After collecting all of the Artifact weapons, my next goals were to recover a Pillar of Creation and to do the Order Hall Campaign chapter that opens up at level 103.
I’m grateful that the devs put at least one of the Pillars of Creation outside the end-of-zone dungeon… but it still took awhile to decide to run Val’sharah a dozen times.
My Druid went through Val’sharah with the sound on and watching all the cutscenes completely, of course. Most of the rest of them, however, did it with the sound off — I got tired of listening to Malfurion and Tyrande wail at each other pretty quickly — and skipping the cutscenes. Nevertheless, most, if not all of them have screenshots of the moment where Tyrande asks “Have you ever loved as I have?” because it has given me something to think about for their RP backstories.
By about the third time, I’d figured out which areas were entirely side-quests. By the fourth or fifth time, I’d figured out which bonus objectives were easily completed in the course of doing the main quest in the area, and which ones I should just skip in the interest of getting to the end as soon as possible. By the sixth time, I’d streamlined my route through each area. By the seventh time, it occurred to me that the repeated appearances and taunting of the Shade of Xavius throughout the zone were very much like the repeated appearances and taunting of the Lich King throughout leveling in Northrend. By the eighth time, I was asking myself why the Druids, etc, in the zone hadn’t already noticed the creeping corruption of the Nightmare.
I came to the conclusion that what the player is supposed to experience — especially if they do the three Archdruids in the order Elothir, Koda, Thaon, which I think must be the intended order — is the sudden eruption of the Nightmare from out of Shaladrassil — the thoroughly corrupted areas having been overcome as swiftly as Pompeii when Mount Vesuvius erupted. The player comes to the Grove of Cenarius for the first time just as the Nightmare is beginning to spill forth from underneath Shaladrassil. As the player goes deeper and deeper into Val’sharah, the Nightmare has had longer to take over, but it still hasn’t been very long — a matter of hours or days at the most — before the player arrives on the scene. With the help of the player, the NPCs halt the Nightmare at its leading edge, preventing the places that were only relatively lightly touched by the Nightmare from becoming any more corrupted.
One of these days I’ll have to run my Druid through Emerald Nightmare LFR and find out what happens next.