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Posts with tag starting-area

Breakfast Topic: Which race has the best starting zone?

I like draenei, I really do. I like how kooky they look, with their glowy eyes and their horns and hooves. Their racials are, well, just OK really compared to some of the other ones available on the Alliance side, but they look brilliant.

But, my God, I dislike their starting zone. It really is dreadful, in my book. I don't know if it's because I've played through it a few times, but I didn't like it on the first try, and I sure don't like it now. I regularly pay to race change characters into draenei once they've made it through their own starting zone; for example, my most recent 85 is a priest who began life as a gnome and race changed to draenei later on, just to avoid those pesky islands.

Maybe it's just the novelty of playing new content, but I really enjoyed the gnome starting zone. I have to say, though, the start zone that takes the cake for me is the undead one. I didn't play through it before Cataclysm, but I have done since ol' Deathwing did his thing -- and wow, it's amazing. I reckon it's the best one in the game so far, and haven't found any that even come close to comparing.

What's your favorite starting zone? Which do you consider the worst starting zone? And, of course, why?

Filed under: Breakfast Topics

BlizzCon 2011 World of Warcraft Art Panel

I know that the World of Warcraft preview and question-and-answer sessions always tend to attract the most commentary at any given BlizzCon, but for my money, the most interesting ones in the long run tend to be those concerned with the game's artistic and technical sides. Seeing how developers got the game to look the way it does, and the reasoning behind the design of different races, zones, and items gives you a much better appreciation of the game while you're in it. The gorgeous Uldum sky didn't get there by accident.

As you'd expect, the art panel contained a number of previews of the characters, locations, dungeons, and props we'll be seeing in Mists of Pandaria. If you're only interested in a peek at the male pandaren's model and animations, well, you can get that here, but there were a number of interesting observations made. Two of the things that really jumped out at me:
  • They're experimenting with tier and item set models. Rather than pasting a design onto the standard-issue flat chest and leg pieces, for example, we may see swinging chains, ribbons, and other three-dimensional objects on more gear in the future.
  • Technical advances in very recent months have made it easier and faster to add more detail to the environment. New texture tools have made it possible to add snow or lava between cracks in a road, or pooled in the nook of a hill, much more quickly than they could earlier.
We'll have a full gallery of the panel up later!

The news is out -- we'll be playing Mists of Pandaria! Find out what's in store with an all-new talent system, peek over our shoulder at our Pandaren hands-on, and get ready to battle your companion pets against others. It's all here right at WoW Insider!

Filed under: BlizzCon

The design evolution of home life in the starting zones


The starting zones form a player's formative thoughts about how the denizens of Azeroth actually live their lives. These first glimpses of life-as-our-characters-know-it are key to defining what it would be like to "really" live as our characters do. When you're in a starting area, you get to see the "common dwarf" in his natural habitat. (Or human, orc, troll, and sundry other races.) Of course, there have certainly been technical limitations over the years that restrict the number of widgets and sprites available to designers. But it's interesting to see how the home life of Azeroth natives have been improved over the existence of WoW.

The above picture is from Elwynn Forest. It's the home of Donni Anthania, the Crazy Cat Lady. The domicile of Ms. Anthania includes a chair, table, a couple chests, and a wardrobe. It also has a small herd of cats wandering around the floor. Interestingly, Donni is wielding a cleaver. It's unlikely that the cleaver was intended to mean Donna is hostile; instead, it's probably because she's supposed to be cooking or something. But the Crazy Cat Lady has been in the game since before there were any expansions. Technical design was a little more limited then. Let's compare this to how the blood elves lived come Burning Crusade.

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Filed under: Cataclysm

Breakfast Topic: The starting zones you most love or hate

This Breakfast Topic has been brought to you by Seed, the Aol guest writer program that brings your words to WoW Insider's pages.

With Cataclysm looming, I find myself tearfully saying goodbye to the game as I've always known it. I have leveled (well, at least partially leveled) a character of every race on the Horde side (except an orc), and I've leveled a night elf out of the starting zone on the Alliance side. Now, everything has changed. The starting zones that I grew to love or hate are already different, and I'm not sure what to think about that.

I loved the tauren starting experience, and I hope that it only gets better with the new expansion. However, I quickly tired of the orc/troll starting zone. Likewise, I did not have the urge to go through the blood elf starting experience with multiple characters. But once I gave it a chance, I enjoyed the undead experience quite a bit. I think what I enjoyed about the tauren and undead experiences was that I felt like I was involved in the lore. Additionally, I found that the scenery of Mulgore and Tirisfal Glades made the leveling experience more enjoyable.

Which pre-Shattering starting zones do you think were the best, and which ones were the worst? With the world having undergone such a drastic change this week and more still to come, which new leveling experiences are you looking forward to the most?

Filed under: Breakfast Topics, Cataclysm, Guest Posts

Cataclysm: Guards in starting zones buffed to level 90

Planning on kicking off Cataclysm by killing all the quest givers in newbie zones? Think again: Blizzard has increased the level of starting zone guards in areas like Coldridge Pass and Deathknell to 90. These guards are currently level 65 on the live servers.

