Wednesday, April 1, 2009

The World Explorer Achievement and Title

For the past couple of weeks I've been pushing towards the World Explorer mega-meta achievement and it's associated title. Last night I finally finished it in Winterspring.

When you complete this achievement you are awarded a total of 85 achievement points:
- 50 for World Explorer
- 25 for the final continent you discovered, such as Kalimdor in my case
- 10 for the final zone you discovered, such as Winterspring in my case

It has been a long and arduous journey. While this is one of the biggest meta-achievements that can be easily (as in "a matter of time") accomplished by a solo player, it is very lengthy and at times annoying.

As far as I can tell, this is also the easiest way to obtain a title for players who don't wish to do PvP or raids. The title, obviously, is "the Explorer" which is suffixed to your name.

The order in which I went through the continents was Outland > Northrend > Eastern Continent > Kalimdor. This is also roughly the order of difficulty for me, although I Northrend seems to have more sub-zones than Outland. Now you can imagine that the two classic continents were the hardest to explore due to not being able to use your flying mount. Bugger! Outland and Northrend were cake in comparison.

So this is what I found most tedious and annoying: riding through dozens of zones and sub-zones. On the upside, I really got to appreciate the work that went into this World of Warcraft of ours and especially the amount of detail. I got to see beautiful vistas...

and remote regions that I had never seen before...

I have also learned to love and hate certain zones all over again. Some of the worst zones for me are Azshara and the Barrens. It takes ages to get through them. One thing that I have rediscovered is the relatively large number of hidden nooks and crannies that seem to have been abandoned by developers. They look desolate and sad. Unfortunately I don't think they will ever be populated but on the other hand maybe that's not such a bad thing since it's so hard to get to them in the first place. Besides, such zones are always a source of mystery and speculation so maybe it's better for them to remain as such.

In my travels I came across some of the dragon-infested areas known as boughs, such as Bough Shadow and Dream Bough. There's also a nasty area in Blasted Lands called The Tainted Scar which is filled with very tough elites. In fact, these low level (60-ish) elites are tougher than many non-raid 80 elites. I had trouble soloing them on my 80 hunter and at one point I had to sacrifice my pet who had become surrounded by them and went down swiftly. So explorers, beware!

Here are a dozen tips for making your explorations less tedious and more fun/profitable:

1. If you can gather stuff (mining/herbalism/fishing), try to pick up nodes as you go. I kinda suffer from a bit of OCD so I had to stop for most nodes but in the low-level areas I only picked those that were directly in my path because I was simply swamped in Copper Nodes, Peacebloom and the like. On the other hand if you are in a hurry to complete this achievement, don't bother stopping.

2. Try to pop into dungeons if you are in the area. I managed to complete Razorfen Kraul, Razorfen Downs and Wailing Caverns. Exterminating the denizens of such a low level dungeon can provide a welcome change of pace. And you will also make a bit of gold on the side.

3. Plan your portals. Being able to set your hearthstone to Dalaran is ideal. From there you can jump to any of the major cities and if you already have a bunch of flight paths, it's easy to get to the specific zones you need. Also try planning an ideal path through the zones you wish to explore and aim for efficiency. Running around aimlessly won't make for a more pleasant experience.

4. Use autorun as much as possible. I'm being Mr. Obvious here but some people still haven't mastered autorun. Personally I'm one of those noobs who discovered it very late in the game and I was like, wooow this is so awesome!!

5. Pick up missing flight paths. Even though my main is my most experienced character and I've had him since Classic WoW, I still missed some flight hubs. So picking those up along the way was a no-brainer.

6. Use helpful addons. I just discovered Tomtom and man, it was of enormous help in conjunction with the comments from Wowhead. You see, people who have already explored these zones were so nice as to load the coordinates of the various sub-zones in the comments under each zone's achievements. So you just plug those coordinates into Tomtom and it's smooth sailing from there! No longer will you have to hunt that elusive sub-zone for hours on end.

7. Empty your bags before you start because you never know what you might pick up along the way. Since I'm a miner/herbalist I managed to gather a lot of herbs and ore while exploring. When I popped into lower level dungeons my bags also popped at the seams with dropped stuff. Unfortunately I had to destroy a lot of it but I still ended up with roughly 100-150G from these dungeons.

8. Don't attempt to explore all zones in a single sitting. Unless that's your thing. Because you will go crazy. I would.

9. Pick up easy quests along the way. Some of them may be fun but this is another way to work towards The Loremaster meta-achievement. This is how I finally completed Hemet Nesingwary: The Collected Quests. Oddly enough, even though I had finished all the Nesingwary quests in Outland and Northrend, the final quest in the original series, namely Big Game Hunter, was incomplete. It was of course a matter of 10 minutes to finish it and it allowed me to complete another meta-achievement.

