Veteran of the Wrathgate

18th March 2009 – 10.51 am

Pleased with my progress to help the Wyrmrest Accord and the good work I have done in Wintergarde Keep my death knight is sent to Fordragon Hold for further instructions. It is there that I bear witness to a massive struggle outside Angrathar the Wrath Gate, Alliance and Horde combining forces against the powerful Scourge commanded by Arthas himself. Fordragon pushes forwards and a victory looks possible until the Nixon of the Forsaken crashes the party and spews some toxic gunk across the whole battlefield, killing hero and villain alike.

It is a glorious cut-scene and completely unexpected. The Lich King makes an appearance, heroes of the Alliance are tragically killed and the entire area around the Wrath Gate is irrevocably changed. And it doesn't end there. The huge implications of the Forsaken's involvement in turning against the whole world are investigated, sending me to Stormwind for an audience with the king before being charged to help with an assault on Undercity to assassinate the betrayer!

There is an awful lot that is exciting about the culmination of at least two long quest chains. An excellent use of phasing allows for the area around the Wrath Gate to be changed for any player completing the chain, where once Alliance and Horde fought the Scourge there now grows a field of flowers. Even if you have rolled a Horde character and visited Undercity, or perhaps been lucky enough to been part of a raid to assassinate Lady Sylvanas Windrunner, it is still thrilling to be transported to Tirisfal Glades where you join a powerful Alliance force venturing in to the heart of Undercity, the Forsaken capital and normally incredibly dangerous territory.

It's a shame, in that case, that the actual experience is a little underwhelming from a gaming point of view. It isn't really a problem that the death knights get a similar assault quest at the end of their starting zone, because even though I may have already done a comparable quest it is still epic in scale and tone. The problem is in the implementation. As with the death knight raid on Light's Hope Chapel there is a feeling of invulnerability, even with dozens of high-level elite mobs attacking all at once. The buffs from the NPCs grant extraordinary strength and continuous healing to the point where you may as well be running through the Deadmines in a group of 80th level characters. It might be possible to get yourself killed but you'd have to do a succession of really stupid things.

I imagine the dilemma of how to ensure players are able to survive stems from the way the quest line is a timed event rather than triggered. It seems that the quest repeats continuously, restarting after a set amount of time, regardless of how many players have turned up, or indeed any. Without the mechanics to scale the event automatically to the number of players present it thus has to be possible to complete the event solo, particularly given the prerequisite circumstances of the long quest chains making it difficult to form a group. Sadly, this means that the epic battle engaged in Undercity is a fait accompli, relegating you from heroic adventurer to captive audience.

Never the less, being an audience to a world-changing series of events is still an exciting experience. Witnessing the tragedy of the Wrath Gate and the consequences suffered by both sides gives new depth to a world that has been resolutely static for its first few years. The blossoming landscape that used to be a battlefield serves as a reminder of the past, as well as a warning for the future. The next big step is for the world to make up its mind whether you are The Hero or just another soldier.

  1. One Response to “Veteran of the Wrathgate”

  2. Hello! Just found your blog and I like it! Your comments are interesting, and I agree about the raid on Undercity. I did feel like a captive audience. Then again, I was utterly alone with Wrynn and Proudmoore due to the hour, so perhaps it was best.

    Bookmarking your site, and looking forward to reading more of your thoughts! :)

    By Raquel on Jun 10, 2009

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