I got there. It took me four weeks to get to 60 and a week and a half to get to 70. Brutal slog, lots of sleepless nights, lots of grinding and cosying up to random strangers.
But in all things, it's the lows that make you realise just how good the highs are. Finally getting there. Finally ripping into the "New" content. Being on the home stretch, or in this case, being where everyone else is.
1 - 60 in Burning Crusade Classic was fun. I'm glad I recorded my time and took so much B-roll, because that means I will always have the memories with me - or written down somewhere, immortalized in a corner of the internet. But it can, at times, be quite lonely, devoid of other players.
Well, let me tell you, 60 - 70 is filled with group quests and lots of opportunities to engage with other players. And there are tons of players in Outland. I've begged level 70 players who were just passing through, I've begged nearby guildies, I've hassled people the server over. It just adds that extra slice of life to proceedings.
And if I thought I'd get bored of playing the slot machine that is Elemental Shaman, I didn't. Infact, once I got an injection of gear from doing all the quests in Hellfire Peninsula and my critical hit rate went through the roof, it was like playing a slot machine where (to quote the great DJ Khaled) all I did was win, win, win, no matter what.
The thing I like about World of Warcraft which seems to pass people by is that it is mechanically deep. Yes, retail has an extra fifteen years of development time tacked on, but even in Burning Crusade Classic, the game had a lot of strings to its bow. Depth in content, depth in combat, depth in story.
It's like digital cottees topping - thick and rich.
Anyway that's probably enough preamble, let's get into the good stuff:
Critical Information Summary
Level Reached This Week: SEVENTY (70) [Seven. Zero.]
Current Playtime: 207 Hours
Professions: Leatherworking (350) Skinning (375)
Now before I went through the ol' Dark Portal I paid a visit to the Blasted Lands. Pictured Here.
Dark, dreary, and orange. Meh. Except for, of course:
The Dark Portal. In all its majesty. I took the quest from the chap:
And found myself in...
The "Hell" in that name is accurate, because there are Daemons everywhere in this piece. First things first, I "talked" to the orc whose job it is to welcome you to Outland and usher you through a confusing and exciting block of content.
Seriously though, Daemons Errywhere. Big, strong, tough Daemons that'll rip your spine out. Like these nice fellows in front of the portal.
You're then ushered to the flight master and then begin your tour of Hellfire Peninsula. It's red, and cracked and just a terrible place. But, of course, it has strategic value, so you can't just abandon it to the Daemons.
It's not long until you finish your flight and find yourself in Thrallmar, the first major Orc faction in Outland, sent there by Thrall himself. Hence the name. Not very subtle, but, then again subtlety is a spec for Rogues.
You exchange some pleasantries with the local garrison commander who then proceeds to send you out in the world to start killing stuff, in exchange for some really fat loot. Seriously, your power level spikes through the roof once you have a few outland greens in hand.
There is one thing he doesn't tell you about, though.
Ah yes, the Fel Reaver. A big, level 70 elite mob that'll sneak up on you and stomp you into jelly. You'll be out questing, you'll hear an ominous trumpet noise and that'll be it. It took me less than thirty seconds to be killed by the Fel Reaver.
God I loved it.
You also make contact with one of the zone's primary antagonist factions, the Fel Horde. Evil Orcs corrupted by drinking the blood of Daemons, they're red, unfriendly, and have built a big old fortress in the centre of the zone. More on that later.
You'll do lots of quests involving them. You'll take scrap wood and metal from their siege engines:
You'll torch their buildings at Zeth'Gor, one of their outposts:
and then assassinate one of their leaders (with some help, of course.)
But it's not just Fel Orcs - there's also remnants of the expeditionary force who went through the Dark Portal to fight the horde, who were eventually all slain and now haunt the joint as ghosts:
There are Daemons from the expansion's namesake, the Burning Legion, who have setup forge camps in several spots. You have a variety of interactions with them, including raiding a forge camp:
Conducting an aerial bombing run:
And shutting down their reinforcement gates, using their own items. What fun!
