12 November 2008

Wrath: Where to start?

Here we are — one day away from Wrath of the Lich King. I'm eager to start exploring new zones, attempting new quests, and running new instances. But that all starts with traveling to the starting zones and invading Northrend.

With Burning Crusade, it was pretty simple. You jumped through the Dark Portal and hit Hellfire Peninsula. A quick quest would fly you to the starting city (either Honor Hold or Thrallmar) and you'd start picking up quests.

But Wrath will offer you a choice, because there are two starting zones this time around. Both Howling Fjord and Borean Tundra will start you off with level 70 quests, so you'll have to pick which one to head to first. Of course, it's not a major commitment (like Aldor vs. Scryer); you can switch back and forth between zones. Yet one way or another you'll have to pick a starting place.

I did a bit of research into it, to decide where to go. As far as I can tell, they're balanced quite well; it won't matter which zone you start with. I looked up quest rewards in both zones, and they shouldn't matter a huge amount. Most are green items at iLvl 138, which will probably not replace anything better than BC dungeon blues. Borean Tundra has quests that will give you one druid idol and a selection of blue weapons that might be more useful, but overall things look pretty comparable for druids.

So, it comes down to aesthetics I think. Here's a quick look at both zones, to help you choose.

Borean Tundra

Borean Tundra is on the west end of the Northrend croissant. Alliance can get there from the Stormwind harbor, while Horde will take the zeppelin from Ogrimmar. The Horde has a stronger presence here, but both factions have towns and quest hubs.

Borean Tundra is a grassy, barren environment. (It's... tundra, actually.) You'll see caribou, wolves, and mammoths wandering the plains. It's populated by Tuskarr, Taunka, Naga, and dragonkin. Oh, and you'll be working with the Murlocs too. D.H.E.T.A., the anti-Nesingwary group, has a strong presence here as well.

Howling Fjord

The Howling Fjord is on the other side of Northrend from Borean Tundra, on the easternmost peninsula of the continent. Alliance travel there from Menethil Harbor, while Horde will catch a zeppelin from the Undercity.

Howling Fjord is rocky and mountainous. Wildlife is dominated by herds of shoveltusk, and odd, stocky combination of bull and caribou. The NPC population is focused around the Vrykul, a viking-esque half-giant race. There's also a strong Scourge presence, leading the Forsaken to attack here in strength.

I really don't think there is a strong advantage to either starting zone. It all comes down to aesthetics and experience. I expect that I'll end up spending a good bit of time in both places, but Howling Fjord looks like the most appealing area to me. (I'm also a bit concerned about the effect of D.H.E.T.A. on the skinning profession in Borean Tundra!) My best advice is to pick whichever zone looks like the most fun, and don't worry about it too much.

I'll be logging out in Menethil tonight. See you there!

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