Tuesday, February 3, 2015

My Opinion on the Best, Worst and Favorite Zones of Warlords

Before I delve into the post I will leave a warning that I expect a lot of people to disagree with my favorite zone because I do have an odd taste in my liking, heck I loved the dread wastes and I think many people hated that place.  It was still my favorite zone in mists based on design, quest flow, story line and atmosphere.  But to each their own right?  These, of course, are based purely on my opinion, feel free to share your own.

The zones of warlords of draenor are among the best I have ever experienced in the game.  They have a nice quest flow and good story for the most part and they are very good to look at.  If I were to make a list of all zones in warcraft I would not be surprised if the zones in warlords all were in the top third.  Even the worst zone in warlords is better than most other zones I have had the pleasure, or is that displeasure, of leveling in.  So lets get on with my opinion on the best zone of warlords, the worst zone of warlords and my favorite zone in warlords.

The Worst Zone in Warlords:

The award for the worst of what I believe are all good zones goes to Gorgrond.  There was not even any thinking that needed to be made on my part.  It is with complete certainty that when posed this question Gorgrond would get my answer as the worst zone in warlords.  It is a no contest decision for me.

Not to say that Gorgrond was a bad zone, far from it.  The quest flow was done nicely and it told a decent story, even if one that I did not find great, it was still nice.  I also love the way that depending on what building you took the story was told in different ways which is a standard warlords design but done just a little different here as your choice also gives you an active ability that you absolutely will use in the zone whereas the other zones you could easily forget you even have the abilities.

Gorgrond also happens to be home to my favorite quest line this expansion thus far.  Not because of story or because it was great in any way, shape or form, but because you got to be a goren and roll around and take their little tunnels.  I found this to be fun and who does not like having fun while questing.  If you did not do that quest it might have to do with it requiring you taking the sparing arena.  Sadly I believe over all the quest flow goes better with the lumber mill so I would suggest that one over all, but it is worth taking the sparing arena just for that one little quest line.

So why does a zone I feel has decent questing rate as the worst zone for me so much so that it did not even have another zone to compete with it for the title?  The zone design.

There are so many places in Gorgrond where it looks like you can walk right past something but there is an invisible wall.  The areas with vines where there is a gap that you could drive a tank through it but for some reason not even a gnome can squeeze past it.  There are tree branches that are high off the ground and with more than enough room to walk under but you hit a wall and can not do that.

This zone has to be one of, if not the worst, designed zone ever from that perspective.  There are a great many of these issues throughout the game in many zones but none so much as in this one.  There are a great many areas where the design looks like you can just walk straight but for some reason you can't, even if there is not much of, or any, real incline that would keep you from walking up it.

I have had to use my hearthstone to get out of holes I fell into that I could not get out of at least a dozen times, probably more.  The zone was just very poorly designed.  I am even used to wall jumping and finding my way into places I am sure I am not intended to be and I could not get out of these places, so I am sure I am not the only person that has found myself stuck in Gorgrond.  Or perhaps it was my exploring that got me stuck, either way, any zone with so many places you can easily get to where you get stuck is designed bad, that is for sure.

So the poor design of the zone and graphical display of that design not being very telling on where you can and can not go is why I rate Gorgrond the worst zone of warlords.

The Best Zone of Warlords:

I will award this one to Talador.   This, unlike the worst, was a much harder decision to make.  There are many good zones in warlords, even the worst zone in warlords is actually good.  The starting zones of Frostfire and Shadowmoon deserve an honorable mention because they were excellent introductions to the new alternate draenor with some great story telling and even better cut scenes, but Talador takes it one step further and that is thanks to the reason Gorgrond gets the vote for worst zone.

The design of Talador is very well done.  There are very few, as in nearly none, areas where I found myself thinking I could walk up a hill and I couldn't or squeeze between things and were not able too.  Whoever it was that designed Talador I do not know but there is one thing I am sure of, it was not the same person or team that did Gorgrond.  There is no way someone that make Talador so visually telling of the surroundings and terrain could have had anything to do with Gorgrond which was the exact opposite.

As far as story goes there were a lot of small stories going on throughout Talador that made it exciting.  There was the iron horde to deal with, the legion minions to deal with and side stories galore.  The quest flow was nice and full.  There were nice little packets of quests and I've always liked questing like that.  Even if the entire expansion used the packet quest design I do not think any did it was well as Talador did.

I would not say that Talador was my favorite zone however, that will be left for another, but it was the best designed zone over all in my opinion.  From the look and feel, to the actual design and how we as players interact with our environment, to the questing and the rewards such as the cut scene at the end which was amazing, not quite wrathgate amazing but surely up there as one of the best cut scenes in the game thus far.  Talador had it all, and for that it is the best made zone of warlords in my opinion.