It's not all bombings, violence and fun, though - there's also a quest to pick through Felhound poo until you find a key for a goblin. I sure hope this isn't some kind of disturbing trend...
As you reach the tail end of the zone you begin to have more contact with the Blood Elves of Falcon's Watch. The more I read about the Blood Elves, the less I think the Horde are the good guys.
In no particular order, you expose the infidelity of one of the characters at Falcon's Watch.
Then you ambush Draenei at the Pools of Aggonar who are attempting to purify the pools. Blood Elves will lose access to a source of unspeakably evil magic energy if they're purified, so you can't allow that.
Then it was on to clear out the Den of Haal'esh, which belongs to the birdmen of the Arrakoa. It's a localised meme amongst my friends to yell BIRDMEN when we see Birdmen of any shape or form. I thought about that a lot whilst I murdered the birdmen.
There's also an escort quest - but a PvP specific escort quest, meaning some nasty Alliance characters were killing the NPC.
So, in a move that made me feel like a big man, I waited until they started attacking the NPC, popped all my offensive cooldowns and sent him to the Shadow Realm. I didn't get any B-roll of that though.
But we did manage to get the NPC back to Falcon's Watch safely.
Last stop before moving on was a visit to the ruins of Sha'naar. It's here that you learn that not all the Draenei escaped. Lots of them ended up captured and enslaved.
In a rare opportunity to actually be the good guy, you get to roll around the ruins blasting Daemons and freeing slaves.
You also meet a tribe Elder who tasks you with freeing other enslaved Elders. So you do so.
Then you build a big stick and use it to kill the Daemon overseer. But not before he confirms what you probably already knew. Naladu sold his people out and let them be enslaved to save himself.
He confirms as much when you go to hand the quest in, but also confirms there's nowhere else for him to go. His tribe is free, but he must pay a price for his betrayal, which is probably to lie down somewhere and have a sleep.
And just like that, it was over. Hellfire Peninsula - conquered!
One more story relevant thing before we return to the action. You're given a quest to return to Orgrimmar to see Thrall and deliver a letter. The letter advises that the Mag'Har, a tribe of Orcs, survived and were not corrupted by all the drinking Daemon Blood and general fuckery.
This is important, because one of the Orcs he meets in Outland, is Garrosh Hellscream, son of Grom. This matters for both past and present, because Garrosh turns into a major villain and Grom Hellscream is Grom Hellscream. If that doesn't mean anything to you, why are you reading this?
Before I kick off, let me be very clear - Zangarmarsh is beautiful. It's got those delightful soothing blue hues, relaxing lo-fi music - it's just a great time. I loved coming here, I loved questing here and it turns out the faction has useful goodies for my combination of skills and abilities.
Zangarmarsh, to me, is the best zone in Outland and it is not close.
Unfortunately, that also means that I blasted through the zone in half a day. Which is like painstakingly peeling an orange and then shoving it down your throat like a baseball.
Hellfire is about the Horde and the Alliance versus Daemons and Orcs. Zangarmarsh is mostly man versus nature. Which is awesome because Shaman tools like water breathing and water walking are very useful here.
You kill fungal giants, marsh striders, spore bats, giant wasps, hydras and eels (oh my!). Here's a small sample of all the wildlife you kill.
Lots of them. Also fish. Lots of fish, because they have a unique mechanic where one of them attacking you attracts more of them until you look like this.
There's also lots of Naga. One of the main storylines in Zangarmarsh is that the Naga have installed a giant water pump in the middle of the zone - Coilfang Reservoir. Outside of killing wildlife, the zone focuses on the Naga.
You disable the controls for tertiary parts of the pump:
Assassinate the leaders of the Bloodscale and the Darkcrest:
And then later on in the piece you swim into the pump itself to enter the three instances plus the Raid - Serpentshrine Cavern. More on some of that later.
Wherever there's Naga or Daemons, Broken Draenei are close. There's the Dreghood who are enslaved, and the Feralfen who are not enslaved, but aren't really interested in being friends.
