Next up on the Zone Wrap Up is the Jade Forest, picked because it is the only zone on the new continent that has been opened in beta so far. That is also why there are two videos this time. The first is of an Alliance character running from the starting area, all the way to the Horde starting area. It gives a good idea of how huge the zone is, shows how areas transition and change, but it’s rather boring. The second is the Blizzard video from the press release, which is much prettier, engaging, but doesn’t show as much.
The Jade Forest is located on the far eastern edge of the new Pandaren continent and is the starting zone for both Horde and Alliance 85s. The August Celestial Yu’Lon, the Jade Serpent, resides here, along with the Jinyu and the Hozon. The Temple of the Jade Serpent dungeon is here (thanks to the August Celestial), the Order of the Cloud Serpent (those guys who help you raise/train your own personal Cloud Serpent mount). Blizard describes the zone thus:
“After a naval battle between the Horde and the Alliance leaves the survivors stranded on the beaches of Pandaria, rescue parties of those factions’ elite soldiers set out explore the mysterious, fog-shrouded island. You are among them.
As one of the first explorers to set foot on Pandaria, you’ll begin your investigation in the midst of the emerald bamboo and coastal marsh of the Jade Forest, where two of Pandaria’s most prominent races make their homes. The monkey-like Hozen and the Jinyu fish-people thrive near the rivers of the Jade Forest, and your first encounters with them are likely to be hostile. Yet, ultimately, your lack of allies and guidance in this unfamiliar land will make befriending the natives your only option”
The Jade Forest will be where the Horde and Alliance crash their ships and then proceed to meddle in forces they don’t understand. Eventually, they’ll screw up so bad they’ll release the Sha of Doubt and have to go into the Temple of the Jade Serpent to fix all of their mistakes. That dungeon is only part of it, though, and the repercussions will be felt throughout all of Pandaria. So all the denizens of the continent are clamoring to be our friends of course.
Besides the Pandarens themselves, the enemy races of the Mogu and the Mantid, the Hozen and the Jinyu races live in Pandaria and will become allies of the player factions. Because Blizzard has an idiotic sense of humor this time around, the Jinyu will assist the Alliance and the Hozen will assist the Horde. I’m going to try to spoil as little as possible about the questing in these areas, but consider this your spoiler alert. If that kind of thing gets your knickers in a twist, skip to the Dungeon section.
The Jinyu are an amphibious (not fish) race that live in and around the streams in the Jade Forest. They have altered the forest in which they live with their elemental magic, creating small streams for their own uses. Regularly damming rivers to create their homes and breeding pools, the towns and camps that extend beneath the water are regularly in conflict with other races whose water resources they’ve diverted.
Their society is caste-based with individuals chosen for their life-long roles at a young age and final say in all communal decisions is granted to the elder Jinyu in a tribe. These elders can speak and listen to the waters that flow through Pandaria. This makes them “wise and powerful” as Blizzard seems to be pushing a very serious Alliance to the childish, fun Horde.
The Jinyu have been at war with the Hozen for a long time because a thousand years ago, when the Pearlfin Tribe ruled Pandaria the Hozen somehow caused a waning of the Jinyu’s numbers and influence. After this “betrayal,” Pearlfin Village became all that was left of these people and the Jinyu have been at war with the Hozen ever since.
The Jinyu become allies of the Alliance by meeting a “man” named Bold Karasshi and getting him to help free Admiral Taylor from a Hozen prison. The Alliance and Jinyu prisoners that you rescue then hideout in Pearlfin Village. Shortly afterwards, the Alliance discover the Hozen have joined the Horde and attempt to recruit the Pearlfin Tribe. Instead of saying “the enemy of my enemy is my friend,” the spirits have to be consulted and eventually the amphibians agree join the Alliance in exchange for training in military knowledge and armaments.
Unfortunately for the Horde, the Hozen are not as flushed out as the Jinyu. Instead of being plane laziness on the part of Blizzard (the usual cause) they are actually extremely short-lived (the oldest barely reaching twenty years of age). This means their society lacks roots, with little history remembered by each tribe. Since they are tribal, they do all live (and fight) together until their tribes eventually fall apart. Foragers and hunters, they live in the treetops and mountains of Pandaria.
The Hozen hunting grounds should be avoided, as the race is notoriously short tempered and a lack of food commonly pushes entire clans to ravage food sources outside of their territory. This always results in enough food being gathered or enough Hozen dead ensure the rest will survive. Of course, because Blizzard thinks the Horde need more children, this race of 14-year old boys is equipped with grenades and machine guns in an effort to stamp out the Alliance presence in the forest.
Jade Serpent Temple
So I did a huge write up on my opinions with images and screenshots and instructions on how to complete this instance, and then Word Press inexplicably lost it. I am annoyed and really don’t want to spend another hour trying to recreate it so please just go visit WoW Insider as Ann Stickney did a good enough job at saying the same things I was trying to say…except she’s a lot more excited about this extraordinarily easy dungeon than I am.
For a good run down of the Horde quests in the Jade Forest, check out Cymre’s blog: Bubbles of Mischief. I have not found a good blog detailing any Alliance quests, but I keep hearing that they’re much more engaging and fun than the Horde ones when it comes to story. (If you know of one, please put a link to it in the comments below) This is ruined, of course, when the Alliance discover that Anduin Wrynn has been captured by Garrosh. And it’s captured, people, not kidnapped. This is a war, remember?
The other quest of note is, of course, the questline to get your hands on your very own Cloud Serpent flying mount. Players start by being given an egg that can be hatched in a series of quests followed by dailies. The daily quests allow players to feed and train their newly hatched cloud serpent until the day it can learn to fly. After that, they have to prove themselves on the racetracks and skyways that belong to the Order of the Cloud Serpent. Blizzard says this should take 20 days or so.
My opinion of the Jade Forest is iffy. I think it was a terrible idea to give only one starting zone for both the Horde and Alliance and will make leveling for the first two months a pain in the ass. While the zone is absolutely gorgeous, it has little color in it to liven up all the green and stone textures. Eventually it turns into a green and beige blur with occasional buildings and watery areas to break it up (the lakes and streams are amazing, though).
The quests are interesting and engaging, similar throughout to Cata questing. The themes, though, feel over done, reminiscent of Sholazar Basin and Twilight Highlands. The dungeon is a blast to play through, but it’s easy, too easy. Only one boss made me work hard and the rest was a breeze the very first time any of us had ever seen the place. All the mechanics are old combinations instead of twists on old moves. It needs a lot of work before the official release comes out for me to be happy with it.