My Favorite Zone in Warlords:

Get ready for it because I know you are expecting Nagrand and it is not that, it is Spires of Arak.  I told you that my favorite zone might be different from what people would expect just like dread wastes was last expansion.

I like the art of the zone, I like the story of the zone, and I like the flow of the zone.  Really do not need many more reasons than that do I?  While it does have some of the issues that Gorgrond did with areas looking like you can walk right up them but you can not, it was not as prevalent as it was in Gorgrond.  The zone just screams for flying with its large mountains all over the place and no one, not even me, will say it is no big deal to run around them because it is annoying at times, but I still like the zone even without flying, a lot.

I can't really place my finger on why this zone hit me in such a way that other zones did not.  We like the things we like for reasons unknown sometimes and this zone fits that for me.  When leveling a new character I can't wait to get to this zone and when I do reach this zone I do not leave until it is done, even if I happen to get all the get to 100 when I am there I will finish the zone anyway.  I just really like the zone.

It feels like there is so much involved in the zone even if it is not really bigger than others or have more quests than them.  From goblins, to admiral taylor, to the saberon, to the iron horde, to the arakkoa which are the center and main focus of the zone, everything about it just feels as if it is a full and complete zone.

So what do you think are the best, worse and your favorite zone of warlords?


  1. Spires is my favorite zone too. Not just the quests, which I liked, but for some reason I can't explain I just love the look of it. There's plenty of running around and up and down in without flying but somehow it doesn't irritate me in Spires the way it sometimes does in Nagrand.
    If they ever do give us our flying back that's definitely the first place I'd go to just fly around and explore.
    I have a harder time picking a least favorite. I really enjoy all of the zones, but I guess if I have to picke one I'd say Nagrand is. I still like it, but don't find it quite as fun visually or as exciting as some of the others, though the quests are definitely good.

    1. I am surprised to see someone else like Spires. I thought I would be alone on that one. The feeling is the same with me. Just for some reason I really like it.

      There are so many places up in the air in spires I too would love to explore if and when we get flying. It oddly doesn't bother me as much as it should not having flying in a zone like that but every time I am in gorgrond or nagrand I wish I had it every second I am there.

      I think a lot of people who loved nagrand are not digging this nagrand even if it is mostly the same. You are not alone.

  2. The one zone I found myself saying how much I hate is Nagrand. Not because of the quests. I just don't like that every time I see a node of ore or a lumber mill tree it's not up there where i am it's down in some ravine or it's not down there where I am, it's up somewhere where I'd have to go circle half the map. Also, they put 100 treasures up so I have to go to the same point to fly off to get them. It was cool for a couple of them to do that, but when you have 10 treasures linked to the same glider point that you have to spend an eternity to climb to, it just sucks. It's just too much effort both for the nodes and the treasures for me to bother, but the fact that I don't go to them still bothers me. So I hate Nagrand. Also, it's pretty generic greenery, nothing spectacular.

    I don't like Gorgrond either. It's a desert for the most part which I don't like. I like the jungle but veins you can't go through bother me a little too. But mostly, every time I finish the quests there I feel like I've done less than a third of the map, it feels very... incomplete.

    Talador is meh. I actually find it one of the least exciting. I like the Shattrah attack and cinematic at the end but that's about it. Oh, and the follower chain (with the Ogres and all).

    Spires of Arak is ok. But wanting to get some treasure and having to circle the mountain 'folds' is annoying. Yesterday I died twice falling in the same place and I rezed at the spirit healer after trying to get my body. I like the birds and cats but don't feel really involved with their story.

    Frostfire I actually really like quest-wise. I don't like the placement of the garrison because there's a huge ravine around it and I have to go west every time I want to go east to circle around that. Pisses me off. As for the looks, Blizzcon ruined it for me forever. When I see the snow, I remember it was supposed to be sand. And I see it as sand. And it loses its charm.

    Shadowmoon Valley looks amazing. Every time I fly off from a FP there, I take screenshots. I've only done the quests there once one my Alliance char and I don't recall much. I think I liked them.

    And then there's Warspear (Ashran). Which is small, crowded, as a bad layout and it takes 3 minutes to get from there back to my garrison and all I see is water for those 3 minutes.

    1. Nagrand is annoying like that. I hate having to run all over the world to get lumber, ore or an herb. More so than the other zones. Even with staying mounted all the time it is still annoying.

      I did the treasures there on beta and said to my friend that I did them with, I am going to hate having to do this again on live. And I did hate it. I did it on my main and ONLY on my main. I do not care what they put there, there is no way in hell I am doing that crap again on alts. WTF was blizzard thinking, that is not "fun".

      That is something I forgot to mention, yes, it does kind of feel empty some, as if we forgot to do something. Even doing both buildings there is still much of the zone that feels unused.

      The cinematic at the end of talador was fantastic. I can watch that one over and over, and I do, on all my alts, when I just escape most cut scenes otherwise.

