The discoveries never end in Northrend. In Howling Fjord were small settlements, rough terrain, glacial wonders and the Tuskarr! There are wonders to stand and stare at, and the world seems alive with animals, something Burning Crusade was lacking. Grizzley Hills, mountains riddled with forests, crystal clear streams where bears fish for salmon, dwarfs ask for help and the quests just get better and better.Dragonblight is a snow drenched landscape but not devoid of life. At Wyrmcrest Temple I have aided the Wyrmcrest Accord in their struggle, flying on the back of dragons in Aeriel combat. An amazing quest chain that left me with my mouth open on a number of occasions, say no more but you will know when you get there! The small out of the way pockets of wonder are always a delight to stumble upon, New Hearthglen, Stars Rest where isolated forces band together.
Scholazar Basin is a herb filled paradise, combining the out of the way zone of Un’Goro crater with lush forests of Stranglethorn Vale, and yes Nesingwary is again back to his old ways. Quests range from investigating and foraging to riding the back of a mammoth and flying a broken plane across the roof of the forest before it disintegrates!
Daily quests are in abundance, I have aided the Tuskarr in finding their lost property, helping the local sea lions get jiggy with each other and helped protect them from invaders. Moor outdoor pvp action comes from Ventura Bay and other places in Grizzly Hills to name but a few, where cunning and resilience are the order of the day.
And not forgetting the Cold Weather flying at level 77! That was a pure joy moment, uncaring for handing over 1000g as the ability to shift to flight form and soar into the air once more! And soar I did! I flew from Dalaran out across Dragonblight and Borean Tundra, pausing to swoop down to pick herbs. I spiralled through the mountains that crowd Scholazar Basin and drifted between the trees, snatching herbs from the ground as I explored these areas again as if for the first time.
I have yet to head into Lake Wintergrasp for a spot of siege weapon Horde bashing, but I shall at some point. Zul’Drak held little interest for me, far too murky and dark for my tastes, tinged with Plaguelands design, although I suspect I will return there at some point too. I’ve spent some time mixing potions and elixirs, fishing in new places and cooking up tasty delights. And where next? Icecrown seems to be calling, so once more I’ll shift into the glorious flight form and mosey into another unexplored area.
As for dungeons, Utguarde Keep has amazing design, other than battling through make sure you take in your surroundings, the amazing fiery breath that spews around the room, and how you make your way out of the dungeon to the top of the keep outside, where you can see the fjord and it lakes below. The Nexus was great fun, frosty and chilly, the final boss was tricky until tactics prevailed and we won the fight! Other dungeons await us!
What separates Northrend from Outland? Many things. The world seems more alive, a more natural environment with animals everywhere. Animals and beasts struggle against one another in a fight for survival, as in the real world. There is a consistency in the overall design, moving from one zone to another is more gradual unlike the harsh barren red Hellfire and sudden change to tranquil blue of Zangarmarsh.
There is history here too, stories and characters that you can care about. Given the chance and you can feel drawn into the world, an immersive place that wraps around you. Outland was very nice, but I failed to connect with the lore, history or story lines, seeming to be a witness or outsider, whereas Northrend has a genuine flow and ebb of struggle against the darkness, the characters are more detailed with plots you want to thrust yourself into right to the bitter end!
I’m in no rush to hit level 80, I’ll get there in the end. For me the game still remains about discovery and exploration, the sights and sounds around me as I travel. The acquisition of new gear and talents, striving to improve is always there but it is not the be all and end all. Dungeons and raids are fun but are just a part of what is an amazing experience each time you log in.
I’m taking on the roles of healer, spell caster and tank when needed, although I enjoy healing and will always be one at heart, I find the spell caster Boomkin spec exciting after so many months of healing away. So onto Icecrown, what will I find there? All I need to do is soar into the sky, let the winds guide me along the wavering Aurora Borealis, and over the horizon……