Monday, December 12, 2011

Meanwhile Back in Azeroth: Holidays and Updates

Recently, the massive multiplayer online game World of Warcraft made news with plan announced for the new expansion. In the meantime, the players have been going through holiday events from Azerothian versions of Halloween to Thanksgiving, plus the latest update in which they can take a trip to an amusement park island and finally face down the arch-villain of the current game.

October brought the “Brewfest” holiday, during which players sampled various brews and could help out by bringing fresh ale to the festival grounds and defend them against the jealous Dark Iron Dwarves. Later on was “Hallow’s End.” Previously, it was featured with the Horde’s burning of the Wickerman near the Undercity with the Alliance watching from their neaby town of Southshore, Horde stinkbomb pranks on Southshore and Alliance cleaning them up “with the power of pine,” and of course going from inn to inn for tricks or treats, which besides candy could get you a mask or a costume (there were hunters with bat pets ending up with bat costumes), or perhaps a trick and getting temporarily turned into a worm or black cat.

With the introduction of the Worgen and Southshore lost by the Alliance there were some changes to Hallow’s End, as well as additions. The Forsaken’s burning of the Wickerman was closer to the Undercity, just inside the walls of the ruins of Loredon. And the Gilneans held their own Wickerman burning just outside the gates of Stormwind. And both the Forsaken and Gilneians had witches to offer players the chance to drop stinkbombs on the other’s city, as well as offering quests to clean up the messes left by the other. There was also a quest to douse the fire on the opposing side’s Wickerman, though just venturing near would get you flagged for PvP combat. Needless to say, I only attempted this late at night when there were few opposition around.

There was also a special Hallow’s End questline. A man at a bar asks you to get a crate that was recently shipped over. Naturally it’s missing, and the character has to search for it. Along the way, you discover the crate is far from harmless. Once you find it, you have a choice, go ahead and give it to the man who hired you, or to someone else you met better prepared to handle it’s dangers?

And like before, there were the Headless Horseman quests. During Hallow’s End, his spirit terrorized several Horde and Alliance towns, setting them afire. Players have the task of teaming up to put them out and stop the specter. But to truly slay the Headless Horseman, one has to go to his grave in a Scarlet Monastery dungeon, draw him out, and smash his head. Among the possible drops by besting him, his spooky flying horse. And of course there was the treat or treating at inns, which got you candy and possible prizes, such as masks, and broom mounts that lasted until the end of the holiday.

In November was a dual event. The more notable part was the Thanksgiving holiday theme “Pilgrim’s Bounty." There were no changes from last year, so characters were still going from capital to capital with holiday foods to complete quests. The good part of this holiday, characters could advance their character’s cooking much more quickly than usual to expert levels. And the special stat bonuses from the food were a help in combat, that is, for those who took time away from the cooking to fight.

Also was the “WoW 7th Anniversary” Event. In previous anniversary events, the reward had been a special companion pet. Unfortunately for pet collectors, this was not the case this time. Instead, players got a packaged that when activated shot a firework in the air, and gave the player a temporary special tabard with “WoW” on it plus a 7% boost to experience and reputation gains. It was good for two weeks, ending on Dec. 3rd. While some liked the little bonus, others expressed disappointment there would be no lasting memento.

And after Pilgrim’s Bounty came to a close came Patch 4.3 for the game, also known as “Hour of Twilight.” It is here that the quests to defeat Deathwing, the main villain of the third expansion, finally arrive. This includes a special rouge’s quest line, which supposedly deals with a mid-ranked quest in the Badlands in which the player ends up with a dragons egg (note to any WoW player reading, you *did* keep that egg, didn’t you?) There are a number of others, eventually ending up with the players on the massive black dragon’s back to rip off his specially armored plates long enough for a superweapon to be fired at the weak spot.

But these quests are for the strongest characters. For those of all ranks, there is the new Darkmoon Faire. Before, the Faire was a traveling show that alternated between showing up near Goldshire or Thunderbluff every month. Now, the carnival workers have set up a portal that takes players to the new Darkmoon Faire Island. There, players can buy tokens to play games from ring toss to wack-a-gnall to target shooting in exchange for tickets. They can also take on daily quests (daily for as long as the faire lasts) to complete the games. There are also quests to help out some of the carnies, the rewards being tokens and five levels of experience for the profession involved in the quest. All six professions are involved, not just cooking and fishing. For yours truly trying to become an Illustrious Leatherworker, the Darkmoon quest linked to that provided a welcome shortcut.

The Faire first appeared in early December, up for a week. The Faire may be gone now, but it won’t be long for the Christmas holiday, Winter Veil.

For yours truly, as well as many other players, it’s been a year since playing the game in our new favorite characters, starting them when Cataclysm appeared and brought with it Worgen as playable. So far, I’ve gotten to Level 83, but wanting to experience lots of quests and work up my professions, plus get materials for the guild's larger bags, I still have yet to experience the new Cataclysm regions with my newer characters. Still having fun in the Sunweaver guild, set up by my Second Life friends on my home estate, and still having fun in Azeroth after all these years.

But not everyone who was playing World of Warcraft is sticking around. More on that later.

Picture Source: WoWHead

Bixyl Shuftan

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