WARNING: SPOILERS AHEAD!
Quigley is my new human hunter, now level 21. I’ve been questing through Elwynn Forest, Westfall, and I’m finishing up the Redridge Mountains. The really excellent thing that Blizzard did while reworking the flow of the old world is that now there are three completely separate leveling experiences as Alliance. You can level three different characters and go through a totally different experience from 1-60 each time. This is fantastic for altoholics and vastly increases the amount of content for levellers.
Blizzard struck an interesting balance with the quests in the old world. Everywhere you look, the world has been torn asunder. The storylines are darker with a sense of tragedy and urgency. In Westfall, Old Blanchy and the Furlbrows are dead. Homeless are everywhere, vagabond orphans steal the shoes off of dead people, the people are starving (you have to go out and feed them Westfall Stew) and the peasants are being worked up into a feverish pitch into uprising against Stormwind due to the efforts of… well, I won’t spoil that for you. But let’s just say that you, the player, are shown via a cinematic that you, yes you, are at least partially responsible for why the situation is so dire.
But contrasting against that, the entire storyline of Westfall is driven by Detective Horatio Laine and his crime investigation into the deaths of the Furlbrows. You become an investigator into the crimes, and Blizzard uses phasing to make it seem like your actions as an investigator really have an effect on the game world. Of course, this whole series is a take-off of the CSI TV series, and Blizzard has made it an exaggerated and very humorous version of the TV show, even extending into the Deadmines. There are also references to Mama Cass (of The Mamas and the Papas) and a terrific quest relating to the “No Take Candle!” kobolds.
Another example is in Redridge, where orcs are poised to attack Redridge but due to the strains that the war against the Lich King has placed on the kingdom, there is no way that Redridge will be able to mount a defense. That zone is doomed… until John J. Keeshan shows up in a very long and hilarious questline that is a direct homage to Rambo. You eventually end up doing subterfuge for Keeshan and his mercenaries, using a combination of stealth, chloroform, and distractions to free hostages and plant explosives. And of course, at the end you get to press the Big Red Button and blow up the orc area, complete with cinematic.
There have been parts of both zones that were incredibly sad and poignant… and some parts that are downright depressing. Yet Blizzard keeps the quests light and humorous, but never so much so that it seems inappropriate. I’ve found myself laughing uncontrollably at the pop culture references and references to popular WoW memes.
As a result, questing is very immersive and entertaining. Cinematics have been greatly increased, if my experiences with the first three zones are any indication, and phasing has been implemented into all zones to great effect. You see the changes happening as you go, sometimes happening right behind you as you turn in a quest. Blizzard has always told great stories, but the new questing experience has proven that they truly are great storytellers, making the most of available technology to draw the player into the environment.