If you’ve played World of Warcraft before the expansions, Azshara will no doubt be the last thing you care about, but not anymore! The goblins have exploded onto the scene (literally) and made an impact that not even the cataclysm could leave on the zone of Azshara. Blizzard recently did a Q&A on Azshara, the new zone for World of Warcraft: Catclysm and revealed some more information on the ideas behind it and some of the changes. For one this is now a Goblin Zone. After the events of Kezan and the Lost Isles, the Goblin race finds itself in Azshara. This would be suicide normally but somewhere along the lines, Azshara jumped down around 30 – 40 levels, Deus Ex Machina or Goblin Brilliance? You decide! One thing to note about this zone is it won’t be a simple grind fest anymore. Blizzard has taken the questing experience and stripped it down to what made Wrath of the Lich King fun. This area will be using some of the new Wrath mechanics, such as phasing, and using them for a more story driven experience.
For Horde players of level 10 and up, you’re given the choice of different hubs to follow. Originally Blizzard struggled with this. The developers realised they would be streaming 6 Horde races into the Northern Barrens, so they decided to make Azshara the alternative. Of course you could skip over Azshara but for goblins this is a direct link from their story, meaning for the sake of immersion, it may be best to stick to this area. The story of this zone is centered around the Goblins fitting into the Horde. Garrosh is now the warchief and he’s out to conquer all of Kalimdor. The Goblins of Bilgewater Cartel have created the Bilgewater Harbor, here they create weapons and machines of mass destruction for the Horde while providing naval support right outside Orgrimmars doorstep. Of course the Night Elves won’t make this easy for the new “heroes” of Azeroth, but since when has the Alliance made it easy?
All things considered though, this is -NOT- the same Azshara you remember. In the center of the zone is a highway where you can ride rockets; these rockets offer transport across the zone for those without mounts. This, of course, is because Azshara was an expansive zone for high level players originally, because of this, a lot of the nostalgic stuff has been cut out. No more Hydrixian Waterlords, no more Azuregos. Though Xylem is still around and apparantly insane in his tower, considering the rate things are dying off in Cataclysm, it’s doubtful if he’ll stay insane for long. For scenery itself, the place is completely changed as well; the grass there is still an offputting color but don’t let that fool you. Several monuments can be found such as “Pleasure Parks” and a gigantic mugshot of Gallywix carved into the crag, lovely. For the old Timbermaw residents, who knows what’s happening there? The pictures released seem to hint they’re still around but if they’ll be a part of the questing experience is still up in the air at this point.
Let’s compare this to the old Azshara. It was a contested zone and offered some insight on its namesake (Queen Azshara.) The quests involved killing Stags, Spirits and Highborne and was overall a grindfest. Now that’s all changed, the Stags are still around and some of the giants but we can expect to blow them up. Even though Azuregos is removed, we’ll still be tasked on learning his whereabouts. Azshara was also a place to start your Hydrixian Waterlords chain to progress in Molten Core, although later patches removed the need for this chain so ultimately there was no loss in removing them. With all these changes we might as well rename the place, especially considering the other Lady Azshara sightings in Cataclysm. If you come to this zone expecting nostalgia then turn away. This is a new zone made to make the leveling experience more fun and streamlined. Of course this doesnt mean older players can’t enjoy it. On the contrary this place seems to be superior to the original, even if we’re expecting to fight against Possesed Bulldozers. It makes me wonder if Blizzard was playing too much Alan Wake?
Currently in the beta this zone is still very unfinished, quests are bugged and sometimes next to impossible to finish. Of course we can expect this to be polished before public release. Another issue with scaling at the momment is the equipment from the Goblin starting zones. Currently in the beta build they’re superior to the quest greens from the first few levels of Azshara, let’s hope Blizzard doesn’t let it slide under the carpet as a simple solution by changing stats. Again beta is not final and it’s beta for a reason, this is currently being tested and will hopefully be fixed eventually. Overall Azshara is shaping out to be a better zone than expected. Here’s to hoping that Blizzard puts the same care and detail into every other zone.
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