Updated Fri, Aug 15, 2008 by Xerin
The beta is a scary thing to be a part of. Massive patches can come without notice rendering you unable to log in for awhile and many of the mobs act funny. Holes in the world can pull you into a void or at least hinder your ability to play and none of your progress is saved when the live game launches. It even spoils the game for you. Playing through it once shows you all of the content which leaves you feeling déjà-vu throughout the real playthrough.
On the other hand it’s a great experience to be able to help Blizzard craft one of the best games ever released for the personal computer. Your feedback helps keep anything nasty from getting to the live game and you’re rewarded with the ability to play before anyone else does. It’s a wonderful cycle full of sacrifice and reward that’s truly mystical. This is my second beta for Blizzard, having previously been a part of World of Warcraft: The Burning Crusade’s (TBC) beta so I kind of have an idea of what to expect.
The new Zeppelin to Vengance Landing.
This expansion I was once again given the privilege to attend the beta for World of Warcraft: Wrath of the Lich King (WotLK). The invite traveled through the Internet at the speed of, well the Internet, to arrive at my email inbox with the special key to allow you behind the velvet rope into one of the most exclusive things in the game. I sprinted (well, in a virtual sense anyway) towards the registration page and entered the information. Within less than four hours I was into the game. That includes downloading and installing it. I must say, for once the Blizzard downloader was more than speedy.
Once into the game you’re not immediately shoved into the new content. So I took my Blood Elf Hunter and began the lengthy journey towards Northrend from Shattrath. There were no portals there or any hints to where the new battles are taking place. As a matter of a fact, the NPCs in Shattrath were still laughing and crying about Prince Kael’thas. I’m sure that’ll be changed (but it was also my first feedback “come on, they’ve been laughing and crying for nearly a year, let’s see something new!”)
I took the portal to the Undercity where you can catch a newer styled zeppelin to Vengeance Landing, one of the first cities that Horde players will see when they’ve reached Northrend. You can see some of the excellent screenshots of Vengeance Landing along with a detailed gallery of the zone surrounding it, the Howling Fjord. Arriving to my destination was like repeating the first step through the dark portal again. You can tell instantly that the graphics have been upgraded and the world is once again even more detailed than before.
I’m not the type to instantly start questing like most players are. Questing can always be done later, but for me I want to see what’s new in the world. The level of a zone or the monsters in it does not prevent me from pushing forward. I quickly got on my mount and rushed into the field, through the droves of NPCs beckoning me with their mystical glowing exclamation marks, and into the world of Northrend. I rode up to the lift that took me high into the sky and through the wilderness until the terrain slowly began to change into the frozen décor we’re all accustomed to when we think about Northrend.
My journey finally had taken me to where I wanted to be. That was the strange area that lies between the Dragonblight and Storm Peaks called Crystalsong Forest. This is where the new major city of Dalaran now floats. I’ve always been infatuated with the lore behind it and I couldn’t wait to see it for myself. I rode around the forest until I found a weird crystal floating in the sky. Activating it led me to the city of Dalaran. To my dismay, arriving there wasn’t exactly what I expected. The harsh reality that this is, without a doubt, a beta hit me square in the face.
The city was empty. Motionless. A few NPCs were here and there and the servers were ready to do a restart. Unlike most capital cities it was lifeless and barren. An unfinished zone that wasn’t exactly ready to go (like much of the areas I passed to get there).
The Howling Fjord is a sight to behold.
I then logged off for the day and when I next returned, the teleporter did not work. It now has an attunement quest associated with it that seems, from the words of others, to require level seventy four. My brief time inside of it led me a small taste of how wonderfully designed it was but leaves me longing to return.
A beta journal isn’t complete without an opinion of the areas I’ve traveled through, zones I’ve examined, or even my thoughts on taking a Death Knight through the starting zone. Well let me start with the first one. The areas that I’ve traveled through were gorgeous beyond words. The cartoony graphics that WoW has always had shine even better with upgraded textures and the experience Blizzard has gained with the years of designing for this game. The new monsters are very surreal and well placed.
For the latter, the Death Knight’s starting zone is fantastic. I’d go into full detail about it, but luckily we’ve already got something for you to read on that. You can view the details about it over at our preview of the Death Knight starting area (written by yours truly).
Stop by next week and I’ll share my thoughts and feelings on questing , exploring, and beating on insane dwarves all within WoW’s upcoming expansion, WotLK.
Disclaimer: The opinions, beliefs and viewpoints expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions, beliefs and viewpoints of the Ten Ton Hammer network or staff.