1,230 words of such extreme nerdiness that if Steve Urkel and Doogie Howser, M.D. had a baby, it wouldn’t be as nerdy as this.
Bro, you gotta break out of that Green Hills of Stranglethorn mindset and get with the 2011.
Foreword: Some people enjoyed these quests. If you are one of those people understand that I am taking issue with these quests, not your enjoyment of them. You are not less of a person for enjoying things. Save your umbridge and rage for class nerfs.
That said, the “epic” Thrall and pre-Firelands questlines are anything but.
I like questing. I’m that crazy guy who reads every last word of quest text his first time through, who needs little more than some flavorful quest text, a good story, and an objective to be happy. I like questing so much that back in Vanilla I rolled alt after alt just to do all those wonderful quests over and over again.
That said, I am completely and utterly disappointed by the new quest chains in 4.2. I can’t speak for the Legendary Staff questline because apparently it isn’t for Warriors (Lies! Lies I say!) but I can definitely speak for everything else. Thrall’s questline is about as epic as my breakfast (for reference I eat Raisin Bran every morning) and the setup quests for the daily hub are even worse.
I’m going to start with Thrall because he’s generally awesome. The first problem with this questline is that it’s completely unbelievable from the very start. It’s not that Nozdormu is finally back without so much as a “Sorry guys, I didn’t set my alarm clock properly”, or that the Twilight’s Hammer predictably comes to crash the party. The first sign this quest line is going to be less than “epic” is when one random bad guy we’ve never seen before (Leyara, Fandral’s too busy being smug to do it himself) stuns three Dragon aspects, one wanna be aspect, Malfurion and Aggra all by themselves. I mean seriously, that’s like walking into a mixed martial arts conference hosted by Bruce Lee, Chuck Norris, Jackie Chan, Jet Li and Donnie Yen when your name is “Punching Bag”, and winning. What?
So Thrall is dead and the aspects just give up on him because they’re too busy having unique character models to lift a finger. He’s only, as everyone so far has stated, the key to saving the world. Let’s just forget about him and let Deathwing win or something. Nice job guys, glad you’re in charge of protecting the world. When’s the next election? (Also, thanks for the warning Nozzy, I know you knew that was going to happen).
Anyway, Aggra drags us around on a quest to save Thrall because she’s a nerd and Thrall’s her only chance at a date. Fine, I like love stories. I’m that weird sensitive guy who likes both the BBC and the A&E versions of Pride and Prejudice. Let’s do this love story thing.
Now I’m not a game designer, but whose bright idea was it for this to immediately turn into “Aggra and a million of her best friends run around killing elementals while listening to ‘the Best of Thrall’”? That’s literally all you do. They aren’t even hard to kill, in fact if you did this last night you probably didn’t need to kill any elementals whatsoever because everyone was doing the quest for you already.
Don’t get me wrong, I have the utmost respect for the voice actors for Thrall and Aggra because they’re good at what they do. But this wasn’t epic. I did this quest on a woefully undergeared alt, and it was easier than fumbling with my authenticator on login. It took about as much time as well.
Did I enjoy listening to Thrall let out his various emotions in a unique way? Certainly. But “epic” is more than just taking an important lore figure and making a quest about them. “Epic” is about journeys, struggles, stories, successes and failures. This quest line was about as epic as Lord of The Rings would have been if Gandalf teleported Frodo straight to Mount Doom. It was effortless and because of that boring. I’d have enjoyed listening to datamined audio files about the same.
The best part, however, is that after the 5-10 minutes you spent effortlessly saving Thrall you don’t even get to see the world-saving ritual that warranted the Twilight Hammer’s intervention in the first place. You arrive back in Hyjal and apparently you just missed it because Thrall says, “Welp, now that that’s out of the way I’m taking this hottie home for some sweet orc lovin’.” Also Jaina and Tyrande are there for no apparent reason. But hey, purple cloaks right? The quest must have been epic!
The setup for the daily hub isn’t much better. Hamuul must be the most badass creature in existence because that same random bad guy from earlier who stunned three dragon aspects, two turtle doves and a Kalecgos aspect wannabe shows up and Hamuul just tanks her like a boss.
This is the high point this questline, purely because the classic Warcraft 3 Shadow Strike noise is used.
So after running around saving some druids from elementals about as deadly as kitchen matches, you return and find the druids under siege. You must protect Malfurion so he can summon Malorne in time to save everyone. Hamuul is desperately trying to hold the line, the same Hamuul who tanked anti-Mary Sue like nobody’s business. This will be epic!
Except by the time you’re done reading the quest text Malorne already revived, one shot Rhyolith and ran off to who knows where. You, the player, are left wondering, “Wait, what just happened?”
Seriously, Malfurion basically said, “No problem guys I got this. I’ll just summon Jesus.” and succeeded. Jesus then suplexed Godzilla before wandering off somewhere without so much as a second coming, apocalypse or hello. You’d at least think Jesus would take a moment to say something like, “I know I said I’d be back within a generation guys, but I grabbed a copy of Diablo 3 from the future and couldn’t put it down.”
And that’s it. That’s the “epic”.
I’ve seen some serious missed opportunities in my life, like that time I didn’t ask that cute waitress for her number even though she was totally into me, but these two quests take the cake. The quest to resurrect Malorne could have been an epic Battle for the Undercity style encounter with Rhyolith and Alysrazor. The Thrall quest line could have just as easily taken place with Lord Ahune style quests in Vortex Pinnacle, Throne of the Tides, Stonecore and Blackrock Caverns. This could have been some serious epic questing, and it could have taken more than 5 minutes without adding meaningless filler.
Instead, we got quests which were about as challenging as that quest you get to talk to your class trainer for the first time, and about as “epic”. They also are filled with lorelol moments and rely too heavily on “HEY GUYS LOOK IT’S ALL THESE SUPER IMPORTANT PEOPLE” to try and make them epic. Really, the Thrall questline was a glorified version of the Demoniac Scryer quest four times over, and Malorne’s resurrection was about as exciting as the jewelcrafting quest where you sprinkle glitter on nearby unsuspecting players.
I appreciate the effort that went into these quests, but they remain a profound disappointment when compared to any of the truly epic questlines of the past, including many in Cataclysm itself. You can do better Blizzard, you can do better.