As part of an ongoing series, Staff Writer Paul "LockeColeMA" Cleveland is going zone by zone in World of Warcraft, discussing the changes since Cataclysm, quest rewards, locations of interest and more.
With a name like “Desolace,” I wouldn't expect much from a zone. It basically conjures up the image of a dead area with nothing much of note. And before Cataclysm, that described the zone to a T. A barren wasteland thanks to the Burning Legion's invasion, Desolace had only a few points of interest and a color palette that ranged from “gray” to “more gray.” The quests were spread-out, but I always hit it on my way up because, with a few good circuits, the zone offered fast leveling without the ganking that Strangelthorn Vale involved. The Cataclysm has changed the zone much for the better, offering a central quest hub and a wonderful infusion of the color green.
Zone review: Before the Cataclysm revamped the zone, there were several locations of interest. First was the oft-overlooked Ethel Rethor/Thunder Axe Fortress areas. Ethel Rethor used to house the Argent Dawn Archmage, Azore Aldamort, who offered quests into the Fortress for the Scepter of Light (a quest chain left annoyingly unmentioned in Cataclysm). Outside of the western coast, various goblins offered quests through the zone, mostly to pick up reagents, hunt kodos or to escort caravans. These quests remain mostly intact. Next, the centaur tribes offering storylines and competing factions: players could ally with either the Gelkis or the Magram centaur tribes and perform a number of quests in and out of Desolace... although there was no reason to do so, as there was no way to get their reputation past honored and no reason to do so. And finally, separate quest-hubs for the Horde and Alliance took place out of Shadowprey Village and Nigel's Peak, respectively.
What Cataclysm has done is update the zone and provide a centralized questing location. The biggest change is the addition of the Cenarian Wildlands and Karnum's Glade, where the Cenarian Circle has set up a camp and revitalized the entire center of the zone. Many of the old quests, such as the goblin escorts, kodo roundup or collecting various enemy parts remain untouched or minimally altered. However, the centaur story has been updated and the factions removed (by the end the player works together with both tribes); Ethel Rethor now has a Cenarian Circle quest giver and directly involved the naga; and the Burning Legion has an increased presence. The instance of Maraudon remains, but at a lower level range than before.
Overall the zone looks better. The swath of green in the center of the zone is a fantastic change, and even the spreading corruption of the Burning Legion adds some purple and red to the south and eastern parts of the zone. The music has also been updated; while the barren parts of the zone have what I consider the “Tanaris music,” that tune used to encompass the entire zone. Now it is only found in parts, and I quite enjoyed the songs in the Cenarian Wildlands and the fight themes when at the end of the centaur quest chain.
Quests to see: As with most Cataclysm zones, the quests in Desolace led me naturally from each quest hub to the next. As a Horde player I discovered the Blood Elf Furien soon after entering the zone, and his quest sent me to a new quest hub, Furien's Post. The quests from there led into a new line in Thunder Axe Fortress as well as to the new NPC at Ethel Rethor, Cenarian Researcher Korrah. Korrah's quests led to infiltrating (and exterminating) the Naga off the coast, eventually allying with a water elemental to destroy their leader, and rewarding me with my first of many blues in the zone. Heading back to Furien's Post, I was sent over to the Northeastern part of the zone and the satyr areas, where, using their magic and materials, I had the chance to become a human, er, Tauren flaming whirlwind and wreaking havoc on Nigel's Peak, tossing soldiers and merchants like dust in the wind. Returning to Furien's Post, I received my second blue item of the zone and headed off to the Cenarian Wildlands.
At Karnum's Glade, the centaur storyline continues. In vanilla there were four warring centaur tribes in Desolace, and they all reappear in Cataclysm. The Kolkar leader, Khan Leh'Prah (ha-ha, funny names are funny) sends players to free his people from the Magram, which leads to a fight with them, which leads to allying, which leads to a fight with the Gelkis, which leads to allying, which leads to a fight with the Burning Legion.
Ok, time out here. The centaurs are dumb: this is an acknowledged fact. But how dumb are they, naming conventions aside? We get them to ally with us through slaughter. I killed Kolkar in the Barrens and Mulgore, now I'm working with them. I slaughtered Maghram because the Kolkar told me to, but I brought them a few slabs of basilisk meat, so it's all cool, right? (Incidentally, no. I don't know if it was a phasing error, but after getting the quest to bring the basilisk meat to the Maghram Kham, all the Maghram were still aggressive to me. The Kolkar and Gelkis were neutral during their quests). I assassinate all three sons of the Gelkis leader, but I freed his daughter so we're pals now? Gosh, centaurs are idiotic. I have a sneaky suspicion that the only reason Khan Leh'Prah is allowed in Karnum's Glade is because he thinks his ancestors slaughtering Zaetar centuries ago in Maraudon made them Honored with the Cenarian Circle. I'm honestly shocked they didn't all ally with the Burning Legion – after all, the Legion slaughtered a whole bunch of them. In centaur language that practically makes you BFFs.
What has been seen above can never be unseen.
So while centaurs are dumber than rocks, they did at least have a nifty quest chain that leads to uniting three of the tribes (sorry Maraudine, we ran out of other tribes to slaughter so you didn't become our friends) and taking out the leader of the Burning Legion in Desolace while also bestowing a couple more rares on my character in the process. It was nice to see Shadowbreak Ravine receive some love in this expansion — previously I believe only warlocks would have a reason to set foot in this area. A few more quests come from Ghost Walker Post that mostly worked in tandem with the centaur quests mentioned above, but even before I had made it halfway through the chain I had received the Desolace quest achievement. This leads me to think the developers underestimated how many quests would be done in this zone; even though the centaur chain ended with a quest to visit Feralas, I still had a breadcrumb quest to head to Shadowprey Village on the western coast... which led nowhere. Shadowprey honestly felt like an afterthought, and it received no love with the expansion. I am happy to confirm the Big Iron Fishing Pole still drops from the traps around the village, though!
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