So there's some additional questlines related to killing them as well. Including another escort quest.
And a fun little side-act where you release Murlocs into the wild in Zangarmarsh. You're treated to dancing Murlocs with top-hats. What fun!
The last third of the zone is dedicated the mushroom people of Sporeggar. Mushroom people in communion with the Bog Lords (no, not that type of Bog), their homegrounds are a beautiful shade of Orange. It's just beautiful when mixed with the purple.
Eventually after gathering enough mushrooms and Bog Lords, they finally decide to speak to you - and give you some more busywork.
This busywork takes the form of doing and killing the Ango'Rosh Ogres - you cross a bridge made out of a fallen mushroom tree to visit the Ango'Rosh grounds.
Talk about a suspension bridge of disbelief.
The zone end culiminates in you killing the Ogre Warlord. And with that, the zone is all... Ogre.
I bid farewell to the fungal giants on my way out of the zone:
and left for the next zone feeling like this bloke:
Terrokkar is home to Shattrath City, which is the hub of Outland. The two main factions of the Aldor and the Scryers are here, the Naaru, the cosmic light forces who were brought here by the Draenei when the city was in ruins are here. It's all happening and it's happening here.
There's also this fellow.
Khagar is famous for his role in killing his original master, Medivh, in the Warcraft Movie (and also Warcraft.) and holds the proverbial keys to the kingdom in the phase's first raid, Karazhan.
He gets his elemental to show you around the city, touring through all the different parts of the city. Much like Dalaran in the next expansion, Shattrath is a huge melting pot - and as you can see from my screenshots, it's where all the players are, too.
Before I left, I introduced myself to the Scryers, as they have the best benefits for both of my planned specialisations.
The Scryers are still evil, but evil attempting to redeem themselves by betraying Kael'Thas. I don't know how much it'll help, because they're still addicted to magic like it's heroin.
But it's not all just fun and games around Shattrath. There's a brave world out there. Starting just as you walk out the door, with Cenarion Thicket being overrun by killer mind-controlling moths.
A chap sent mad confirms that you need to kill a giant evil moth.
Which I did.
Much like Zangarmarsh, the lush forested parts of Terrokkar are this beautiful combination of dark greens and bright whites. It reminds me of the Mentor Chapter of Space Marines. It's stunning and makes questing there relaxing and pleasant.
It's not all fun and games, though. The evil tribes of the Arrakoa are up to no good. It's up to you to murder them to achieve a variety of goals, from taking their feathers as trophies, disrupting their rituals:
And stealing their scrying orbs.
And as always, there are leaders to assassinate.
Later on you also have a quest to rescue children kidnapped by the Arrakoa.
Good to know that you can, sometimes, be allowed to be a good guy by the Blizzard writing staff.
There's also some Fel Orcs in the area. The remnants of the Bonechewer clan are here, whom some will remember as possessing the artifacts needed to allow the Orcs to cross back into Azeroth. There's not many of them left, so, of course, you kill them.
There's also a side-plot involving some evil elves who have set themselves up a mana bomb in the middle of their settlement.
Like the worst James Bond ever, you murder your way into the facility, kill key members of the settlement for the initiation codes, then set it off in their courtyard.
That'll learn 'em.
Unfortunately it cannot all be pretty trees, elves and orcs. Down south in Terrokkar is Auchindoun, a sort of big graveyard filled with... lots of evil stuff.
There are two tombs. In the tomb populated by Ethereals, you defend an ancient guardian spirit from being defiled, bringing you face to face with this guy:
The other is being defiled by Orcs loyal to Demons, so you have to crawl down to the bottom and blast a big Demon lady for loot previously belonging to the Draenei.
and also escort this guy, whom the Orcs captured and were going to kill, because they're Orcs. And evil.
There's a Dwarf mining crew that are in need of assistance - and when it turns out to be a load of hot air they start ripping the foreman:
Then you steal a priceless cursed artifact:
Then you kill a big bone dragon.
And a big spider. Lots of big evil things to kill in this south zone.
