Z and Cinder’s Blog Challenge: Which Zone Reminds You of Your Home?

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So, which zone or area in WoW reminds you of your home?

For me it would be several places.

First, it’s my native city of Kirov (Vyatka) where I’ve spent the first 17 years of my life. Kirov is located in the middle of European part of Russia. It’s surrounded by thick woodland, and it’s also characterized by hills. When you walk in the city or in the nature, there seems to be no flat surfaces: either you go up or down.

We have continental mild climate there, mostly comfortable weather varying from +23 Celcius in Summer to -10 in Winter (sometimes there are peaks of +30 / -30, but it’s kinda extreme and doesn’t last long).

One of my best moments from childhood could be winter walks and forest skiing with my parents and brother. The snows are abundant, and the fluffy white boughs are an eye candy. It’s a sunny weekend, our cheeks are red from little frost and winter fun, you’ve just skiied few kilometers, it’s quiet, and the sounds are muffled by the snow. You’ve stopped in the woods for a break to drink some hot tea from a thermos flask you have on you, and feed a wild titmouse with crumbs and seeds from your hand. Happiness!

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You know where I’m leading here, don’t you?

But of course it’s Dun Morogh!

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If not for mountains, but forests, hills, and snow paths among the trees covered in fluffy snow.

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Micromantica knows how this dry grass feels when you touch it :)

In Summer, nature activity was concentrated on the banks of the river Vyatka, natural lakes and sand quarry lakes.

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It does remind me of the river between Elwynn Forest and Duskwood.

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After I finished my high school, I’ve moved to Saint-Petersburg where I live ever since, first studied in a university and then working. Wow, this year it will be 17 years since I moved, so it will be exactly half of my life when I consider Saint-Petersburg my home.

Most of all I like Saint-Petersburg itself for its granite clad embankments – which are a trademark of the city:

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Of course I like Stormwind for the same reason! I think I could never live in a city which is not attached to some great amounts of water – lakes or rivers.

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And if we speak about nature around Saint-Petersburg, we must remember that we are just a two-hour drive from Finland. So, the nature here is also famous for its vast forest lakes:

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I’ve played WoW first in WotLK expansion, and I played it until I reached level 76 or so. Then I quit for no particular reason. You know what made me return to the game?

The Cataclysm video where Deathwing destroyed Loch Modan. I came back with a very particular purpose: kick his ass for destroying the lake, my most favorite spot.

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I wonder if the dwarves could finally fix the dam :) It’s been a while.

P.S. When I read this post, its no wonder I’m more of a For the Alliance person :)

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Leveling Zones: All About Comfort

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This would be the first post of my Broken Isles review series, and I’m just gonna talk a bit about general issues.

Have you ever wondered why you like or do not like some particular leveling or endgame zone?

Well, one thing is obvious: it’s your personal attitude to this or that type of terrain and – to lesser extent – creatures inhabiting it. I’ve always liked grassy plains and snowy areas, so no wonder I could name Valley of Four Winds, Dun Morogh or Winterspring among my top ones in Azeroth. People who hate insects would suffer a lot somewhere in Dread Wastes which is basically scorpids and mantid lurking in the darkness. And so on.

But there’s one more important thing, and it doesn’t involve lore or visuals: it is comfort while you’re there. A comfortable experience could make even the worst zone at least bearable. I hate deserts and dusty rocky terrains, but Tanaris has always been one of my favs.

What makes a zone comfortable to be in? Three main points here:

  1. Easy traveling
  2. Hostile wild environment
  3. Safe spots

Let’s talk of them one by one.

1. Traveling issues. The worst thing you could do to a zone is making it hard to get to different spots and places. If there’s only one path to a location you need. If you fall off a cliff, and then you need to cross half of the zone to get back. Exploration is fun to an extent, but when you’re standing before a needed item and even see it a little above on a cliff, but you need to go a long way around to get it… When you get distracted for a second or decide to make a shortcut, you’re suddenly down there and need to go a 5-minute detour to return to the cliff. That’s just not my idea of fun. The main zone killers considering travels are, of course, ravines, hills and mountains.

2. Hostile environment. You may do well with cliffs, and you may not even object an extra ride if the scenery is nice. The question is: what kind of ride should it be?

When a zone is highly populated by hostile creatures, it just doesn’t leave a chance for you to like it. When each and every step could end up in a pack of mobs – it’s not what I want. You just can’t take a break. When you return with a cup of tea, perfectly sure you were way out of foe villages and towns and on the road, you see your breathless body stomped by some vacant yak or chewed by a random wolf. Again, not my idea of fun.

In my opinion every zone should be boasting at least some areas – and vast ones – where nothing bad could happen to you. Where you’re safe to ride either by the roads or between the trees and grasses. This just unwinds you a bit. Not all the world must be dangerous. You shouldn’t experience danger all the time if you took five steps from the flight master.

3. Safe spots. Flight masters are many nowadays, and couldn’t be overrun by wild animals or foes. And still, every area in my opinion should boast with at least three perfectly safe hubs where you could take a rest and do some things.

