One of my goals to achieve before Cataclysm hits is to make sure I’ve seen everything the World of Warcraft has to offer, because once it’s gone, it’s gone forever. Now I’m well on my way there, having always been a natural in-game explorer and lore-hunter. However, the areas I haven’t really seen much of are the low-level zones, especially for those races that I’ve never rolled a character on. So I have set myself a challenge: to roll a character of every single race and thoroughly explore their starting zones. Also, starting zones are an area Blizzard is strongly looking at with regard to the next expansion, so I thought it would be fun to review the experiences I had with each starter zone, and see how they currently compare. I’ll be reviewing each race’s zone in turn, but as a long-term dedicated Horde player I thought it would interesting to start with the complete unknown: the Alliance zones. First up – the Humans!
Now in rolling a Human I was breaking a long-standing practice of mine, which is to NEVER roll a Human character in a computer game. As a race they have simply never appealed in any context. I am in actual fact, a Human, so playing on in a game would be a pretty pathetic effort at escapism. However this was my self-assigned task so into it I went. I rolled a female toon, because I’ve been finding female characters appealing lately. There aren’t enough ass-kicking heroines in the worlds, fictional or otherwise, so I like to create them. I gave her a cool hairdo, some piercings and made her a Warlock, mostly because Warlock is the only class I have never played. Her name? Shylocke.
So my first impressions upon materialising in the forested village of Northshire were that it was more cutesy and picturesque than anywhere I had seen on Azeroth before. The place has the feel of a sleepy village in southern France, with its lush green fields, birds singing in the trees, flowers all over the place and large pretty church slap-bang in the middle of it all. I felt… safe, at peace. It was most unsettling.
I was also a bit confused as to what my role was. In the Horde zones I am more familiar with there was a clear function to where I was, such as the Orcish Valley of Trials. Shylocke however mostly just seemed to be hanging around Northshire working on her tan. Nevermind, a few starter quests sorted that out. For what appeared to be a sleepy village was in fact a hotbed of activity… kind of. I immediately found myself fighting some very sickly wolves and hordes of Kobolds… well very small Kobolds! Seriously these things were tiny, almost adorable in their patheticness. I felt bad setting fire to them, but reassured myself that they must be some kind of evil menace. I mean, the Stormwind militia wouldn’t ask me to kill helpless little creatures… would it?
On the whole I found Northshire very bland. All I did was kill Kobolds and deal with some Defias thieves who had, in their most dastardly fiendishness, stolen some grapes. Yeah, that’s right, grapes. My main task was to get them back, a job that was extremely simple since the Defias weren’t even hostile to me, they just let me walk in and reclaim the stolen grapes. They hadn’t even eaten any. I took them back to the church, where an alcoholic monk thanked me and gave me a rag he’d spilt his wine on as a reward. This was hardly action-packed so far and I found myself longing for a Burning Blade cultist to stab!
I left sleepy old Northshire at level 4 and moved onto Goldshire, hoping to find more of a challenge. What I found instead was debauchery. Goldshire Inn, despite it’s annoyingly cheery music, is clearly a place for finding ladies of dubious virtue rather than a quiet pint. The place was crammed from wall to wall with Night Elf ladies wearing a variety of Santa costumes and bikinis. Clearly the ‘RP’ tag on my sever refers only to the kinkier forms of ‘roleplay’. Within moments of entering the place I received a number of quite frankly unhygienic propositions.
Carefully navigating my way through the minefield of Elvish cleavage, I managed to acquire a number of new quests, which once again involved the slaughter of the local Kobold populations. At this point I really started to become appalled with the immorality of the quest-givers, and the extreme speciesism held by humans towards the innocent Kobolds. One man had heard that Kobolds often dig up gold in a nearby mine, so he paid me to kill them and steal it as part of a get-rich-quick scheme. Another guy was looking to buy candles for his Apothecary shop in Stormwind. Rather than just buying some candle wax himself, his elegant solution was to – you guessed it – kill the Kobolds and steal their precious candles. Seriously, this guy thinks the best way to acquire household items is the mass slaughter of an indigenous population? And the Alliance calls the Horde the evil ones…
Whilst inside Goldshire Inn is nothing but sex and murder, outside is once again disgustingly cheery and happy. It’s like Disney and the Easter Bunny had a baby: flowers and kittens are everywhere. Ultimately I became sickened by the double standards all around me. Cutesy happiness everywhere as a perverted cover-up for prostitution and murder. A ridiculously cute cartoon cow happily wandered past me and in my disgusted rage I killed it.
Ultimately I realise that in order to level up, I was going to have to follow my quest and massacre the local Kobolds. Those despicable Goldshire scum have corrupted me to their filthy cause – WHAT HAD I BECOME? I tried to make it as painless as possible for the little guys, yet deep down I was disgusted with myself. Their shrill cries of “You No Take Candle!” still haunt me in my nightmares.
Dejected and blood-stained, I returned to the Goldshire Inn, carrying a bag of broken candles and some small scraps of gold. Were these pathetic trinkets worth the cost of my soul? The soldier who commissioned me to clear out the Kobold mine congratulated me by saying “Kobolds…. Whats next? Dragons?”. Erm no, probably not for many many levels, Mr Overreaction! Is this some kind of weird ‘the ends justified the means‘ excuse? To add insult to injury, in exchange for the gold I recovered the get-rich-quick guy gave me… a bag of marbles. Worst. Quest reward. EVER.
I started poking around in the basement of the inn, wondering what horrors I might find. Oddly enough I found a level 11 Dwarf player who challenged me to a duel (at this point I was still level 6!). I accepted and threw the marbles at him. It didn’t help. I quickly found myself in a desperate bid to stay alive. I kited him like mad through the inn, using beer kegs and buxom elves for cover, all the time firing DoTs at him. Eventually to my amazement I won, barely. At this point that I realised that Warlocks were actually rather fun. However, I also realised that playing a Human is not, and had no desire to go back out into the sick world of happy bunnies and lies. Despite originally intending to reach at least level 10, I disgustedly logged off half way through level 6.
Final Thoughts: Ultimately this starting experience is pretty boring. Not much happens and it’s far too peaceful and rural an environment to be at all exciting. It’s just plain dull, with no attempt at story-telling or any sense of adventure or purpose. Furthermore, Goldshire confirmed everything I have ever said about Humans in Warcraft, that they act like holier-than-thou good guys, but they’re mostly evil bastards underneath. I felt *really* bad for killing all those Kobolds. These helpless creatures are guilty of no crime other than hiding themselves away in abandoned mines, and who could blame them for hiding down there when they are persecuted so? Yet for some reason I was required to take their lives, their money and their only light source. Players of Warcraft, I implore you: spare a thought for the innocent Kobolds!
Final Score: 2/10