And in a pleasant closing of the circle, you help the good Arrakoan refugees in Shattrath defend themselves from machinations of the evil Arrakoans. Lots of dead birds ensue.
Then, it was time to hit the road:
I said nothing comes close to Zangarmarsh, but I lied. Nagrand is also a beautiful, beautiful zone. It plays with colours and verticality. If you thought it was pretty during the day, take a look at night. Serious Hurricos vibes.
Nagrand brings you face to face with the man himself, Hemet Nesingwary.
His plane crashed and his job is now to hand you out quests to kill a frankly unreasonable amount of the nearby wildlife. Totalling it up, he and his mates ask you to kill one hundred and eighty four enemies. Six quests of thirty (!) and four elite quests.
So I hit the road and started to dig in.
I killed all the animals, and the elite animals. And in the end I came face to face with the final boss of the Hemet quests.
I came, I saw, I conquered.
Once that's all done, you arrive in Garadar, home to the Hellscream clan of Orcs. Including...
But we're a long way from the homocidal maniac that he becomes in Mists of Pandaria. At this point in time, he's emotionally disturbed because the matriarch of the clan is dying. So he refuses all help and does nothing but watch. Meaning there's plenty of dirty work for you to do:
There's also the Earthen Ring, who will one day take Thrall into their grasp.
Outside of all that, there's also the Ring of Blood. This is the first quest of it's kind, which is a series of boss battles. This format appears in later expansions, but this is where it all started.
There are five bosses in total - and at the end you get a fantastic item for your level.
There's also yet another quest to pick up animal poop. This time it's to create an item to give you water breathing.
And the jerk elementalist doesn't let you wash your hands, either.
Moving on from that, there's a quest to kill Broken that raided the Sunspring Outpost.
Involving yet another escort quest. It sounds like I'm mad, but it wasn't that bad.
There's also quite a complex plot whereupon you turn the Warmaul Ogres and the Kil'Sorrow clan of Orcs against each other. This is all orchestrated by Lantressor of the Blade, a half-orc who leads the Boulderfist Clan of Ogres.
First you steal Kil'Sorrow weapons from their hideout, whilst planting Warmaul banners on the bodies.
(Whilst also killing their leader for a different quest block entirely.)
Then you lead Boulderfist Ogres into the Warmaul Compounds, to plant Kil'Sorrow Banners onto dead Warmaul Ogres and scatter Kil'Sorrow weapons everywhere.
Whilst your comic relief sidekicks make "dead orc noises" - comedy gold.
You never get to see the armed conflict you instigate because this is before the era of phasing in World of Warcraft. And that's ok.
Next on the list, it was time to recruit some help and go after the two forge camps in Nagrand. Starting with getting drafted by a Demon hunter.
All the mobs here are elite, and come loaded for bear, so I needed to bring a friend. Fortunately, as always, there were lots of folks to press into service.
I raided the Forge Camps and killed the elite mobs, but that's just the start. Next was to travel back to Shattrath and beat up a Demon who used to work in the forge camps, so he turns over the plans:
Then it's back to kill the Daemon Lords of each Forge Camp and take their car keys:
And turn their precious Fel Cannons on their own structures. Lovely.
With all that done, there wasn't that much left in Nagrand - one was to bring down the big man himself - Durn the Hungerer. The son of Gruul, who is one of the raid bosses currently killable in the Blade's Edge Mountains.
With all that done, it was time to finish the job of getting to 70.
Good-bye pretty natural zones, hello pure evil.
As soon as you walk into the zone, it's clear that everyone hates everyone. Shadowmoon Village, which is home to the first encampment, is under siege by infernals.
Which pretty much sets the tone for how the rest of the zone carries on. It's dark, and miserable, and there's glowing lava everywhere. But that doesn't mean there isn't any fun to be had in the zone.
There's a rather touching reference to Metal Gear Solid where you are tasked with overhearing conversation from an Eredar Warlord and don a cunning disguise before his meeting.
You listen intently. When he asks a strange question.
