Zones like Redridge and Westfall benefit from years of feedback and the overall shift in Blizzard's design philosophy when it comes to questing -- but they don't change much geographically, which is fine. A zone like Western Plaguelands, on the other hand, benefits from the fact that a huge change just makes sense, given the events of the previous expansion.
And what we're getting is a huge change. Spoilers abound after the break, as I take you on a tour through one of Cataclysm's major success stories. Bear in mind that the zone's revamp isn't 100% complete and several quest lines can't yet be completed. This is also from the point of view of an Alliance character.
To summarize in a sentence: Western Plaguelands is all about new beginnings.
Gallery: Western Plaguelands
Gallery: Cataclysm Zones: Western Plaguelands
Afterward, you eliminate Araj the Summoner and Rattlegore, and Thassarian sends you to "deal with" Darkmaster Gandling. While you engaged Gandling, who has a ton of health but hits like a girl, Thassarian and Koltira appear and seem to have a discussion while you take care of business. At 1%, Gandling ragequits Andorhal and says, "The Cult of the Damned doesn't need this pathetic city. You can fight over it all you want." Score one for the good guys. We know where he lives, anyway.
Note: When you've finished these quests, the Scourge mobs phase out and other friendly NPCs are in their place.
You head to Northridge Lumber Mill. Nathaniel and his wife have set up shop there, and Tirion has sent along some new Argent recruits to make sure the operation runs smoothly. There's just one problem: spiders. Big ones. Nathaniel recommends you avoid bloodshed by using a horse to scare the spiders away. It works, but they don't go far, so the next step is to round up the spiders (à la Red Dead Redemption) and send them to the Argent recruits to kill.
After you do that, Nathaniel's wife, baby in tow, sends you to make sure that life remains a little less dangerous at the mill: First you eliminate some rabid foxes, then you steal weapons from the Redpine gnolls (who have moved back into their territory now that the plague is gone) so they can't attack the mill. Being a mom, she figures it's a better option than genocide.
The third and final Hearthglen quest line is from Del Gahrron, as in Gahrron's Withering. Tirion sends you to Mender's Stead, located at the old Dalson's Tears location, to see what you can do for Del, who's just returned to WPL after years in the service. Meeting you at the Stead, Del sends you to his old property at Gahrron's Withering, where you pick up some old family mementos: a finger painting from his dead daughter and a prayer book that belonged to his dead wife. He weeps.
You take him with you to investigate the last active plague cauldron and destroy it for good, and then track the source of the plague to Instructor Malicia's nearby camp, where Zen'Kiki releases several plagued bears from their cages and cures them. Turns out he's great at it! You take out Malicia and follow the trail of plague to a nearby cave where Dr. Krastinov's students are creating new abominations. You destroy them and their work.
Returning to the Stead, you're informed that the goons you killed were the last remnants of Cult/Scourge activity in the Plaguelands proper and that nothing can stop the complete healing of the land now.
And? Zen'Kiki decides to be a resto druid from that point on, proudly walking around in treant form.
World of Warcraft: Cataclysm will destroy Azeroth as we know it. Nothing will be the same. In WoW.com's Guide to Cataclysm you can find out everything you need to know about WoW's third expansion. From Goblins and Worgens to Mastery and Guild changes, it's all there for your cataclysmic enjoyment.
Filed under: Cataclysm