A few disclaimers before we move forward:
- Traveling Thoughts is a means of putting down my thoughts in a bit-by-bit process that will eventually lead up to a formal review of the overall subject. These posts will be more personal than objective, though one should expect a good amount of both as is my personality of habit.
- These posts will absolutely contain spoilers. Read at your own risk.
Everyone, allow me to present the most popular race in all of World of Warcraft, based on player data provided by Blizzard on a yearly basis: humans. How delightfully arrogant.
When I played the game for the first time, humans were around the middle of the pack in terms of my personal favorite. And by that, I mean middle of the pack for the Alliance, as they didn’t hold a candle to any Horde race. I liked them more than dwarves and gnomes, which were basically humans except smaller (this will eventually change), but I preferred night elves and much preferred draenei. Despite this, I recall playing through Elwynn Forest before Tirisfal Glades (Undead zone), perhaps because I just wanted a sense of normalcy after playing as races within every color of the rainbow.
And though they were rather low among my overall personal favorites, I also recall playing through Elwynn Forest many times, more than any other Alliance starting zone (until the draenei). Since this is the case, I have a lot of fond memories of Elwynn Forest, and to those with enough knowledge of the game’s dirty open-secrets, I did interact with some of the denizens of Goldshire back in the day. For anyone else, I’d recommend not asking.
Elwynn Forest is, by most realistic accounts, a fairly ordinary forest. Trees are littered everywhere, with grassy pastures and human-crafted areas for farming, trading, and military purposes rule with common regularity. On a scale of one to ten in terms of weirdness, it’s probably pretty low, outside of the little fantasy creatures roaming about. Had I been looking for normalcy, I found it within Elwynn Forest, which boasts normalcy in a fashion unlike many other starting areas (except perhaps Mulgore).
The starting area’s sense of normalcy could be both good and bad, especially for first-time players. One could theorize that the relatively unchanged depiction of real life could turn people off from the game, should it be their first experience with it—and I say this knowing that many other areas are more aesthetically interesting. It could also prove to be the most favorable area simply because it depicts reality so well, in that the familiarity makes the game more intuitive and easier to grasp. Humans are the most popular race, though, so perhaps this is all a moot point. Still interesting to discuss, I think.
As for the quests within the initial starting area, they’re pretty boring. Outside of the class-specific quests involving talking to the class-specific trainer, I think there’s a single quest that requires one to not kill something. And it might just be me, but I think the initial area has fewer quests than most other initial starting areas. I was still a fairly high level leaving, but it just felt like I hadn’t been there as long. It was certainly shorter than Teldrassil or Mulgore—perhaps the size of the area being more constricted played into it. Whatever the case, it felt a lot faster getting out into the area around Goldshire.
Now, when I say I played through Elwynn Forest many times, I meant that initial starting area, right up to the point where one enters Goldshire. After that, my memories are a little foggy, mostly because many of my human characters were deleted a little further down the path (normally out of boredom). I have done a majority of Goldshire quests a few times, however, so I can recall how much I don’t really care for them. Murlocs, wolves, spiders, millions of kobolds, and gnolls litter the area to the east, west, and south of Goldshire. Murlocs, gnolls, and kobolds are the most annoying sight, along with the Defias humans who always wear red masks over their faces. Many quests revolve around killing these species, especially within areas that have them clustered around in large bunches, which is a pain.
However, there are some amusing parts of Elwynn Forest, including a chain of quests that is a direct parody of Romeo & Juliet, concerning two farmer children from opposing families with a long rivalry. I always try to seek out that particular questline. There’s also the need to kill a slew of hogs because they keep eating the crops off a certain questgiver’s field, including a big one named “Princess.” These amusing things offer a little variety to an otherwise serious slew of starting areas, which is better appreciated as one who enjoys little changes of pace. I could also comment on the infamous Hogger raids done by tens of people at level one right out of the gate, which is amazing, but it has little to do with the area itself.
Outside of Goldshire, one has to go out of their way to find little questing spots all throughout the forest, which is also a little annoying. One has to have an adventurous spirit in order to unveil everything available in Elwynn Forest, even if it doesn’t provide a consistent stream of quests and activities. It provides an outlet for exploration, even if Elwynn Forest doesn’t have a lot to really find, which I suppose is a good thing. I can’t say I’ve explored every nook and cranny of the area in one go, though I’ve likely found every spot with all the playthroughs I’ve done throughout my life.
As a starting area, I think the initial starting zone is too quick and straightforward to be memorable outside of its giant horde of creatures, and once past that, quests are often a little irritating and out of the way. Like with Teldrassil, there have been a few occasions where I outright skip Goldshire and travel to some other far off area to level. Even now, playing through it again, I still don’t find Goldshire to be a great starting area. It has its moments, like with the silly quests, but ultimately, I’d prefer most other starting areas, if not all starting areas. I have four starting areas left to cover, and I don’t know if any of them are worse than Elwynn Forest (three definitely aren’t). I guess it’d come down to Elwynn Forest, Durotar, or Dun Morogh.
Humans may be the most popular race to play as, but their starting area is among my least favorite places to level. The general look of the forest and the variety of quests don’t stand out too much compared to other places in Azeroth, and a lot of quests are spread out too far, sacrificing plenty of travel time. Even if it’s on the lower spectrum, I found my time back in the forest to be more of a good time than a bad one. There are no starting areas I actually hate or dislike, just ones that play better than others. Elwynn Forest is one of the less-fun areas, but next time I will discuss the starting area that is probably my favorite of them all. (Hint: I mentioned it by name in this post.)
For more posts on this topic, feel free to check out the accompanying archive!
Thank you for your time. Have a great day.