Monday, July 23, 2012

World of Warcraft Newbie Guide 4: Understanding Quests

One major part of World of Warcraft from level 1 all the way up to max level is questing. The act of questing is performing tasks for NPCs that can range from defeating certain enemies to taking an item to someone. Questing is rewarding and can award you money, equipment, items, experience, reputation, and other miscellaneous things. Because it is so integral from the beginning of the game, it is important to know what sorts of quests you will encounter during your journeys through Azeroth and beyond. In this article, I will cover the various aspects of questing to prepare you for these journeys, including the quest log.

What Do Those Things Above People's Heads Mean?

When doing quests, it helps to note the symbols above the heads of a NPC (or an object, since some objects, like wanted posters, can assign quests as well) to differentiate whether the NPC gives a quest, completes a quest, and so on.

Yellow Exclamation: The yellow exclamation point indicates the NPC has a quest that is often a one-time task that is suitable for your level. There are very few exceptions where the quest can be done periodically whether it's on a weekly, monthly, or yearly basis. This is by far the most common sign you'll see when leveling your character. If a quest is out of your level range but is a one-time task like this one, the exclamation point will be greyed out instead.

Blue Exclamation: A blue exclamation point indicates the NPC has a quest that can be done on a daily basis. These are often simple tasks that award money and reputation. These quests, known as "dailies," can be completed individually once a day (the reset time to take it again is 3 or 4 AM server time depending on daylight saving time) and only 25 quests of this type can be completed on a single character daily. These quests increase in frequency as your character levels up.

Grey Question Mark: A NPC with a grey question mark indicates that you have a quest you can turn in to that NPC but you have not finished the task yet. You can talk to the NPC to determine what task you need to finish for that NPC. Typically this symbol will be marked over the NPC you originally got the quest from, but this is not always the case. These NPCs do not show up on the minimap.

Yellow Question Mark: A NPC with this mark will indicate that you have a quest that is done and you can turn it in to this NPC for a reward. When questing, this is the symbol you strive for constantly. You can also find NPCs to turn quests in to by checking your map (hotkey "M") for a similar yellow question mark.

Blue Question Mark: Something of an endangered species, NPCs may rarely have this mark over their heads. Such a marker indicates you can complete some task for them multiple times without taking a quest. This usually involves some sort of item turn in. One classic example (which is how I found NPCs with this symbol) is Alterac Valley, which is a Battleground with NPCs that take repeated item turn ins (more on this in a future article).

Some other notable quest-related indications or tells aren't shown as symbols on the overworld but may pop up in a subtle manner. For instance:
  • Pop-up boxes: I don't know exactly what these are called, but I call this feature this because they pop out of seemingly nowhere and automatically give a quest. You will always accept this quest automatically. These quests have some sort of prerequisite such as killing certain NPCs (there are often signs of such a quest in the game) or completing another quest. Sometimes when completing a quest, instead of turning it in to a NPC, you can complete the quest on the field by clicking a similar pop-up box. While some of these quests make no sense whatsoever it is incredibly convenient. This feature was implemented in Cataclysm, so veteran players may be caught off guard by it.
An example of a low level quest assignment.
    How to track low level quest givers
  • Low level quests: A low level quest is a quest that you are too high leveled for to obtain the appropriate rewards. These normally do not show up on the minimap, but if you see an exclamation point when mousing over a NPC, they may have a low level quest available for you like above when interacting them. You can also track such NPCs by using the tracking circle to track low level quests. Doing so will allow you to see the quest givers as if you were of the appropriate level to do the quest. Completing a low level quest awards greatly decreased gold and experience.
Quest Variety - Gather, Fight, or Something Else?

