Finally seeing the part of WoW that I waited years to see

Arthas, Falric, and Marwyn entering the Throne Room in WC3.

I know that I’m kinda late to the party with Icecrown Citadel, but I just went through it for the first time today and had a blast.  My Hunter hit level 80 today and I began doing instances with the guild to gear up.  It didn’t take more than one instance to get an upgrade and allow me access to the ICC 5-man dungeons of which there are three connected to each other.  Entering the first dungeon starts a quest that takes you through the Forge of Souls where you have to mess with their operation.  The second takes you out of the forge and into the Pit of Saron where you kill a couple bosses and try to locate the Lich King.  After a few really cool fights and adventurous moments you finally make your way to the Halls of Reflection and meet the Lich King.

You all know me as a fan of Warcraft lore.  It was really neat to see the story that I fell in love with in Warcraft 3 take another step forward.  Uther makes an appearance and talks with Silvanas as she and the adventurers (that’s us) are about to jack Frostmourne.  It’s revealed that there must always be a Lich King and that we can not kill Arthas in the Halls of Reflection; we must kill him at the Frozen Throne.  Arthas then banishes Uther and brings forth Falric and Marwyn.  Who are they you ask? They’re Arthas’ right hand dudes who became Death Knights and helped in the slaughter of Lordaeron and Arthas’ father.  They’re pictured on the right walking into the throne room during that cutscene that gave us all chills many years ago.

After Falric and Marwyn are defeated in the Halls of Reflection, Arthas gets pissed and walks menicingly towards your party.  An event begins where the party has to escape from Arthas who is essentially chasing you, albeit slowly.   Knowing the story and appreciating it made it all the more terrifying to see THE LICH KING walking right towards us.  Although it was only a 5 man dungeon and we had almost no chance of failure, there was a sense of urgency here to get the heck out of there.  In the end, of course, we escaped by bringing down a tunnel and boarding a zeppelin.

Blizzard has done a fantastic job telling the story, even if it has been bastardized along the way.  I’ve had my moments of rage over what WoW has done to Warcraft, and I have done my share of hating on Metzen and those involved with the direction of the story and gameplay, but the end result is so worth the wait.  I’m really excited to see the 10 man ICC Lich King battle.  This is the part of WoW that I’ve been waiting 4 years to see — the part we all knew was coming.  If you’re sitting on the edge deciding whether or not it’s worth your time to check it out — and you’re a fan of Warcraft — don’t rob yourself of the experience.

  • If you haven’t planned to already I’d STRONGLY suggest running Naxx and Ulduar. Naxx of course is pretty easy now if your half way geared but its still epic. Ulduar is very fun and loaded with lore related to the Titans, the Old Gods and the Litch King.

  • The important question, however, is will you continue to enjoy that same event over and over and over and over again until you’re presented with a new reason for your existence?

    These events should be beyond difficult and offer no loot … they should stand alone as achievements and progression, not become hack-n-slashed dead horse loot pinatas. But we all know that will never happen and the lore and achievements will continue to take a backseat to the carrot.

  • @Holgranth: I’ve done Naxx once with some people but didn’t get to pay much attention to anything other than drooling over a few of the boss fights. I’m looking forward to running it again. I did most of Ulduar 10-man too and my guild will be running it again. 🙂

    @Qpon: I’d be totally okay with it offering no loot. The story is fantastic and the experience of the whole encounter is ‘epic’. They may have to give other people loot, but not me. As for the ability to do it over and over …. that always diminishes I guess. Hopefully, since I’m hitting it on the tail end, I’ll be able to transition to Cataclysm seamlessly.

  • “Blizzard has done a fantastic job telling the story, even if it has been bastardized along the way.”

    I, on the other hand, think the story has been amazing. I realize some things have been retconned, but it’s for the better. When I look at stories of other fantasies, they pale in comparison of Warcraft.

  • “I, on the other hand, think the story has been amazing. I realize some things have been retconned, but it’s for the better. When I look at stories of other fantasies, they pale in comparison of Warcraft.”

