I know I have rolled up a Draenei character or two at some point. There was a time that, if you wanted a shaman on the alliance side of things, you had to make a Draenei. I am sure I gave this a whirl at some point. But when I looked through my list of characters, I could only find a Draenei death knight. Since death knights start at level 55, that means he never went through the whole Draenei starter zone.
So Draenei have not been my thing, what with only a single blue space goat in my roster. Now however, with the whole Loremaster project going on, it was time to return to the Draenei level 10-20 zone, Bloodmyst Isle, and the last achievement I needed for the alliance 1-60 part of the game.
This should have been a doddle. The first twenty levels are often cited as the fun part of MMOs. It gets you out in the open air, you run through some easy-peasy quests, you level up quickly, gain new skills, and generally experience a lot of the things that seem fun before ending up in the torpor of the mid-levels. But the Draenei experience lasted hours. It was a slow, horrible
death process. So much so that I am making it the official position of this blog that Bloodmyst Isle is currently the worst zone in World of Warcraft. And I say this with the perspective of having done most of the 1-60 zones in the game over the last year, including Silithus, the Eastern Plagulands, most of Vashjir, and the blood elf starting zone.
I get to laying out the sins of this zone after the cut.
Where to start with Bloodmyst Isle?
I guess I actually have to start before that zone.
I think the problem started as soon as I finished rolling up a new character. I chose a hunter, which is a reliable and self-sufficient leveling class. Your pet will take care of you and if you get in over your head, you can always leave your pet behind as a rear guard as you flee. That was fine. Better than fine, actually, as unlike to good/bad old days, you actually get a pet handed to you right away. No more waiting until level 10 then doing the pet training quests.
But then it was almost immediately back to 2007 and Blizzard’s quest philosophy of the time.
Quests were somewhat chaotic back in vanilla. You might have a whole pile of them at one point and a mere smattering at another. There was a a mix of all sorts of good and bad designs, quests that made you run back and forth endlessly with others that would forward you on to another, closer NPC. But for The Burning Crusade it seemed like Blizzard codified their quest philosophy based on what they had observed in vanilla and applied to uniformly across the expansion.
And the philosophy seemed to be: People like dull, repetitive quests that make them run back and forth over and over, and they like them in huge dump truck loads.
Sure, it started slowly. The first quest at the crash site in the starter area is practically right there. But as I moved on I found myself running way off to one corner, only to have to run back, turn in a quest, and get sent off to another corner of the starter area. Then I moved into Azuremyst Isle proper and the main camp, which sent me running back and forth to all corners of the map.
This started to wear on me when I realized I had been at this for what seemed like quite a while and I had only just hit level 8. That brought home the realization that even after doing a bunch of quests, I had yet to actually start on the actual quests for the Bloodmyst Isle achievement.
I stopped then and ran north up the road and crossed the bridge to Bloodmyst Isle to see if I could just get started on it right away. But no, while I could pick up two quests, most of the rest of the quest givers had, at best, a gray exclamation point over their head. I made the best of that failure by continuing on north to pick up the flight point so I could at least fly back to the previous zone rather than hoofing it. (Literally, since I was a Draenei.)
Back south, I carried on with running to and fro for various quest givers until I hit level 10. At that point I was handed the basic set of hunter skills, including the ability to go tame my own pet (but only one, and no combat heal until level 16), which I used immediately, ditching my faithful moth for a ravager. I also had to pick a specialization. For once I did not go beast mastery, choosing marksmanship instead. Time for something new at least.
I also had the Terrible Turnip battle pet in my first slot so as to be able to catch any low level battle pets in the area. The TT has a move that is similar to False Swipe in Pokemon, where it will leave the target with at least one hit point, making sure you don’t kill it and making the target easy to catch. I was expecting to find some new and interesting pets in the area, but aside from the battle pet version of ravagers, there were none. Ah well.
But at least I was level 10. I could now actually start in on the 60 quests I needed for the last achievement. I even used the flight point to get there and then ran south to the first set of quests in the zone to pick up my first quest,
The Kessel Run, bad Star Wars reference, basically sends you back to run the length of Azuremyst Isle, stopping to talk to the leaders of the three main quest hubs along the way, then return. You do get a mount, and as slow as it is, it is still better than running on foot. And, of course, there is a timer for the whole thing, so you can tell people how quickly you made the run. I made it in 12 parsecs… erm… 8 minutes.
That complete, it was time to kill things. And more things. Which eventually got me to Blood Watch, the main quest hub in the zone, where I was again sent off to kill things.
But instead of just killing things, the next few quests required me to kill a thing and loot it for a special drop. Eight bear flanks? No problem!
And then I found out that the drop rate for things like bear flanks was somewhere between 10 and 20%. This was one of those quests that, back in the old days, before you could mouse over a mob to see if it was the one you needed, I would be asking, “Am I even killing the right mobs?”
But I could mouse over and see that they were the right mobs. They just were not going to drop anything for me. So I slew many, many bears to get a mere eight flanks. At one point I crossed paths with another hunter of bears and could see the long line of corpses behind him as we converged. We glared at each other and veered off in opposite directions. There was not enough bears for two of us to hunt close together.
After a couple of those quests, I got back to “just kill 10 months” and I nearly cried I was so happy. Okay, I might be exaggerating, but I did feel a deep sense of relief. All I had to do was kill ten to be done, not kill 50 to collect half a dozen special wings or tentacles or whatever.
At this point I had leveled up a bit, which opened up more quests at Blood Watch. Soon I had a whole pile of quests in my quest long. I cannot remember the last time I had so many quests running in a single zone. The quest watcher on the side of the screen ran off the bottom.
