Inspired by a fellow insomniac, boredom and Jaedi’s Explorer Task I’ve come up with a challenge, which I hope, will remind you or make you aware of one of the most, in my opinion, underestimated aspects of the game. The sounds, the ambience and music of the game. Once in a while when running around questing I will turn up the ambience and music, turn off whatever else I got running in the background, music, IM’s, whatever and just look around for a bit and find my self ten times as immersed in the game.
So here is what I want you to do. If possible get a pair of headphones, do as I do above and make sure you’ll only be hearing WoW-sounds and turn the sound quality up to full. Now I want you to pick three zones (or more if you’d like) either at random or pick and choose from your favourites (or your least favourites perhaps?), go there and write down and post your impressions, focusing mainly on sound, (feel free to use comments if you don’t have a blog) from an RP-ish perspective where you imagine yourself walking through these zones.
This place is seriously creepy. Chills down your spines type of creepy. The first thing I notice are howls, or yelps from the distance, wether they are from something human, or more beastlike, I can’t tell. Every now and again I can hear crows in the trees above me and the occasional flapping of wings nearby giving me the urge to duck for cower.
Guards of the Nightwatch, all carrying torches, is the first thing that catches my eye as I pass through Darkshire. Apart from the clanking of metal against metal outside the town’s blacksmith I can’t see any signs of Darkshire’s inhabitants. If not for the guards and the light coming from the tavern one could easily bypass the town believing it to be abandoned.
All the time I spent walking through the woods I get the looming feeling of that things really are not as they supposed to be. The music only adds to this feeling, barely noticeable and blending in with the howls, crows and whispering of the trees. I just want to get our of here as fast as possible.
Next I headed south for Stranglethorn. Crossing the bridge and walking into the Vale was like a breath of fresh air. While Duskwood had felt like one big living entity looming over me, following my steps, Stranglethorn feels like a thousand entities. It quickly becomes apparent that Stranglethorn, like any jungle with any self respect, has all kinds of different wildlife. A myriad of birds twitter, squeek and sing, every single one sound like it’s trying to be heard over all the others. The jungle’s insects are less pleasent. Buzzing and whizzing first at my left, then at my right and then making circles around my head and now on both sides I have to fight the urge to flail my arms wildly around my head. I hate bugs.
As I move further south the music kicks in. More noticeable than the music of Duskwood, I hear flutes(?), not so unlike the some of the birds singing, plucking of guitar strings, another string instrument I can’t identify and light tapping on drums. It all blends in nicely with the sounds of the jungle and the sunlight peering through the dense canopy of trees above. Although this place feels a lot safer than Duskwood, I dare not step off the path in fear of getting lost or walking into something looking for a snack.
Finally reaching Booty Bay, the southernmost point of mainland Easter Kingdoms, I can hear the sound of water washing up against stone. Looking around and taking a deep breath of salty air, I head for the docks. I make a small jerk at the sound of a bell ringing as the ship approaches the docks. My mind had wandered off, my eyes fixed at the large goblin statue looking out over the sea. The floorboards creak under my feet as I step onto the deck. The sails catches the wind, I hear the sound of ropes tightening and the wood creaks even louder.
Stepping off the ship and onto the docks I am greeted by the same music as in Stranglethorn. The wind seems to be stronger and harsher here, less friendly and forgiving somehow. Walking through Ratchet, a town not unlike Booty Bay, but smaller, I look around trying to find the source of creaking metal. One of the goblin huts have a anenometer on top of it. While not too unlike the jungle I had just left, it becomes apparent that the Barrens are harsher. There are no sounds of animal life apart from the buzzing of insects and the very distant, hardly audible chattering of birds.
Reaching the top of the hill leading out of Ratchet I see the sun bathing the yellow, dry plains and the music kicks in. Rough orc growling, cruder, more warlike drums than those of Stranglethorn accompanied by the same soothing, flute-like tunes of the jungle. I get the feeling of that this is a place where the survival of the fittest rules.
Not expecting a warm greeting from the Orcs of the Crossroads I decide to head for the Dwarven settlement to the south, through the scattered oases on the way. It turns out to be a wise decision. Travelling under the unforgiving sun of the Barrens, the lush oases brings me back to Stranglethorn for brief moments, letting my catch my breath, much like I did when leaving Duskwood. Moving further south I pass grazing giraffes, packs of hyenas and giant lizards all accompanied by lulling tunes of some unrecognisable flute-instrument. Harsh and hostile it may be, I’m starting to see some of the charm of this place and why the Tauren have decided to build a settlement on the borders to Mulgore. I keep moving, knowing that a pint of Dwarven ale is close.
I end my journey in the damp, dark, and most importantly cool mountain halls of the Dwarves of Bael’modan. Feet up on a table, a pint in my hand.