      I liked the bird and cat stories more than the orc ones, but that is preference. I am just about as sick of orcs as any elf could be.

      The garrisons, horde and alliance, need a back door, seriously. Not alliance as much, even if it would be nice, but horde most definitely.. I put in a suggestion for that on beta, saying they put the entrance in the wrong area for horde, looks like that must have missed that one.

      But the water has such great advanced visual effects. ;)

  3. Spires of Arak was my favourite too, great storylines and atmosphere along with the perfectly-pitched light relief from the goblins.
    Shadowmoon Valley is up there for looks and atmosphere too, and I just love those trees doing yoga.

    Strangely enough, Gorgrond was also my least favourite for many of the same reasons. And it might just be me but it felt really short/small compared to the other zones, over before it really began.

    As someone who is firmly in the "don't miss flying" camp, my resolve was sorely tested whenever I get stuck in one of those 'holes' or hit 'walls' in Gorgrond (and, for the record, whenever I do any archaeology - my god, is it frustrating without flight).
    The counterpoint to this is that I feel Spires would have lost much of it's appeal with flight, I don't think it would flow like it does now, and the 'puzzle' of collecting treasures etc. would be lost completely.

    Overall, I'm happy with no flight but can definitely see the opposing view.

    1. Another one that likes spires, I am so glad I am not alone. I thought I would be the only one that liked it.

      Gorgrond just seemed off, maybe the not complete feeling you and james and others have and the fact that there are so many graphical issue are one in the same. They just did not invest enough time in it to actually finish the zone. And it really shows.

      I liked spires even without flight, but not gorgrond. Shows that how you design things really matters. They are both filled with lots of mountains and impassable places but one I loved and one I hated. I agree spires is better without flight, the first time through, but it would be nice to have it later. Do you see all that stuff in the air? Don't you want to go see it? I know I do. I think it would work fine with no flying while leveling. You still get the real feel, and then when maxed, you can just get to where you want to or explore.

    2. Unfinished is a fair description of Gorgrond I think.

      Yes, I would add flight back in for the convenience of alts or revisiting zones.
      My proposal would be to make it zone-specific and tied to achievements e.g.
      Explore Shadowmoon Valley
      Shadowmoon Valley Quests achi
      Collect xx treasures in Shadowmoon Valley.

      If you have all 3 of those achievements, you can buy a BoA book of flight for Shadowmoon Valley.

      Without doubt, we would have experienced the content in the way it was designed but we have also 'earned' the right to make it easier/more convenient for alts and can explore to our heart's content.

      I know you are not a fan of the treasures but that's one part I have really enjoyed. I've not spent a great deal of time searching for them, I just have a go at it if I stumble across one (if I feel like it at the time). Means I don't get particularly frustrated as I'm really just on my way to something else anyway.

    3. I think, and have said many times, that loremaster of draenor should be required to unlock fight.

      Sometimes easy enough that everyone can do it, and it make sure that everyone did everything, so they can not use the excuse that people are using flying to skip things.

      The treasures are fun... once. Not on many characters over and over, at least not the ones like in nagrand where you need to run all over the place to take a glider where you now need to land perfect and if you don't you need to make the long run back to try again. Just not exactly fun once you have done it once. My opinion of course. But finding them out in the world as you stumble across them, that is fun, yes.

  4. I never finished questing all the zones.

    If they gave an achievement that allowed flight I would make it a priority to finish them.

    Between the starter zone (talador?) and the spires, I liked spires a bit better, if only for the voice acting and characters. "What are we without the sky?!"

    I have the same question.


    1. The voice acting was kind of cool. They are not supposed to have male and female versions but you can clearly tell which is which. And some of the things they say are great, I love percy, the bird.

  5. Looking back, I have to agree, Gorgond was painful. As soon as Talador opened up, I jumped to the next zone with my main. He hasn't looked back to finishing the quest chain. Nagrand is painful with the roaming 100s all over. I still need to finish questing here.

    So far, I've only completed the quest chains in Frostfire and Talador.

    1. Give spires a try, even if I am bias about it, and listen to what they say and read the quests for the story, it is quite enjoyable. Some of the things they say you can easily miss, but they are little bits of gold here and there, that is for sure.

      Gorgrond is like an "evil" you must do. I am so glad I have my leveling pattern down so well now that I only go there to get the followers and move along asap.

  6. Shadowmoon is actually my favorite. I just like the lay of the land and the questing. My least favorite are 3 - Gorgrond (too many 100's for a lower level area), Tala, and Nagrand, though I love Nagrand in TBC. Spires is 2nd.

    And I miss flying, don't care what anyone else thinks, I like flying.


    1. I like flying too, and from looking around many people do, you are not alone.

      Seems rather odd that so many people that loved nagrand in BC hate it now. I think you are the 3rd or 4th person here in not all that many posts that has said that.