Wrath of the Lich King in review: Part 1
As this expansion begins to wind down, I’ve been thinking a lot about what I liked and disliked about it. There’s a lot to talk about: from general thoughts, zones, quests, and raids to mechanics, items, and of course the evolution of the hunter. I’ll likely have to break this down into parts, but I’ll start with one of the main things I think Blizzard got right.
First, let me say that WotLK was miles and miles better than TBC. And the most important thing that made it better was this:
WotLK has a story that weaves through it’s starter zones all the way through it’s final boss: The Lich King. From the moment players step foot on Northrend, we feel the taint of Arthas’ madness. We confront his corruption throughout our leveling process; we battle his minions for the majority of the expansion. Sure, the story detours and weaves now and again into other stories like Malygos, or the power struggle within the Horde (sorry, I’m horde and I’m biased) or the tale of the Titans and Ulduar (which is in itself another fantastic story based in part on Norse mythology), but for the most part we are locked in constant struggle with one main villain and his machinations.
Unlike TBC, where really, we just leveled and fought bosses for …well, the hell of it as far as I can tell. Why exactly did we go to the Outlands again? Someone remind me why the naga are pumping the water out of Zangarmarsh and why I care. Refresh my memory on why Illidan had to die (other than simply being a raid boss and having fat loots): as far as I can remember, he was just chilling in the Black Temple and not really threatening all life as we know it.
Don’t misunderstand, there were parts of the TBC I liked (and some I didn’t obviously) but looking back, it just feels like it was a grind. To me it had almost no cohesive story. There was no submersion in the events surrounding me. It was hard to suspend my disbelief.
With WotLK, it feels like I am inside a fantasy book (yes, I am a nerd. I am comfortable enough with who I am to admit it) and my actions directly affect the world around me. I often tell my non-WoW playing friends that’s what keeps me coming back: It’s like being inside a good fantasy book. It also probably doesn’t hurt that Arthas reminds me a bit of Darth Vader and come on, who doesn’t like (original non special edition bullshit) Darth Vader?!?
The story is also one I’ve been searching for in my reading for awhile now. As I told my guild mates, I enjoy the Hero’s Journey archetype as much as anyone else, but I also tend to have well… a darker side. For some time, I’d been looking for a book where instead of the young farm boy learning from the old wizard, then saving the world and getting the girl all while whining about how hard it is being the “Chosen One,” the farm boy learns all he can from said wizard then blows him to bits, creates a rampaging army, enslaves the world AND gets the girl whether she likes it or not.
You know, just as a change of pace from seemingly every fantasy book ever published.
Arthas’ story is kind of that story. And it’s pretty well done. It’s kept me entertained for the last two years (yea, yea: along with actually playing the game!)
A good story goes a loooong way for me. I think Blizzard did a fantastic job with the main storyline for this expansion. I hope they can continue this trend for some time to come!