So the game files have been downloaded, almost, and I log on for the first time in ages. I've stayed with the same guild throughout my whole WOW career (barring the early jaunt into the random guild I mentioned) and I feel no need to change this, it's mainly the people and the interaction that I enjoy about the game, and many of the faces are still around.
I've done my research over the last couple of days, and have had a look at the talent tree's, I've decided the trusty priest is still going to be the main, so I've pretty much decided on my levelling spec. I've focussed on shadow for the moment, I had a quick look at the holy tree and talent changes but it looks so alien to what I remember, I think I'll leave it till I've got back in the swing of things.
Now it's probably worth mentioning at this point that I'm about a month behind with my posts, I toyed with the idea of writing a blog on my previous returns to the game and never got round to it, and did again this time, just a bit late, better late than never though hey? This probably means the posts that I have in my mind will come thick and fast for the next week or two and then slow down a touch as they catch up with my game playing.
After an hour or so of sorting out talents, adding a few basic addons, configuring my interface, and trying to find the portal in Shattrah back to Org!?! I'm ready to go. So I mount up and…. No I don't, where the hell has my mount button gone? And more to the point, where is the mounts tab? So after five minutes of fumbling about trying to find my mounts, I bite the bullet and whisper a friend, after the abuse and laughter subsides he tells me and I'm on my way.
Mount Hyjal is my first destination; it strikes me straight away that Blizzard have finally cottoned on to the fact that travelling for 15 minutes just to get to a quest zone doesn't endear them overly with their players. A few quests in, and I'm starting to replace the pretty reasonable WotLK epic gear I'd amassed with green stuff and my hit points jumps instantly from around. 20k to 50k.
At this point, as I'm replacing gear quicker than I'm drawing breath, I decide I need a bit more of an idea what my stat priorities should be for gearing. A quick shufty over to shadowpriest.com and a few Googles later and I've come up with
Int, Spell power, Haste, Crit, Mastery, Hit, Spirit. A few observations; spell power doesn't seem to exist anymore on much but is instead a by-product of Intellect, the new stat Mastery doesn't seem that useful for shadow priests. Intellect is, as a result, pretty much twice as important as any other stat you'll find on most items. I also start to think about rotations, mind spike is an interesting spell; it does nice DPS but strips off any dots. Quite quickly I realise that for low HP mobs Mind Blast, followed by 3 mind spikes (2 for the instant cast MB and then one more for MB to cool down) followed by a Shadow Word Death generally kills most things. For the slightly more longer-lived mobs a normal type rotation. Though I do note that MB's dps has dropped down in the damage stakes significantly and isn't something which should be used in a rotation for pure dps (I'll talk more about rotations in a later post).
The spawn rate of mobs seems to be massively increased, which is generally good, but sometimes it's so fast you can't complete the damn quest objective without something spawning and interrupting you. There seems to be a lot higher drop rate for quest items, so you don't spend 3 hours having to grind the same mobs for a single quest item any more. Quests also seem to be a lot more varied, some bordering on mini games where you do things not related to your class at all, a reflection on the shift towards casual gamers perhaps? And then there's the damn cut scenes! I'm all for cut scene's, I understand that they make developers happy, and a happy developer makes better games. But please, for the love of the children, let me press escape and skip it!! Will somebody please think of the children! I can remember two, perhaps three cut scenes in WoW to date, I think I've seen three in my first gaming session, one of which I couldn't skip and was thus forced to sit through. Boring the first time, I'd guess complete tedium for the compulsive alt-levellers amongst us who have 18 level 85 toons by now.
So that's it for the first impressions, a pretty good performance from Blizzard if you ask me, A-, a few marks dropped for wasting my time with cut scene's, making me take public transport back from Shatrah, and making me look like a complete muppet looking for my mounts (and moving the guild pane for that matter). But all in all, looking like a bloody good effort.
Honourable mentions to a few websites which have been invaluable to me, firstly WOW insider which I've kept an eye on even while not playing the game for the last few years. (www.joystiq.com), www.shadowpriest.com who are excellent for all things DPS and theorycraft (though not for the un initiated, and starting to need some housekeeping to remove old out of date information desperately), www.tankspot.com who seem to be focusing on more than just tanks and tank healing these days, and of course www.elitistjerks.com