Thin Air Climbing Mount Hyjal
Some zones have been marked out and planned in World of Warcraft since the beginning. Some have even been explored through instances or raids before they are actually available in the game. Once such zone is the legendary Mount Hyjal, home of the World Tree, Nordrassil.
While many players have visited the zone before via the raid instance The Battle of Mount Hyjal, what they saw was just a small portion of the zone. This time around you can expect to have access to the entire zone as you explore a heavily scripted and phased zone.
Mount Hyjal is home to the World Tree, Nordrassil, and has bee sealed away from prying eyes since the Third War. This was when Malfurion Stormrage drew power from the tree to help destroy Archimonde and stop the forces of the Scourge and the Burning Legion.
When Cataclysm is released upon Azeroth the zones seal will be broken as Ragnaros and his forces attempt to battle their way into Hyjal and destroy the World Tree. It will be your task to repel them and protect Nordrassil.
How to Get There
Currently in the Beta there are NPCs that can teleport you into Hyjal from Stormwind or Ogrimmar. However these are probably just place holders and quest chains to lead you there should appear at a later time. Being close to Moonglade, that is a likely access point to get to the zone from in the future.
Regions and Micro-Zones
There are several regions in Mount Hyjal to explore and the zone itself is extremely large. You start off under the protective branches of the World Tree itself, and immediately have to be on the defensive.
After helping out at the base there, you make your way to start fighting back against the attacking Twilight Hammer forces. Almost immediately you start to find fire elementals and even some familiar ones from past raids.
A little further into the zone you start to assist in recapturing various areas such as a shrine to Goldrinn the wolf god, forest areas, camps and more. Throughout the zone you will encounter progressively bigger and more powerful elementals and Twilight Hammer minions.
Eventually you even get a chance to disguise yourself as a Twilight Hammer minion and wreak havoc in their camp. This all takes place in the Darkwhisper Gorge at the behest of the Ancients who provide guidance and assistance as you attempt to lay waste to Ragnaross plans.
Throughout the zone you will also find several gateways to micro-zones. These small zones are small areas in the elemental plane that you gain access to at key points in the zones storyline. While they appear like instance areas, you will find other players in them, so they are not instanced to single individuals.
Quest Hubs / Quests
There are a huge number of hubs in the zone, with each one providing just a few quests before you are directed on to another hub. Usually each hub has 2-3 quest NPCs that each give a few quests at a time. Do not expect areas where you can go back and forth out of for quests more than two to three times.
Also of note is that once you are done with a quest hub, sometimes it simply will not be there afterwards. The zone is very heavily phased and as you progress through the story line, the NPCs change location. This means that if you remember a character by name as being in a certain location but have completed several more quests, they may not be where you thought they were.
Many of the quests are more of the same gather 10 pelts, or slay 10 minions variety. However, there are several variations on the normal quests and usually you get a mix of kill and gather quests at each quest hub which keeps it a little more interesting than all one type. To keep it even more interesting there are several other types of quests such as guard, escort, and even a bear toss.
Got you with that last one didnt I! Yes, one of the quests is to gather baby bear cubs out of trees and toss them down onto a trampoline. It keeps very well with the other quests in the area that has a group of druids asking for help rescuing the wildlife from the raging fires in the zone. I just feel sorry for the bear cubs that missed the trampoline before I figured out how to aim Sorry little bears.
Why choose Mount Hyjal as your starting zone Messiahs Take on the Zone
Im going to start by saying that I have one reservation about this zone, and it is the same as I have with the other Cataclysm starting zone Vashjir. The issue is that while the zones are laid out beautifully, and the quests form an awesome storyline, they are too linear. There are times when you must do one or two specific quests before you can find any other ones in the zone. Its not all bad as it makes you follow the story, but if you get off the beaten path and start just wandering around, there is nothing.
Now on to all the good stuff about the zone, and there is a lot. First up, is that Mount Hyjal is a very cool and important place in the World of Warcraft. There is a lot of lore and history behind the zone, and any chance to explore and learn more about the zone is welcomed by many players.
Secondly, the zone itself is a normal zone. This will appeal to many players, but not all. While I adore the other starting zone, Vashjir, due to it being so different to anything else, many players hate it. In the beta you hear many people complaining about the underwater zone and cheering for Hyjal. While I like Hyjal, I prefer the other zone due to its uniqueness. The main reason players seem to like Hyjal though is that they can mount and fly around, and it seems faster. If thats your thing, Hyjal is your zone.
Next up, I loved Molten Core, although over time I learned to despise it, what raider didnt? Molten core had interesting bosses, hard trash, and a huge amount of terrain to explore. Well in Hyjal many of those interesting bosses are back again in various capacities, and you get to see them again. For players that never got to play through Molten Core, this is a way to see a bit of what you missed out on.
Lastly, the whole cohesiveness of the zone, the theme, and the quests, all tie together wonderfully. If you take the time to read all the flavour text in the quests, and talk to all the NPCs you really get the feeling that you are part of this epic struggle to protect the zone and the world tree. The ending quests in the zone make it even more worthwhile, but I wont spoil the ending.