Sunday, November 23, 2008

Howling Fjord

I finished off Howling Fjord a couple days ago, hitting 74 in the process. Thus far I'm pacing about 2 levels a zone, which is a pretty good rate.

Howling Fjord is a really good zone. Borean Tundra was a good zone too, but in a lot of ways Borean Tundra represents "pop culture" WoW. There were a lot of fun quests, and in-jokes with D.E.H.T.A. and the gnomes. Heck, there was a quest to make wolves poop. The magic quests are closer to the "technological" feel of Warcraft magic, rather than the mythic feel (very shields and sensors sort of imagery). Even the regular quests were very much in line with WoW 1.0, but superbly polished. There's nothing wrong with Borean Tundra, but it's very much the WoW we know.

Howling Fjord, on the other hand, "echoes" a bit more. The Vrykul storyline touches a lot of real world mythologies, from the obvious Norse flavour to King Arthur (the sleeping king) to the Nephilim of the Judeo-Christian tradition. In particular, the quests to go into the spirit world and see history are superb, especially the way the Lich King is integrated into the first one.

The story is more martial, and there are fewer pop culture jokes. There is a greater sense of wilderness, especially with the homesteaders in Fort Wildervar. As well, Howling Fjord throws you into the fight as soon as you arrive, and that makes everything seem more immediate. The music is awesome, and perfect for the zone.

Plus, there were pirates. And Tuskarr. I love the Tuskarr, their voices are just perfect. The quest to get the reef cows to mate (after you kill Big Roy) is hilarious. The pirate quests were very funny, especially the elf-loving pirate and his girlfriend. But even the pirate and Tuskarr quests had that strand of death and loss running through their quests.

Blizzard did a superb job with Howling Fjord.

As an aside, you ever notice that dwarf quest-givers are crazy? It's sort of unexpected, because you expect them to be level-headed and down to earth. You see a gnome with a quest, you know it's going to get really weird. Humans will give you solid, traditional quests, and Night Elves will give you hippie save-the-whales or deeply tragic quests.

But dwarves give you quests that start out normal and sensible, and yet somehow you end up like this:

Dwarf Lieutenant (after several perfectly reasonable Vrykul quests): Navigating the steep bluffs of Howling Fjord can be nerve-racking! I've come up with a solution to ease that burden by utilizing vrykul technology and dwarven ingenuity.

Me: Umm.

Guard Captain Zorek: You are insane, Coriel! What kind of degenerate would actually launch themselves from a harpoon gun as a method of travel?

Me: I blame the dwarf.


  1. I started at Howling Fjord (horde side) and I really, really enjoyed it. Pretty much exactly what I got WotLK for.

    I then tried to go to Borean Tundra and I absolutely hated the whole area. It feels very cluttered and generally uninteresting. Plus whoever it was that decided that the main horde town should be an absolute pain in the ass to get in and out of must be a sadist. Also didn't help that there's no way to punch Hellscream in the face a few times.

    Despite knowing I probably shouldn't, I ended up giving up on the Tundra about 40-50 quests in and moving on to Dragonblight, which doesn't feel quite as good as Howling Fjord but at least seems more cohesive as a setting.

    Maybe Borean Tundra's a better area if you're Alliance?

  2. Yeah, this is entirely from the Alliance perspective.

    I'm kind of glad I did Borean Tundra first. I think going the other way would have been more disappointing.

  3. Heh, I've done Borean Tundra and Howling Fjord twice (Beta and live), and I prefer Borean Tundra a bit more to Howling Fjord. My main reason is convenience - I can run directly from quest subzone A to quest subzone B instead of being shot from a harpoon, have to take a one-way flight, or run around the millions of cliffs.

    I do agree that Howling Fjord has the better questlines from a lore perspective - they do a lot more to tie into previous Warcraft lore, while Borean Tundra starts you down the path of new information and storylines.

  4. RE: Crazy Dwarven quest-givers

    This is what happens when you give a Dwarf a gun and a mug of ale. Ever read the original Flintlocke strip? Blow it up, shoot it, or club it o'er the head, then go get a pint. Those are the Dwarven ways.

  5. That may be one of the best screenshots ever.

  6. I'm a big fan of the Fjord. Much more scenic with the great background music. I've only done a few quests in the Tundra (with friends that started there) and don't like it as much myself. My paladin is continuing on to Grizzly Hills. When I pick my hunter back up she'll start out in the Tundra.

  7. Riding the harpoon reminded me of how Fafhrd first left his home town and began his life as an adventurer!

  8. NegativeZero,

    Same as you, I started in Howling Fjord and loved it for all the reasons stated in Rohan's post. Now, I'm in Borean (Boring-an) Tundra which feels bland by comparison. And I'm Alliance, so it's no better for us.

    I decided today to leave Borean Tundra after doing only 50-ish quests and head to Dragonblight. The zone I'm really looking forward to is Grizzly Hills. It feels more like Howling Fjord and the music there is fantastic.

  9. I totally didn't do enough quests leveling up. I've done done around 30 in borean tundra nad 60 or 70 in Howling Fjord but am 79. I only finished Zul'Drak and the Sholazar basin

  10. I remember as a Hordie I'd watch all the Alliance messing around with the harpoon guns at one of the vrykul outposts. Now I guess I know what they were doing... :O

  11. They need willing test subjects for their weirdness.
    We have been hoodwinked!

  12. Personally, I think the Howling Fjord is the best designed zone I've seen in the whole game. The Borean Tundra feels like it was cobbled together out of a bunch of disparate ideas for zones and plot lines. I do appreciate the humor in many of the quests though, it's very reminiscent of Terry Pratchett's novels. :)