Something is stirring in the Blasted Lands. The Dark Portal is thrumming with new energy, and the omens tell us something evil is about to be set loose upon us. Unfortunately we can’t see that part in the Beta yet, and perhaps never will so you’ll have to imagine all of that has happened (along with the tumultuous battles between Iron Horde Orcs and the Alliance) it when you see me click on Khadgar in the video and magically appear on Draenor. I’m looking forward to patch 6.0 so I can see what lead up what I go through in the video.
As with Blizzard’s recent design trend, there’s a short introductory quest chain to the new expansion. It takes about half an hour if you know what you’re doing, and there aren’t too many other players around to compete for mobs. I’d rather Blizzard used personal phased instance areas, or for groups, but since its not you can expect something similar to the initial experience in MoP’s initial quest chain with regard to the crowd for at least the first week or two. Though the Assault on the Dark Portal area of Tanaan appears to be larger than the area SW of Paw’Don Village in MoP, the track is very linear and circular and isn’t as big as the geography might appear at first.
None of the quests in the chain should be a challenge for anyone. I’ve performed the chain in both starter ilvl 500 gear, as well as ilvl 566 and ilvl 580 gear. Obviously things dies quicker with higher ilvl gear, but ilvl 500 greens are perfectly adequate. Blizzard isn’t attempting to challenge players, so much as they’re simply introducing the RP elements necessary to more seamlessly move you into the new expansion.
Insofar as the quests are concerned, and particularly the role play of it all, I didn’t feel they were the strongest. I loved the sense of great battle in the initial part of the chain — when you step through the portal and see the fighting for the first time. That’s what I expected and Blizzard didn’t disappoint. But once you move behind the portal and start working around the area I felt the story was a bit weaker. I’d call you filler. It isn’t until I got back around to the other side of the battle that I again felt the large scope of the fighting again. I wished Blizzard was able to make us keep that sense of scope throughout.
Towards the end of the chain you take control of an Iron tank and turn its defenses against the Iron Horde. But just when you feel things are starting to go your way you’re unceremoniously dumped out of the seat and Khadgar starts yelling for everyone to run to the docks. There’s no real explanation as to why and I feel that’s a weakness in the chain that particularly needs to be propped up. Likewise with the docks sequence where we’re shuttled along to Shadowmoon Valley.
There’s the barest of mention about needing to hook up with the “natives” and then we’re told “to Shadownmoon Valley”. No real roleplay between Khadgar and Maraad that I feel would go a long way toward flushing this part of the chain out as well. Once the boat starts moving, you next appear on the shores of SMV and the Assault on the Dark Portal chain is finished.
If you watch the video you’ll see there are a number of visual bugs. Some objects can be seen strait on from a short distance away, but once you get close to them they disappear unless you change your viewing perspective from behind the object. All of those, and the obvious mini-map issue along the north west side of the area should be fixed by release. Or at least I expect them to be. Other than the bugs and the nit-picky RP elements I mentioned it’s a pretty standard and solid introductory quest chain. Nothing too flashy, and certainly nothing very difficult. See ya in there release night!