10. Keep a lookout for rare elites. Even low level ones drop nice stuff that you can put on the AH for a quick profit.

11. If on a normal (non PvP) server, try not to become flagged (again, unless that's your thing). Getting flagged can equate to getting murdered by the opposite faction. Also, if you need to get in close proximity to one of the major cities of the opposite faction, try to leave it for last because there are high chances that you will get flagged. To me it happened twice: once in Silvermoon City where I actually had to ride a bit inside the city gates to get the achievement. I even had to fight 2 guards that were in my way but since this was my last sub-zone, I just hearthed to Dalaran after I defeated the guards. The second time it happened on the outskirts of Thunder Bluff but again, I'd left it for last and afterwards I ported out of there.

12. Most of all, try to enjoy yourself. If it stops being fun, stop exploring for the day. You can come back tomorrow with a fresh desire for more discoveries. Also try to recognize and appreciate the uniqueness of each zone. You may never see it again!

One thing that I was reminded of is the complexity of certain dungeons. It seems especially boggling that very low level instances such as Wailing Caverns can be so convoluted and labyrinthine. At one point I was ready to quit because I simply couldn't get to one of the bosses. And in order to complete the particular achievement for this dungeon you have to kill all the 4 main bosses who are spread throughout the instance, after which the last boss spawns but not before you start a small quest from an NPC at the entrance. So yeah, all my level 80 firepower didn't help one bit in this regard.

Another thing that still amazes me is how people used to run through these simple-looking dungeons which nonetheless lasted for hours. Unfortunately, although there are a lot of blue drops, 99% of them are BOP which for me equals vendor bait.

Overall "the Explorer" title is still one of the easiest to achieve. All you need to invest is time, depending on how many zones you have already explored. A freshly-minted Death Knight, for example, will have a much harder time accomplishing this feat. I am very glad I went through with this but I wouldn't do it again on an alt.


Alex Keeny said...

I just got it on my Death Knight and although it's harder because you haven't explored any of Eastern Continent or Kalimdor, you do have all the flight points. I hit up most of Eastern Continent while leveling herbalism and fishing/cooking, then I worked from North to South in Kalimdor. Having the inscription scroll hearths and Dalaran portals definitely made it easier. My suggestion is to watch TV or read something while doing it. I switched between TV episodes on Hulu and college reading while doing it. It's the same thing I do to make fishing less painful.

Darth Solo said...

Thanks for pointing that out. I forgot to mention that Death Knights start with all flight points. At any rate, this achievement is best done when you are at least 70 so you can fly over Outland and Northrend. I would assume players at 70 should have most flight points in the old continents.

I was also watching a movie occasionally but since I like to gather stuff, I just had to stop every minute or so for nodes :)

Anonymous said...

While "the Explorer" is an easy title to solo (with as you say time), both "the Ambassador" and "the Diplomat" are very achievable solo.

The Diplomat requires 3 exalted reps - Kurenai, Sporegar, and Timbermaw - all of which can be easily grinded solo in a couple of days (sporegar has an easy repeatable quest, kurenai and timbermaw have grinds for kills and rep hand-ins that are very simple at level 80).

The Ambassador (exalted with the 5 faction home cities) is a little harder but most non-DK's who leveled via questing will be very close. To finish off, I find solo runs of Stratholme (and the chance at a Deathcharger mount) will net a lot of runecloth that can be turned in for rep with any of the 5 home cities. Also, starter zone quests now provide full rep rewards (diminishing returns was removed from rep rewards several patches ago) so you can easily generate a lot of rep by doing any of the remaining starter zone quests for the 4 starter zones of your faction.

Darth Solo said...

Yes, I think the Diplomat will be pretty high up there on my list. Ambassador... not so much. I would rather do Loremaster first. I'm a bit of a scrooge so I prefer to sell the cloth but once I hoard enough gold I will probably attempt that as well. The only question is, what am I gonna do with so many titles?

Alexander said...

I find the MozzFullWorldMap add-on priceless when it comes to figuring out where I haven't explored yet. Seeing big green patches on my map makes things so much easier.

Darth Solo said...

Thanks for the tip. While it's a bit late for me now, I'm sure others will find it useful.

Anonymous said...

Weird. I got my World Explorer achievement in the Hidden Grove too.

Dunwich @ EU Bloodhoof/Nordrassil said...

The killer add-on for this achievement is Explorer Coords,

It puts a blue spot in the centre of each sub-zone on the map that you still have unrevealed. Head towards the spot, ding the sub-zone. It makes this achievement a genuine pleasure of exploration.

