Wrath Beta: First Impressions

So I’ve been playing the Wrath beta for about a week or so now, and disconnects and server drops aside, it’s pretty impressive, and very immersive. Granted, I’m not terribly far along in the content, but I think I’ve earned the right to share some experiences from the beta thus far. I copied over my 70 NE Hunter, so don’t mind if a number of my impressions are from the Alliance-side. More details below the jump.

Look and Feel

First of all, playing in Northrend is so immersive that in some ways it’s difficult to remember that you can still travel to Kalimdor, Eastern Kingdoms, and Outland. Admittedly, the terrain is vastly different and interesting to run through, but the critters and creatures are definitely Azerothian; the game definitely has an earthier feel than Burning Crusade did – whereas in BC you were obviously traveling to another world where the heat of battle could be seen the moment you arrived, landing in Valiance Keep yields a different feel. First of all, getting off the boat at Valiance Keep really does feel like you’re in a salty old port, walking off the boat to a foreign-yet-familiar land that’s bustling with activity.

The inn is right off to the side as soon as a you arrive, and if your experience is anything like the beta, there are people running to and fro everywhere, both players looking for new missions, heading into the inn, or turning in quests, as well as NPCs who are lining up to join the Northrend offensive and looking to put their skills to work for the cause. All it takes is a quick trip outside of the Keep gates to understand that yet again however, everything you know is under attack by the scourge, who are scrabbling at the gates of the Keep. Guess what your first missions are. That’s right- cut down those scourge and trim their numbers.

Aside from the immediate feel, the terrain in Borean Tundra (the first zone when you get to Northrend) changes dramatically depending on where you are, moreso than any other part of Azeroth. To the north, you’ll see charred rock and pools of boiling water and oil rushing up from the earth, in the interior of the tundra you’ll find lush plains and green lands teeming with wildlife, and all along the rim of the tundra you’ll find ice floes, icebergs, steep cliffs, and lots and lots of snow and ice.

Questing and Leveling

The quests around the area are interesting and engaging, and it won’t take long for you to face new enemies, meet new friends and allies, take on some really really fun quests, start grinding rep with the Kirin Tor, and yes, dig through some more poop.

Perhaps one of the craziest feelings so far is actually leveling. All of the major quests yield around 20k experience, and watching your experience bar return and slowly rise is definitely a change in your state of mind. The other incentive to progress and keep doing things comes in the form of Achievements, which you earn by completing specific objectives like completing a certain number or type of quests, collecting a given amount of a specific item, earning a certain amount of gold, and so on. For example, you can earn an achievement just by using the Barbershop to change your character’s appearance, and there’s another for completing all of the quests offered by the Druids for the Ethical and Humane Treatment of Animals (DEHTA) at their camp in the middle of the tundra.

Phat Lewts

If you’re a decked out 70 rocking purples from raids and badge loot, you won’t think too much of most of the gear that you’ll collect from your first batch of quest chains in Northrend, but the one thing I picked up from examining the gear closely is that it’s actually not bad gear and if you’re a level 70 whose objective is to get decent enough green gear to get into level 70 instances and keep progressing towards 80, the goods will be pretty solid upgrades. This means that you won’t have the Burning Crusade effect where 60s in epics ditch them wholesale for greens that drop off of trash mobs right outside of the Dark Portal – a level 70 wearing the good stuff will be solid for a good long while in Northrend before they start seeing significant upgrades.

One strange thing I noticed about the gear in Northrend so far however is that there’s a lot of focus on stamina as the only stat on the item and item traits to make up the lack of other stats. For example, rather than putting agility on a number of obviously-Hunter quest rewards, you’ll see relatively high stamina on the item (I mean +30 – +45 sta), and attack power or critical strike or haste buffs on the item instead. That’s the other thing that threw me for a loop, the fact that a lot of the gear in Northrend focuses a lot on haste. Maybe Blizzard has a plan, and stamina and haste will suddenly become more important than they are now.


All in all, my experiences in the beta so far have proven beyond a shadow that at the very least Blizzard has some fresh and interesting content up its sleeves. The quest themes in a lot of ways are recycled: kill x number of this, collect y number of that, kill these little guys and then go back and kill their leader, but the chains are a bit more linear, rewarding, and definitely doable right after one another. That essentially means you can do the whole chain and get the good loot instead of stopping at the last mob you have to kill, leaving to level up, and then coming back later to finish it off.

Aside from that though, everything from the new element of lore to explore to the terrain you’ll see, the NPCs you encounter (like the Tuskarr (Alliance allies) and the Taunka (Horde allies)), the mobs you’ll fight (the Vrykul, for example) feel fresh interesting enough to keep me from actually playing my live characters. Which isn’t as much of a problem as you might think – the beta servers disconnect and go belly up enough that when they’re down they’re down long enough to get a good AV in on a live server.

So what do you think? Looking forward to the beta? Have any questions you’d like me to try and answer? Let us know in the comments and I’ll see what I can find out!

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