I finished out level 70 in Shadowmoon Valley. This is exactly what you want a Hell dimension to look like. The place is covered with lava flows, demons, cultists, and all the fun you might expect where horrors rule. A never-ending supply of Infernals falls from the sky at the bases.
It reminds me a lot of Shadows of Angmar™. Once you get to the original endgame in northwest Angmar, it looks much the same, down to the green flows of liquid in Carn Dum. This place could be the gate to Mordor, but the Black Temple serves much the same purpose. Also like the Shadows of Angmar™ endgame, it slides quickly into group-based content. There is more than enough solo content to finish out 70, but not a lot more that was immediately apparent. I smashed things, dinged, and left the area with exploration achievement in-hand.
Netherstorm is exactly what you would want from a shattered Outland, with floating islands and strange energies. This makes Hellfire Peninsula perfect as the place where the two zones meet, with sundered lands, strange energies, and demons on the march.
I like the combination of achievements and daily quests to keep you exploring the rest of the map after getting the levels you need. I imagine that could be annoying on a repeat trip, but I never had a reason to enter Netherstorm until sent there by a blue exclamation point. Fishing and cooking dailies keep me circulating and looking at new things.
Dailies also took me to Quel’Danas, which seems like a compact dose of content. I did some of the quests in the area, and it has the bombing run that Fires over Skettis was not. I almost wish that I had a reason to loiter, but I can come back later.
I started towards the other bombing run quest in the Blade’s Edge Mountains, only to read that it was at the end of a omgwtf quest chain that involves over a dozen quests and several full-group activities. Hey, I bet a Paladin can solo those at 80, so I’ll come back to this zone in a couple of weeks!
I lack an immediate impression of the Blade’s Edge Mountains. I like the giant stone spikes surrounding the zone. I like the demon camps and the roaming raptors. Not having quested through it, I do not have a feel for how it plays. There are many sub-zones like Hellfire Peninsula, which I liked, but it could also be like fractured Terrokar Forest with many little bits but little to unify them. I have just dropped in for what I want (raptor ribs, interesting-looking NPCs) and flown away. And hey, the gnomes get their due here, a rather silly due, but still, here you go gnome-lovers.
My activities have never sent me far into Netherstorm. I mean to go exploring sometime, to get the last explorer achievement if nothing else, and there could be awesome things in that back corner, but as of yet I have no reason to visit except that it is there.
As a trade skill obsessive, I like having daily cooking and fishing quests. I like that I can get them from both expansion packs at 70, with a convenient portal from Dalaran to Shattrath. Again, seeing more of the map as I get to the right spot or find the recipe I need. Oh, I missed that town, what’s going on there.
Oh, trouble with ogres/elves and the local wildlife. Maybe I’ll return if I want the quest achievements. Good luck with that, guys!
Throughout Outland, I have felt less directed towards instances than I did in classic WoW. Maybe I have just gotten more efficient about dropping dungeon quests and not thinking about them, but there seems to be a long list of dungeons with only a few referrals.
I notice that several instances have quest givers right outside them, or the quests come from the next town over. That is much better than hitting four zones across both continents for Sunken Temple quests. They also seem to string together, all that level 70 raid progression I never need bother with, so I presume that one leads you to the next rather than having dozens of independent places. (This would explain the few starting points.) Auchindoun seems to combine these, with a cluster of quest-givers at the doors and four different instances under the umbrella of a single dungeon. I went to Serpentshrine Cavern with my guild without having heard of the place outside the achievement. Oh, it is a special wing of a place I have heard of, and it hides one of the big celebrities.
Other celebrity note: Rexxar in the Blade’s Edge Mountains! Stumbling on a big name lore character, like Pridemore in Theramore, is always a small thrill. They are rare, special, and often unexpected. This is in contrast to games that have their big names everywhere, except that you have never heard of these people and why should you care? Those of you who went to WoW without an RTS background miss this bit of the fun; you may have noted how I enjoy seeing Warcraft 3 bits in-game, from architecture to peasants using old sound clips.
The Caverns of Time look interesting. I have no idea how they fit into anything, other than being a few time-travel instances stuck in the desert. Are they part of a chain? the raid progression? Is there a story going on here? Those are rhetorical (I can look it up); the game gives me no reason to answer them these days. I stumbled on the place in the 40s, very spectacular, and a guildmate sent me there at 70 to pick up a quest whose existence I would have no reason to guess. Taking the Caverns introduction quest explained something that seemed incoherent at the time: an NPC in Tanaris who somehow accidentally challenges you to defeat his younger self. Why would I think that some random guy talking about his hat implies that I should go back in time (or is his younger self time traveling?) and defeat him? I like that the instances all represent existential threats, with ratings based solely on how hard they are. What about “any of these changes will wipe out everything you know” implies that it is okay to mess with time to steal someone’s hat?
And that’s Outland. As I mentioned, there is a lot of content that opens at 70, such as all those daily quests around Shattrath and the Sunwell. That is great, and it gives you a variety of things to do at 70 when you are not in instances. It is no longer helpful to have those locked until 70, however, because there is an entire expansion pack to start at 70. Visiting the blue !s is an act of pity. Except for cooking and fishing, gotta feed that trade skill addiction.