June 16, 2011

The story let down of Cataclysm

For some, they might think that I am just a band wagon person with hates towards World of Warcraft when I lambaste it at every opportunity. In some ways they might be right, but I generally hate on WoW not for the same reasons others might be; things like raid or die mentality, grinding, and triad and such things. I actually have other reasons to be put off by Blizzard in general, though one of them is a pet peeve mostly, the other I think is more or less a legitimate one, all things considered. This is the fact that Warcraft use to actually have a compelling story to it, and one that was interesting, but since Cataclysm, it just seems that Blizzard doesn't even care about that.

Now, while some people will probably want me to qualify that, I say just look at all the revamped quest lines in the old world in WoW and many of the new ones in the Cataclysm lands. Most of them are either memes of various movies or the internet, or an on-going poop joke that Blizzard seems very happy to constantly keep implementing in some form or another. Though it's sometimes cool to see the reference of a specific movie character, the fact that it's an ongoing gag now in many parts of the old world content is absolutely appalling. For instance, the entire Redridge Zone is now just one long Rambo joke, with Burning Steppes being more Rambo follow up.

The scary part is when Cataclysm debuted patch hit before the actual expansion launched, there was a lot of actual confusion and a few upset how all the original stories were now just a long train of meme and movie jokes, but it wasn't so loud. Of course, one of the most surprising turns was how a lot of the Horde specific players noted that the Alliance players had been shafted in the overall story department, as many of them claimed outright that the story the Horde received felt more fleshed out and actually engaging compared to the Alliance side quests which just felt like filler for something else that just isn't coming. But I think the obvious point where Blizzard dropped the ball on this came with the expansion when people got to experience to two new races and their starter content.

Now, the Goblins were pretty much a bunch of running gags and jokes about explosions left and right. I think people expected that and it was funny for them. Nothing more, nothing less and I don't think a single player expected it to be serious. But one of the things that was noted almost immediately was that the Goblins got not only starter content, but like every other race, got a zone devoted to them to carry them forward to level 20. In fact, a previously under used zone, Azshara, was completely remodeled to where it is now a Horde symbol, for no reason other than blatantly obvious, with the zone being remodeled with goblin speed ways and such. That was cool and many hoped and expected something similar for the Alliance.

Sadly, the ball was dropped badly in this case. Gilnean characters, also referred to as Worgen, received a starting epic storyline and it felt like it was going somewhere those there were a lot of obvious holes in points, but as the story reaches a climax... it just ends. No closure, no nothing. Worgen are shipped off to Darnasus and basically become Night Elves from that point forward, and the King vows revenge and he will reclaim Gilneas, and hangs out with King Wrynn in Stormwind. Needless to say I think the outrage was obvious at this point, with even Horde players upset over how badly this was. It demonstrated that Blizzard either rushed, didn't have a clue where it wanted to go with this, or just didn't care like they claimed, or possibly all three.

Many have noted how much love and attention the Goblin side content has received for starting players, and the how everything felt fully fleshed out. The Worgen content, while epic in scope, especially compared to the Goblin stuff, just ends with no closure or anything. In fact, as I am writing this, my character is sitting in what is dubbed the "Ruins of Gilneas" despite the only thing that would qualify as a ruin would be the northern part near the Greymane Wall. With a bit of tidying up, the entire city would be a functional capitol city just like any other city in the game world.

In short, this is nothing but a travesty, so much potential wasted. The original concept idea I understood was Gilneas was going to be what Tol Barad turned out to be, and I can just say, thank God that didn't happen. Tol Barad being one of the worst examples of competitive PvP in an attempt to copy WAR's PvP lake system and failing utterly. Some excuses were pinned up in how they couldn't get it to work, but in the end, I just think they have no idea what to do.

The kicker is, you can tell they were aiming at making it a capitol city to because there is an actually fully fleshed out map for it being a capitol city lay out like any other capitol city. Tells you the district names and everything. There are mailboxes all over to and I can make out where the ideal place they were planning for the auction house would have been to, but again either time constraints of the simple fact they had a worry they didn't want to contend with that stopped them.

In short, Gilneas suffers because of one thing and one thing only; Blizzard's worry that either Alliance will grief low level Horde players, or Horde will grief low level Alliance players. Though this is a legitimate worry, considering all things, this is an ill-founded one since both do an incredible amount of newbie griefing no matter the circumstances. So in short, this reasoning, which seems to be the only real one presented (besides they rushed as is evidenced by the shoddy Alliance content) is as weak and flimsy as a toothpick in holding this up.

Honestly, I love the atmosphere of Gilneas. I am a long time Ravenloft fan. For those who don't know, it was a campaign setting in Dungeons and Dragons. One based around story and gothic horror. Now some will tell me to go to Duskwood or play Forsaken on the Horde, but that isn't exactly what I call a solution, especially when there is no closure to a major gap in this critical storyline. Hell, I took a friend through the Gilneas arc recently, since he never did it and when the ending snuck up and bit him in the ass like that he was literally dumb founded that that was all there was to the entire starter content for Gilneas. He was actually rather upset that they ship us off to Darnasus to do elven content, and was even more upset when he found out that all Gilneas got was a tree within a tree in the capitol city of Darnasus.

Admittedly, the storyline was going beautifully and quite epic, seemingly starting at least a year, if not longer, before the entire Cataclysm happened and finishing right after the Cataclysm hit. Grant it a few points of the story made no sense, like for instance, why did the entire village of Duskhaven jsut fall into the sea? We were up at Greymane Manor, I think we would of least heard that happening, if not felt it, especially from the tidal influence that would of caused in the region alone, but instead, we don't realize Duskhaven is gone unless you actually look and see it's in the water now as you drive the carriage by. And many might not even notice for themselves to begin with.

