Monday, January 5, 2009

Veteran of the Wrathgate

Having played my first character to 80 using only the zones on the right half of Northrend, it was only this weekend that I finally saw the Veteran of the Wrathgate quest chain, including cinematics and battle for Undercity. It is impressive to what heights story-telling in World of Warcraft can rise. Is this the future of questing?

In general questing in Wrath of the Lich King is better than in classic World of Warcraft or The Burning Crusade. There are still a lot of kill 10 foozles quests, but the number of quests where you get to do something else than just go somewhere and kill some mobs has gone up considerably. And there are more quest chains in which the player is actually able to change the world, with clever use of phasing, that is showing different players different views of the game. And there are more scripted events, in which you can meet the Lich King, but not fight him directly.

The Veteran of the Wrathgate quest series adds cinematics and a large-scale battle to the mix. Cinematics are ultra-rare in World of Warcraft, there is one on character creation, and one in the middle of the Magister's Terrace dungeon, and that's about it. Death Knights get another large scale battle as finale of their destiny quest chain. The Wrathgate story really brings the player closer to the lore. The whole thing just feels epic, like a real "quest", not just some errand you run for the local farmer.

That isn't to say the thing is perfect. To get to the good part of the quest (Good write-up of the required quests for Hored here.) you need to do several series of pre-quests, which in hind-sight are related, but would be impossible to find without a guide. The average player basically arrives at the Veteran of the Wrathgate achievement because he was trying to do all the quests in the Dragonblight zone, not because there was an initial grand quest design to follow.

But the whole thing shows what is technically possible. And makes you wonder why there aren't more events like that in WoW. Sure, it wouldn't be possible to make every quest epic, but would one epic quest chain with cinematics per zone be asked too much? I sure hope that Blizzard adds more epic quest chains with cinematics and phasing in content patches and the next expansion.

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