“Keep your voice down, or the slavers will hear you!”
That’s the first thing I saw when I entered the Island of Martok on my newly created goblin monk. And that phrase sums up perfectly the atmosphere of the starter area for orcs and goblins. When you begin your adventure on Martok, you are instantly plunked into a chaotic and dangerous world, right into the middle of a war between the Martok and the Gulgrethor, who have been enslaving the Martok and who are actively invading the shores as you try to fight for your survival.
Right off the bat, there were three things I liked about this newly opened “chunk” of Telon.
The first is that Martok feels very alive with action, and what you do makes a visible difference in your surroundings. Instead of a quest NPC just saying “thanks for helping us in the war,” you actually see the results. You kill a Gulgrethor Slaver to free a Martok slave, and he follows you through the gates to safety. You mend soldiers and watch them run back into the fray.
The second is that it’s dangerous to be a newbie! I wrote before about how I had run into a higher level named mob who roamed around the newbie zone and spiced up everyone’s lives, but this danger is even different. When you begin on Martok, you start out on a slave ship, and can safely walk around without being attacked, but once you set foot on land, every Gulgrethor you see around you will charge right into your face and kill you.
Newbie zones in other games have traditionally been soft, fuzzy, gentle areas where the first mobs you face are things with very small brains, who are not smart enough to feel threatened by you. Things like snakes, rats, beetles, deer, boars, etc. And when it’s time for a newbie to face his first aggro mobs, they are usually found at a camp, standing stock still like a Buckingham Palace guard, so they are aggro in name only. As a newbie, if you want to die to an add, you pretty much have to run around and whack multiple mobs. In Martok, I died to adds at level 1. Now, it took me all of 2 seconds to dust myself off and get back into the fray, but the next time I went back into battle I was a lot more careful and understood that I wasn’t hunting beetles around here (although there are friendly crabs scuttling along the shore if I did have the urge).
The third thing is that there is a clear and simple storyline that drives the quests and really helps provide perspective on the goblin and orc races. The Gulgrethor is the enemy, the world around you is miserable and chaotic, and you need to do everything you can to help fight back and survive. It’s no wonder that orcs and goblins are crude, vicious, and warlike, because it’s all around them constantly.
Because of the clear storyline, even some of the “kill 10 monsters” quests have a lot more meaning behind them, because the quest items you collect from the mobs are turned into things that are used in the next quest. My favorite starter quest, for example, involved killing boars to get leather, which was used to make harnesses. According to the lore of the Martok clan, any Martok soldier who dies in battle is turned into a wolf spirit. So the harnesses were used in a quest to tame two male wolves (all the wolf spirits, male and female, are extremely hostile) and bring them back to be employed in the war against the Gulgrethor. While the mechanics of the quest are nothing new, the quests themselves are more meaningful because they play a visible, and intregal, part of the overarching storyline.
I never thought I’d say I enjoyed playing a goblin, but after my first night in Martok, I have to admit that I’m becoming a big fan of white face paint and bone nose rings!
Here are the full size shots!