Just like Officers' Quarters, another WoW staple has recently celebrated its fifth anniversary. Daily quests were added to the game a little over five years ago, on May 22, 2007, in patch 2.1.
One of Blizzard's big selling points for Mists seems to be its huge amount of daily quest content. Dailies are undoubtedly going to be a big deal at level 90. Blizzard has even lifted the daily quest cap that has stood at 25 for several years, so players will be free to do whatever dailies they like across the entire history of the game.
Dailies seem like such an obvious and critical element of WoW, but they weren't part of the vanilla game. In this week's Archivist, we'll explore how daily quests began, how they have changed over the years, and how Blizzard is trying to recreate the glory days of daily quests in Mists.
WTH is this blue exclamation point?
Has a single piece of designed punctuation ever been as famous as WoW's chubby yellow exclamation point? It even has its own merchandise.
Believe it or not, the exclamation point was one of Blizzard's biggest innovations when they created the game. No longer did you have to chat with every single NPC in town to figure out which one of them needed a favor -- a staple of RPG games for decades. Now you could tell at a glance which NPCs were willing to pay for a bit of random mercenary work.
I remember how odd that first blue exclamation point looked. They had been yellow, after all, for two and a half years. Changing its color seemed like sacrilege. After accepting the quest, it had the word "(Daily)" next to it in my log -- it felt like both a promise and a warning. Daily quests were an exciting new element, but they were not without their critics.
They seem like a natural part of the game today, but dailies were actually rather controversial when they were first revealed. Players balked at the idea that Blizzard would artificially limit the amount of rep grinding they could accomplish in a 24-hour period. In the old days, if you wanted to be exalted with the Timbermaw, by golly, you simply mass-murdered their furbolg enemies for as long as you could stand it. Nothing limited your ability to grind out reputation besides the value you placed on your sanity.
Not only did the quests limit the amount of reputation you could earn in a day, they also had their own limit. The original daily quest cap was not 25, but 10. You couldn't do all the available dailies, even in the very beginning. You had to choose.
These days, the community has accepted dailies as part of the game, even if the quests do sometimes feel like a job. Indeed, dailies have now pervaded nearly every aspect of WoW.
The first dailies
The first dailies were added in May 2007 in the first major content patch of The Burning Crusade. By completing them, players could earn reputation with three new factions: Ogri'la, the Sha'tari Skyguard, and the Netherwing. The latter was perhaps the most exciting, as they offered players the ability to earn a Netherdrake mount by completing a series of races (and a lot of dailies). The Skyguard offered Nether Ray mounts and a pet in addition to gear. You just had to put up with giant, ravenous owls constantly trying to dismount you to your doom. Ogri'la was somewhat less enticing, at least reputation-wise, providing only gear, consumables, and a tabard for your trouble.
Later patches brought profession dailies for cooking and fishing in Shattrath. Players could complete quests for The Rokk and Old Man Barlo to earn recipes, crafting materials, disgustingly adorable crocolisk pets, fishing gear, and The 2 Ring.
Many players were lukewarm over these dailies, but what ultimately sold the playerbase on the concept was without a doubt the Shattered Sun Offensive from patch 2.4. Similar to the Gates of Ahn-Qiraj event, the SSO quest hub was a realm-wide effort to unlock vendors, rewards, a portal, a title, and of course additional quests. The isle itself changed as your server completed each phase -- it was the first evolving quest hub. The story of the event featured Shattrath's rival factions, the Aldors and Scryers, uniting to prevent Kael'thas from using the reactivated Sunwell to summon Kil'jaeden.
During The Burning Crusade, Blizzard expanded on the daily idea by offering quests for dungeons, Battlegrounds, and even world PvP.
Twice now, Blizzard has tried to replicate the success of the Shattered Sun Offensive. The Argent Tournament from the Wrath expansion and Cataclysm's Molten Front were clearly modeled after the SSO. Neither truly captured the spirit of the original. Terrible jousting mechanics aside, however, both were welcome additions in their own way, featuring some great rewards.
In Wrath, Blizzard used its new phasing tech to repurpose some of the expansion's questing areas for dailies. Many of the expansion's factions, including the Sons of Hodir and the Knights of the Ebon Blade, also used phasing to evolve quest hubs for your character as you completed parts of the story. The Molten Front carried on this tradition by showing you exactly how your efforts were allowing the Avengers of Hyjal to invade and transform the Firelands.
Wrath also expanded dailies to primary professions. Jewelcrafters had to complete dailies to purchase different gem designs. Cataclysm made profession dailies more accessible to levelers by adding cooking and fishing dailies that are available at level 10.
Daily quests have also given rise to weekly quests à la Wintergrasp and monthly quests such as those offered by the Darkmoon Faire.
Eventually, Blizzard added daily quests to many seasonal holidays, too.
Mists is bringing a new element to daily questing. We haven't seen this in action yet, but questing for a faction called the Tillers will allow you to build and improve your own farm.
In Mists, yet again Blizzard seems to be trying to recreate the much-beloved Shattered Sun Offensive experience. This time, however, the company might just succeed. For example, by cashing in SSO quests, you had a chance to earn Badges of Justice, the equivalent of valor points. Lo and behold, Mists dailies will offer small amounts of valor points as a reward.
The Isle of Quel'danas was a world PvP hotbed during the months that the quest hub was relevant, greatly adding to its popularity on PvP servers. Blizzard now says that they're skipping a Wintergrasp-style world PvP zone, hoping instead that daily quest hubs will lead to more open-world conflicts.
Finally, just like the SSO, some Mists dailies will offer an ongoing story. It all seems to be pointing toward the SSO as a model, doesn't it? I for one am very happy about that, and I hope they can pull it off.
Dailies are certainly not going away. If anything, Mists seems to offer the most robust and diverse set of daily quests we've ever seen. Will we look back on this expansion as the new golden age of dailies, or will we wish we were jousting a giant orange owl instead? We are all very close to finding out.
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