Phew. Thank god for plot armour.
Later on, you come back and blow up all his infernals. For fun.
There's also local wildlife to kill in pools of acid lava, which doesn't affect the animals, for some reason:
And, of course, more BIRDMEN:
You also head down into a strange dungeon... thing to to spike a ritual and to kill the resultant summoned creature after the error kills them all.
Speaking of Gul'Dan, you also see the place where Gul'Dan enacted the ritual which blew up the world in the first place. Because Orcs plus Dark Sorcery does not end well. Never has, never will.
You'll see this area about halfway through the trailer for Black Temple:
Elsewhere I killed Blood Elves loyal to Kael'Thas and Illidan of varying levels of quality. Including a showdown with some of his highest ranking officials and a threat to meet him in the Black Temple...
So, naturally, I paid a visit to the Temple. You cannot access it just yet, but there are quests to crawl all over it and kill either Orcs (left) or Blood Elves (right).
And just like that, it was over. Levelling was done. I had made 70. Now, the real work begins. But not before we talk about all the dungeons I visited.
"Ramps", as it's more commonly known, is the first place you visit. This means it's really easy to organise a group for.
When I was first in Hellfire Peninsula, I ran it lots. Then I ran it some more throughout the rest of the levelling process. It gives you lots of experience. And I do mean, lots.
I also worked to practice healing, which led to me really enjoying healing in later parts of the game. Apart from one panic-stricken moment when I ran out of mana halfway through a boss fight.
It was rough, but we got there in the end.
Ramps really sets the tone for Dungeons in Outland, though - short, two to four bosses, with a built-in 'return to entrance' path built in. Compare that to somewhere like BRD with fifteen bosses and basically having to Hearth (or walk) all the way back.
Much like Ramps, Blood Furnace is in the first zone, there's lots of players, it's really accessible. It's a little longer and the levels are a bit higher, but that gives it some good longevity.
Blood Furnace is famous for two things - the first is hiding Laughing Skull Rogues in corners of the instance to ambush unsuspecting groups or ranged damage-dealers that try to retreat or find a safe place to drink.
The second is a sequence before the second boss where you have to fight wave after wave of Fel Orcs before you can face the second boss.
Blood Furnace is also where Mag'Theridon is hidden. Shadowmoon Orcs are keeping him captive and using his blood to make more Fel Orcs and the entire instance is punctuated by Mag'Theridon promising unspeakable violence on everyone once he gets free.
Which leads to this famous utterance from Keli'dan the Breaker as he realises you've murdered his fellow ritualists:
This is the start of your meeting with the Naga on a much grander scale. This is where the magic happens. These dungeons are also much longer than either of Ramps or Blood Furnace.
One of the themes here is, like the Dreghood in Hellfire Peninsula, the Naga are assisted by slave Dreghood Draenei.
When the Slavemaster dies, the Dreghoods make a break for it. In some cases, you can catch the Slavemaster all alone - he dies quickly without his pressed into service help.
I love how slave pens plays with verticality and height. Eventually, the dungeon transitions into a man-made structure complete with Hydra. But first I got this mad shot overlooking the entrance and starting area of the dungeon.
Overall, I rate Slave Pens.
Underbog is another Naga dungeon, kind of. Whereas Slave Pens is all Naga, all the time, Underbog is more of a hybrid dungeon. It starts out with lots of different Zangarmarsh creatures, that are elite.
Then you pass through a Naga facility and kill a Hydra, who interestingly has the same naming convention as the Troll hydras in Azeroth. Go figure.
Then it turns back into a romp through nature, culminating in an encounter with the Black Stalker. Whom you instantly run over.
Overall I like the dungeon less than I do, say, Slave Pens. It has less flavour and it's design is simpler.
Once you get to Auchindoun, the nature of the dungeon experience changes somewhat. There are questgivers outside the instance. I don't mind this change, but it's good to have a mixture of both so players don't feel they have everything handed to them.
Maybe. What do I know.
