As the next expansion for World of Warcraft, Cataclysm, draws near (current speculation is that it will be released early to mid-November, although an official date has yet to be announced by Blizzard), players are getting a taste of things to come. This past week, two major events started in Azeroth that will lead into the world-changing events of Cataclysm.
The alliance and the horde each have a race that really has no homeland to speak of, and these events are the start of what will change that. The alliance gnomes will have a new home once Operation: Gnomeregan is complete and Gnomeregan is once again under the control of Mekkatorque and his followers. The horde trolls are waging a similar war to win back Echo Isles in the Zalazane’s Fall event.
Both events are open to characters of all levels, up until the final, climactic battle, for which you must be level 75. The good news is that you get a special item that transforms you into a special battle gnome or troll at any level, if you complete the rest of the event. The bad news is that there is not an achievement for the lower toons, which would be nice.
Perhaps Blizzard could have created a different achievement based on level. However, I do have to give them credit for finding a way to include all players in these events that are so crucial to the lore of the game.
At level 80, a character can earn 93 gold for completing the whole event. Lower level toons will not get as much gold, but will get experience, which is always nice. In addition to the transformation item, you also get a special drape you can wear if you are high enough to complete the whole chain. Also, for those who are still working toward the Loremaster achievement, these quests do count, making a few that are easy to find and complete if you are nearing the end and running out of places to look.
All of my characters that are high enough to complete the entire event are alliance, so I have not had the opportunity to evaluate the final fight from both sides. However, I have completed the alliance event, and as much of the horde event as I can. While both are fun, I think the horde version is a bit better.
In the alliance version, some of the tasks you are required to complete are pointless, particularly testing the fighting machines. It would make more sense to me if you actually fought in the machines, and then your testing would be teaching you how to operate them for the battle. For me, the best thing about the alliance version was the pop culture references in the event. There are at least four, including The West Wing, which while one of my favorite television shows, I would not have expected to see referenced in WoW.
Alliance players should be aware that there seems to be a bug that occasionally causes an error in the event. In the final fight, no player or pet should go down the tunnel before the non-player character. If the bug does occur, you will need to go back to the beginning of that fight and wait for the NPCs to reset and start over again at that point.
Horde players actually do a bit more running around than Alliance players, but I think that all of the quests actually make sense with the event. It was fun to become a tiger creature for a bit, and the troll dance circle was great. I did not notice any pop culture jokes in the horde version, but I could have easily missed them.
All in all, this is a nice lead-in to Cataclysm. While unconfirmed, it is believed that these special events will last at least a month, possibly up until Cataclysm is launched.
Between that and the start of the annual week-long Harvest Festival on Thursday, there is much extra fun to be had in Azeroth!