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My first Draenei

Our launch day tales from WoW: The Burning Crusade

Just when we thought we'd overcome the worst of our World of Warcraft addiction in time to return to our families and weekday drinking, Blizard has dropped copies of the first massive expansion Burning Crusade on our laps - which with eight million characters to date could well turn out to be the biggest expansion disc ever.

So armed with hulking blue Draenei and a look that's a touch more manly than we did under the guise of poncy Priest night elves, here are the tales from our first day in Outland...

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Cheesebridge the Shaman (Stuart Bishop)
Shamans here, Shamans there, Shamans every frikkin' where. Blizzard's decision to favour Alliance with the character class is proving popular. It's 6am on January 15 and attempting to complete the class-specific Shaman quest proves a minor pain.

In fact, one Shaman issues a call to collaborate - 'Hey Shamans, if we group together we can kill these monsters without having to wait for respawns!' Na, bugger that mate, it's every Draenei Shaman for himself (or herself). Rah!

But that's leaping forward about three levels. Draenei adventures kick off following their massive spaceship crash-landing on an island on Azeroth and the disaster has resulted in the local wildlife going a bit weird.

Injured Draenei moaning in their, ah, injury, are scattered around a vibrant landscape of hills and trees and lakes and stuff and early quests involve healing said survivors while also helping to sort out the mess with the fauna. Let the killing commence!

Giant moths, walking plants and strange shambling mutated monsters and big owlbeasts are in for a rough ride as kill quests are completed and items requested by NPCs are looted and handed over to the tune of experience points floating out your head.

Ooh, just spotted a Hunter... And a Warrior...

Anyway, levelling-up during noob-stage is speedy. In just over an hour - after my questing culminated in kicking some Blood Elf ass - I'd achieved level 6 with hardly any grind, and subsequently got told by an NPC to sod off to the next main location beyond the beginner area.

Bidding farewell to my Shaman brethren, it was off to a town - or rather, a place where fellow Draenei were hanging out amidst bits of spaceship debris - and time to live it up in the great wide world.

So here I am, in 'town', with a couple of new quests tucked into my log, hardly any storage space - despite receiving a 4-slot bag as a quest reward, we say 'more chance for bags to drop please, Blizzard!' - and realise that I've just stumbled across the ultimate quest - if I don't leave now, the editor's going to seriously kick me in the nadgers for being late to work.

The Burning Crusade spurs are hung on a hook for later.

First impressions? It's the old mixed in with the new. The foundation is familiar - if it ain't broke, don't try and fix it, right? - but the new material is typical Blizzard quality and polish and appealing enough that the Draenei addition has sunk its claws in and is so far holding my interest.

I'm level 6 - the Burning Crusade's entire new Draenei zone should see me hitting 20 before moving on to the original game's zones. Whether or not having already played through the original zones once and a large bit will cause me to fall asleep at the keyboard when I hit them rather than continue to power away to Dark Portal-access level we'll have to see.

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Teal the Shaman (Andy Robinson)
It was a bit quite in Outland last night; one or two level one Draeneis running around the huge Ammen Vale crash site, and moth critters going unharmed, leaving all their irresistible noob swag untouched. The perfect time for us to power level our new totem-toting Shaman then.

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