This morning I ran my paladin around Westfall for fun and excitement. Westfall is a big, open zone, consisting of rolling hills and plains that lead over to some bluffs overlooking the sea. Most people just shoot right through Westfall, as there are a few storyline quests there that are worth doing and involve things like finding an underground pirate ship that looks like a Koopa boat from Super Mario 3 and killing the captain. That's a boatload of fun, if you excuse the phrase.
But that's the "mostly" part. World of Warcraft is odd in that a lot of your player progression is pseudo-linear. Once you've exhausted all the quests in the current area, you'll find someone who asks you to travel to this new and exotic place, which of course will then become your home for the next few levels as you work on all the quests around there. But you're not on rails; there are usually several areas with quests that you can do concurrently. As part of the Alliance races, you can work on the Loch Modan quests and the Westfall quests in your teens, for instance. In your 20s, you go to Redridge and the Wetlands. And you really don't have to do any quests, but you get all the goodies by doing the quests.
Anyway. There was one quest in Westfall, part of a long Paladin storyline arc, that I wanted to go after. But when I traipsed all the way across the zone to find it, turns out the damn thing's bugged and won't work right. I was supposed to defend a homestead against Defias rogues, and the homesteader was there and she gave me the quest, and then she said "OH NOSES HERE THEY COME" and we sat... and waited. And waited. And waited. And waited. And no rogues came to invade the homestead. I guess they got lost around Sentinel Hill or something. All newbies invariably do.
So after filing a nice bug report about it (and they know about it, I know they know about it, now they know I know they know about it) I decided to wander along the coast and see what I could find. Much to my surprise, there's a lot more in the game than just the quests-on-rails. You are rewarded with experience for exploring, but you are also rewarded with side quests and, in my case, an actual factual treasure hunt. Lots of pictures below the cut, including a picture of the COOLEST SHIELD EVER and a SPECIAL GNOME SURPRISE at the end. You betcha! (The story does spoil a certain treasure hunt quest in Westfall so if you're actually playing and wish to keep it a secret, you might want to move on to the next post. It's all right, I don't mind.)
Ah, Westfall! Land of scenic vistas, rolling plains, and a lot of annoying Murlocs on the coast. Many visitors to Westfall are attracted by only the Deadmines deep below the village of Moonbrook, but if you look beyond the hordes of screaming idiots trying to find the Defias Messenger so they can kill him, you'll find a beautiful coastline littered with shipwrecks and all sorts of cool piratey things.
This is Mollycoddle, my level 22 paladin. I think the name works for someone who runs around whomping things on the head with maces. I've actually grown to like playing a paladin a lot, as they're quite multi-talented. They can solo real easily and (when played right) can help out greatly in groups as a healer, buffer, rezzer, or even tank if needed. (For those not up on the slang, a 'buffer' is a player who can cast beneficial spells on their teammates that raise stats, a 'rezzer' is one who can resurrect a player after an ignoble death, and a 'tank' is the one who stands in front of the big monster and says "Hit ME, not the caster with kleenex armor!")
Click to enlarge.
While wandering the southwestern coast of Westfall, Mollycoddle found this lighthouse on a rocky outcropping. So naturally we had to investigate further...
...and on the lighthouse island we found a SCARY PIRATE GHOST OOoOoooOooOOOOoOoo. Actually, he was a friendly pirate ghost, with "friendly" meaning "didn't attack me on sight." Instead, he gave three quests, all of which were reasonably easy to accomplish at level 22. One of them involved getting revenge on the evil murloc that killed him in the first place.
And when that revenge was complete, we got a new shield! In the form of a ship's wheel. This is officially the COOLEST SHIELD EVER. I didn't even mind that it had less armor points than my current shield, I equipped it immediately and said YARR a lot.
There was also time for some underwater mining, too. Hope you can hold your breath!
We steered clear of this half-eaten sea monster on the coast. By the way, I love Blizzard for putting in touches like this -- those buzzards you see circling around can be found all around the upper plains of Westfall, but the only place they appear on the coast is by the dead fish. I love that.
