Hallelujah, it has arrived!

Yes, my beta key finally showed up in my email at the end of the day yesterday – woot! I didn’t even realize it until after dinner because we went out for supper. I spent about an hour patching all the content updates to my software and then I was ready to traverse the Dark Portal. I copied my rogue, Krystella over to the US-PVE Beta Server. Unfortunately we are forced to rename any character we move, so I called her ‘Krystara’.

I logged Krys in and she was in Ironforge where I left her. Now what? I thought. Everything is the same, except for the distinct lack of crowds by the bank. There were only a handful of people milling about at 9pm pst. Glaringly missing was any way for me to figure out where to go. I wanted to check out the new content, but was unsure how to find it. I pulled up the map and could see the new continent, but not how it connected into the travel system. I knew that the current game had a Dark Portal in Blasted Lands, but I wasn’t convinced that this was the same Dark Portal referred to in the expansion. I poked around on the beta forums, but no one had posted a “Newbs Guide to BC”. So I went to the Wiki and looked it up, thank goodness it had an article that mentioned entering through the Dark Portal in BL. So off to Nethergarde I went…

When I arrived, things were pretty much the same here. So I hopped on my trusty black steed and trotted down to the southern region where the Dark Portal resides. Upon approach, I noted that the terrain had changed a bit and the demons that normally wandered through here weren’t in evidence. I went towards the portal and rode right through (cue zoning screen).

From here I came to an outpost where I was greeted by an officer who immediately gave me a quest to proceed to Honor Hold. Just off to the side of me I can see huge demons fighting each other, but I don’t get too close just in case they decide I look like a tasty snack. So I find the gryphon master, chat him up a bit and hop a flight to my destination. The terrain here is very similar to the Blasted Lands, but you can see new creatures as you fly over.

I land in Honor Hold and am right in the middle of some sort of conference involving Isildor and his troops. He seems to be pacing about while his men bow in silence. Other troops are coming in and out, marching in formation, etc. It’s similar to the new Silithus in terms of activity level of the NPCs. Another thing I note at this point is the background music, it has an epic vibe to it. It sounds more orchestrated and rich, it kinda reminds me of the Superman theme <rofl>.

Once again, quest NPCs are clearly visible and I start picking up their quests. I get sent off on several errands to meet the various leaders in the area and eventually find myself with a few real quests. Each of these quests has four to five different rewards you can select when you complete them, and all I can say is WOW!! I’ve been watching the new Beta items posting on Allakhazam the past week, and drooling as I’m sure the rest of you have. Let me tell you that these initial quests blow away anything you might have right now that’s not epic quality.

My rogue currently uses the Barman Shanker and the Scarlet Kris as her weapons of choice. She only hit 60 a few months ago, so I haven’t geared her up as well as Kaliope or Kayree. Both of the quest daggers are better than the top-ranked blue daggers on Shadowpanther.net So right out of the gate, my rogue is getting weapon upgrades even though I bought her the best off-hand dagger money could buy. The third quest offers a new piece of armor as a reward, and once again it’s notably better than what I’m currently wearing (Mixologist’s Tunic). My rough calculation would put it slightly ahead of the rank 8 PVP tunic as well, since it has equivalent attack power, higher stamina and 19 Agility on top of that. It doesn’t have the +Hit or +Crit bonuses, so it might be about even. Either way, on your very first foray you will be getting quest rewards that are as good or better than the best blues in the current game. So don’t kill yourself collecting new gear before the expansion comes out people!!!

Before I move on, I should comment on the quests themselves. I know my first thought was “this gear is so good, I hope the quests aren’t super-hard”. Since I had no idea what a Bonechewer Orc was, and I needed to kill 20 of them, I was a bit concerned. Well, there’s no reason to worry on this score. The quest for the new armor involves picking up 16 pieces of scavenged debris, and the Orcs were in the same area. So while you kill Orcs you can pick up debris and knock out two of your quests. The Orcs should be easy to solo, they are level 58-62.

Unfortunately the competition for Orcs was pretty fierce, so I only managed to kill 5 out of 20. I did get the 16 salvaged materials though, so I rushed back to claim my new tunic. At this point I felt I needed to switch gears and find the Jewelcrafting trainer, since my main purpose was to flesh out the new crafting changes. After some additional digging, I found out that the Jewelcrafting trainer is in the Draenar home city of Exodar. Once again the Wiki helped me determine that the Draenar starting area is off the coast of Auberdine and accessible by boat. So I hopped a ferry from Menethil and made it just in time for the departure to Azuremyst Isle.

When I arrived, I spent a few minutes taking in the wonderfully ethereal landscape. It’s similar to Darkshore, but instead of a dark and foreboding vibe, it feels more like the stillness of twilight. Everything has a soft, bluish cast to it. The city of Exodar reminds me of the Undercity, it’s very maze-like and easy to get lost. Which I did several times :) But luckily I managed to find the Jewelcrafting trainer and I was able to power myself up to 108 skill before I got stuck. The forges in Exodar were not functional, so I’m going to have to make a side trip to Auberdine to smelt a few more bars of bronze to get myself to the next tier of recipes.

Krys at Hellfire PeninsulaKrys at the entrance to ExodarOMG - What is that??

Check my Jewelcrafting post for the details on how I got to 108 skill.

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