Today we'll examine the first five, with more to follow next week. In a nutshell, I think these are the achievements that every WoW players should do, if only because they showcase some of Blizzard's best, most engaging or funniest work.
It's not like I really need to tell people this, but the Grizzly Hills -- Zul'drak story line, Guru of Drakuru, concerning the decline and fall of the Drakkari empire is the stuff of greatness. I'll be returning to the Zul'drak leg of this in a future column, but the Grizzly Hills portion affords you a glimpse into the mind of a troll named Drakuru who ... well, I'm not sure it's a good idea to spoil the quest line for any of the newer players out there still leveling. Suffice it to say that Drakuru offers you some insight into the Drakkari empire's many troubles, and that's not the only thing he knows that you don't. It's among the best-executed story lines in Wrath where you belatedly realize that that nice NPC with whom you've been chatting has been several steps ahead of you the entire time and that your good intentions helped pave a fine road to hell.
The Wowhead commenter Oroleen nailed it, I think:
This quest line ... is some of the finest storytelling (Blizzard) has ever done, right up there with Bridenbrad. Drakuru remains my favorite WoW villain -- yes, above Arthas -- simply because I utterly loathed him AND pitied him AND felt guilty for his fate -- at the same time.
The only problem with this particular achievement is that many players go from their initial quests in Howling Fjord/Borean Tundra to Dragonblight, and then to Zul'drak via the small Argent Crusade camp in northeastern Dragonblight without having done the Grizzly Hills leg first. Consequently, it's not unusual for people to wind up doing the Drakuru story line out of order, which I think is a shame.
24. Critter Gitter
I had to agree with the commenters who pointed this one out; Critter Gitter is among the funniest and most screenshot-worthy achievements in the game. While it's a nuisance in the sense that you have to have leveled cooking to 400, shelled out three Dalaran Cooking Awards to a vendor for the Critter Bites recipe, and then farmed up a bunch of Chilled Meat and spices in order to pull it off, there is no part of this achievement that isn't a complete blast once you start accumulating a huge pack of friendly little animals around you.
An especially nice touch is that the recipe's effect isn't limited to Northrend critters; any critter in the game can be a temporary pet as long as you've got one of the little snacks on you. Feel like being accompanied by your own personal herd of cows in Elwynn? A flock of penguins to keep you safe while you do Argent Tournament dailies? You do that! And if you don't bother screenshotting your character once you've rounded up your little critter posse, well, I pity you for the soulless automaton you probably are.
23. On Wings of Nether
The grind to exalted with the Netherwing to achieve On Wings of Nether is made considerably easier by the lovely lore moments you'll get along the way. You start off at Hated with the faction -- the dwindling number of free Netherwing who have no real reason to trust anyone anymore -- and work yourself to Neutral with a short initial quest line that sees you battling against the evil Dragonmaw enslaving them. Once you free Karynaku, the materfamilias of the Netherwing clan, they decide that you might be the last chance for their race to decide its own destiny.
With the blessing and help of the Scryers or the Aldor in Shadowmoon Valley, you're packed off to Netherwing Ledge in the hope that you can work your way up the Dragonmaw ranks and bring the entire clan crashing down from within. The subsequent quests:
- require you to be disguised as a Dragonmaw orc, which is great fun for all those of us who don't have a male orc as a main;
- temporarily transform whatever mount you're on into a netherdrake;
- send you all over Netherwing Ledge and Outland;
- expose you to a plot containing the seeds of the Twilight dragons you'll see in Wrath;
- contain the single greatest daily this game has ever seen (The Booterang: A Cure For the Common Worthless Peon);
- and end with a set of dangerous air races and your sudden, terrifying exposure as a spy by Illidan himself.
If you're at all interested in the lore behind the Netherwing (and frankly, there's a great story behind them), I would highly recommend reading Anne Stickney's recent and excellent article Know Your Lore: The Netherwing. If you're a newer player who hasn't gotten involved with the Netherwing and wants a glimpse of the in-game quest line, I would recommend watching Netherwing: The Movie, which we featured on Moviewatch almost three years ago.
22. Shave and a Haircut
From OverAchiever: Pure Win:
Admit it: You've spent a ridiculous amount of money at the barber shop. The urge to get our characters looking as cool as possible has resulted in people returning to the shop over and over again to get the color, hair and feature combination most suited to their present gear ... Not that it lasts. I'll be back next week.
21. The Keymaster
Some of the keys The Keymaster, I concede, are not terribly fun for a new character to have to get, although the grind to Honored with the Burning Crusade factions for heroic keys is the hell of a lot easier than the Revered grind that was once necessary for them.
Barring that, there's a real sense of accomplishment in getting all of them, particularly because the keying process for Blackrock Depths, Scholomance and Dire Maul is a set of rather engaging little stories with some interesting lore. BRD's is especially notable in that the quest line is started by an NPC you have to be dead even to see -- and frankly, he's less interested in helping you than getting revenge on Fineous Darkvire. It's also considered a rite of passage for players to complete the Scarlet Monastery library and pick up the Scarlet Key from the chest behind Arcanist Doan.
Blizzard's increasingly moved away from keys being required to access dungeons and raids. As someone who experienced her share of frustration in a BC-era raiding guild tasked with "keying" people for Mount Hyjal and Black Temple, I definitely agree it's better for the game as a whole not to slap artificial (and annoying) requirements on players just to see content. However, I do kind of miss the little stories accompanying each -- whether it was jury-rigging the key to a school of dark magic on a haunted island, chasing a demon through Dire Maul, or having to hunt down Magistrate Barthilas so you could sneak into his doomed city through the back door.
If you're not yet keyed for all of these dungeons, OverAchiever ran a guide on The Keymaster last year that should still be accurate today.