Saturday, November 15, 2008

First Looks at Northrend, Part 3: Mostly Fjord

First, a few omissions redressed. Here's another view of the cliffs that border almost all of the Howling Fjord zone (with a zeppelin incoming from Tirisfal Glade visible on the left):

Howling Fjord Cliffs

And here are vrykul seen in training from afar with the help of the hunter spell Eagle Eye and in combat closeup with no special help needed:

Vrykul Training

Vrykul Fighting Tivara

Now on with the original tour.

The Forsaken are (to my taste) some of the most interesting characters, both PC and NPC, in the game. They're undead. They used to be part of the Scourge's army, but managed to break free. (The story behind that escape is complex, and includes a dose of factional strife within the Burning Legion's upper echelons. Some of it's available in the lore pages at Blizzard's site.) They've got their free will back, but nobody seems to know how to restore life to the undead, and nobody else is really what you'd call enthusiastic about them. They're in the Horde partly because they have more active conflicts with the Alliance—they regard their current lands as theirs, while the Alliance tend to feel that dead things should lie down and get out of the way—and partly because this way Thrall and Cairne can keep a closer eye on them.

And, of course, the Royal Apothecary Society actually is working on an improved plague intended to do what the plague that made the Scourge in the first place did, but better. Consider this bit of quest-giving text from Apothecary Lydon (who, yes, does have a rotten mood and vicious temper):

Ah, another wretched day in Tarren Mill. All of this clean air puts me in such a foul mood, <name>.

The sooner we can plague the humans here, the better. I've been conducting intense studies on possible killing agents to use in my concoctions but I haven't the time to collect them all.

In the Eastern Kingdoms, most of the centers of Undead...well, "residence" if not exactly "life"...are semi-ruined towns and villages, damaged by years of fighting and not particularly thoroughly repaired. The Undercity, their capital beneath the even more thoroughly ruined city of Lordaeron, is more exotic, with its Tim Burton-esque aesthetic glorifying and amplifying images of death. I read in promotional blurbs that in Lich King we'd see the Forsaken up to more innovative society-building, and seeing it was high on my list of priorities.

In the Fjord interior, Tivara and I found an Apothecary Camp settlement. Sure enough, they're not resting on old gories, er, glories:

Approaching Apothecary Camp

Combat-Ready Poison Sprayer

Research Facility

Further east, on the Fjord's far coast, there's the major Forsaken settlement at Vengeance Landing. Look at the freshness and...okay, what's a good undead equivalent to "vitality?"...of the area around the zeppelin dock, when compared to the tower at the far end of this ride in the Eastern Kingdoms:

Zeppelin Tower in Vengeance Landing

Zeppelin Tower in Tirisfal Glade

This is inside the Vengeance Landing building with the Jacob's ladders, to the right of the zeppelin tower in the picture above. Tivara is taking note of the pot of boiling blood, on the left:

Apothecaries at Work

It's going to be interesting times around the Forsaken, I'm thinking.

And now to round things off, a few shots taken while flying around hither and yon, once Tivara had picked up useful flight paths.

Vrykul longhouses near Utgarde Keep, with the major Alliance settlement in the Fjord visible down in the lower right:

Vrykul Longhouses

The Alliance harbor in Borean Tundra, whose name Tivara didn't get because they weren't shouting very politely:

Alliance Harbor in Borean Tundra

Wrecked ships on the Dragonblight coast, between the Borean Tundra and Howling Fjord:

Wrecked Ships in the Dragonblight

One of the Scourge's plague spreaders up to no good, also in the Dragonblight:

Scourge Plague Spreader

And that's it for first impression! Still in the queue, pictures of Utgarde Keep on the inside, and also what'll likely be a two-part post on the death knights, who proved surprisingly captivating to me personally for reasons that may make interesting reading.