What is missing from the Arthas fight?

What is missing from the Arthas fight?

First before I begin I would like to say congrats to Matticus on his 10 man Arthas kill!

Now onto the matter at hand. My guild is plugging away at the Lich King 25 man encounter, our 10 man team is just about to take him down as well. There is a certain sense of accomplishment when you get to the end of not only the content, but let’s be honest in this case the entire point of the expansion! This entire expansion has geared us up for this fight. Egging us on, pushing us to greater heights and taunting us at every turn. The Lich King has been found in so many quests, instances and cinematic events it is impossible to not want to kill him.

When Trial of the Crusader was released, I’ll be honest I was not impressed. In fact I down right hated ToC. I’m an old school raider, I like instances with trash and having to work at getting TO the boss. I mean in every book I’ve read the hero and the villain don’t just run into each other randomly and just go to town. The hero normally goes through various trials and or henchman before they get to the big bad. In James Bond movies, he has to go through the henchman before making his way to the final bad guy for the show down. To me that is what trash is in an instance, it is a warm up but it’s also story fodder. These are the creatures the various bosses thought good enough to guard them from US. So when I walked into ICC for the first time you can bet I was over-joyed at the amount of trash that lay before us. One of my fondest memories as of late was when we were first heading into the Plagueworks, I was flying solo leading the raid that night and we were coming up on Stinky and Precious. I didn’t warn the raid about them at all, instead as we pulled I laughed maniacally at the frantic screams of “HOLY SHIT WHAT THE HELL IS GLUTH DOING HERE?” as the raid wiped. Everyone laughed about it afterward  and I felt happy that there was trash that was actually DANGEROUS if you weren’t prepared.

My guild has fought our way through all the bosses up to Arthas and there is a sense of accomplishment there. The fight itself is amazing fun, if for no other reason than because there is so much going on. So, why then am I feeling slightly ripped off with this fight?

Arthas is one of those lore characters that has shaped this game. Warcraft 3 was a game I played to death and out of it what I got was the setup for World of Warcraft. It was heart-wrenching when Arthas slew his father and you saw the darkness in complete control, it was epic when Illidan and Arthas fought. The story, even though it was an RTS, was colorful and rewarding.

So last night Unpossible was working on Arthas and I couldn’t shake the feeling that something was wrong with the fight, that something was missing. After the raid I thought back to burning crusade and Black Temple. The Illidan fight felt epic. The scene opened up with Akama going to face Illidan and speak his peace, followed by him running off to hold off reinforcements and give the group time to deal with Illidan. Partway through the fight, a fed up Warden Maiev Shadowsong bursts in to help try and take down the demon prince. He had wronged her so much that she had to have her revenge. In short the fight felt epic. It felt like great payoff to all the work of getting there. I attribute this to a well designed encounter, but a lot of that had to do with NPC interaction.

When you reach Arthas there is a small back and forth between the fallen prince of Lordaeron and Tirion Fordring. To be honest the back and forth is a little weak, and Tirion is one of those characters I could do without. I mean, of all the people Arthas has pissed-off and messed with over the years they picked Tirion to be the one to confront him. I mean I guess I expected him to be there from the beginning, after all he is the bearer of Ashbringer, but I expected someone faction specific to be there along side him as well. I know Jaina and Sylvanas made an appearance in the 5 mans, but this is the big show, the big payoff. Personally I expected them to be there, or rather someone who Arthas has wronged on a deep personal level to be there.

Before you say anything yes I know the history of what happened between Arthas and Tirion and the subsequent exile. My point though is as fun as the fight is (it IS an amazingly designed encounter), it just doesn’t feel as epic as I think it should.

We have airships right? After we’ve taken down the Frost wing, why not have the ship fly up to assault Arthas only to have him blow it out of the sky? How about King Varian Wrynn or Thrall gets to deliver the epic speech debasing Arthas and spurring us to victory. Instead we get Tirion running forward, and getting hunter trapped.

I still love the encounter don’t get me wrong. I love the fact that there are a thousand things you have to watch for and so many ways you can die. I like having fights that have consequence and Defile is the greatest thing EVER created (no sarcasm on that). I guess in the end I just wish there was a little more NPC interaction at the end to help lend the cinematic / literary climactic feel that the encounter truly deserves.

What do you think about the encounter?

So with that I bid you all a good day, hopefully next week I’ll be writing you as King Slayer Lodur. Until next time, Happy healing and may all your heals be swift and your mana plentiful!

Of Heroes and Villains Part 2

Of Heroes and Villains Part 2

killingjoke

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.  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.  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,

Sig

Image courtesy of DC Comics