The philosophy, which really started with Wrath of the Lich King, but which is most apparent in Cataclysm and Mists of Pandaria, is to give the player just a few quests at a shot. I don’t think I ever had more than four quests in a zone in Pandaria, and two or three was the norm. For a zone telling a story, this keeps the player focused and, I must admit, I have grown used to it. It keeps the story straight in my brain and doesn’t leave me wondering where to head on the map.
And the ones that are look complete, but are some place other than Blood Watch, those are just lead-ins to pick up more quests. I think I could have piled more on had I worked at it.
That left me with the “what do I do next?” issue. So I just picked a quest and ran after it. At one point I was headed up to the mulocs on the north of the island to find a missing gnome. The murlocs were all five levels higher than me, which meant I and my pet were doing proximity pulls and constantly getting adds to the point that I had to flee the area a couple of times, leaving my pet to die. But finally we cleared out every murloc within sight of the gnome, turned in the quest with him, at which point he asked us to go kill murlocs. For drops.
I stared out at the sea of murloc corpses surrounding his little hovel as I dripped with the gore of their entrails and thought, “Bears, bears, bears.”
It was almost exactly the scenario of which Paul Barnett spoke of during the ramp to Warhammer Online.
In a similar vein, I had a couple of quests where I had to kill a bunch of minions, such as the spiders in Amberweb Pass, then run all the way back to the quest giver, turn in the quest, only to get the next one which asked me to slay the main spider, which was up at the top of the pass, behind all the spiders I had killed and which had since respawned. So I killed all the spiders again, killed the boss, and then headed back down the pass, where I only had to kill the first half dozen again as they had managed to respawn.
And then there were the islands.
I swam out to Wyrmscar Island, did a couple of quests, got sent back to Bloodmyst Isle to pick things up, brought them back, then got sent down to Bloodcurse Isle to kill the boss naga, which involved running up a narrow path littered with naga so that you pretty much have to kill each and every one.
And did I mention that the boss marker doesn’t work? You know that little skull on the mini-map that shows you where that one named mob is that you need for a quest once you get close to him? Yeah, that doesn’t work in the Draenei starter area.
So I killed the boss and managed to find a point at which I could jump off his plateau and land in the water, sparing myself having to slay a series of respawning nagas on my way back down. Then it was a swim back to Wyrmscar Island, and then back to Bloodmyst Isle, and which point I was about dying for my azure waterstrider mount.
Just as I was getting to about quest 52 of the 60 needed, I started thinking that at least this zone didn’t have some horrible escort quest where you had to tag along with an NPC who has a death wish who runs straight at any hostiles.
And then I got that quest too, meeting the Pengail of Bloodmyst Isle, Demolitionist Legoso.
Actually, Demolitionist Legoso turned out to be something of a boon, despite his blood lust. I had also picked up a quest where I had to kill a number of the very same blood elves that seemed to hang out on this “yet another long path to a plateau” which we were assaulting, so for perhaps the only time during my whole Bloodmyst Isle run, I was actually accomplishing two tasks at the same time! Amazing! And I needed to kill enough blood elves that his rage against them meant we probably killed less than a dozen extra.
Then we blew up the thing he was sent to destroy, fought another named mob, and then he dumped me, telling me he would meet me back at his camp, leaving me to fight my way back down the path. More blood elves.
I finally made it back to Legoso and turned in his quest and the one from the Draenei laying in the grass that is tough to see, after which I was directed back to Blood Watch with another quest. That meant traveling across fields of mobs I had previously had to kill. The whole “kill things from one layer, then pass through that layer to kill the next layer” quest thing was in full effect.
But I got back to Blood Watch with a minimum of slaughter where a quick series of “talk to a guy” quests got me to the end of the storyline for the zone.
A bunch of NPCs showed up to cheer for me. I am not sure if that was done via some proto-phasing technology present in Burning Crusade, or if they appeared for everybody to see. But they were there for a bit, with Prophet Velen there to hand me some goodies in person.
And then I had to do a couple more quests because I was only at 58 of 60 when the backslapping congratulations were done. I ended up running up to the north tip to kill some level 14 voidwalkers to finish up the achievement.
On the plus side, there looked to be at least a half a dozen “extra” quests, so at least I did not have to hunt through the whole zone to find the missing quest. And I hit level 20 while I was wrapping things up.
At this point you can tell me that all of these problems exist in other zones in the game, especially Outland zones. But the thing is, in those zones at least you have a mount, or even an epic mount to ride around on rather than doing all that running about at a snails pace. Heck, these days you get your flying mount at level 60, making such travel literally fly by!
And none of those zones inflict this on potentially new players. My daughter laughed at my efforts, which spanned five nights, running from 45 minutes to 2+ hours each, getting through the Draenei starting area. (Making this run easily longer than any other pair of zones I’ve run as part of this effort.) She said that this is why she does not have any Draenei characters. Certainly, if I was going to roll up a Draenei, I would run straight for the boat and head to Elwynn Forest and Westfall. Or even Darkshore. I just did Darkshore a while back. It is a much friendlier zone.
Now imagine if you just showed up in WoW because you heard you could play a blue space goat. You might end up with the 2007 impression of the game, where questing could be a real grind.
Anyway, that is my assessment at the moment. Bloodmyst Isle is the worst zone in WoW as things stand today. You can point fingers at other zones, but we might have to agree to disagree on this one.
And now I have to figure out what to do next on my hunt for the Loremaster achievement. Doing a lot of these zones at level, many of which I had not done since Cataclysm shipped, was a lot of fun. So my inclination was to carry on doing them all, one at a time. But after Bloodmyst Isle, I am not so sure. The Cataclysm zones are close to done with my level 90s, and the other expansions are in progress as well. I will have to think on this. Summer will be coming to a close soon enough.
Meanwhile, I think Haion has served his purpose. I am not going to delete him, but I am not sure I need to level up another hunter.