First of all, it’s the worst zone name :) Seriously, Azsuna or Aszuna? You just can’t remember that :)
Just in case, the post contains story spoilers for Azsuna questlines.
Azsuna is most probably your first zone to explore for several reasons. Our habit to count and travel clockwise would naturally dictate your Broken Isles journey starting from Azsuna and finish your leveling in Stormheim. And the zone also has many profession guys accumulated here with starting quests.
Upon arrival the hero and Khadgar see a massive force of naga moving into the inlands from the sea. And Frozen Throne veterans will of course remember these naga behemoths which were absent in WoW previously – thanks for tickling our nostalgy, Blizz! Tidestone, naga – this all seems very logical in the air, but ground quests suddenly put us in Illidari camp to fight off a demon invasion. Erhm… ok. Forget about naga for now.
The Illidari part is probably the worst zone beginning considering comfortable gameplay. The Legion camp is just SWARMING with demons, and pretty much spoilt with hills and cliffs. Not once you’ll find yourself overrun by enemies on your erratic search of the correct path around the demon grounds. Once you band up with Kor’vas (btw, she’s my Legion starlight, I put her next to Yrel), you are lost in hostile cliffs where even bushes and rocks bite, and you have to run over and over around the cliffs to aggro packs of mobs and reach the captured Illidari. And while you’re fighting hordes of smaller demons, the wandering mo’arg tend to sneak behind your back and hit you very hard on the head. I hated doing this part every single time, even with shortcuts I learned to use.
Upon dealing with the Illidari traitor, you become friends with blue dragons, and they send you to their patriarch. Surprise: blue dragons live, and they are friendly. It’s like we didn’t farm Malygos for a forget-me-not pair of mounts… whatever. Here’s your relief: the road to the dragons from Illidari is smooth, broad and perfectly safe to ride. Enjoy it, cause it won’t be long.
I always hated the raw mana things, all the leyline business. It’s like my head and teeth start to ache and ring, and I feel metallic taste of arcane on my tongue. So a pair of cave quests is not a pleasant part, and also reminds you of dailies in Deepholm.
Yet the dragons don’t let you to starve underground for too long, and they send you to their whelp nest in the north. The next part is brilliant, and it’s my favorite.
The immersement here is achieved by a pair of things.
First, it’s helping the small whelps. You just forget about your dislike of mana or dragons on your errand to save the little ones. You heal them, carry them around, get a whelpling pet to own, one of the smaller ones is a quest giver, then the saved ones are your ultimate boomstick… You don’t even notice how you’re becoming a family member, and when you get that, it’s too late :)
Second, it’s the addiction theme. The Nightfallen are finally letting you know what elves really look like without mana. Blood Elves must be shivering at the sight. The exhausted junkies are really creepy and dangerous, their leaders are maniacal. When they abandon the leyline sight and head for the dragon nest, it’s also very scary and exploits the ‘swarm’ themes.
Third, alongside the creepy and soul touching things, the questline provides a comic relief. Runas, the junkie elf, is masterfully voiced by no less than Jim Cummings, and I think I’ve learned all his dialogues by heart.
My discipline is IRON!
Like I said, the storyline my favorite.
The following major storylines are both good and bad. Bad goes first of course :)
First, I’m not happy with naga solo for 3/5 of the zone. Once you’re done with dragons and nightfallen, all you will see is naga, and you grow tired of them very fast. All the central and southern part is highly overpopulated with naga. Once you start questing from Farondis Palace, you never spend a single minute without fighting a naga by quest or fighting them while just trying to go by.
Second, I never cultivated any bonds with Prince Farondis – although I was supposed to. Mark you, he does and says everything right. He shows remarkable personal qualities: a rebellion against Azshara long ago, then he helps us on our quest, then he rejects Azshara’s cool offer, then he saves us. And still he does look like a pussy, not a leader of his people, I don’t know why. I smiled a lot when you accompany him, and other elves throw random insults. I don’t even like him giving briefing for World Quests, for Elune’s sake! I like his Court and his people, but not him.
The third drawback is the final questline: retrieving Sylvanas’ journal from the sunken ship. It’s just a plain boring grind. After a brilliant and inventive sea giant story which ends up in an epic battle, you must go kill some crab people and Vash’jir goblins in a dark, gloomy puddle. Meh. It just spoils all the possible zone epicness with a mediocre kill-me-ten.
All the middle and southern part which involves sea theme is pretty exhausting, and you’re naturally happy when it’s over. Yet I can’t say Blizzard failed to show us naga invasion. They really feel dangerous, plenty, and they are perfectly incorporated into Pillar thing. It could be perfect to exclude naga from the slave storyline. If there were only giants, it could feel like a completely separate piece, and naga would remain an epic and dangerous climax wrapped around the pillar of creation. But naga leaked into sea giants, and it all suddenly feels like ‘Oh no, not them again’…
Two questlines are pure gold. Of course, it’s the giant wrestling arena and the following slave revolution. And
Hogwarts Magic Academy, an easter egg from head to toes. They provide a nice safe spot to rest a while, and a small comic relief.
Yet when you finish your Azsuna leveling, all you will remember is: Naga, naga, naga, naga…
All in all Azsuna is a good zone to start. There is much attention paid to Pillars of Creation, there’s Legion present, and there is a bright, vivid foe – our old acquaintance.
Azsuna is all ruins, but very pleasant ones. There’s plenty of room to ride without danger, many safe roads. Yet it lack some ways from west to east. And the whole naga part is the one I would shun forever to visit again. There’s just too much of them – in every sense.
- Storyline: 5/5 North, 4/5 the rest
- Safe Hubs/Spots: All Suck
- Visuals: 5/5, very beautiful zone
- Travel Comfort: 5/5 North, 1/5 Center and South (cliffs, rivers, ruins, hostile swarms, lack of roads)