I suppose it had to happen. I finally fell back off of the wagon. The World of Warcraft wagon, to be precise. I never stopped listening to podcasts or reading blogs, so I guess it shouldn't be a surprise. I had been looking for an RPG "fix" all summer. The announcement of patch 3.2, and the relative dearth of other games, got me to sign up again. I figured I'd do it for a month and see if it "stuck". I was kind of teetering on the edge, but when Blizzard introduced the faction change service, I knew I was doomed. $55 and a day later, my main character (c. 1000 hours played, gulp) was now Undead and on a new server. Yeah, I'm hooked! Heh.
So what has changed? Well, a lot, really.
For one, the graphics are MUCH better than before. The landscapes were done really well. Most of the mobs had new animations that included a lot more detail. The view from hills looking to the coast was absolutely beautiful. And the entire time that I was questing in Howling Fjord, I could see Utgard Keep looming in the background. It was very visually impressive.
I also made my first trip to Dalaran over the week. Wow. It was really, really cool. It was crowded with people, which does a lot to add life to a location. (Go to Silvermoon or Darnassus to see what a dead city looks like.) It was filled with shops that all had interesting things to buy. That is one of my biggest disappointments with the other cities. They are filled with shops full of useless junk. The city seemed to be relatively well organized. I even though the sewer thing was pretty cool... You could check out the "seedy underbelly" of the city. Hah!
I'm also really enjoying questing on my mage. I do a lot of damage... that hasn't changed. What has changed is the amount I have to drink. For normal questing, I NEVER have to drink. Its fabulous. Between gems and the Evocation change, I can continue non-stop. I'm still mana limited in a single, all out fight, but that's okay. It was such a pain to kill a few mobs, stop to drink, kill a few more, drink more, etc. Ugh. Things have been much smoother, resulting in more fun time and much, much less down time. Two thumbs up!
What hasn't changed? The questing. When I last tried to work through Northrend, I was in a race to get to 80 to catch up with the rest of my guild. The quests are dead simple and very well organized. Go to a quest hub, collect the quests, complete them (and they are all located conveniently nearby), and collect your rewards. Repeat a couple of times until you finsh that area, then you'll receive a quest that sends you to the next area. Lather, rinse, and repeat.
Well, that bit hasn't changed. Things are exactly the same as before. The quests are all pretty dull... kill X of this, collect Y of that. Yawn. But I did manage to find a couple of chains that were interesting. All three involved attacking an "enemy" base, killing guys, collecting drops, and eventually taking out the leader. Nothing really new, but the fights were kind of fun and they all involved a bit of exploring in addition to the fighting. The only downer was that the final boss fights were "roll your face on the keyboard" simple. That's okay... the chains were still fun. (Hmmm. Maybe I should be troubled that they are called "chains"...)
So far, I'm having a lot of fun. I'm a bit nervous about the end game, but I'm willing to give it a whirl. Apparently Blizzard switched the end game from a few, very involved things to do to a ton of very simple things to do. My guess is that the net time spent is about the same. There was a sense of accomplishment to completing stuff in the old game. I don't know if I'll still feel that way. I guess we'll see. On the bright side, I'm looking forward to it.