It's been over a week now so I thought I should update my initial impressions of WoW's big expansion, The Burning Crusade.
First of, I discovered that the fel orc bombing run is repeatable just for fun!
Crafting is actually useful. Upon talking to the blacksmith in Thrallmar, I was immediately given several new recipes for items that some of my guildmates could use! You can actually make items for your level. In the old days of Azeroth, it was pretty much impossible to stay ahead of the curve for the various professions. I was always making items that were 5+ levels below me. Meanwhile in the Outlands, I have a recipe for several nice, level 65 weapons... and I'm only level 64.
I initially gave their big 'world PvP' feature a bad grade because the players were just running around trading towers rather than actually fighting over them (at least in Hellfire Penninsula). This still seems to be the norm for the most part, but if you can get a small group together and choose to defend or contest the alliance for control, there can be quite a bit of fun PvP. A few Shadowclan did just this over the weekend, and after a little over an hour, I had 80-something marks to spend and ~700 honor as well. You don't get experience or reputation, but it's a hell of a lot more fun! Not only did we control the Broken Hill tower for quite a bit, but we also exerted our dominance over the main Alliance road out of Honor Hold, annoying many Alliance players until we were finally overwhelmed. But still, this only happened because we decided to break the pattern that everyone else had settled into.
There is an odd sort of tension hanging over many of the hunting grounds, but for the most part, everyone levels peacefully together. Though sometimes, the tension can break out into battle at the flash of poorly-timed AoE, and then, just as quickly, return to a standoffish neutrality.
Quests are plentiful. I constantly have a full quest log and purposefully avoid some outposts so that I can stay focused in one area at a time. Unfortunately, the fun quick quests of Hellfire Penninsula seem to give way once you hit Zangamar. Then we're back to the same old random-drop collection quests and the chained, run-back-and-forth kill quests. But I do find the zone itself interesting, and the fact that I have four different towns to get jobs from should keep me busy for a while.
The graphics are just outstanding. Warcraft does such a great job of making everything colorful and larger than life. If you get a chance to stop for a moment and look around, do it. Coilfagn Reservoir looks very ominous when gazing at it from across the lake. And the streamer effects in the sky always make me stop and look twice.
I haven't done any Jewelcrafting, but I am interested in the whole socketing gems feature. Unfortunately, I've only acquired two items so far that have sockets (I had to sell one socketable helm because it looked so awful I would have been embarassed wearing it).
So I upgrade my initial grade to a A minus. I'm having fun so far, and am thoroughly enjoying my adventures and explanations of the new lands. I'm reminded of the first few months of WoW when it was originally released. Hellfire Penninsula was incredibly engaging those first few days. And I think a lot of that was due to the sheer number of players running around. There was an electricity in the air and it really felt like something big was happening. But already the veneer is beginning to wear a little thin. Everything is basically the same. Despite the sheer amount of combat involving Hellfire Citadel, the Hand of Kargath repeatedly spawns in the same spot to be repeatedly killed by the players. No excursions are ever sent out from the Citadel. Nothing really happens that lasts for more than a few moments. So I'm still holding onto my reservations about the end-game. I fear that once I hit 70, the game will return to what it was before the expansion release... little more than a repetitive honor and faction grind.