One of Captain Grayson's quests involved killing a LOT of murlocs. They're these little green/blue things that make a horrible gargling sound when they spot you and attack in many different ways. The Murloc Hunter, for instance, actually has a little crab pet who attacks you too. All the other Murlocs have these Annoying Attacks which do nothing but annoy you and then you die. Anyway. We were running up and down the coast, killing the murlocs required for the quest, and we were also killing murlocs that weren't required for the quest ... and one of them dropped a treasure map! Clicking on the object started an entirely new quest, the SEARCH FOR CAPTAIN SANDERS' TREASURE.
This is so cool. Quests are hidden in the game all over, and it's up to you to find them if you wish. Today's little gaming session just sold me on the entire thing, I think.
Captain Sanders left his map and the words "If ye be readin this then I be dead, and now ye can find my treasure." Or something. The first clue on the map told me to "find the shipwreck with the rusty anchor." Well, that seemed easy enough. Only there are several shipwrecks up and down the coast, and all of them are infested with Murlocs. Finally we spotted the rusty anchor and flung off several murlocs intent on our destruction, and found a half-buried footlocker that was empty. But then a little crab ran out from behind the footlocker with the next clue!
The clue said "head due east up the bluffs to the road, then find the abandoned chimney." The next clue would be in a barrel. It was a bit of a hike back up to the nearest road, but the chimney was spotted rather quickly...
...and the clue was found in a busted up barrel that had a skull in it. The skull was a nice marker, as you'll see later.
The next clue instructed us to "head due north until you find the lone windmill on the sea bluffs." Of course, the path due north also took us right into a field full of angry Defias bandits. They didn't like the intrusion, and I didn't like having to deal with them. So we were even. I began to think Captain Sanders had a vicious sense of humor. Eventually we got to the windmill and found the next clue in a jug. The clue said "go west! When you get to the water, don't stop! Swim all the way west until you find an island and there be my treasure."
IF YOU SEE A FADED SIGN BY THE SIDE OF THE ROAD THAT SAYS FIFTEEN MILES TO THE TREAAAAAAAAAASURE SHACK
Click to enlarge.
Yes, there was this little tiny spit of an island out in the middle of the sea, requiring a nice, refreshing swim. And on this island was a shack and more skulls and ... an actual factual treasure chest! And in the chest was... treasure! HOORAY!! I was worried we'd get cans of spinach or a note saying "LOL PWNED YARR" or "PEACE ON EARTH" or something, but instead there was actual usable stuff. A silver bar, which is a nice commodity, a red pirate sash and dashing pirate shirt, and a "booty bag" to hold your, well, yeah. Booty. (Bags can be hard to come by in the early levels of World of Warcraft, and an 8-slot bag is nothing to sneeze at. Plus it says "booty bag.")
This is a classic example of a well-crafted quest. Even though it was just a run-from-waypoint-A-to-waypoint-B kind of quest, it was engaging, it had a great story to it, and the reward was worth the time and risk. I wasn't just running from waypoint A to waypoint B, no, I was following a treasure map! And when I found it, I got actual treasure! that's what made it all worthwhile.
And you have to do the quest to get the treasure, too. Later on I swam Drolias out to the same island and the chest was there, but you couldn't click on it. You have to do all the steps in order to get the chest to open. That's even cooler. Without the knowledge of the quest, this just looks like a pleasant little island thrown in for flavor... though maybe you do start to wonder about the chest... anyway.
Speaking of chests, here's Mollycoddle modelling the pirate shirt and red sash. I let the game choose the skin tone for the character when I created it, and maybe I shouldn't have. This looks... well. Pirate wenchy. But unseemly for a paladin. Better put that breastplate back on.
AND NOW HERE ARE YOUR BONUS PICTURES
Okay, everybody take a drink. And the worst part is this isn't the most egregious example I've seen, either.
And for your BONUS GNOME PICTURE, here is Frotz getting down as only a gnome can in his SUPER DISCO RAVER ROBE.
WE BE BODY MOVIN
And that's how I spent my Saturday morning.