Continuing a trend started with Mists of Pandaria, Blizzard has released
Timeless Jungle Tanaan Isle Gul'dan's Welfare Loot Headquarters Tanaan
Jungle as the final patch's "catch up and stuff to do" zone to
(supposedly) finish off Warlords of Draenor. In continuation of the "zone
to do shit in every patch" trend started with Pandaria's 5.2 "The
Thunder King", the zone was designed to give players plenty of solo
content to chew on, and engineered to draw the content out for as long as
attention spans will hold. There's certainly a lot to do, and a lot of RNG
involved, but the RNG is not the worst I've encountered and the zone reflects
several iterations on the concept. In short, Tanaan is as close to perfect as
Blizzard has yet come, and I "like" it, but I can't seem to love it.
Timeless Isle was a good idea on paper but was severely flawed in practice; Taanan's success can be attributed to it NOT making those mistakes. Most importantly, they've eliminated the "pure grind" reputation. Of the three Tanaan factions only one of them, the Saberstalkers, can be ground out, and there are several other ways to earn reputation. A pure, uncompromising grind is something we should have let die two expansions ago, and I am glad Blizzard figured that out.* Blizzard did a fantastic job of striking a balance by allowing people to quickly grind it out, and (but also) giving them the alternative of using other means to slowly but noticeably, raise reputation without grinding. Let us hope Blizzard sticks to this strategy so that we never have another Emperor Shaohao inflicted upon us again.
Ironically, Saberstalkers had all the ingredients to be another Shaohao disaster; the mobs are found in only one area, they're mostly elite mobs, and it requires a lot of kills to progress. However, each individual mob is worth more reputation-per-time-invested, they're easier on average, and they seem to spawn fairly quickly when farmed. Plus, with the addition of the Warlords group finder, even the most socially awkward, shy, and introverted players (aka me) can easily find reputation grinding groups to ease the process along.
They also realized that sticking specific pets/mounts on rares could cause problems (like hours and hours of unpleasant camping) so now the eligible rares/pet-battles only drop boxes that have a chance to contain the various new mounts/pets. No more farming some random boss in hopes of getting their specific mount/pet; though toys ARE rare specific so some of that has remained, and I'm actually fine with toys being handled this way because they are more transient in nature. Plus, they all seem to have a guaranteed drop chance, so you only need to kill said rare once.
|Terrorfist, a Hellbane rare that can drop a random mount box and/or reputation boost|
A common complaint about the Apexis crystal dailies was how disparate they were in completion times. Some of them could be done in 15-20 minutes, while others could take an hour or so. Blizzard clearly heard this, because the bonus areas in Tanaan are much better tuned. A few of them might need a tweak or two (Fel Forge, I'm looking at you), but for the most part it's a marked improvement and most bonus areas can be reliably completed in under 10 minutes.
|All those highlighted object can be clicked for more bonus area progress; |
supplementing your orc genocide
The jungle is not without its flaws. For one, the place is actually fairly small, much like its Timeless Isle predecessor, and it masks this size through clever use of space. You don't really realize how small the zone is until you stop to think about it, or use Aviana's Feather (which is one of the handiest ways to get around). The true irony is that there is plenty of seemingly unused space in Tanaan; the swamp to the southwest of the hubs, or the entire dark portal area. Sure there are a few rares in those areas, but otherwise there's little reason to go.
Tanaan also has fewer pets and mounts to acquire than its predecessor, which means players will likely acquire all of them and lose interest in the area faster. That part I do miss; that feeling that every single rare could have something cool, and the fact that there were so many nooks and crannies that it felt like treasure was around every turn. Plus, the treasure is somewhat boring: some garrison resources, apexis crystals, and/or the quest crystals (if you have it) at best. But that's better than
|That's the entirety of a bonus area; four small sections|
All that said, Tanaan is actually a very well put-together zone reflecting careful consideration of their previous attempts, and yet it fails to really grab me by the collar and demand I play. That is, perhaps, because it is me that is changing, and my interests are moving away from WoW. Yet at the same time, it is so artificial, unchanging, and "perfect" that it somewhat lacks a soul.
*And if I hear "You don't HAVE to do it..." one more time. Of course I don't, the ENTIRE GAME is optional. That doesn't give it an excuse to be bland and boring.