Compared to previous dungeons, Sethekk Halls is long, but has fewer bosses. This might be to compensate for the fact you can pinball between all three instances, pickup the quests and be done in a relatively short stretch of time.
Sethekk Halls is the bird-flavoured Auchindoun instance. There's one for Ethereals (Mana Tombs) one for Undead (Auchenai Crypts) and one for Arrakoa.
So, naturally, you fight lots of birds. I mean lots of birds. And get lots of delicious experience points for your trouble. Soak it up.
Slave Pens is probably my favourite of the early dungeons for the way it mixes up the terrain and the visuals, but I like the color palettes and feel of the Auchindoun dungeons. Dark purples and bright whites - it really feels like a 'dungeon' should.
The final boss is also interesting, offering some mechanics involving breakinhg line of sight and interrupting spells. Not a bad instance, all sewn up.
Sethekk Halls is also a very important instance to run so you can get a key to the Shadow Labryinth, which is part of the Karazhan attunement.
I am cheating a little bit here as I didn't run Mana Tombs until very late. I ran Old Hillsbrad before I ran Mana Tombs. But I won't tell if you don't.
Mana Tombs is inhabited by the Ethereals - a strange being of pure energy wrapped in what appears to be linen. Like mummies, but more interesting, not undead and with a cool sci-fi technopunk aesthetic.
They're also pretty close to the Dimir cards which look similar, but they're not called Ethereals, they're called something else. For copyright purposes, probably.
Mana Tombs does have three bosses, which is generous and is shorter than Sethekk Halls. The same compliments and criticisms I could make of Sethekk Halls are here. Except the end boss is less interesting.
Old Hillsbrad Foothills
The Caverns of Time is an interesting place. Now in Shadowlands, the Bronze Dragonflight is treated as a tool to take you back to old zones. But here, we're talking about exploring pivotal moments in World of Warcraft's history.
Old Hillsbrad is touched on in old trailers for a World of Warcraft game: Lord of the Clans:
Now that the Infinite Dragonflight have started making timey-wimey wibbly-wobbly noises, it's up to you go to in and preserve the timeline as it was to keep our world safe. I guess.
Previously, Thrall was freed by Tabetha - who has a cameo in Dustwallow Marsh. However, she gets kidnapped by the Infinite Dragonflight and you have do it yourself.
You first plant explosives in the blockhouses, which makes them look like they do when you fly past when levelling. Here's a kind of not the same before and after shot:
Eventually you free Thrall. Just like you kind of did in the Lord of the Clans (which I think exists as a game, but I am not sure.)
You get back to Tarren Mill, which doesn't look as crappy then as it does now, when it's inhabited by Undead who have never heard of, say, hand tools to repair all the damage.
You kill the evil dragonflight folk, and then the good dragonflight folk show up to inform you they're wiping everyone's minds and the timeline is saved.
I got a gig in Steamvault by offering to heal, and, it turned out ok, which made me happy.
The Steamvault is the last Coilfang Resevoir dungeon before you do Serpentshrine Cavern, which is not available yet. Warlord Kalithresh is currently the big bad, at least until you knock his block off.
Steamvault, or "SV" as it's known in short hand, is part of a group of dungeons you run to generate reputation with different factions to unlock heroics. So, it's an important part of starting end game content.
Overall it's better than both Slave Pens and Underbog for its visual design, use of verticality and overall significance to the zone.
Also the cool naga head in the floor.
So that's it. 1 - 70 over the last five and a bit weeks. It's been an amazing journey and I'm glad I did it one last time... maybe. Never say never.
So what comes next? Well, I've been pondering that question myself for some time. These articles have actually taken longer than I would've liked to admit, but I think they're worth it.
But now it's not about levelling, now it becomes about gearing up, getting attuned and doing the one thing I never got to do in Burning Crusade. Raid.
So maybe I'll look at doing World of Warcraft instance specials. Or something.
Oh! I saw these fellows, too. Pretty cool, maybe. They stopped at Level eighty, and that makes me wonder if maybe World of Warcraft should've stopped there too.
Catch you next time,
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