WoW: Quests of the Day

This week (and I think next week as well), Azeroth celebrates its equivalent of Valentine’s Day. It’s also still celebrating the Lunar Festival, with the result that the capital cities have two sets of decorations up at once, but what are you going to do? Overlap seems almost inevitable, because the calendar is lousy with special events of this sort. They bring with them time-limited content, which seems to be an effective way to get people to play more: I’m more likely to neglect a game if I think I can play it any time and get the same experience.

One part of the special content for this holiday is an extremely easy daily quest: a goblin merchant has set up a booth in every capital city, and wants you to share samples of his merchandise. One day it’s perfume, another day it’s chocolates, but the effect seems to be the same regardless: the people you foist it on wind up with a heart-shaped indicator over their heads for a period of time, meaning that they can’t be given another sample until it wears off. In the area immediately around the stall in Orgrimmar, where the player density is at its highest, it’s a veritable sea of hearts, and finding an uninfected subject can take a little doing. I think I prefer to do this quest in the less-populated Thunder Bluff, the Tauren capital. (NPCs are eligible victims, so the lower player count doesn’t make it harder at all.) There, it takes just a minute or so to complete the quest, which makes it the quickest way I know to get a daily under your belt. There’s an Achievement for completing daily quests on five consecutive days, and I’m definitely trying for that while there’s so little effort involved.

While I’m throwing around terms like “daily quest”, I should take a moment to describe the questing mechanics a little. Most quests can only be done once per character; daily quests can be done arbitrarily many times, but each can only be done at most once per day. There are particular NPCs who hand out daily quests every day, but not always the same one — they seem to choose one at random each day. Aside from the holiday folks, the only ones I’ve encountered are related to the Professions. There’s one fellow in Orgrimmar who gives a daily Fishing-related quest, rewarding you with an increase in Fishing skill and a grab-bag of stuff pulled from under a lake, and another who does the same for Cooking (with quests like slaughtering swine and protecting provisions from thieves), rewarding you with increased Cooking skill and tokens redeemable for advanced recipes. Notably, none of the daily quests seem to yield cash or experience, the usual questing rewards. Instead, they give you things difficult or impossible to gain any other way. (Past a certain point, it must be exceedingly difficult to raise your Cooking or Fishing skill through practice alone.)

You can always tell a daily quest by its color. Available non-daily quests that are of an appropriate level for your character are signaled by a yellow exclamation mark, both marked on your mini-map and floating above the quest-giver’s head, just to make sure you notice them. Dailies use a blue exclamation mark. There are also green ones, indicating flightmasters that you haven’t spoken to yet. Flightmasters let you rent flying mounts to take you on pre-set routes, but they can generally only send you to other flightmasters you’ve already spoken to. So, they’re an important enough part of the game infrastructure that the designers want to call special attention to them, but they’re not really quests. Normal quests that are too high-level for you to attempt, but otherwise available, are designated by a grey exclamation mark, which shows up over the giver’s head, but not on the map, presumably because there’s no reason to seek them out.

Quests that are below your level, now: they’re not marked on the map or above the head. But you can still do them if you want, and I’ve been doing enough low-level quests just to see the content that I’ve learned how to find them. Unlike most NPCs, questgivers with available quests have their names in green above their heads even when not selected. Also, anything you can interact with changes the cursor on rollover, and NPCs that you can talk to change it in a manner specific to the kind of conversation you can have with them: one cursor for mere talking, one for vendors you can buy stuff from, another for innkeepers, etc. Questgivers have a cursor containing an image of an exclamation mark — yes, the exclamation mark is more or less officially the ideogram for quest in this game. Even the quest log icon in the toolbar is an exclamation mark. Finding low-level quests thus takes a little more effort than level-appropriate ones, which the game eagerly points out. The game doesn’t really want you wasting your time on them; low-level quests give diminished experience, and usually no experience from combat at all. And yet, the game also rewards you for doing so with additional content, faction reputation, and, eventually, achievements. Just not with challenge. In theory, you could probably play entirely with low-level quests — there are enough of them that if you did them all, the reduced XP might not matter. And you’d have a very easy time of it. And that’s nearly what I’ve been doing myself, just out of a sense of completism.

4 Comments so far

  1. malkav11 on 8 Feb 2011

    Daily quests aren’t really a factor at low levels. They’re a mechanic primarily aimed at people who have reached the level cap and are geared to supply things like faction reputation, gold, high level crafting supplies, and for a few, the random possibility of a rare drop mount or pet.

  2. Starmaker on 8 Feb 2011

    Skill advancement for quest completion must be a new thing in Cat. In WotLK, Fishing was pure grind. High-level Cooking recipes required spices that couldn’t be bought from vendors for money; there was a number of daily cooking quests that yielded a small amount of spices and soulbound cooking tokens that could be exchanged for spices too.

    Naturally, in a developed economy these spices can be bought at the auc, no such opportunity at the recently opened private server with everyone and their mom aiming to gain a Realm First achievement. Conveniently, we found a bug that allowed a character not trained in Cooking to complete a certain Cooking daily, created legions of characters, summoned them to Dalaran (we were the only faction that had a reliable means of transporting lowlevels around the map, namely a 80 warlock) and the rest was easy as pie.

  3. Merus on 9 Feb 2011

    “(Past a certain point, it must be exceedingly difficult to raise your Cooking or Fishing skill through practice alone.)”

    Not difficult, but tedious. As other commenters have noticed, these are quests that are new in Cataclysm. Cooking changed its design completely between classic WoW and the first expansion, the Burning Crusade; instead of recipes strewn across the game world, recipes were grouped more closely into tiers, made more accessible, and made more helpful by the Well Fed buff providing different benefits. In most of classic WoW, food provides a Stamina ( to health) and Spirit (at the time, health and mana generation out of combat; now, mana regen while in combat). In Burning Crusade, food continues to provide a Stamina buff, but it can also affect other more relevant combat stats.
    As for fishing, apparently, it being boring is a design goal.

    From the Burning Crusade on, there are factions which offer more varied daily quests, which do award substantial amounts of money. Again, most of the appeal of these dailies is getting rewards you can’t get elsewhere, usually mounts or companion pets. Some dailies are tied into the factions of that expansion, which allow players to run the dailies as an alternative to championing that faction.

    As for quests, I believe if they get too low level they stop rewarding XP altogether. Still, I’ll likely run my max-level warlock through the revamped zones, as I did before Cataclysm came out. I like seeing the story, as goofy as it usually is.

  4. malkav11 on 9 Feb 2011

    Not so much as an alternative – the factions with daily reputation quests tended (in my experience) not to have any other reliable means to gain reputation with them. Something which was really frustrating with certain factions, who only have a handful of dailies.

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