Every so often I get tired of the self-seriousness that infests some of (OK, most of) the other work I do here and get the urge to write something purely for fun. After our series on evil achievements and the relentless misery of School of Hard Knocks, I'd like to spend some time on achievements that are nothing but an absolute joy from beginning to end.
This week we continue our series on World of Warcraft's most entertaining achievements. Again, this isn't really a list of WoW's "best" achievements -- I think the term's too vague to be of any real use -- but I wanted to spotlight some of Blizzard's funniest, most compelling and most thought-provoking work. This is what we've done so far:
I wasn't sure whether it was right to include these, but finally decided I had to because they're just so much fun. Class-specific quests and achievements aren't very common; Blizzard isn't enthusiastic about pouring developmental time into something that a limited number of players will see. But if you play characters fortunate enough to have big, class-specific moments, they're always a hoot. Not only do they get you involved in the lore behind your class' inclusion in the game, but they also get you invested in the result. It's not for nothing that many paladin, druid and warlock players continue to use their special mounts even as they amass dozens of additional options. OK, I'll admit that Swift Flight Form will always be convenient as an instant cast, but it's not my fault that druids are better than everyone else.
The Charger and Dreadsteed quest lines were huge and expensive undertakings during classic WoW, and even today a player attempting to do them at 60 (20 levels past the point you can train them now, sadly) will have to enlist help. Buying your way into the Swift Flight Form quest line (yes, it's also trainable these days) is even more expensive, but as any player who's done it could tell you, completely worth it. 19.Into the Wild Blue Yonder
Just the thought of being able to leap into those beautiful Outland vistas as a stormcrow was enough to keep me leveling at a manic rate. This culminated in the only all-nighter I've ever pulled in game, until I finally hit 68 and, in a blissful haze, trained Flight Form, hearthed to Outland and took off. I spent the next two hours doing absolutely nothing but exploring the world from above.
Getting your character airborne is a seminal moment, and not least because of the two levels you'll still spend trudging around Hellfire Peninsula contrasting the beauty of the sky with the godforsaken wasteland beneath it.
There's no individual achievement for the separate quest lines in Icecrown, so I'm just going to go with the all-inclusive zone version. There are tons of great quests in Wrath of the Lich King -- you'll see this as a persistent theme in this series -- but Icecrown is an absolute triumph of lore moments, revelations and unsettling glimpses into the expansion's multiple storylines:
Icecrown contains just about everything Blizzard's learned and improved about questing since the beginning of the game. I turned 80 while questing in Zul'drak, worked my way through Sholazar Basin and Storm Peaks, and carefully saved Icecrown questing as an extended treat for myself when I had the time to truly enjoy the quests.
Mine Sweeper has a frustrating element of RNG, but it's kind of hard to resent it while your character's being blown from one end of a mine field to another. It took me a while to angle my character correctly to nail the achievement, but watching anyone else do it (or, better yet, multiple people careering around the field) is never not funny.
I have a sneaking love of any achievement that, while perfectly fun to do on its own, goes the extra mile and shoves a cool title or item your way. Twenty-Five Tabards is among the best of these, although I do long for the day we'll get a tabard "keychain."
Twenty-Five Tabards probably veers more toward the "evil" end of things if you're trying to do it on a fresh character that's staring down a line of neutral or friendly reputation ranks, but think of it this way -- you can get Twenty-Five Tabards for "free" if you're working toward 40 Exalted Reputations and The Exalted title. In Cataclysm, it's only going to get easier with whatever new tabards come our way and an extra five levels to make grinding BC heroics easier if you're playing a class that can't efficiently solo them at 80. Well, that, and the extra stamina we're all getting sure won't hurt.