Remember to head into PITA enemy cities (Orgrimmar, Silvermoon / Stormwind, Ironforge) naked. You will get killed, so you may as well save armour repair. Also it looks far more crazed (and stylish) :)

I did my best, but I'm pretty sure you actually have to be flying to get all of the Outland sub-zones, so this isn't going to happen before 70.

Finally, whilst yes, doing this as a DK meant touring _everywhere_, don't underestimate the sheer joy of Icy Path. Riding flat-out on water is THE best class perk *grin*. Once you go Black, you'll never go back!

Anonymous said...

Another great mod for helping with this achievement is EOWilson_PointsOfInterest. Just finished this last week after 3 or 4 days of running around. Totally agree about the content. Someone should do a waterfall restrospective, there are so many. :)

Darth Solo said...

Wish I'd known about these mods before I started :) Oh well... hopefully other people will get to use them.

I sometimes wish my Death Knight was my main, because he's a lot more fun to play. My hunter however is the oldest and has the highest number of achievements so I'm concentrating on him.

Scout said...

First I want to say that, as a fellow solo-ist, I love your blog! I have one too-but I spend more time complaining about people who don't like that I like to solo. :/

I also am an altoholic-I have 4 "Explorers" right now, and a couple more who will get it once that hit level 77. I took my level 71 Death Knight out and got the title too(only took about 35 deaths in Northrend to get that completed!), and he got the "Represent" achievement when he got the tabard! Most of my characters already had most of the maps filled in before achievements were ever announced. I LOVE exploring!

I love the "Ambassador" title too! I have -7- Ambassador characters right now! My lowest being a Gnome Rogue who had the title before he ever hit level 40. And I've never needed hardly any runecloth, some didn't need any at all. Just quest, quest, quest!

Keep up the good work!

Darth Solo said...

Thanks for the appreciation Scout! How can you put up with getting those titles for all your alts is beyond me :) In a previous article I talked a bit about this. My conclusion: as far as achievements are concerned I will concentrate only on hunter main.

Very Casual WoWer said...

Awesome post. Saw ur link on WoW Insider. I'll have you know that this poat was the singular reason I started trying the achievement on my DK. I really love the screenshot for some reason. Now that I look at it again, how did you hide ur UI but still have your massive gold acheivement notifications come up?

Great blog!

Darth Solo said...

Thanks man! It really warms my heart that I can be of help to someone.

I didn't actually hide the UI. I just cropped the image :D Kinda lame, I know, I know...

Elkagorasa said...

I am only a portion of the way through this achievement, but a fellow explorer pointed out to me that you can set the color of unexplored areas in the Cartographer add-on. This really helped when I went back to the old world to try picking up the old starting area quests for the other factions.

Darth Solo said...

I believe there's an addon built especially for this achievement, or maybe one that tracks achievements, I don't know exactly. It's a bit late for me now but maybe if you could search for it it should prove useful for you and other players.

David said...

Love the blog! Would be very interested in hearing about how Loremaster is going. Am just getting started on it on my main - seems like it's very achievable solo and would also likely help knock out the Ambassador title in the process.

Darth Solo said...

Oh Loremaster is certainly soloable. Just start with all the low level areas/quests that you missed.

The big problem with this (and the reason why I never really attempted it) is that it will take even longer than Explorer, especially in Kalimdor if you are Alliance and Eastern Kingdoms if you are Horde.

At least at 80 you will 1-shot everything, perhaps even AOE stuff that you need for quests but many old-world quests aren't very well-thought out and require you to move back and forth between a gazillion zones to complete the chain.

Ambassador is pretty easy once you get to the Argent Tournament. Thanks to the Tournament, I'm exalted with Ironforge, Stormwind and Gnomeregan. Still got Darnassus and Exodar but I'm taking it easy these days.

Also, if you have tons of Runecloth, you can turn those in for rep. I had lots of that since I ran Stratholme a few times.

Will said...

To Hide your UI, alt Z

Will hide the UI and make for easy, and beautiful screenshots.

Anonymous said...

Thank you !! I found this very helpful ..

Anonymous said...

Another great thing to do while grinding this is to pick up recipies and such from vendors in hard to get to areas...especially the ones that are on spawn timers and are in limited quanities. Put these in the AH for some serious gold!

Darth Solo said...

Sure, that's a good thing to do... if you're not lazy like me!! :)

Anonymous said...

Can someone get me this... willing to pay 500g

Darth Solo said...

Haha good one! I guess it could be done tho... with a passenger mount but only in Azeroth. You'd just go AFK and someone else would carry you through all the zones.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for your post, very informative. Just as a quick reminder, upcoming Cataclysm patch will destroy many of the classic Azeroth locations = no more achievement. I expect it will be modified with equivalents somehow.

Drunkelf - US Kel'Thuzad

Darth Solo said...

Thanks and yes I know but at this point I'm so over achievements... I can't even tell you.