Undead Hunter

Undead Hunter

Blizzard's new ploy to solve WoW's community issues: create AI NPCs to play with instead

Although I plan on starting a Worgen Priest when Cataclysm hits I couldn’t resist checking out all of the new changes that were implemented in WoW with the shattering patch a few days ago. Having avoided the beta completely, I was incredibly curious to see how the original zones had been overhauled so I figured I’d start a new alt and take a peak. Thus Gourkil (yeah, I know it sounds like something out of He-Man) the Undead Hunter was born. Or unborn. Or died. Or whatever.

I’m fully aware of the fact that I bash WoW and Blizzard at almost every opportunity (c’mon, it’s just far too much fun to resist!), ironically in most cases considering how much I respect the game, but I have to be a man and take my hat off to them here. Without even the smallest hint of cynicism or sarcasm, I gotta say that I’m utterly bowled over by this patch. Considering just how much content has been renewed, how many tweaks and changes have taken place, and the sheer fact that it’s all totally free makes it really quite astonishing. Well done, Blizz, well done.

Although their low-level zones have only had modest make-overs, I picked an Undead Hunter not just because it’s a new racial class pairing but because the class has had some significant changes since I last played one. Among other things, focus has replaced mana and all Hunters now start with a pet from level 1 which really helps players get a flavour for the class sooner. Plus they’re dead easy (pardon the pun) to level with.

The new Undead starting experience hasn’t been altered dramatically but it’s been refined to be a beautifully elegant and fun experience. Right from the moment you’re raised from the ground as a corpse (which is a bloody neat concept), the quests are a whole lot more streamlined, interesting and engaging. It’s the little things that make the difference: the quest items you need from beasties drop them every time; the rewards you get from completing quests are actually useful, colour coordinated bits of gear; there’s a little moment of surprise as a boss mob does a Heroic Leap right into your face; and you even get a little NPC helper to show you around, carry corpses for you and be your AI friend in an ironic statement about how collaborating with other real players is now a thing of the past (sorry, couldn’t resist).

The Hunter as a class is also a lot slicker too and a lot of fun. My little spider pet (named after my wife) and I had fun lopping around Trisfall Glades seeing what troubling we could get into and admiring the new and improved town hub of Brill. In general, the new talent system is also excellent and will go a long way to help defining classes sooner at lower levels and helping deal with balancing issues.The only negative thing I can say about the class (or rather all of the class changes in fact) is that there seems to be a lot fewer spells and abilities to access now but that’s probably because I’m so used to having to visit a trainer every level.

I know it’s early days but I’m very impressed with patch 4.0.3a so far. Very, very impressed. Blizzard have managed to take what was a pretty streamlined and polished experience and buff it up even more. I’ll say this: it’s going to very hard indeed for other MMOs to compete against it over the upcoming few months.


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  1. ogrebears says:

    I played wow once and i ended up quitting in after i got to 30, i don’t remember why though. I started playing again on Thursday, and i am truly enjoying the game, i even got to level 31 (the highest i ever got to WoW). I think after 4-5 years i finally getting in to wow.

    • Gordon says:

      It took me about 4 years before I got into WoW too. Like yourself, I was a big EQ2 player and played that solid for 3 years until I burned out. I don’t think WoW’s perfect by any means but it suits my lifestyle at the moment.

  2. spinks says:

    Just wait till you get to Silverpine, it’s AMAZING.

  3. Dril says:

    The human starting zone was fairly dull; yes, even Westfall. Perhaps it was because I was playing a Priest, but it was just…well, not in the least bit fun. I even had all the music on….I just couldn’t help noticing all the bad things.

    To be fair, I went in with the mindset of hoping it might interest me, but if it doesn’t then I can cancel my Cata pre-order and just play the Rift betas and Minecraft instead, so that probably impacted my enjoyment as well. But still, after all the reports of the human starting zones being really really awesome, I was in fact just underwhelmed.

    God I want Dec 3rd to come already.

    • Gordon says:

      I don’t know what they’re like now but Priests used to be tough to level. For me, classes are all about the “feel”. I enjoy the Priest because I run around pretending to be a holy mad man and that keeps me amused for hours.

  4. Bhagpuss says:

    It took me 5 years before I found myself at a sufficiently loose end to give WoW a try. I was very pleasantly surprised and liked it a lot more than I expected to, but I began to lose interest around level 50 and getting through the Burning Crusade content was almost a chore. I did think it picked up again once I got into Northrend but by then I’d really run out of steam and I stopped with my highest character somewhere in the low 70s.

    I have very little immediate desire to go back and see the changes. I don’t think I’d get much more from playing through them than I’m already getting from blogs and screenshots. I wouldn’t mind playing a goblin, but it’s a minor desire. Honestly, at the moment there is just so much going on in MMOs that I can’t see any way I’ll make space even for a few weeks of WoW sightseeing. I’ll probably get round to it at some point, but it might take another five years!

    • Gordon says:

      Aside from the fact that WoW suits my lifestyle at the moment, I think I’m sucker for all of the hype and peer pressure. It’s hard to ignore the game when so many of my friends (and bloggers) are talking about it.

  5. Tesh says:

    An Undead Hunter is on my list. Might even wind up being my Horde “main” on one server. (I’m trying all new class combos and all new racial starting zones I can get to.) I’m looking forward to it… but I’ve gotta note, my Dwarf Hunter doesn’t get much out of the new Talent system. Sure, the BM tree’s Intimidate is nice, but my bear and I kill stuff quickly enough that it doesn’t get used all that much. Unlocking the tree just didn’t feel like as much of an upgrade as, say, unlocking the Feral Druid tree.

    Still, I’m impressed so far.

    • Gordon says:

      I don’t find the Hunter talents to be very thrilling either. Marksmanship and Beast Mastery I get but Survival? It seems like the devs were clutching at straws a bit. I would really like to see Survival get completely revamped into a melee spec. I love the idea of fighting right alongside my pet in a melee fray, Beastlord style :P

      • Tesh says:

        Or the White Lion in WAR, hm? I thought that was a great “Hunter” variant when I saw it, and it would be nice to see it as a viable option in WoW. They might need to make more melee tools for that to happen, though. That’s probably more of a revamp than they want to tackle.

        Oh, and since I didn’t mention it earlier, I *love* that Hunters finally get pets on startup. It’s about time.

  6. I’m looking forward to rolling my worgen priest as well! That said, I’ve been trying to hold off on rolling a new character right after the changes; as much as I want to see the new starting areas, I didn’t want to have to start a character only have to do it again in a couple weeks when Cataclysm comes out. I might have to give in tonight though *blush*

  7. Bronte says:

    Self-reflection. Re-invention. Execution.

    There is a reason we coming back to WoW, much as we grow tired of its unchallenged supremacy in the market.

  8. The Necromancer says:

    I have gotta start playing undead again. I will return to my duties as a Undead warlock yet the undead hunter idea is very interesting.

    “Fascinating.” – Spock

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