Blizzard kicks off the beta test for its upcoming WoW expansion

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Blizzard kicks off the beta test for its upcoming WoW expansion, and our team has initial impressions of the new races, starting zones and high-level content.
By GameSpy Staff | Oct. 12, 2006

Considering the unprecedented level of success Blizzard has had with World of Warcraft, perhaps it's not surprising that the company has taken a somewhat unorthodox approach to releasing expansions -- or not releasing them, as the case has been. Nearly two years after WoW's release, Blizzard has finally kicked off a beta for the game's first expansion, The Burning Crusade, and of course we were on hand to check it out.

Over the next few days we'll be going in-depth with many of the expansion's features, but to kick things off, our editors have put together some preliminary impressions and observations of some of the major new features, from the starting areas of the two new races (the Draenei and the Blood Elves) to the new level 60-70 content of Outland.

The Blood Elves

Bryn: With the beta underway, I decided to task myself with the job of rolling up one of the hot new Blood Elf Paladins (female, of course) with the intent of seeing as much of the new content offered by Eversong Woods as possible in a short space of time. Turns out, I managed to creep my way up to a little under half-way through level eight in around three hours played.

Every new Blood Elf starts out in the northwestern corner of Eversong Woods, which is the newbie zone, comparable to Elwynn Forest or Durator. Hitting the ground running, I got my bearings, mapped my cool new racial abilities -- mana tap and arcane torrent -- to some hotkeys and hunted down the first set of beginner quests. As you'd expect, these initial quests are super easy, and manage to retain the "new-player friendliness" for which WoW is well-known. Killing critters was the order of the day, and after slaying countless cute little tigers and the slightly far-out mana worms floating around, I was ready to train up and chop down some tree-like creatures called Tenders.

Running backwards and forwards between NPCs and class trainers was fine, and on the whole, Sunstrider Isle proved to be a cool-looking place to begin life as a newbie Blood Elf. It took a little over an hour or so to hit level six, and between mastering the cool new mana-giving potential of my mana tap and arcane torrent skills, and attacking some rather roguish corrupt spirits in the defunct Falthrien Academy, I was becoming more confident in myself as a would-be paladin (which is a class that's never held any interest for me before this point).

The final low-level quest gave me orders to hoof it south towards the Ruins of Silvermoon, a once-majestic set of structures now overrun with Wretcheds and killer guard elementals. It quickly turned out that the inhabitable area of the Ruins was the first real "town" area for the Blood Elves and gave me a chance to gather a decent number of new quests, train up my new skills and take in the scenery. I knew, however, that these new quests would spit me out further into the deep southern regions of Eversong Woods, and Lord only knows what horrors awaited out there. We'll have more coverage on that tomorrow; for now, click ahead to read about the Draenei and Outland.

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