Editor's Note: This post contains spoilers for the upcoming Cataclysm expansion. Read at your own risk!
Anybody seen my Stonewrought Dam? It was just here a minute ago.
Oddly enough, most citizens of the zone of Loch Modan seem unaffected by much of the mighty dam going away and taking most of the lake with it. But there are still things to do, such as uncover one of the weirdest conspiracies ever and mend the relationship between a father and son.
North Gate Outpost
Your first stop in the Loch Modan zone actually takes you back inside Dun Morogh to deal with pilot-killing bear Mangeclaw, who, despite making a fine entrance, still languishes in the shadow of the legend that is Hogger. Through the crumbling tunnels you proceed to the ...
Valley of Kings
Normally upon entering Loch Modan, you'd proceed straight to Thelsamar, but that's actually not the path of progression here. Instead, you go straight into a heavily truncated version of the "In Defense of the King's Lands" quest line, wherein you just kill whatever troggs are handy and stop worrying about tabulating them by occupation. Grawmug is still the big bad to be killed here, but he's laid off his lieutenants and moved into a much more conveniently located cave. Before you know it, you're done with the Stonesplinters and can move on to ...
The main city of this zone is little changed from years gone by, and even most of the quests are of a familiar sort. One notable exception is a quest to take out a Dark Iron spy on the hill south of town, who drops a handy guide that takes the form of an entertaining scavenger hunt for stolen Explorer's League documents, which will last you throughout much of the zone.
While you're helping out in Thelsamar, you can trek on up to Algaz Station, where the order of the day is, as ever, killing kobolds. In an strange bit of sequencing, you start out by killing their "commander," then move on to the Silver Stream Mine to see what's going on there. It turns out the kobolds have enslaved troggs to dig in the mine, and running the whole operation is ... a gnoll! Confused yet? Well, it gets even better, as when you head back to Thelsamar to puzzle this out, you learn that murlocs have followed the gnolls up from the Wetlands and are somehow in on the whole plot, whatever it is.
While we're not sure exactly what's going on, a dwarf named Cannary Caskshot has a solution: Obtain a bunch of murloc pheremone glands, douse the gnoll conspirator with them, and let nature take its course. The vile conspiracy is foiled! Whatever it was about. Also, a killer Firefly reference is apparently made.
The old breadcrumb quest chain that leads you to the east side of the zone still exists in beta but is partly broken as of this writing. So let's skip past that and on to the excavation site itself. As with many other locations we've seen already, the questing here is shorter and sweeter, with the highlight being the inspection of some familiar-looking artifacts scattered around the grounds. Then it's off to ...
The "forgotten" region of Loch Modan is forgotten no more, as it is not only a full quest hub but has a flight point to boot. I don't see anyone named Nesingwary around, but this is definitely his kind of place: perfect for taking in the many new forms of wildlife in the region and slaughtering them. Most of the characters here have little connection to the main storyline but rather provide a break for some rest, relaxation and learning to hate bobcats with a burning passion.
The one exception is Bingles Blastenheimer, who you'll recall as a luckless pilot from vanilla. After sending you to retrieve some doohickey from his lab in Ironwing Cavern (which is now a place right out of a gnome's nightmares), Bingles reveals that he has given up on flying himself, but he does have hopes for his son, Ando ... if anything can break Ando out of the funk he's in, that is.
What's eating Ando, you ask? Well, when you come across him moping next to the wreckage of his dad's gyrocopter (shouldn't someone have cleaned that up by now?), you'll find it's just the little matter of how the Twilight's Hammer have been running roughshod all over the zone, blowing up the dam, draining the lake, that kind of stuff. Taking a hint, you run off to one of the former islands in the middle of the lake and destroy a Twilight Landshaper that is apparently wreaking some sort of havoc. Blowing it up doesn't seem to make an obvious difference, but it manages to cheer Ando up, and he directs you to continue taking the fight to the Twilight's Hammer, over at ...
Ashlan Stonesmirk has good news and bad news. The good news is that the Mo'grosh ogres haven't gone back to being the elites they were once upon a time. The bad news is, the Twilight's Hammer has been teaching the ogres some new tricks. Fortunately, the solution is straightfoward: kill them and their new leader, Gor'Kresh.
Once you get back from that, you have a message waiting for you from young Ando. He's reconnected with his father and has something to show you: a flying mechanostrider! (Engineers all over WoW: "Want!") Bingles' dream is realized at last, and Ando wants to give you the honor of being his first passenger on a tour over the wreckage of Stonewrought Dam.
Depending on your point of view, it might either be the scariest or most thrilling thing ride you've ever taken -- but all too soon, you're dropped off back at Algaz Station and on to your next mission: finding out what kind of damage all that water from the Loch did down in the Wetlands.
The shrinking lake
For some reason, I expected losing most of a lake would hit the local residents a bit harder than it apparently did. Whether that was a result of the dwarves being too tough to give in to despair or too drunk to care, I'll let you decide. There are a couple of very good storylines here with the uprising of the "lesser" races and the trials of the Blastenheimer family. Westfall may be grabbing the headlines at the "it" zone for teen-level questing, but don't overlook what Loch Modan has to offer.
World of Warcraft: Cataclysm will destroy Azeroth as we know it; nothing will be the same! In WoW Insider's Guide to Cataclysm, you can find out everything you need to know about WoW's third expansion (available Dec. 7, 2010), from brand new races to revamped quests and zones. Visit our Cataclysm news category for the most recent posts having to do with the Cataclysm expansion.