While being able to differentiate the symbols above NPC's heads to have an idea of where to find and finish quests is important, the type of quest (excluding daily or periodic vs. one-time) is also important to know. Quest design has a common pattern that allows many of the game's quests to be categorized into one or more specific types of quests, as described below:
  • Kill/Defeat X Enemies: Known by some as "generic kill quests," these types of quests involve defeating one or more types of monsters a specific amount of times. This can range from defeating monsters of a specific race to monsters with an exact name. These quests are extremely common and you should expect to see them every time you go to a quest hub.
    • Loot X From Enemies: Serving as something of a subcategory, defeating enemies for (a) specific item(s) that is looted is very similar to the generic kill quest. It can also be a subcategory of the next category as well. Keep in mind said looting isn't always conventional looting so make sure you weren't given a quest item or something.
  • Kill/Defeat Major Objective: I categorized this differently because while it is similar to the above, it has more of the feel of a boss battle or a major encounter because one (or more) specifically named monsters, which are often unique or rare, have to be defeated. These are slightly more rare than the above and may even be paired with the "generic kill quests" at times. Otherwise, you should expect to see them close to the end of a quest chain. These often give great rewards.
  • Gather X (Y, Z, and so on): Serving as something of a counterpart to "generic kill quests," gather quests involve finding items, whether on the field or from enemies (see "Loot X From Enemies"). These can either be directly turned in to the quest giver or used as some sort of reagent to complete the quest in some other way. When gathering from the field, look for sparkling objects. In addition, you may be given an item to help with the gathering so keep that in mind as well.
  • "Breadcrumb" Quest:  These quests are assignments that involve traveling to another location to talk to another NPC. These are generally assigned to players when they are ready to travel to another quest hub (whether because their level is high enough or they finish the current hub). These often award minimal experience, gold, and reputation but are still worth it if you can find them. It's also a good way to determine zones to level up in (a bit more on this later). This is even more so because you may be provided transportation to the area.
  • Deliver X: This assignment requires you to deliver an item or items to another NPC. This may be assigned in conjunction with gathering quests (i.e. gather items and then deliver them to a specific NPC). These are uncommon and often have average rewards. They may be used in place of a breadcrumb quest.
  • Storytelling/Talk to X/Read X/Dialogue: This category of quests pertains to the lore of aspects of the game, whether it is about certain individuals or more. Assignments of this nature require you to interact with a NPC or something else in the world to understand some facet of lore, whether it's a NPC's backstory or the lore of the land. They are often used to progress a quest chain and add depth to NPCs that may be lacking in character. Quests like this can give rewards ranging from very little up to average. Quests like this may also take the form of cinematics or fixed dialogue between NPCs and yourself.
  • Use Item On X: Sort of like a reverse gathering quest. This type of quest involves using an item to help out allies or for some means of furthering your or the NPC's objectives. You will be provided with an item and can use the item by clicking on it when conditions are met or by right clicking on objects in the world where you can use the object (also shown with sparkles).
  • Escort: A really self-explanatory classification of quests that involve helping a NPC (or NPCs) by going along with them, either to escort them away from enemies or to assault enemies. These quests are often very rewarding. Keep in mind if you go too far away from a NPC you are escorting or the NPC dies, the quest will be marked as Failed and you must try again.
  • Defend X: Similar to escorting, these quests involve defending a specific area for some time from enemy attackers. This may end up being used in conjunction with escort quests.
  • Arena-Style/Group Quests: This is a classification that has become
  • Vehicle: Vehicle quests involve using a special mechanic called the vehicle action bar. These quests are often used in conjunction with other types of objectives. Vehicle mechanics will be discussed later.
  • Quest Chain: With the Cataclysm quest overhaul, many zones have an overarching (set of) quest chain(s) that tells the story of the zone. Quest chains result from completing a quest, which may open up more quests or automatically offer another quest. This may not be strictly a classification, but it is helpful to know about quest chains as they can be very rewarding and usually offer some lore.
  • Other/Unique Quest: While a majority of quests will fall under the above, there are some unique quests in the World of Warcraft that may not fall under any of these categories. For those, and probably any quest in general, it is important to read the entire quest objective before accepting.
The Quest Log
    One of the first menu objects you will open when playing World of Warcraft is the Quest Log, as shown below:
    The exclamation point is the Quest Log.
    You can also open it with the default keybind of "L."

    Once you open your Quest Log, you will see something like this:
    There is a lot to see, so let's go over the Quest Log in parts:
    • Quests are listed on the left. They are sorted by zone and can be minimized and maximized within these categories.
    • In addition, quests may have a classification sometimes such as Complete (a finished quest), Failed (you failed the quest but can try it again), Group (a group quest), Dungeon (a quest that involves a dungeon,  which will be covered later), Raid (a quest that involves raiding, which will be covered later), and Seasonal (a quest that is only given during a special holiday season). There may be some other classifications, but they are few and far between.
    • Quests are also colored by difficulty based on your character level. Grey quests are quests you outlevel by a significant amount and give little experience. Green quests are quests you outlevel by a bit and give slightly less experience. Yellow quests are quests around your level. Orange quests are quests that are slightly higher than your level. Red quests are quests far beyond your level (and you generally shouldn't try to do them).
      • This also applies to levels of enemies. Grey enemies yield no experience (and are generally of a level 9 or more below yours). Green enemies yield little experience (2-8 levels below your own). Yellow enemy yield average experience (2 levels below your own to 2 levels above your own). Orange enemies are difficult to defeat (2-4 levels above your own). Red enemies are almost impossible to defeat (5+ levels above your own and if they are 9+ levels above your own the level is instead shown as a skull instead of the normal value if applicable, though bosses always have a skull level).
    • At the top left of the Quest Log will be the number of quests you currently have in your log. There will also be a number that tracks how many Daily Quests you finished (but it only shows up if you've done a Daily Quest that day). Highlighting this second number will show when the Daily Quests reset.
    • At the bottom left of the Quest Log are some buttons that will allow you to abandon, share, and track quests. Abandoning a quest will remove it from your Quest Log and is handy for freeing up space for taking new quests. You can re-obtain such quests from the quest givers you got them from. Sharing a quest allows you to hand group members the quest. This will return messages indicating they received the quest, cannot receive the quest, or finished the quest in your chat log. You cannot share a single quest too often to prevent spamming. In addition, some quests cannot be shared and will have the button greyed out when so. Tracking a quest shows the quest under the Objectives tab. Quests will usually be tracked by default.
    • The right side of the Quest Log shows the full description of a selected quest, showing progress on a quest, the original quest description, the quest objective, and rewards. This is a good way to double check a quest if you accepted it too fast.
    • At the top right of the Quest Log is the map icon (also can be opened with "M"). This can be handy if you want to see the objective of a quest on the map. You can also close the Quest Log by clicking the X at the way top right.
    • On the bottom right is another close button as well. You can also press "Escape" (or ESC) to close the Quest Log.
    That concludes the general tutorial for quests. Go forth and help your fellow NPC for glory, wealth, and power.

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