Having been fortunate to receive Cataclysm beta, I’ve been keen to try out the Goblin starter area. Why Goblins you ask? They can be shaman! In addition, the lore behind the race and the artwork and design of their city had intrigued me. As such, this is how I spent a few hours today and I’m going to relay my thoughts here. Be aware, this one will be image heavy and I suggest those of you who don’t like spoilers read no further.
In general, I’m not a huge fan of lore and I’m one of those people that mostly skip quest dialogues in order to just level faster. I’m every developer’s worst nightmare when it comes to “immersing” me in the world simply because it takes a lot to do that. I’ve played many MMOs and I consider myself quite hard to impress when it comes to story lines. When I sat down to play, I told myself firmly that I would be paying attention to the story as it was new and important for the article. I also groaned slightly expecting that in itself to be a battle. (I’m more a whizz round the city and take some pretty pictures kind of girl.) Imagine my surprise then, when a few hours flew past painlessly and I can honestly say that I knew (and enjoyed) the opening story.
Everything I expected of the Goblin starting area was present. There are bombs, there are tinkered cars, there’s a pool party, a bank hiest and general money swinderling. It all begins here…
The design of the city itself is amazing. It truly feels like a seedy coastal town built on an industry of mining Kaja’Cola; the ultimate brain energy drink for the ever ready Goblin (now infused with 100% more ideas.) The city is large and sprawls along the side of an active volcano. A crazy road system staggers throughout the city and as one of the first quests in beta, you receive a car to help navigate your way around.
The vehicle mode interface is stylish and for those wondering what the hotkeys are:-
The car makes questing feel much less tedious. It looks great, it feels immersive and it removes that feeling of being a total noob running from A to B at a snail pace. There is no where you can’t drive (though there are places that are too small to accurately navigate. Be warned, however, the locals soon become infuriated with a lack of respect for pedestrians!
The city itself is split into it’s own distinct areas.
KTC Headquarters houses the class trainers and the first quest NPCs. The mine area is the basis of Kezan’s Kaja’Cola industry. The “downtown” area houses the Kezan bank (and in true Goblin style, this appears to be close to a social hub for the locals.)
In addition there is the ghetto area of Dredge Town, where shady individuals can be found discussing organised crime and where you’re later sent to recover a few debts and Kajaro Field where Goblins gather to gamble on some peculiar sporting activities.
While some of the quests are as predictable in mechanic as any starting area (kill x number of mobs, collect y number of items you’ll find on the ground), others are a lot of fun. Vehicle type quests that were initially introduced in Wrath of the Lich King are utilised here but not excessively and certainly not to the point of monotony.
A pool party sees you “entertaining” a crowd full of guests by reacting to their needs with the correct responses. (Somewhat in the style of the beverage making quest of Sholazaar Basin for those who remember it.)
The same basic mechanic of responding to a trigger with the correct response is implemented for the bank heist quests and while it’s very simplistic, it’s still a nice variation from the mundaneness of normal starting area quests.
While not connected to the Goblin starting experience, there are a couple of interface changes that are worth mentioning. The first time you level, you’ll notice the newly designed congratulatory message in the centre of your screen.
What you’ll then notice later is upon reaching a level where you receive new skills, these are also clearly stated across the screen. This is a nice addition in my opinion. It stops you inadvertently missing new skills and will be particularly useful for new players.
I’m not going to delve into too much depth here so as not to ruin this for other players but suffice to say, it’s very entertaining. While innocently completing a quest that has you kicking a football into an opposing team’s goal on the Kajaro Playing Field, the ground begins to shake. The quest NPC nervously points out that your winning kick appears to have disturbed the adjacent volcano and lava begins spewing forth.
Nervous citizens of Kezan begin to panic and opportunistic looters start to run riot in the city seizing everything that isn’t nailed down. Finally, the governing Goblin (ironically known as the Trade Prince) begins his personal evacuation plans on the basis that “everyone is going to die”. Ever the sympathetic ruler, he readies his yacht and offers to sell you a place for “one bazillion macaroons” (the Kezan currency.)
In desperation to flee the eruption, the quest stories centre around you trying to earn an escape passage for yourself and your friends.
The two Goblin racial abilities are:-
- Rocket Barrage
- Rocket Jump
Rocket Barrage reads as follows:-
- Launches your belt rockets at an enemy, dealing 64 fire damage
- Instant Cast
- Two Minute Cooldown
- Thirty Yard Range
Rocket Jump reads as follows:-
- Activates your rocket belt to jump forwards
- Instant Cast
- Two Minute Cooldown
Finally, the Goblin totems. The screenshots I have seen before do not do these models justice. They look amazing in game and have merely fuelled my totem jealousy more, though I have to say having a totem that is taller than you felt very weird.
Overall, I was very impressed with the Goblin starter experience. It’s humorous and it’s fun. The story line is loyal to the opportunistic and wealth focused nature of the Goblins. The artwork for the city is incredible and the screenshots honestly do not do it justice. Air balloons bark advertisements for Kaja’Cola at every turn and this results in a real feeling of a corrupt city controlled by “The Corporation.”
I will be trying the same process with the Worgen starting area though I think the Goblin experience will take a lot of beating.