The important requirements about these safe hubs are as follows:

  • Not just a flight master and a tent. This is important. It should be a settlement. I’m thinking Talador’s outpost here: it’s a small, but vibrant place. It could be a place of your faction or inhabited by locals, but it must not be a temporary camp.
  • Not shoved where Elune don’t shine. Well, that’s obvious. Who would care for a safe spot if it’s no use and never visited? Of course, it should be located near vital points.

So, within the upcoming zone posts I will review Broken Isles zones one by one considering:

  • Lore and Storyline
  • Visuals
  • Comfort

Talador: The Hated Heart of Draenor

Now that I successfully entered Nagrand with all my toons and memories of other zones became – well, memories, I will continue to do an overview for the zones of Draenor.

TALADOR

Aw, just look at it! When your taxi arrives to Talador, you just stiffen up in your saddle then cry with joy. The heartwarming, tender oboe playing one of the best tunes in the expansion and peaceful hillsides. Draenic architecture, multiple springs and lakes, those red flora… Can you ever hate this?

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Your new favourite location?

Spoiler: yes, you can.

First you establish a base and you either go to the mine or run around the swamp depending on whether you want an artillery support or some weird magical orb attacking everything in sight. These questlines are easy and fast, and besides, Zangarra is one of the cosiest corners in the world with many unique ideas.

But what happens next?

Second – you get your quests to kill some elite creatures. You look at the rewards and say: hell, I’m doing that! Truly so, their class is something worthy. But let’s see where they are.

For a Hippo, you cross half of map then swim in the water for a long time, attacked by eels and hippos in your way. When you finally spot the beast, the only thing you want is a warm blanket and a cup of hot beverage. Covered in seaweed, you finish it. That was the easiest, mind you.

For an Orc Commander, you again cross half of map, and either fall off a big cliff or fight your way through THOUSANDS of arriving raiding parties. If you fall of a cliff, it doesn’t save you from fighting the same orcs on your long, long way back.

For a Big Bird, you can effectively waste half an hour, running around a Horde base, occasionally aggroing sabertooths and the Horde guards (if you’re also lucky to be Alliance).

Already shaking, you get your 3 nice equipment slots.

Do You Like Cave Quests?

Caves have their issues, and I think that no one likes them much. The reason is: you’re not allowed anywhere. Once you enter the cave, you are obliged to grind it until your goals are completed, and THEN – grind your way back through resurrected angry mobs.

What can I say? Talador is ALL CAVES.

They maybe under open skies, but in fact what you do is enter yet another OVERCROWDED location, and you’re to grind it like hell, with mobs resurrecting, and then fight your way back. You kill many more mobs than you need for a quest.

  • Aruuna – overcrowded with Arakkoa. Fight your way through them to the “boss” (obviously in the farthest building), then fight your way back.
  • Ogre Fortress – needless to say, once you enter it, you grind it with no option to back off. Includes seeking quest items, so you maybe lucky to kill more resurrected ogres!
  • Horde Camps in the North – yes, it’s the same overcrowded location. Please yourself with killing or dying from 4 unwanted mobs that don’t let you take this small log that easy.
  • Auchindoun – get ready for 2 cave caves and also a heartwarming encounter with 15 demon mobs at once.
  • Spider Cave – what can I say? What is better is that you can also step on the spider eggs and greet 11 small hatchlings.
  • Yet another “Aruuna” – Telmor. Copy-paste, but this time it will be ogres and demons. Now, where do we place the final boss? The farthest building? You bet. Maybe a player is not so tired yet to grind his way out.
  • Ogre Burial Ground – now you aggroed dozens of ghosts! Isn’t this FUN?
  • The final leg of your journey is the Shadow Council fortress. Once again, you enter it, and you’re lost in grinding. You grind twice more mobs than needed and it’s twice harder even with ghosts’ aid.
  • So, when this is an Annihilan fight somewhere there, you’re practically crying with joy. Because it’s the quest when you can finish your business here.

New Levels of Uselessness

Fourth, there are at least two astonishly useless quests. There’s one Draenei having his wife dying and the other is a kid who lost his things. DON’T help them until you’re a devoted altruist. They send you off for errands which both include tiger killing – and well, it’s just grind-for-nothing. They don’t give you anything like at all in reward. No gear, no toys, no followers – NOTHING. It’s just few coins which never pay off the time you’ve wasted, and it seems they put these characters just for this cause. Btw, the wife dies. So you even didn’t help.

Epic Ending Which Is Not Actually An Ending

What saves Talador from being a complete fail is the epic siege questline which ends up properly introducing Blackhand and the most magnificent video cutscene.

– What do you want, little girl?
– Yerrrr heid.

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It’s the most epic and heartripping video in all Draenor so far. Replaying Talador with you alt, leave this piece of quest chain as the climax point.

Totally exhausted and puking from Draenei architecture and red flora, take a break at your Garrison before heading to the most cool zone – Spires of Arak.