Today, I spent my time with my fearless companion, “Scalebeard” and powered through the rest of Azshara.
Azshara, once a useless zone for most (if not all) players sans a class quest for Sunken Temple, is now a great leveling area for characters from 10 to 20 (though I started it at 13 and ended it at 23). This zone is Horde exclusive, as it technically holds the Goblin capital city there.
What I like about the zone: The cataclysmic revamping makes it a better place to quest. Multiple quests deliver in minor plot formations, such as breaking up a possible pact between the Timbermaw furlbog and the Alliance (specifically, a group of Night Elves). One considerably major storyline follows Kalec’s quest to round up the remaining blue dragonflight after the demise of their aspect, Malygos. Kalec is in search of everyone’s favorite world boss, Azuregos, who hides in the spirit world and having a very brief relationship with the spirit healer, Anara. Humorous moments include the Goblin realization that a new type of power source is discovered to be the droppings of Stone Giants. You also meet a few talking raptors, and find some time to slay a mutated goblin. And finally, you run some errands for a groggy Murloc who only wants to have some hot “Kawfee”. The end of the quests in the zone have you destroy an Alliance outpost.
Generally, the quests offer some variety between gathering, killing, and just interacting. There is one bombing quest in particular at the end. There are interesting mechanics in some of the quests that players will enjoy regardless of how many times you do the zone (I certainly have)!
Finally, one of the best things implemented in the zone is the addition of a rocket railway system. You can take it like a monorail to certain places in the zone.
What I didn’t like: Itemization runs afoul here. Coming from the Goblin PC starting zone as a Hunter, you end up finding items with the same stats but higher armor (and sometimes, only by a few). I would assume the same would occur to Rogues coming from the Goblin zone. I also find that quests have you do a lot of running prior to having a mount, and some of them may actually be outside of your level range when you do them. Questing seems a bit spread out (but somewhat tolerable), and the Archmage Xylem quest chain needs a bit refining when you get to the three Mario Party-esque mini-game quests.
What does the zone teach new players? The quest chains in the zone involve a few concepts that new players will learn in some way or another. The Xylem chain is excellent because players are exposed to void zones, kiting creatures into specific areas, and learning how to read abilities and how they interact with the player character and terrain. The end of the Azuregos chain has characters fighting a mob who gains a huge damage reduction buff if you do not have its dragon ally blow it up unwittingly. The quest also introduces you to gathering keys to opening cages and how to drive a flying mount as you bomb things.
Other than my minor annoyances, Azshara is now a premier leveling zone that will not drive you crazy. I promise. It’s pretty great.