    Wow. Just…

    This left me almost speechless. Look, the in-game cutscenes from WoW are pretty good and the lore is okay but really all it is is a pale imitation of every other damn fantasy story out there. Warcraft lore is a conglomeration of just about every popular fantasy story out there. From Warhammer to Star Wars, Blizzard had taken all of them, mixed them up and bastardized them. Hell, the Lich King is nothing more than a poor man’s version of Darth Vader.

    You want real, well-written fantasy? Try Song of Ice and Fire by George RR Martin. Heck, even the Warhammer stories and lore is deeper and, for the most part, better written than Warcraft’s.

  • I won’t spoil it for you, but I was extremely disappointed with the ending (When you defeat him in ICC proper).

    I suppose it’s one of those things there you -couldn’t- be happy with how they end his storyline, but still, it was a bit underwhelming.

  • ^Especially considering what a fantastic job they did with Illidan’s defeat.

  • Ulduar is quite frankly the best instance in the game by far, better than ICC for story.

    Frankly the end of ICC is both awesome and dissapointing, I always thought Arthas was kind of a wimpy annoying villain who got way overblown, but his defeat was very epic. Unfortunately the cut scene I found to be very meh, but I won’t get into spoilers, to each their own.

    Song of Ice and Fire btw is not a great fantasy setting, it’s very much a deus angst machina of everything going wrong constantly. The series also has a habit of killing off any character who is interesting to read about, which slowly killed off my interest as the only ones left by the third book were annoying.

  • @Downies, there’s such a thing called “personal preferences”.

    I apologize if I like it because it’s something I feel really involved with and constantly evolving. Warcraft’s story just moves quickly with me, and I like that. I love all of the little details that go unnoticed. There’s more to this game than Arthas and Illidan.

  • I just don’t get you anymore Keen. In one breath you praise the idea of players creating a story in an MMO, and in the next you happily play through Lich King where Blizzard enforces their vision of your character on you. I mean, I guess you can like both, but this blog is practically schizophrenic sometimes.

  • My biggest gripe with WoW was always the fact that they were willing to change the lore to fit with the game, and not change the game to fit the lore. That BS with Horde getting Paladins and Alliance getting Shamans will NEVER sit well with me, and now with Cat they’re prepared to bring the fuckery to a whole new level.

    But imo, and I have played close to 20 MMOs, and beta tested much more then that; WoW is the best all around MMO I have ever played.

  • @Mahlah: I can’t enjoy both? Get a grip on reality, please. Why do I have to polarize and say that only one way is good?

    I garauntee not even you follow your own expectations that you place upon me. Let’s put on the kiddy gloves and work through an example. Do you like Ice Cream? What’s your favorite flavor? Does that mean you ONLY like that flavor and would NEVER eat or even say “that was good” to ANY other flavor?

    That’s asinine, and you know it. Don’t hold me to any standards you can’t hold the rest of the world to.

    Sandboxes and player created stories and worlds are fantastic. They most definitely can be some of the longest lasting and most immersive and enjoyable experiences in online gaming. At the same time, stories being told in a more linear form like Warcraft’s story (Which spans FAR beyond just WoW) are both epic and enjoyable.

    If you think I’m schizophrenic for liking several flavors then you’re beyond even my attempts at reasoning with you.

  • yeah but most people eat chocolate and vanilla ice cream and i say they like them both. most people aren’t 5 year olds who when they eat too much chocolate ice cream claim they “hate it” and “never want to eat it ever again”, only to ravenously indulge themselves in chocolate ice cream once again after a week.

  • WoW is game driving lore, not vice versa. This is by design. If you accept that as being just as valid as the opposite approach (something like LOTRO or SWG where the gameworld is constrained to a “finished” work with boundries that the game makers must stay within), and accept that with it will come some retconning and changes in direction/tone over time, then you can appreciate its unique qualities.

