Friday, January 14, 2011

Vashj'ir? No, thanks!

After bringing my 6th character to 85 one thing I can say for sure: Vashj'ir contains several flaws that affect people who are leveling and decided to choose that area as starting zone. And it's not because it's an underwater area with a full 3D environment (the so-called Oculus-effect). Let's get to the points!

1. Excesive long intrduction/arrival quest. If you want to start in Hyjal you just speak to a Hyjal Guardian who teleports you to Moonglade and there you take a short flight to the starting point, witnessing the return of Ragnaros meanwhile. To go to Vashj'ir you talk to a shaman that tells you te get on a boat. And here starts the problem. The boat is located in the same dock as the Northrend boat, so the instroduction is phased. But instead of arriving at the dock and finding the boat waiting for you, you have to wait for it to arrive. And it's a long time until the phased action begins (with the soldiers gathering up and talking) and then the whole boat trip, which is not that long, but after all the time listening to the soldiers while waiting for the boat you are already fed up with all that inactivity.
Didn't Trial of the Crusader teach anything to Blizzard? Longs introductions containing lore are ok the first time. But when you're leveling your second or third alt you wish you could skip it. By the fourth you're totally fed up with it. Could we avoid at least the soldiers gabbing and just find the boat once we head to the dock?

2. Huge area. I get the sensation Vashj'ir was the first designed starting area and looks it got a little out of their hands. Instead of just a single area it consists of 3 areas, not as big as a the rest of Cataclysm areas but still there's a lot of space out there! And much of it it's empty! At least the seahorse has a good speed so moving down there is not a pain in the ass (anyone remembers the Thorim questchain when normal flying was 60%? How I loathed Thorim's tall mountain!).
Also while the rest of Cataclysm areas get it's own diferenciated subzones (even Deepholm!), all Vashj'ir looks the same, except for Scalding Chasm and the Throne of the Tides vortex.

3. Reputation. Right now this is the most painful point for me. If you do all the quests in the area you'll end Friendly with Earthen Ring, while other areas leave you at Revered with its faction. I can't understand why Blizzard puts the Earthen Ring quartermaster in Silver Tide Hollow when most of the Earthen Ring reputation is won in Deephom. Well, the only answer I can find is to avoid having two queartermasters (ER and Therazane) in the same area, but the result is very lame. And it's even worse when you want to get some ER rewards and you started in Mount Hyjal. You must endure all the starting introduction plus several quests until you get the seahorse and can move around (getting only Sea Legs may be good for druids but for the rest is too slow due to Vashj'ir size) and locate the quartermaster. Big design fail, Blizzard!

4. Dungeon. Same as before, getting to the Throne of the Tides is not trivial, like locating Blackrock Caverns and you must do a big amount of quests until you get the quest to go there. Even worse, once there and you start heading to the center of the vortex you'll see the Fatigue bar appearing on screen. First time I saw it I thought I shouldn't go there and maybe the entrance was located elsewhere, so I moved back and let the quest gather dust in the Quest Book.

5. Azshara's veil. This plant only grows in the area. While other "low level" plants like Cinderbloom and Stormvine can be found (specially Cinderbloom) in other areas, alchemists must go to Vashj'ir yes or yes. Even if it's an underwater plant there're places with water out there (Mount Hyjal pool where Tortolla's eggs are located, Twilight Highlands coast...) I have no problem with exclusive area herbs as long as they're not starting herbs. And if you add the grinding madness things are even worse. While the initial madness has rushed off, now comes the daily grind ninjaing. Same as for ore, but at least you can get obsidium ore in several places. So if you really need Azshara Veil to level up your skill or to produce specific pots you're screwed. Go back to point number 2.

6. Poor lore. While in Mount Hyjal you get tons of info about the Ancients, Vashj'ir only offers some bits of naga lore and how they teamed up with the Old Gods minions. The battlemaiden quests are good, but until you get them you must do a ton of quests before.

Basically these are the points why I don't recommend leveling your char in Vashj'ir. But don't get me wrong, I think the area is beautiful (I'm scuba-diver, so I enjoy it specially) although a bit repetitive, the quests are good (the Jaws hunt quest is a laugh, Nespirah and its twin creature have good quests too, etc), offers good leveling loot (as Mount Hyjal), but these design problems are a ballast preventing you from getting a pleasant experience. Solving the long introduction would be a big step, also adding more Earthen Ring rep (it would be ok to reduce it on Deepholm as a counter) would make wonders.


  1. Actually Azshara's Veil also grows in the waters of the Tol Barad peninsula, though I agree that this doesn't help if you're a herbalist/alchemist who wants to level both at the same time.

    Overall I agree with everything you've said here. Vashj'ir is pretty and I liked it well enough on my first playthrough, but the second completion felt like a chore already. It's just so annoying that Blizz pretty much expects you to do most of the quests there to access a whole swathe of other content.

  2. I've not even completed the zone once. It is a terrible zone. No sense of story, no sense of excitement, no sense of adventure. So far i've preferred to clear MH 4 times over Vasjh once.