Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Teleporting To Quest Hubs

Mania has hit the 3.2 PTR's and, amongst other things, observed that the Argent Tabard costs a mere 50 Champion's Seals. The Tabard allows the owner to teleport back to the Argent Tourney grounds, on a 30 minute cooldown. The teleport ability was announced in advance, and I may or may not have heard the price previously, but hearing the two facts together caught my attention.

Greenwiz probably spends a good 5-6 minutes per day flying to the tournament grounds. Sometimes I'm AFK on the auto-bird, sometimes I use the time to decide what options I'm going to select from the LFG interface for the evening, but, either way, that's six minutes of /played each and every single day that I will never need to spend again after the patch. (The cooldown is short enough that it might as well not exist - when I leave to go do quests or whatever, I'm almost certainly not going to be back within half an hour.)

Though there are various other ways of teleporting around Azeroth and Outland, this is the first one that I can think of that is specific to a daily quest hub, as a reward for completing the local quests. The seige of the Isle of Quel'Danis in patch 2.4 had a somewhat similar mechanic, but the resulting portal is in a fixed location. This version is fully portable, and can save you a ton of time given how travel-heavy level 80 daily quests are.

LOTRO has probably the most similar travel shortcut, with its swift travel routes. Instant quest hub travel was originally tied to player level, but more recent routes have depended upon your reputation with (or quests completed for) the local faction. Travel was downright painful when the game launched, and sounds much better today with more liberal use of swift travel routes.

Games do not need instant point to point travel to any location in the world, but you should at least be able to get within several minutes of your destination. Tying the instant access to progress in the area makes sense from a story perspective. It also ensures that players do get an approximate idea of where things are, and have a chance to take in the sights at least once. (If nothing else, this is useful if your guild's raid leader ever decides to hold a "where was this screenshot taken?" contest, which is a lot of fun, incidentally.)

Overall, this is a relatively small change in the context of a relatively large patch. Then again, given the large number of cosmetic rewards that will not be wiped out by the next expansion's almost-certain gear reset, this might be one perk that players will be using for a while to come.

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