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Cataclysm Zone Review: Wetlands


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Editor's Note: This post contains spoilers for the upcoming Cataclysm expansion. Read at your own risk!

Looks like the Wetlands just got a little wetter. (What the -- who took my sunglasses?!) The swamplands of Khaz Modan have gotten some updates -- some for the better, some for the worse, and some for the downright awesome.

Dun Algaz The familiar twisting tunnels leading from Loch Modan to the Wetlands have remained intact, including the halfway-point town of Dun Algaz, still overrun by the Dragonmaw. Like many areas that haven't changed a whole lot, the questing here has been changed up slightly but mostly made shorter. In this case, your objective is retrieving some precious cargo -- and if you didn't guess alcohol was involved, you've forgotten that you're in dwarf country.

Slabchisel's Survey

Waiting for you at the bottom of the tunnels is a new outpost, flight point and quest hub. Forba Slabchisel is unhappy with the work ethic of her fellow dwarves. Sounds like an opportunity for you! The water itself is a little peeved at taking such a long tumble, so you have to put down some elementals on the way to killing another Dark Iron leader named Drungeld Glowergare and a large water spirit named Torrention.

Having restored Slabchisel's faith in dwarvenkind (or whatever race you happen to be), you are rewarded with an express ram trip all the way across the zone to ...

Menethil Harbor

Things have taken a turn for the damp here. The town is still functional, but only just. More embarassingly for Captain Stoutfist, a band of Dark Iron dwarves has moved into the keep and kicked out the Alliance. Upon rectifying that situation, you have the opportunity to take in the new local pastimes of crab fishing and shark hunting, before going off on some familiar quests involving murloc slaying, statue hunting, and dealing with the ghost crew of the Third Fleet. The latter quest line has a couple of new twists to it, the first being that First Mate Snellig is a quest giver now, and the second coming at end of the chain (which I, for one, will decline to spoil).

Swiftgear Station
Captain Stoutfist now sends you out into the middle of the swamp to a small outpost that has actually existed since vanilla but had little to offer until now. The station's founder and namesake is joined by one Shilah Slabchisel, doubtless a blood relative of Forba, and James Halloran, whose life took a turn much for the worse with the cataclysm.

They'll have you running a lot of the quests you would previously run out of Menethil, killing raptors, gnolls, and crocolisks. Then Shilah notices that the Dark Irons are kidnapping the gnolls. Since the Dark Irons are unlikely to be doing us a favor, it must be right to free the captive gnolls. Don't argue, just do it! Finally, after you take out the local Dark Iron leader, Yorla Darksnare, Shilah directs you back south where some familiar folks are waiting.

Whelgar's Retreat

Prospector Wheglar thought he had his problems licked. He'd killed all the raptors. It's not his fault they didn't stay dead! Or that his whole excavation site erupted in earth elementals, for that matter. Oh, well, that's why they have you to clean out the place. After you finish that, Whelgar has one more thing for you to do: kill the leader of the Angerfang orcs next door, and a whole slew of his underlings while you're at it. Just on principle.

The orcs taken care of, Whelgar tells you it's time to report in at ...

Greenwarden's Grove

What was once just a weird, huge moss guy with a hangup about gnolls developing technology has been built up by the druids of Darnassus into a full-blown quest hub. Or at least, so it appears at first.

First, you go kill some orcs that are kidnapping dragon whelps, while the Greenwarden himself sends you to kill some mini-me versions of himself, in spite of the fact that they appear to be helping kill off the Dark Irons. Then you get a pair of quests to deal with some fire elementals and the blazes they're setting off in the marsh, which seems like a good trick, even for a fire elemental. And then ... you're given a care package and sent off to a new region. That's it. Whole big town there, inn, flight point and everything, and only four quests. Hunh.

Dun Modr

They're still shooting at each other up at the far north end of the Wetlands, but the big news is that you get to meet a celebrity in the form of Thargas Anvilmar, Defender of the Thandol Span. There's also a flight point here, but it's not clear why, because you won't be here long. Thargas informs you that the Dark Irons of Dun Modr have joined up with the Twilight's Hammer. (You might be sensing a pattern by this point -- the last stop in a zone always seems to involve these guys having some new converts.) The first step is a simple, boring one: go into Dun Modr and kill 12 converts.

The grand finale is something else, however. Thargas has you join him in The Battle of the Thandol Span. It's a grand melee with you and the other heroes you've met in the Wetlands on one side, and the various villains you thought you slew on the other, led by one Calamoth Ashbeard, the Twilight's Hammer leader for the zone and the one you must take out one-on-one to win the battle.

Victory in this battle may be sweet, but there's little time for celebration, as Thargas essentially tosses you a blue quest reward and tells you to keep pressing north, across the bridge and into the Arathi Highlands, to see what's going on in that hole in the ground they amusingly refer to as a stronghold up there.

Apart from the quests being easier to acquire and the hidden subzone of Faldir's Cove being much easier to find now, almost nothing about Arathi Highlands is new from an Alliance perspective, and in fact the player is encouraged to go visit the Scarlet Monastery and a much-improved Gnomeregan, and move on to the Hinterlands as soon as possible, rather than tarry in what is currently something of a dud of a zone.

Final thoughts

This was supposed to be one of the zones with the biggest changes, but although pretty much everything has gotten some sort of update in Cataclysm, the overall feel of the zone isn't all that much different. The express trip to Menethil is massively welcome and smooths out the flow of the zone significantly. There are some indications that they're still developing content (Ironbeard's Tomb, for example, still exists, but as of now is no longer part of any quests), which may explain why questing seems to peter out towards the end, but what is there currently is well worth playing through.

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