Veteran of the Wrathgate

One of the novellas in Dragonblight is 95% great. There is even an achievement, so the game is pushing you towards quality content (as opposed to the achievement requiring The Green Hills of Stranglethorn). This is the 20-mission chain ending in The Battle For The Undercity from the eastern Alliance Keep. It is one of the central storyline quests for the expansion, and its backbone provides strength and structure.

This is exactly what you should have expected coming into the expansion pack: war with the Lich King. Entering Northrend through the Borean Tundra, this is what I saw coming, with Nerubians attacking right at the beach. The Tundra turned out to be a long digression, but the main thread picks up. You have a castle on the edge of doom, you have slavering undead hordes. Clear the crypt! Blast the mines! Save the citizens! There are a few misses along the way, but it features great heroics, you fight the undead just like you signed up for, and the NPCs praise you at every step for being the epic hero who is making a difference. You can pretend that it matters, and phasing tech helps the illusion.

It leads to the excellent cinematic that Blizzard used to promote the expansion. It really is a great video. We played it several times at the LAN party just after it was released, and we wondered when Blizzard was going into film-making. They really do make great trailers, and having played through the zone, it makes sense why dragons appear and burn everything at the end (a bit of a WTF moment in the original release). Phasing even brings the effects in-game.

The very end of the arc is horrible, absolutely terrible, just like the end of the Death Knight intro. It is a deconstruction of god mode, showing you that the game can become even more pointless if you crank all the dials to 11 and have immortal characters. Get healed for 10,000hp per second with similar DPS! Accompany your 12+ million hit points worth of allies into battle! You can join in the fight, pretending that your tiny contribution matters and that the outcome is not pre-determined, or you can go AFK and let the NPCs play with each other in a long, repetitive fight. Watch your raid boss allies fight the raid boss enemy for several minutes of pointless animations! Rather than sit through fifteen minutes with no gameplay value, I recommend reading the text on the wiki and alt-tabbing. The voice acting is the only value added by having it in-game, and that could have been done with a much shorter cut scene. Even the animation is shoddy, because Varian Wrynn resets to his default stance for a moment between each talking emote, making his swords flicker in and out of existence as he talks. It fares poorly coming directly after some of the best quests and visuals in the game.

I fear for the future of the industry when some players consider this last quest one of the “most epic.” No, the numbers and gameplay are meaningless, and the storyline advances only by wiping out the storyline advancement that happened in the previous cut scene. Hey, let’s have several speeches about how the Alliance and Horde must unify against a greater foe, show them doing so, finally cash out the implications of the Forsaken, and then hit the reset button immediately? And do the players who have not done the Frozen Throne bonus campaign have any idea what Jaina is about?

: Zubon

10 thoughts on “Veteran of the Wrathgate”

  1. The first time a character of mine became a veteran of the Wrathgate I was bored by being nothing more than an audience to the action. The second time, I actually nodded off.

    It isn’t ‘epic’ to kill a thousand ants with boiling water, and taking twenty minutes to do it doesn’t change that. It’s a disappointing conclusion to the quest change and achievement.

  2. It’s even less epic when the quest bugs and you don’t have the buffs. Everything except the normal Forsaken patrols curbstomp you, so I had to stay well away from the event and sneak in after Thrall and Sylvanas had cleared everything.

  3. That quest-line has even more impact for horde characters, who’d been aiding the Royal Apothecary Society in slightly suspicious experiments over the entire leveling game from the very beginning. It was a big oops for most of us.

    1. Which underlines that you can’t question them on those slightly suspicious quests from day one. You just go through the motions like everyone else. It’s not really an “oops” if you don’t have a way to change the outcome.


      1. you could refuse, for RP reasons I never did the apothecary quests. I was an undercover operative on my Forsaken. but other characers did.

        I was hoping for a few seconds a radical change was going to happen. Sylvanus betrays the Horde? Yes! Civil war here we come! I should not have gotten my hopes up.

  4. I think this is a great example of letting players tell the story versus making the player an extra in the pseudo-interactive and actually rather cinematic storyline on rails.

    IMO Star Wars: The Old Republic is in grave danger of taking this path.

  5. consider this:
    Phasing in world of warcraft means that other players are not able to see other players.

    As a consequence – any phasing quest must be completable even if you are the only participant.

    Yes it probably looks like a trail ride but there’s probably no way to make your contribution worthwhile.

  6. The moment the Battle for the Undercity becomes epic is when you’ve played it through from both Horde and Alliance viewpoints, and you’ve seen the whole story.

    The questline leading to it for Horde characters is full of portent, leading up to it for 2 zones worth of content, as Jezebeau mentioned. I found that, playing Alliance, the Wrathgate just kinda .. happened.

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