The change, which guarantees you'll be at least five levels lower than the guards, takes advantage of existing game mechanics to protect lower-level players from mischief. NPCs that are five levels higher than you are exceedingly difficult to hit (spell casters will suffer a 39 percent chance to miss) and frequently wallop you for higher-damage-causing crushing blows far more often. The guards will also have higher health pools as well. This contrasts vividly with guards on the live server, who are prone to dying if a level 80 character accidentally sneezes on them.

Level 90 guards are better suited to protecting newbie players from max-level griefers. Note that only starting areas will see these high-level guards. The guards in major cities are now level 85 -- dangerous, but soloable.

Players who are upset by this change are encouraged to stop being jerks who grief newbies.
World of Warcraft: Cataclysm will destroy Azeroth as we know it; nothing will be the same! In WoW Insider's Guide to Cataclysm, you can find out everything you need to know about WoW's third expansion (available Dec. 7, 2010), from brand new races to revamped quests and zones. Visit our Cataclysm news category for the most recent posts having to do with the Cataclysm expansion.

Filed under: News items, Cataclysm

The Daily Quest: Hello, goodbye, we'll miss you


WoW Insider's on a Daily Quest (which we try to do every day, honest) to bring you interesting, informative and entertaining WoW-related links from around the blogosphere.

One of the most hotly debated topics regarding Cataclysm has surrounded the soon-to-be former Warchief Thrall and his replacement Garrosh. One of the most anticipated things about Cataclysm is the upcoming revamp of the old starting zones. Luckily, the blogosphere seems to be discussing each of these things! Convenient, eh?

Is there a story out there we ought to link or a blog we should be following? Just leave us a comment, and you may see it here tomorrow! Be sure to check out our WoW Resources Guide for more WoW-related sites.

Filed under: The Daily Quest

Gnome and troll starting zones to be revamped

After five years of squatting in other races' capital cities, gnomes and trolls will have their starting zones revamped, developers confirmed through the recently concluded chat over Twitter. It probably isn't much of a spoiler now after the developers talked about it, but discovered among the files in Patch 3.3.3 were quests and Achievements related to the retaking of Gnomeregan and Echo Isles.

It's been a long time coming for two of the game's original races who got the shaft when Burning Crusade introduced two new races with their own capital cities while gnomes and trolls continued to squat in Ironforge and Orgrimmar, respectively. Over the chat, developers mentioned that they were looking at revamping all the original starting zones, with particular focus on the two races. Now that Cataclysm is on the horizon and Blizzard plans to introduce two more races with the worgens and goblins, it only seemed fitting that gnomes and trolls get their due.

However, the developers were quick to point out that the zones won't get as "epic" a feel as the two new races in Cataclysm. They did reveal that they have "big plans" for the two races, hinting at the events set to come in a future patch, if not Patch 3.3.3. Blizzard also reminded everyone that they planned to overhaul all the starting zones with Cataclysm, which improves gameplay, quest flow, and overall experience. Now that these squatter races are finally getting equal status with the others, maybe Blizzard will finally let us see a gnome in the Cataclysm cinematic?

Filed under: Blizzard, Cataclysm

Arcane Brilliance: Leveling your Mage, 1-20



Every Saturday, Arcane Brilliance freezes you in place, then Blinks behind a pillar and turns Invisible. You can look for Arcane Brilliance if you want to, but I can tell you that's a bad idea. You see, while you're looking, Arcane Brilliance is positioning itself behind you, cooking up a giant Pyroblast and aiming it up your tailpipe. You really only have a few options here. You can a.) cry, b.) curl into the fetal position and wait for the sweet embrace of death, or c.) distract Arcane Brilliance by quickly yelling "Spell damage is more important that spell hit rating, discuss!" and then log out while Arcane Brilliance is busy posting on the forums about what you just said. I'd go with c.), personally. Works every time.


Recently, I discovered that there seem to be leveling guides on this site for just about every class but Mages, so it's time I stepped up to the plate. The problem is, Mage was my very first class, on my very first character, on my very first foray into the World of Warcraft, which took place approximately forever ago. Ok, so it's only been about two-and-a-half years, but in WoW years, that's the rough equivalent of a million kajillion years ago. My memories of those first few levels are fuzzy at best, and I can condense what I remember learning into two statements: "Murlocs are evil," and "The only way out of Undercity is to use my Hearthstone." One of those statements eventually stopped being true for me, and the other one is "Murlocs are evil." Needless to say, I didn't feel entirely qualified to write a leveling guide for the first few levels of Magecraft.

To rectify the situation, I decided to roll a brand new Mage, so that I could experience those first few levels all over again. To ensure that the experience was as pure as I could make it, I created my Mage on a new server--the newest actually--Cairne. I knew nobody on that server, and had no alts there, so this Mage, a Human female I named Niwt, would be an entirely virgin Mage. I had never played an Alliance Mage before, and never leveled any character in the Human starting area, so the quests would be new to me, and the landscape foreign. I disabled all of my mods and dove in.

It was horrible.

I learned a lot though, or remembered learning a lot, depending on how you look at it. After the break, more text!

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Filed under: Human, Gnomes, Undead, Trolls, Mage, Mining, Tips, How-tos, Draenei, Blood Elves, Leveling, Guides, Classes, Making money, Alts, (Mage) Arcane Brilliance

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