WoW: Into Outland

As I think I’ve indicated, I didn’t know the premise of The Burning Crusade before starting it, other than that it involved a world called Outland. Even within the game, information is skimpy. As I’ve observed before, NPCs in the game just kind of assume that you know what they’re talking about, confident perhaps that you can consult a wiki to fill in the gaps. I honestly don’t remember even receiving the quest to go to Outland. It just sort of showed up on my quest list.

It turns out that the portal to Outland is the very same Dark Portal that brought the Orcs to Azeroth back in the backstory of the original Warcraft. The Burning Crusade is not, as I had assumed, some war initiative of the Alliance, but a term for the multiverse-conquering demons that started pouring through the Dark Portal when it reopened. This is a big enough threat to make Horde and Alliance put aside their differences in order to guard the Portal and keep the demons at bay. The encampment circling it, neatly divided into Horde and Alliance by a line running down the middle, gives me a distinct cold war vibe, heavily militarized tension and waiting. This is the sort of truce that forms when the saucers land.

A cow in spaceAnd, true to that image, Outland (or at least the near part of it) looks like an alien planet off a sci-fi paperback: a reddish desert with a sky full of rings and planetoids. Here I can finally use my flying mount. It’s the same sort of lion-headed “wyvern” that you can hire to fly along fixed routes back in Azeroth: a bizarre-looking creature, but it fits in perfectly here, flying past the multiple moons of Outland.

Outland is a small world, with only seven zones, compared to the 30-odd in each of the original continents. But these zones seem to be very dense with quests. Remember that there’s an Achievement for completing a certain number of quests in each zone — a number slightly lower than the number of quests available. For most zones I’ve seen, this number is in the neighborhood of fifty. There’s one zone here for which it’s 120. And what are these quests like? I’m finding them gruelling. The tasks are the typical sort of WoW quest, but in the process of pursuing them, I keep getting attacked along the way by groups of monsters that take so long to kill that some of them actually respawn before I’m done with the fight. I’m avoiding as many fights as I can by flying, but you have to land and do your quest sometime. Also, it doesn’t help that a gnomish paladin kept killing me when I was in the middle of such fights (ironically getting “honor points” for doing so). Once again, I marvel at how the game mechanics are designed to convince us that the opposite team is composed entirely of jerks.

Speaking of which, it seems like this is one place where the perspectives of the two sides must be very different. To the Alliance, Outland is purely and simply the place where monsters come from, whether demons or orcs. To the Horde, it’s the ancestral homeland. The orcs have come here, not just to stop the demons, but to try to uncover their own lost history. So I’m once again glad that I’m playing Horde, because that seems like a more interesting story to me.

3 Comments so far

  1. Merus on 7 Aug 2011

    Horde also get a particularly interesting quest chain in Nagrand: considering the way the level curve in Outland goes nowadays, you can probably go from Hellfire Peninsula straight there. It’s where Blizzard started experimenting with advancing the Warcraft storyline, and is the introduction of a assuredly minor character called Garrosh Hellscream.

    Yeah, his introduction is well past when you first meet him.

  2. Carl Muckenhoupt on 8 Aug 2011

    Hm. I remember some holiday content, something about giving Valentine’s Day charm bracelets to the various faction leaders, including Garrosh. I wonder if giving it to BC‘s younger Garrosh works? (Probably not.)

  3. malkav11 on 8 Aug 2011

    For what it’s worth, most people seem to agree that Hellfire Peninsula is the least interesting zone in all of Outland.

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