    For me, I think one of the unique qualities is a feeling of “skin in the game”. Its one thing to feel the sort of immersion you get when you play LOTRO after having read the Rings trilogy and think “Wow, I’m actually IN middle earth! I’m IN the shire!”. But after a while, you begin to realize that regardless of what you do there, how you play there, you and your fellow players will not change the shire. It will remain as it is. It must. Contracts require it.

    With WoW, you still feel those same qualities of immersion that you feel with an SWG or LOTRO, assuming you’ve read the books or played the earlier RTS games set in Warcraft lore. But the difference is that you get that sense that this world WILL change, will react to you and your fellow players. If enough people want it, Tauren will be able to play pally class. Trolls can be druids. If you can relax and accept that the game is as valid a source of lore as the books, you begin to realize that lore will not be “broken” when this happens; it will be growing. And further, while maybe in a small or somewhat indirect way, YOU will cause it to grow. Thats a level of interactivity, of fantasy, that you just won’t find in IP-to-MMO settings.

    What I think would be an interesting path for Blizzard to take would be to bring this interactivity to a more center-stage position. Obviously, the story of the LK is told now. But how unique would it have been if the ending was a “multiple choice” question instead of a cut-and-dried story? What if Blizz let players make a choice during the LK encounter, a choice based in gameplay and surrounded by strategy, that affected the outcome of the story. Use player usage statistics as a “survey” to determine which way the lore would advance?

  • I think part of the problem is WoW’s restrictive gameplay.

    In a Warcraft RTS level the devs could drop you into the shoes of any hero in the lore and give you whatever resources where appropriate for the story. And when a level was finished they could move the story forward and not look back.

    By contrast in WoW:
    * Every encounter needs to wait for the player, the player need not visit them in any particular order.
    * Encounters need to be defeat able by whatever class the player selected years ago before they even started the game.
    * Encounters need to re-spawn when your done defeating them.

    The NPCs in Warcraft actively gathered armies, fought wars. They drove the action forward both during gameplay and between chapters. In WoW those same characters sit in a single spot month after month and year after year with a 40 yard aggro radius. They wait for my generic hunter to kill them over and over and over again.

    Alternately they can stand in a town month after month and year after year, and hand out repetitive missions limited to 256 characters of text. It’s hard to see any of them as anything other than passive and boring.

    It’s the same lore as always. The mechanics just make it seem worse.

  • They make billions and cannot even give you a proper CGI ending? The most important character in Warcraft for the past ten years gets treated like this on his death?

    They give you some cheap machinima, and you’re alright with that?

    Either way, they pretty much killed the Arthas story in WOTLK. In WC3 it was clear that he was a ‘good intentions lead to Hell’ type of character, but in WOTLK they purposely made any past reflection of him (e.g. CoT instance) into a ‘always was evil’. Really peeved me off. Goes the same for Kael, Blizzard purposely makes characters ultimate evils. I don’t know why… Why cannot the players be the dodgy characters? Why does everyone have to be the good guys?

    WoW lore is completely shot. Just that simple. And if you like it then you have very low standards for yourself. The original developers that worked on it in WC3 or the original WoW are long gone (and that’s not even talking about the WC and WC2 developers). Either way, WoW is a game, NOT a book (a.k.a. it wasn’t made for the lore, that would defeat the purpose). If you like the lore then maybe you should read LOTR or something and get some good quality stuff. WoW lore is so mixed up it is just one huge joke.

  • @Anne

    Rage much? You pointed out if we enjoy WoW’s lore, then we have low standards. That sounds a little bit narrow minded doesn’t it? I thoroughly enjoy World of Warcrafts lore, to the point where Arthas was more than just an Ultimate evil. Yes, maybe WoW itself didn’t tell the story all to well, but someone actually interested in the lore itself looks to the books and ebooks as well. I can honestly say that you seem to be ranting more than talking intelligently. The ending to the Lich was a tad bit underwhelming, even to the point where I felt a little ashamed, but it was far from bad. With Cataclysm right around the corner, I am not surprised (nor happy mind you) of the lack of content WOTLK is getting, but that is the way of things. Blizzard never dissapoints and I doubt they will be doing that any time soon especially with the Black Dragonflight opening in Wyrmrest and (rumored) potential Troll instance that is traditional to expansion endings.

