Under the Burning Skies: Highmountain

I have now reached the final leveling zone of Legion, Highmountain. I’ve had the strange desire to actually progress beyond level 103, so I’ve decided to forego sending another fresh alt into Highmountain. Instead, Maigraith is taking the wheel again.

The new Highmountain zone in World of Warcraft: LegionHigh as a Skyhorn kite:

Highmountain continues Legion’s theme of shining a light on races other than humans and Orcs. This time the Tauren take center stage, something they’ve rarely gotten to do.

I’m not the biggest Tauren fan in the world, but I do like them, and I’m happy to see them getting some time in the spotlight.

Also, now that moose Tauren are a thing, I think we can confirm that Tauren are, in fact, the Canadians of the Warcraft universe.

On paper Highmountain is a zone I should really love the aesthetics of. It’s got snow, lots of trees, scenic vistas, and a bit of a wild edge. But in practice I found it the least visually appealing of Legion’s zones so far. It’s not ugly by any stretch of the imagination, but it’s definitely not as nice as the others, either.

It’s nicer at night, but unfortunately I don’t play at night very often.

I do like Thunder Totem, at least. It’s the closest thing to a new city we’ve gotten in a long time, and it has a nice homey feel. I almost wish it could have been the new hub for the expansion. Not that there’s anything wrong with Dalaran, mind you.

WoW highmountain-night-2Although I’ve heard lots of horror stories about navigating Highmountain, I didn’t find it nearly as troublesome as Stormheim. Although I suppose being both a rogue and an engineer helps.

The story is a bit like Val’sharah’s in that it suffers from a certain degree of inconsistency, though not as severely.

A lot of Highmountain is not terribly memorable — mostly a lot of killing harpies — but there are a few points that are more interesting, mainly at the beginning and the end.

Early on, there’s a lot of going into the history of Highmountain, and in particular it does a lot to expand upon the story of one of the great heroes of Tauren history. Nice little sequel to War of the Ancients there. A few quests even send you back to relive history, which is always cool.

Then it’s a lot more dead harpies for a while, but then near the end there’s a pretty interesting twist that does a good job of reversing your expectations.

My run through Highmountain also, of course, included a jaunt through its dungeon, Neltharion’s Lair. On the whole a fun dungeon — visually interesting. They did a very good job of imparting a great sense of scale without making it a tediously long slog. Reminds me of Ahn’kahet that way.

WoW highmountain-5It did sort of confirm my impression that WoW’s once-legendary soundtrack is slipping, though. Most (all?) of the music in Neltharion’s Lair is re-used from Cataclysm, and that caused way more excitement in me than it should have.

Finally, Highmountain is noteworthy for allowing us to finally meet a legend of Warcraft lore: Marcus of A Steamy Romance Novel fame. This comes alongside the latest entry into the franchise, A Steamy Romance Novel: Got Milk?

Which may well be the filthiest yet. Much like the “also, I seduced his wife” quest in SW:TOR, I don’t know how this got past the censors.

Funny. I always pictured Marcus as having black hair.

Overall, I enjoyed Highmountain more than Stormheim or Val’sharah, but definitely not as much as Azsuna.

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