One of the changes brought in by Mists of Pandaria is for there to be a tiny but visible marker on the main map for any quests in the current zone that you have not yet taken. My natural reaction to this would be ‘dumbed down again’, but recent sessions in both WoW and Rift have made me want to re-appreciate this feature.
We’ve just finished the Krasarang Wilds zone in Pandaria and due to some strange quest flow design we almost missed two quest hubs completely. One was inconsequential, a side-trek at best, however missing the other would have meant not completing the zone or seeing some important lore cinematics. The reason is that as we are shuffled around between quest hubs within the zone suddenly two starter quests appeared, unlocked I guess by our previous efforts. We are not used to having to check the map for new quests – it’s a relatively new feature in WoW and a spoilerish one at that. But without this map hint we’d have had no clue to go back to one village or to go slightly north of the point we’d ridden past several times to find another new village.
These are only a few hiccups of course in otherwise excellently designed PVE leveling content. Since there are achievements in WoW for mapping a full area and completing a set number of quests in a zone these map markers have an added purpose.
In thinking on this session I am reminded of Rift. As I level through Brevane I have felt a little short on quest experience a couple of times, but since there are quests that you receive out in the field and also all the carnage quests it is easy to miss potential experience unless you fully explore the zone. My last post about the end of Eastern Holdings zone actually had a good 25-30% of a level’s worth of experience locked away in a very long quest chain inside an instanced sub-zone. If I’d not bothered to do the one quest in my log to take me to that corner of the map I’d have missed out on a great deal there!
There’s a balance to be struck between spoon-feeding players everything and expecting us to explore every tiny inch of a map. In less populated zones or games exploring can be a pain as you have to wade through endlessly respawning monsters to do so. It can be nice to know that you’re actually heading towards a quest rather than a dead-end!