The ending basically conveys that we take a Horde gunship and crash it into the Forsaken lines the ones launching plague bombs on the city. Now, I don't know what concept that falls under, but that is a clear victory in any book and should demonstrate we stopped the Horde, and saved the city. But instead of staying to start rebuilding the decimated Gilnean country-side, we tuck tail and run on the nearest elven boat without any real reason even though they state we won the day and force the Forsaken out with King Greymane declaring one day we will return.

Okay Blizzard, patch 4.2 is about to come out yet we've still not gotten one step closer to actually returning to Gilneas. And it's obvious to anyone with eyes that you have or had plans to make this place at least livable, if not an actual full blown player city. I am sure there is someone there at Blizzard who even had an entire NPC layout plan for the entire city with what happens at what time of day, just like Stormwind and Orgrimmar. Yet, you continue to sit on your laurels and do nothing about this obvious blight on your record to being serious about your very own lore.

But I think the real question is how do we resolve this issue then? Well put it simply, I say we need to have an event to make Gilneas an Alliance city again. It's obvious that Gineas beat back the Forsaken, but for whatever reason Blizzard was too worried about potential griefing or something of that nature. I think that is just a wash in and of itself, and at this point we can safely say, if players are going to grief they are going to grief and it doesn't matter what you do to try and stop them. This place is beautifully designed and very atmospheric, something a lot of the world of Azeroth lacks, unfortunately.

In short I would change the story up, even do more *gasp* phasing of the local areas. In this case, Silverpine Forest. Have one phase for starter Gilneans, starting at Pyrewood Village, and the other phase starting at where ever the Horde enter from at the north. This use of heavy phasing was done in Swamp of Sorrows and I have to say it worked beautifully. The fact this is not used, especially when there is Dalaran mages and especially Hillsbrad survivors that need saving is bewildering, to say the least. These areas don't have to be PvP zones and the phasing will keep them out of each other's hair until they complete their story, but to shuffle people off with no story closure is just bad, and the fact that Gilneas has not taken back their city by now is just distraughting.

The actual Gilnean countryside is rather large, but I would repopulate in some monsters and such here and there and maybe some remnants for either the Horde or Forsaken in particular for things to fight against. Stormglen Village would, of course, probably be like a new Goldshire area and I would actually treat it as such, including for Halloween events when the horseman attacks the inn, ironically that probably be the most appropriate to.

Various trainers and such can be spread out along the countryside but the main course would be in the city itself which is already appropriated properly. The cathedral would house the priests and the paladin trainers, of course, military area for things like warriors, rogues, hunters and Greymane Court could be where the mage trainer and warlock trainer are housed. Druids and Shaman would most likely be the wild card trainers, but placing them in Northgate Woods would not be out of the question. Merchants Square looked like it was being aimed at setting up in a bazaar type structure with the various merchants around. An auction house could either be in doors or in the bazaar style set up and of course a bank would be desirably placed somewhere in there.

From there I would actually have the people in Menethil Harbor abandon the town as it's completely lost, no matter what might be claimed, and move to Keel harbor where the boats to Dustwallow and Howling Fjord now come to. In short, there is little point to go to a port city that is under water now, and trying to pretend the ships would even dock there is a big stretch. Some things would have to be repaired like the bridge but we are led to believe that several months have passed since Gilneans "fled" their country to begin with and their start of adventuring over in Darnasus anyways.

A flight path to the city or several actually, would have to be installed but in general that can be acceptable. The last thing that would have to be considered is where King Greymane stays. Of course, his house is way out alone, which is technically easy for any flying horde to get to. Guards of all kinds would have to be placed around and such, or maybe Greymane sticks around with King Wrynn or something or hangs out in the city proper itself. Whichever.

Gilneas itself is called Ruins of Gilneas on the map, but again to anyone with eyes these are far from ruins and it's obvious there was a plan for the city as a whole. Blizzard actually needs to do something with it and stop letting this beautifully constructed and atmospheric zone go to waste. It was one of the few things in the new expansion that wasn't riddled with internet memes and clich├ęs and it felt great. That and the worgen need an actual home again, considering how badly shafted worgen have been this expansion and the attempt to make us feel we have a place in the world with the replacement of former key NPCs and peppering us in random, out of the way locations might seem to be in good faith, but over all just tells us you weren't even sure where to take your story at this point.


  1. It's capital not capitol. There are bigger things to worry about than the lack of yet another city, everyone would just stay in Stormwind anyway. I think new raid content (more than 7 bosses per tier, I know they don't want massive instances, but they could just make 2 smaller ones) is more important than them spending vast amounts of time on 2 capital cities (the goblins would have to have one to keep things fair). It would take a whole new patch for a nice piece of scenery that only a few people would use. You are right though, Horde have better questing stories than alliance but nothing can be done about that now. The lack of raid content for 6 months is more concerning than not having a capital city for the worgen. As for the lore, you leave when you have pushed the forsaken back but they are still in Silverpine trying to push in so you can just assume that they are still fighting, wars take time.

  2. Raiding only matters to the minority of gamers. Lack of story and game content period is more concerning. I'm sorry, but raiders are in the minority. That should of become obvious when Blizzard is trying to get more people interested in raiding and their past statements have always been that only a small percentage of people actually raid.