It’s as good as I hoped - and may even be better.
The Oceanic servers filled up pretty quick, or at least the PVP ones did. By the time I was home from work the main server (Arugal) was full with a 10,000 person queue and 260 minute wait. Blizzard had opened up a second PVP server called Yojamba (which sounds more like a FFXIV server than WoW, but apparently it’s an abandoned Troll isle in Northern Stranglethorn) in the middle of the day, but that too was full and queued.
As I pondered taking it easy on the medium-busy PVE server Remulos, another new PVP server appeared, and with an awesome name too: Felstriker. That’s a much better PVP name. So I hopped on, recreated Stroeb the Undead Rogue, and logged into a world of wonder.
During the voice over intro there were streams of Undead emerging from the starting crypt, most with single-barrel names (thanks to the server only just popping), and all moving with purpose toward the first quest hub.
The intro movie is very different to the current one, much more sinister and full of forboding, telling us that the Undead don’t give a damn about “the primitive races of the Horde” (let alone the Alliance), and will slaughter those that would hunt them as monsters:
They will go to any lengths to ensure their dark plans come to fruition. As one of the Forsaken, you must massacre any who pose a threat to the new order: Human, Undead, or otherwise…
One thing I noticed far more was the sound design. Along with the fantastically spooky music and muffled screams of the the intro, the entire zone pulses with a super low heartbeat which you don’t notice until you stop and listen for a few moments. The subtle tension that adds is terrific.
Instead of taking the first quest, I just wandered through the starter area, poking around the edges of the map and seeing what was out there. I soon found Caretaker Caice, who wandered about restlessly with a lantern in front of a crypt, occasionally philosophising about the Undead state. Purely flavour, and purely great.
I started attacking the many Duskbats that roam the zone, and was quickly equipped with top quality Grey gear - I even got Grey upgrades to my existing Grey gear. And, somewhat amazingly, a 6 slot Small Brown Pouch. Who said bag space would be a problem?!
The bat hunting was so fun I ended up levelling all the way to 3 without moving beyond the graveyards and surrounding hills. During this I was entertained by all manner of memory jolts, from weapon and defence skill upgrades to the beginnings of the skill tree adventure.
Before logging off I tried one of the rites of passage of Vanilla by successfully kiting a Dusk Bat down into the spawning crypt.
It all sounds so simple, but there’s something undefinably magic about it. I’m sure a lot of words will be written trying to capture exactly what that is, but for now I’m just thrilled we’re playing.
Good call on the sound design. I noticed a lot of sounds I’m not used to hearing on Live and the sound in general seemed fuller and deeper, somehow. If I have time I’ll do a test of the same area on Classic and Live becuase sound isn’t the only thing that seems richer on Classic.
I have the music turned off which helps, but I’m sure it’s different as it’s turned off on Live too. Either that or everything happens so fast on Live that I never slow down and just listen.