Each of us playing in the expansion has a difficult choice to make right out of the gate - to which of the starter zones in WOTLK will we go? For those, like me, with a severe case of altism, it's easy to take characters to both places and compare and contrast.
Wednesday, November 19, 2008
Borean Tundra has a strong draw for Alliance players since the boat from Stormwind goes there. Howling Fjord is reachable from Menethil Harbor, just a short flight from Ironforge. But, with most of us hearthed in Shattrath and wanting to be there yesterday, Borean's closer proximity to a major city might make it more favorable to Alliance. Not playing Horde, I'm not certain, but believe that both starter zones are accessible from the vicinity of Orgrimmar.
Borean Tundra has the first introduction to D.E.H.T.A. (Druids for the Ethical and Humane Treatment of Animals). If you're going anywhere near these guys make sure you're not covered in blood from killing wildlife. They have a few group quests (which are for the most part able to be soloed) and give Cenarion Expedition reputation if you're not maxed out.
Borean also has quests that advance the storyline for eventually fighting the Blue Dragon Aspect, Malygos. This zone is also home to your first expansion "poop quest." It's fairly far down a quest chain with the gnomes at Fizzcrank Airstrip.
Howling Fjord introduces you fairly early on to the Vyrkul, a race of giant-viking types indigenous to Northrend. It also feels like this area is an introduction to the Earthern-Origin of the Dwarves storyline promised by Blizzard.
Both zones house roughly the same number of quests judging by the achievements. Both areas require you to complete 130 quests to earn either "I've Toured the Fjord" or "Nothing Boring about Borean."
The only downside to Howling Fjord that I've found is that it's very vertical. Like a fjord should be there are sheer walls all over the place and if you're not careful you're in for a lot of falling damage. This is true for Borean as well, but to a lesser extent (in my opinion).
Howling Fjord does have the WOTLK answer to the Fel Reaver though. Storm Giants stomp around parts of the Fjord and will squish you if you draw their ire.
As for instances, they each have a "starter dungeon." Each of these can be done in less than an hour if you're careful. I found four quests for The Nexus (in Borean Tundra) but only two for Utgarde Keep (in Howling Fjord). The gear drops are okay, but if you've done anything even remotely end-game in Burning Crusade, you'll probably be passing them to your disenchanter who will hungrily take the mats to level their trade.
All in all, the zones are pretty similar in size and complexity. They should both get you one and a half or two levels if you do the majority of the quests. I think I like the Fjord a little better so far, but I've not finished it on any character. The Tundra is essentially completed.
And there's nothing wrong with doing both zones in their entirety and saving the higher level zones as cash cows once you've maxed out your level. That's what I'm doing on at least one of my characters.