Death knights are an interesting experiment by Blizz. People have whined and cried about wanting hero classes as long as I can remember playing this game. Blizzard has finally caved in and offered a new playable class, years after the game’s release, but they’re going about it in an interesting manner. By allowing people to skip the bullshit grind associated with ‘old WoW’ it seems like they’re basically saying ‘yeah, we know nobody fucking plays on those continents anymore, and trying to find groups for Scarlet Monastery is a fucking joke, so here… just take a level 55 toon, run a few quests, and blow this popsicle stand’.
The leveling curve for death knights is ridiculously accelerated, and tries to dump every skill, talent, and gimmick on the player in what feels like a 20 minute crash course on the class. Why they force people who want to level a mage, for example, to torture themselves from level 1 to 55 is a complete mystery. Oh wait... ‘subscription model revenue’, riiiight. But for some reason, death knights even have a +75% walking speed buff while in their ‘home city’, as if Blizz is saying ‘yeah, even walking around sucks, hurry up and finish this part and get to the Outlands ASAP woo!’.
I’m personally leveling two new alts, and am really beginning to feel the strain at level 32 on my rogue and 40 on my hunter. The hunter is alliance, and that whole side of the game is still new to me, but my patience is wearing thin, and time seems to have slowed to a crawl on both of these toons. One of the main issues I have with leveling to 60 is how fucking spread out everything is on these two continents. It’s rare to grab all the quests in the zone and just crank them out, then run back to town to twelve question marks like I used to do at the early levels. Once flight paths begin to open up, every quest seems to involve flying halfway around the world to hand a letter to some douche bag in a church, only to jump right back on the same flight to bring it to who had it in the first place. Or you pick up a quest in Stormwind that involves killing murlocs on the fucking moon. Nothing is densely packed anymore, until you get out to the Outlands, and can smash your face against Hellfire Peninsula for a level or four.
Death knights, however, get the VIP pass to the outlands. It doesn’t really make any sense.
Whatever. The system itself that they’ve put in place alternates between feeling like too much at once in a good way, to be too much at once in a bad way. You start the game in some floating necropolis thing, and hey! There’s the Lich King himself! It feels hokey, like in Star Wars Galaxies, when you roll a brand new toon, and are immediately rushed to the the Millennium Fucking Falcon with Chewcockoff and Ham Salad. Or in LotRO when you roll a hobbit and ZOMG LOOK OUT there’s a Ring Wraith! Why not just spawn noobs with in the fiery pit of Mount Doom with The One Ring in their Inventory?
You’re level 55, but you don’t have any talent points yet. You have a full set of armor, mostly greens with a blue ring or something, and your very first quest is to forge your rune blade. Within minutes, you’re flying some death bird Tony Hawk looking thing down the countryside to kill villagers, rape their livestock, and generally try and be a badass. The problem is that you don’t really feel like a badass, because you didn’t really earn any of the badassery yet. Usually, you start with ‘auto-attacking rabbits for the ex-pees’, and when you earn your first genuine attack move (mortal strike, pyroblast, whatever) you feel pretty bad ass. While death knights don’t spawn with 40 talent points to dish out, you get one pretty much every 37 seconds until you’ve ‘caught up’ to being level 55. Almost every quest gives you a piece of blue armor, a huge stack of gold, and one or two talent points. Shit like ‘go talk to bill, standing three feet away’ earns you 16,276 XP, a blue plate chest piece, and 2 points to sink into talents that you have no clue of how to use yet.
Blizzard went all out in the ‘hey let’s have fun quests’ dept, and while there are your general ‘collect 15 of the flaming arrows we’re raining down on this town’, they’re sprinkled liberally with ‘jump in mine cart to be carried onto the boat and then blast 100 people on the beach with the ship’s cannons!’ kind of thing. You fly around on mounts dropping bombs, you steal a horse that will become your death steed (free epic land mount at level 55), you travel into the ‘nether world’ to do battle with a ghostly boss… not a whole lot of ‘kill 800 alligators to collect 12 alligator tails’. Maybe I just haven’t reached that point yet.
I’m being negative. The quests are generally fun, and while gimmicky, serve to break up the grind. That’s good. You’re overloaded with great gear, gold, and talent points faster than you can deal with. Sure, awesome! Your trade skills start out at an advanced level. First aid begins at 270. No running around in the Barrens farming wool cloth. Sweet. And while you might not know what talents do, after some experimentation, you’ll find a build that works for you, respec, and be fine with it. But once you’ve reached level 58, everything is going to come crawling to a stop, and you’ll be one of 8 billion DKs LFG Ramps.
Speaking of 8 billion DKs, I was under the impression (for some reason), that the DK starting zone was going to be instanced. I honestly don’t remember where I heard this, but it seemed to be very AoC of them to do so, and generally I felt it was a pretty stupid idea. Not only would it compare directly to the whole destiny questline mode of AoC where your first 20 levels are done mostly alone, but not having other DKs running around to group with seemed like a bad idea. So far, this seems not to be the case, which I think is a good thing.
Anyway, I’m sure there a billion pages out there on the intertrons that can list each DK move and how they all interact with each other. That isn’t my intention. I’m not here to give you a guide to make the most effective use of your abilities or link you uber talent builds. My DK hasn’t even left Ebon Hold yet to go make his mark on the world. I’m still running around in the DK equivalent of the Valley of Trials. I’m still of the mind that time spent in the beta is a waste of time. Once Wrath goes live, everyone will vacate the old zones in favor of fresh new content, and unless my toons are all level 70, I’m going to be left in the dust begging guildies for Underbog runs. It’ll be a painful transition, as I’ll be too low to go to Northrend, but too high to be grouping with the flood of new DKs.
It’s good to see a new playable class. It’ll be interesting to see the forums go through the general wah wah QQ syndrome of ‘wah wah hold me, the DK melee DPS is totally making rogues obsolete’ (not gonna happen), or ‘wah wah mommy, I can’t tank anymore as dual wield fury because death knights do it better’ (okay, probably true, but real prot tanks have nothing to worry about). All in all, I’m mostly just excited to have new instances to run, with or without death knights at my side, and am focused on getting my noobs up to 70 as soon as possible.