Yea yea, exaggeration, the original Desolace had quests, but not many, and it was pretty easy to tell that it wasn't a great zone. Then came the Cataclysm and Blizzard was faced with the challenge of making what may have been the most disliked zone into something that would not cause a sudden drop in subscriber numbers when people reached level 30.
Desolace appears to have been carefully designed to be terrible. A bad quest can happen now and then, and some zones are more fun than others, but I Desolace appears to have been planned. There are just far too many absurdly stupid and bad elements.
Step one: Go to Desolace.
Well alright! Now we're talking. Hero's Board says go, so off I fly to the northern-most place: Nigel's Point. Maybe I should have ridden, because of course the starting quest isn't there, silly! So I ride over a little bit to get the first quest: a breadcrumb to Nigel's Point.
Step two: Butter him up.
You know what time it is? That's right, demon-fighting time. Now, paladin, you're going to get a quest to go down there and tear a path of destruction through a whole lot of demons. It was pretty awesome. So no complaints there.
Step three: Kill naga so you can make a naga suit so you can talk to a naga to learn why you should talk to an elemental who you were going to end up talking to anyway because he was already fighting the naga and then without actually assisting in the fight, tell him how to kill the naga leader.
Get rewarded for contributing absolutely nothing. I guess it's practice for LFR.
Step four: Hey look, green stuff!
Some trees and flowers grew here, so obviously, we need you to start wiping out the local wildlife, to restore the balance that was never there in the first place. Note that this came from druids, not Hemingway. Somehow I missed the quest to go help a Tauren who isn't slaughtering wildlife, but more on him later.
Step five: You're really good at not doing anything, so we're going to give you another chance to show off your skills, by riding a centaur.
When I first got the quest I was confused about the "you get to fight alongside us"; what were they going to do, kill me if I attacked a demon too? Then I figured out that I ride one. Okay. Then I told it what to do, with most of the buttons seeming to do nothing, which I think was because they were only for the last fight and they figured they'd give a preview of all the abilities we'd not use by giving us buttons that didn't work. To fully comprehend the utter pointlessness of my presence in these battles, note that not only could I not use any of my abilities, but my auras were disabled. I know that's just how vehicles work, but it really did get the point across that I, as a character or player, was entirely redundant. And why the hell are centaur, which as best as I can tell are the logical evolution of Gengis Khan's Mongolian hordes, incapable of attacking while moving? That was one, among many, of the reasons that the Mongolians were badasses who conquered of everywhere that wasn't separated by an ocean. Imagine if they'd had dolphins to ride! But no, the WoW equivalent are just lame brutes who get their asses kicked by a minor demonic invasion, despite apparently being fully capable of fighting back, if only they had someone else sitting on their backs ordering them around.
Step six: Bird nets are like dinner plates for hyenas, right?
Finally, I meet a tauren who seems to have a way to save the wildlife that doesn't involve killing it. Apparently every other druid learned about ecology from the same people who taught us how to keep villagers from turning Communist. He has a great idea: Take these eggs that he somehow got and give them to birds. He doesn't explain where he got the eggs, but I'm picturing him fighting off an angry mother bird to get them. I have the job of placing them in nests. How nice! Except for a few problems. First off, these aren't their eggs. While altruism does exist in nature, infanticide also exists, and is pretty common, particularly when the parents are nowhere to be found. Even worse, these 'nests' are just piles of sticks on the ground. But I figured, fine, I'll stick the egg there and a mother will come get it, hopefully before one of the many large reptiles wandering around eats it. I hadn't fully read the quest. Yea, turns out the tauren anticipated this, so my job was to fight off basilisks and hyenas until a swoop came to get it. Because we know nothing attracts birds like the loud sounds of violence. Finally there is this mystery: Where are these eggs being taken, if not to nests, which are probably also just piles of sticks on the ground, and if they are not and are actually safe, why am I not putting them there in the first place? And where the hell did he get all these eggs to hand out to violent strangers?
I'm not sure how I automatically (magically?) knew that the stuff laying around was element 116, but as a general rule of thumb, it's a bad idea to pick of pieces of smouldering, highly-radioactive elements. That's what they did at Chernobyl and the biobots didn't turn out well. And of course the best thing to do with this stuff is to give it to a goblin who is out here for no apparent reason, because goblins are known for their environmental records. To prove the point, he asked me to engage in some mass slaughter.
But it gets better!
That's it. Yea, that's all of it. I find a weird rock that may be interfering with the rejuvenation of the area and all I do about it is sell Ununhexium to a goblin, kill a few dozen wildlife so he can sell armor and poison to the Horde (note that this is a draenei paladin), and nothing else. "Please, Draenei. Scour these lands and discover the source of the desert's stubbornness. " "And then be sure to not tell me about it."
Step Seven: If you're not using the map quest tracker to point your mount at the correct place, we think you are a stupid monkey who needs to be punished by being sent after a stealthed quest mob for which the quest text gives absolutely no detail about his location, so have fun riding in circles in frustration before giving up and finally, slowly, every so slowly, creeping toward the quest dot until you reach the range of stealth detection.
Step seven actually came sooner, but it wasn't until later in the stupid quests that I was annoyed enough to write this, and by then the stupidity of that last point had gotten overshadowed slightly by other quests.
Desolace was never a great place, but it appears to me that in their effort to revamp it, they managed to make it even worse.
On a brighter note, the one random group I did that caused me to outlevel the zone was a pretty good experience. No one died or did anything exceptionally stupid. After we killed the ridiculously short two-boss orange-side Maraudon, we continued on a little further, with no one dropping, until we killed the satyr boss on purple side. I'm not sure how they decided on that arbitrary stopping point, but it at least seemed a little better than silently dropping the second the second boss died.
So there we have it, if I'd had to pick one single reason I left WoW last year, it was LFD, and now that seems to be the single best feature. What the hell? Come to think of it, the quest structure still bugs me, guild leveling is simultaneously alienating and restricting, and ever since BC, PvP has become more and more inaccessible to new players, so I guess an improvement in one feature would make it stand out pretty well.
RIFT: Khar! KHAAAAAAR!
5 hours ago