Release day for the highly acclaimed expansion to World of Warcraft has come and gone, and the staff here at Existential Worlds were on the scene to bring you live coverage from the momentous event. We would liken the experience to a bowl of Sweet and Sour Soup. No, No, more like Waffles with Maple Syrup, but no coffee...
AFK, grabbing some food.
Ok, where were we? Oh right, the The Burning Crusade release...
Design: Unbelievable. That is really the only way to describe what Blizzard has accomplished with TBC. Detail is amazing, quests are so full of lore and that sense of belonging in the struggle, that you can't help but get swept up in the adventure. You get that sense that without you, the tide is slipping further in favor of the demonic forces... It has been a while since I have experienced that level of immersion.
On first glance, the Outlands map does not appear to be very large. Comprised of a handful of geographic regions, you get the sense early that it is about the size of half of an old world Continent, perhaps the size of Arathai Highlands north to the ocean. Once in Honor Hold and questing, the overwhelming size of just Hellfire Peninsula, the first of the zones, becomes clear.
Questing & Experience: The quests in Hellfire have a very fluid progression and provide some freedom to deviate and still maintain momentum and retain the lore immersion, while avoiding the usual pitfalls of carry this there, kill 20 whatzits and retrieve 7 woozels. Those exist, but there is a fun diversity in the nature of the quests. Examples include a bombing adventure where you navigate a flying mount through a patch of terrain, dropping bombs on enemies, and a series of quests where you torch critical points of both Horde occupation and the unaffiliated Orcs that dominate the zone and its primary instance dungeon, Hellfire Citadel.
Server Stability: I started off awestruck at how smoothly Blizzard pulled off this expansion release. I spent a bit of time following the midnight download and patching, just having a look around... no lag, not even a server 'hiccup'. Left work a few hours early to get a jump on the madness, and Abryn and I played for about two hours with basically no lag and without a single crash. Could Blizzard have done it, I thought? Of course not... About 7pm EST, we started to run the Citadel. Apparently, a few hundred thousand other players were thinking the same thing, and all hell broke loose. By 8:30pm server time, I was on my warrior finishing up the last of the Silithus quests to Ding 60, because Outlands were so unstable, it was going down every 30 seconds or so.
I expected this. I was disappointed as a player, that I could not complete the amount of content that I had hoped, but as a critic, I expected at least a week of terrible play conditions, before the level spread started to occur and players began to space out around the world again.