshore – How to destroy and rebuild a zone right

  1. Poor ole Gubber Blump. Not even a little dwarven corpse floating sadly in the sea, pecked at by passing Darkshore Grouper. *sniffle* Just gone.

  2. A bit of a pain to navigate?! The zone redesign is great if you have a mount, fabulous if you have a flying mount, and an insane pain in the arse if you have neither, i.e. if you’re a normal low-level char trying to adventure there.

    Mort and I ran a couple of NElf droods through the place a week or two ago and I ended up swearing to myself I would never, EVER do that zone again as part of normal levelling.

    So well-revamped, yes. Playable for actual, real levelling characters? Not for me, thanks.

    • Did you find the sentinels on cats? They’re a free transportation gimmick, talk to them and they’ll ride you to the quest hubs or back home.

      • Heh yes, they’re good for the back and forth business, but for the general questy running around… I still found the zone to be a pain. This might have been exacerbated because my noob alt chose mining AND herbalism, and trying to get to the copper nodes at the bottom of cliffs eventually drove me a little insane. ;)

  3. Deep Ocean, Vast Sea was a horrible quest to do for those who are new and n00b to the game. But it did bring to me a huge appreciation for Breathing Pots at the time. Since they did ease the strategic way of aquiring the quest items, without the fear of having to drown in the process. But I suspect the quest was made more tortuous then need be due to buggy Murlocs that could materialize in and out of the ship walls where one could easily be swarmed by them.

    • Good point, I stand corrected. (And as any Cthulhu fan should know, Soggoth is based on Shoggoth which also were servants of the Old Gods rather than actually being Old Gods themselves.)

  4. Oddly, I had more mixed reactions to Duskwood. You hit most of the high points, but there were two points that really bothered the heck out of me.

    1) Soggoth basically kills the interesting part of the Old Gods for me. Cataclsym has done this in a lot of places, actually, taking down larger threats and turning them into villains that can be related by the player. (Burning Steppes is a particular offender.) Soggoth, essentially, removes the aura of slow menace and patient carelessness that identified the Old Gods, turning them just into a squirmy bunch of tentacles that want to kill us rather than something uniquely wrong that deforms the world by its presence.

    2) The timeline for the story is wonky as heck. Lor’danel isn’t exactly a ramshackle collection of huts – when did the night elves find time to build it? Either they built the thing in about a day (which is pretty insane), or they’re looking for survivors after the month-long building of a settlement.

    • Great points.

      The old god theme is as old as the game itself, but it’s never really been put across well. (In the sense that usually it was only raiders who got the full story/ opportunity to banish the old god.) Here, they let everyone have a pop, but you’re right, the sense of ancient menace isn’t there. It’s just ‘hey here’s this thing these guys are summoning, go kill it.)

      But one thing they do is have the NPCs explain more about old gods, which I think is one of the few places in the game this happens.

      And also, you’re dead right about the timeline. This isn’t the only place where building seems to have been very fast, I thought the fortified towns in Northrend seemed to have gotten built very quickly too.

      • They’ve also kind of violated one of the core tenets of the whole Lovecraftian vibe that they’ve been going for. Up until now, the Old Gods haven’t particularly cared what we’re doing. They haven’t even cared all that much about their servants. If they come back in two years, twenty years, two thousand years – whatever. The passing of time is an eyeblink to each of them (perhaps C’thun more than others), and so they just sit, patient and cancerous, with no malice or remorse as they end lives.

        At this point, however, they want to get out Right Farking Now, so that they can twirl their tentacles ominously. Instead of being something uniquely wrong, they’re essentially just villains locked behind a particularly potent prison gate. It feels reductive to me, maybe that’s just my take on things.

        To counterbalance some of my negatives, however, I will note that the flow from area to area in Darkshore is very well-handled. You hit pretty much every major area from the pre-Cataclysm days, usually with several quests in the same general region, and as a result the zone’s overall feel is very steady. The little “hidden” quest is nice, as well, albeit more as a cute aside than a detailed hint of future developments.

  5. My Worgen Hunter hit Lor’danel last night, only done a few quests so far (rescue survivors and then feed them) and I agree about the place seeming out of place, you’ve got bodies floating face down in the swell but we had time to build this pretty awesome looking outpost before going out to check if anyone is alive.

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