Monday, April 11, 2011

Outland & Hellfire Peninsula: Level 58: Saturday, April 9, 2011

The Burning Crusade, WoW's first expansion, was released in January of 2007, when the game was just over two years old, and made some significant changes that players had to adjust to.  The Level Cap was raised from 60 to 70, and a new race was added for each faction, with the Horde receiving blood elves and the Alliance receiving draenei.  With this new arrivals, Horde players were able to create paladins, and Alliance players were granted shaman for the first time.  In addition, an entire new continent was added for players to explore; the shattered planet of Draenor, the original home of the orcs and former refuge for the draenei, before their doomed flight to Kalimdor.  
The main antagonist of The Burning Crusade is Illidan Stormrage, a disgraced Night Elf, who through a series of events involving his obsession with turning back a demon army, even going so far as to become a demon himself.  His backstory is very complex, but at the time of the Burning Crusade, he has claimed the Black Temple on Outland as his stronghold, and waits for adventurers to challenge him.  His most formidable allies are Kael-Thas Sunstrider, the traitor Blood Elf ruler, who has commandeered the portion of the Draenei's vessel that remained in Outland, and is draining the magic from the core of the planet, and Lady Vashj, a naga queen who is draining the scarce water sources of Outland in order to control supply.  They are the bosses of the Tempest Keep and Serpentshrine Cavern raids, respectively.  
So now that we've established the previous reasons for heroes to travel to Outland, it's time to bring up a fundamental flaw with the story flow of World of Warcraft's first two expansions.    The major antagonists in the Burning Crusade, and later, Wrath of the Lich King, have been destroyed.  Even the newest loading screen for Outland reflects this change, as it no longer shows Illidan and Kael'Thas, who players have already defeated, but the new heroes of Outland that helped players in the past.  These changes have been made to the loading screens, but when you go into the new areas, its as if nothing has happened, and your character is the first to experience everything.  However, every character has to level, and Outland, and later Northrend, are the only places to level, so off we go.  

Your first destination of the expansion is the aesthetically harsh Hellfire Peninsula.  The color scheme from the Blasted Lands carries over into Outland, as the desolation wrought by the unstable planet is evident from the moment you enter.  
You immediately encounter the Burning Legion (big bad demon group, cause of everything bad in The Burning Crusade) forces that have begun invading Azeroth through the portal, and are thrust into the defensive fight.  Alliance players make for Honor Hold
while Horde players report to Thrallmar.  
Every player, regardless of faction, begins The Burning Crusade here in Hellfire Peninsula, so when the expansion first launched, this zone was a bloodbath of player vs. player combat, so crowded and almost unplayable that when Blizzard designed The Wrath of the Lich King they implemented two starter zones, so that the player base would be divided.  In addition, they had to find a way to make the new content playable for both players who had only recently hit Level 60, and those who had been 60 since the game's release and had obtained powerful gear from dungeons, raids and battlegrounds.  As a result, the game goes through a gear 'reset', so that in your first couple of hours in Outland, everyone receives extremely powerful upgrades to armor and weapons, so that they can all progress on pretty much the same path.  
Aside from getting recent arrivals acclimated to Outland, a majority of the quests in Hellfire Peninsula are designed around streamlining players into the first two dungeons available, the Ramparts and Blood Furnace of the Hellfire Citadel, which is located in the middle of the zone. 
Here, the leader of the orcs on Outland, Kargath Bladefist, in an effort to hold off the recent arrivals from Azeroth, has made a desperate attempt to preserve himself and his people by infusing them with the blood of a powerful demonic pit lord.  Naturally, it's your job to go in and put a stop to it.  

Also, and not because they're a huge part of the game, being involved in only one quest to my knowledge, Hellfire Peninsula has these giant mechanical things called Fel Reavers that patrol all over the place, and will instantly kill anybody they are able to sneak up on.  This was quite a surprise the first time it happened to you!

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