I’ve spent more time in Outland now, so it’s time for some additional thoughts. I have to admit, it’s one heck of an expansion!
Flora and Fauna
To quote someone who commented on the AFK Gamer blog, “sweet tapdancing christ!” (Okay, he was talking about something totally unrelated, but it’s a great quote.) Blizzard must have taken their very best content developers and put them on Burning Crusade (which, well, just makes sense). Some of the critters are creepy, eerie, and outright alien in appearance and even sound. The Fel Reavers freak me out every time I hear them coming. I could spend months in Zangarmarsh alone, it’s just so gorgeous.
There’s a much higher emphasis on questing now, which I like. I think it’s tougher to farm your way through levels, equipment, faction, and so on; the quests are more integral to the game and give more faction and better rewards. The prevalence of Fel Reavers and the like may be occasionally annoying, but I have to admit it probably discourages script-based farming.
The instances are really more like mini-raids now. They tend to be short, so you don’t need to have an entire afternoon free to go through one, which I for one adore (great for adults with jobs and families!). They also don’t require 40 people (thank goodness!). However, end bosses tend to require specific strategies and gear, rather than being something you can make your way through with a random pickup group and no knowledge of the dungeon. It’s a fascinating choice, and while it does make finishing a dungeon a bit tougher if you aren’t an experienced raider, on the whole I’m really pleased with the tradeoffs.
Economy and Gear
There’s a definite inflation of the economy, and I for one think it’s a brilliant move on Blizzard’s part. It pretty much obviates any economy problems that previously existed by bumping the whole thing up to a new level. It puts different players on a much more even playing field when anyone can get some really neat new gear by finishing a quest, or make a good 50 gold through vendoring obsolete equipment and gray items after a couple hours of questing. There’s much less reason to buy gold now, as I see it, because you’re much more likely to get good gear through questing than by having to wait for the AH or a good drop–and because if you do want to buy stuff, prices tend to be low through good drop rates, and you have some decent money to spend.
This is the first time in months that I’ve mourned the necessity of Tuesday morning maintenance.