Last time we talked about the hero classes of Warcraft 3 and the build up to wrath where we got our first hero class, and I would like to thank everyone that chimed in. Today I’ll talk a little bit about implementation of the hero class.
Let’s face it, Death Knights set the bar pretty high. When you first start a Death Knight a few things happen. First of all you are in your own little corner of the old Eastern Kingdoms map, and in this corner you’re given a multi-phase instance to learn about your class. This in and of itself is pretty amazing. Think back to when you first started your character as a level 1 freshly born into the world. Your area was open to the world, at level one you could in theory run your brand new human all the way to Iron Forge if you felt so inclined.
With wrath, the Death Knights were born into servitude of the Lich King himself, already having established themselves as heroes of the horde / alliance but falling only to be returned in undeath. Being under the Lich King’s thumb you are forced to do things rather then given options, you can’t choose to skip the entry quests and just run to Iron Forge, instead you’re given a story to play out. You’re forced to do tasks for NPC’s that you’ve tried to kill in the halls of Naxxramas.
This feels like a rail shooter to some people and I have heard a fair share of complaints about it, but I personally love it. It forces you to immerse yourself into the character. You’re given beautifully crafted quests to give you gear and talents and a mount and most importantly, a foundation of skills for your character. The quests also give you the foundation of a story and they have a weight of lore about them.
To me that might be the most important thing about these quests, the lore. I’m a lore junkie. I love quests that just drip with story or dialogue with an NPC from the previous Warcraft games. When the Caverns of Time instances and Karazhan were released I was quite giddy (still waiting on the bottom half of kara there blizz! *shakes fist*) and they still remain among my favorite instances. Here we get the story of one of the branches of the Death Knights. We get to interact with Darion Morgraine a character who is at the center of an amazing selection of lore. Go ahead and give it a read http://www.wowwiki.com/Darion I’ll wait, it’s worth it.
When you’re done with all the quests you are treated to an amazing battle between the forces of Ebon Hold and those of Light’s Hope Chapel. When the dust settles you are welcomed to the site of Darion’s redemption and the cleansing of the Ashbringer. He breaks the bonds of the Lich King and swears to bring him down. The Death Knights are then required to purge the Ebon Hold of the forces loyal to the Lich King and then are sent to seek forgiveness with the leader of their faction before the game begins as normal.
What This Means
Even when Burning Crusade was released, both new races were given staring areas that you could skip if you wanted to. You didn’t have to learn anything about them really except that the Blood Elves were emo and the Dranaei were high and mighty hoof people.
Here you were forced to interact with and further along the lore of the game.Â The entire starting package for the Death Knights set the bar very very high. Your introduced into a multi phase instanced area were layers are placed and removed to create a seamless environment.Â You further along the plot of the entire game, you get to interact with Boss mobs in a way that is new and entertaining (Listening to Noth complain was hilarious) and you get to watch the story of the world change in a way it hasn’t in several years. I mean toppling the plot of Kil’jaden and besting Illidan was fun, but it doesn’t have quite the feel of watching the Lich King lose one of his greatest commanders or the Ashbringer placed in the hands of Tirion Fordring and cleansed or an entire new faction be born on the spot knowing that you’re going to be coming for Arthas in his place of power. Those just feel epic.
Any new hero class introduced into the game from now on will have large shoes to fill. Their introduction into the world will have to be something special and captivating as well as potentially innovative. This is arguably the most important point for a player with the class as often times it will be the deciding factor as to whether or not they keep playing the class. Personally I think the next best bet would be Keepers of the Grove and the Emerald Dream, because I can’t really think of anything else at the moment that would seem quite so epic or immersive.
I give Blizzard big kudos for doing the starting zone of Death Knights incredibly well.
What do you guys think? Did you enjoy the starting zone? Do you think any other hero class could make a comparable introduction?
Until next time,
Image courtesy of DC Comics