  • Warcrafts lore was epic and great up until WoW.

    Vanilla wow’s lore was great.

    TBC’s lore was a shitstorm until Kiljaeden, which was an excellent finish to a mediocre expansion.

    WoTLK Had a decent finish, but the best villain in my opinion was in fact Yogg-Saron, and not Arthas.

    The big problem with Arthas is hes a nancy boy to be honest, you meet him constantly throughout the entire expansion, and you kick his ass constantly. Then he happily lets his powerful minions die, and pulls a “ILL GET YOU NEXT TIME GADGET” trick before running away. DK start zone? He loses. Wrathgate? Badly injured and flees. Icecrown? Watches his generals die and leaves. Utgarde? More of his minions die in front of him, and he leaves. Naxxanar? Arthas’s final defeat is much like his life, helpless and screaming petty threats as you spank his butt into oblivion. CoT btw did not make him look evil, just like an extremist, which is what he was in WC3 anyways.

    You get the picture, it’s hard for Arthas to feel menacing when he constantly loses, and the lore about him is so broken about deciding whether hes an irredeemable villain, or still has humanity. Arthas was intended to be evil, but to be honest I never viewed him as anything more than a lackey, a pawn, and his defeat made me happy that wow can focus on REAL villains again.

    Enter Deathwing, I squeed… yes you read that right, I squeed when I heard Deathwing was appearing. HE is a villain we can get behind, and he won’t be constantly being bitchslapped by anyone and everyone. Although the implication that Cenarius is being brought back to life leaves a sour taste in my mouth (patch notes stating the ancients plan to revive a certain demigod, oooh I wonder who THAT could be). I made a joke that WoW might turn into Dragon Ball Z the MMO – Where death is cheap.

  • @Danath

    Totally agree with Blackwing being a true enemy. I think Arthas as the Lich King is a true pawn like you said, but a more in-depth mention of that would take a while reading into lore. While I cannot wait for Deathwing, lets not forge the return of Ragnaros himself, albeit it will probably be something like Kael in Sunwell, but oh well its Ragnaros!

    I honestly think Cataclysm will be the expansion of its time, it just does everything players have wanted and we all get to revisit Vanilla WoW with a different flavor. Nostalgia + New Content = A whole different kind of good feeling.

  • @ Dietx

    How can you still have ANY feeling of nostalgia with any of the old WoW zones? I’m seriously curious. I know every WoW player has rolled several alts and leveled them at least through vanilla WoW. When I retired I had 4 80s and a few mid 70s. Granted you may not have done it as many times as I had (maybe you did it more!) but I lost any feelings of nostalgia after my second or third alt.

    People claim Blizzard is doing a good thing by bringing back vanilla WoW zones. I ask…why? Aren’t the players tired of recycled content and armor graphics? I’m sorry…but no, I don’t want to fight in the same zones another 500 times before the next expansion when I fought in those same zones 500 times years ago. Sure they might look a little different and have different encounters but with Blizzards budget and development team they can and should be looking further than rehashing old zones and adding a few races.

  • I guess I have feeling in it because I am one of those people that can direct memories from objects and images themselves. I have lots of good memories from Vanilla WoW from epic Raids, PVP, and friends. It’s all a matter of opinion of what you like and so I am sure (much like you) that there will be people who do not see remaking Old-World as that big of deal. To some of us, however, it is.

    I just believe the remaking of Old-World WoW is a great idea because not only does it change the shape of the game which will be interesting to all, but also that it will bring the games community closer seeing as Level 80-85 will be leveling in the same zone as 1-60.

    And about the comment on Blizzard’s budget, I believe you underestimate the load that there is recreating something that already was. Sure, they are not creating a new continent such as Northerend, but they shaping a new Azeroth and with that power they can do pretty much anything they want. With a villain like Deathwing behind it all and the City of the Naga, I think Cataclysm is going to be Blizzard’s biggest lore release.