Friday, July 25, 2014

BETA: One Day

The following post does not contain a plot spoiler PER SE, but there IS a spoiler for a section of in-game content which is (I believe) deliberately included to provoke a particular reaction. If you are sensitive to such things, PLEASE STOP READING NOW.

Killed where he stood.

I've debated this post for a bit, and after consideration I am going to run with it, because... well, if it works for 'Game of Thrones'... Not making any sense? Gimme a bit, you'll see :P

World of Warcraft is, as the title suggests, not a game about bunny management (though of course some people would disagree.) It is based in a conflict between two factions and countless races which stretches well over ten thousand years. For me as a player, that conflict has never really registered as significant until recently, where events in Pandaria made me stop and consider the nature of my interaction with that portion of the 'Universe.' Of course, it seems a bit ridiculous, in a game where you are regularly and systematically destroying mobs on a daily basis to even consider the notion of conscience over casualty but since the Alliance rolled into the Jade Forest and unlocked the Sha (whether it was out fault or not I believe is still up for some debate) there's been a niggle of disquiet in my mind. The notions of 'heroes' and 'villains' are often not well painted in MMO's, but this time around I have to give due credit to whoever is planning the Alliance side of things.

When I come across tableaux like the Draenei above, I am genuinely scared of what the Iron Horde is capable of.

Many people have argued that because of the current nature of the Beta it is difficult to accurately judge the 'mood' of questing, and to a certain extent this is entirely correct. However, what is overridingly apparent from the little I have taken part is that the Iron Horde means business, are taking very few prisoners and, in most cases, are going to systematically eradicate the Draenai race in their push to World Domination. Oddly, this point was reinforced by, of all things, a Vignette, which resulted in me stopping playing for a good five minutes as I sat in amazement at what I'd just seen. I was shocked, stunned, and extremely impressed by the power a simple incident could bring to the gravitas of Talador's precarious situation.

The Remains of Deceptia.

This small space, quietly smouldering, was previously the spot where a bunch of Green Draenei NPC's seemed to be quite happily going about their business. In fact as I approached them they seemed unaware that the area they were in was being invaded... that was, until a shell whistled in and destroyed the entire place, leaving nothing except a Vanity Item: Deceptia's Smoldering Boots. A quick check on Wowhead confirms that this event has been recently introduced to the game and was previously a placeholder:

It is true, and utterly effective, and yes the Draenai in question whistles past your face so you can clearly see the look of terror on her face. Just goes to show, how a simple moment can have such a strong reaction to an unsuspecting viewer (hence the spoiler warning above.) The thing is, on reflection, this shock is actually quite relevant in the context of the murdered Draenei above. Blizzard are only showing us the brutal foe we are supposed to be engaging with using comedy with shock value, to reinforce the casual and brutal manner in which the Iron Horde is eradicating everything in its path. Of course, there's at least six people on Twitter at this point who'll already be telling me I'm reading too much into this anyway and it is just a game. I'll respond this is the most I've been moved to fight for my side since I arrived in Pandaria several years ago and was asked to bomb the Horde into obliteration.

I may well be over-analysing this, but for people to want to play the game at plot level, there needs to be a point.

If all you care about is your purple loot and your Mythic Set, all of this is probably moot to begin with, but for those of us in the fields for whom the 'story' of Warcraft is our meat and drink, the early signs of this conflict are grim indeed. I'm not going to give out any spoilers, but what is immediately apparent are the weapons of war have very much received a massive overhaul. In fact, so comprehensive is this upgrade of hardware and machinery that many of those items remain unfinished.

It'll look good when its done. It will also hurt.

The final sequence of quests in Shadowmoon are fairly uncompromising in terms of eradicating the Iron Horde with equal force to theirs, and that theme plays out across Talador with the zone peppered with impressive Orc encampments. Again, I have no desire to spoil anyone with what I've seen and what has played out but the number casualties should leave you in no doubt that Garrosh means business. It also means that the importance of your individual contribution via the Garrison Outposts will have a very significant impact on what transpires in EVERY zone, and what this militarisation is doing is gives the genuine impression that your actions ARE making a difference to what is happening in Draenor. I suspect making the war more personal is a deliberate means by which players will be drawn into the conflict, and certainly that's worked for me on the occasions I've come face to face with the heartless nature of my enemy.

I'm scared, and I want to make sure the Draenei are safe.

Needs more bigass Dwarf buildings.

Motivating people to quest without engagement is often hard work. I've found myself utterly engrossed in the process since the new zones, wanting to see how the story progresses and curious to see how the Alliance will survive being very much on the back foot. No massive armies here as yet, no unlimited supplies of troops and equipment, just you as Commander and the people you've managed to pull through the Portal with you. I'm halfway through 94 and am keen to keep on with the adventure, which is a massive step forward from my feelings in the last Expansion. Even though I may not like what I'm seeing, I understand why it is being presented to me.

This is war, and it is uncompromising, and it is my job to stop it before it extends to Azeroth.

1 comment:

Drea B said...

it sounds like I won't be taking my 8yo questing through this exapc. I've managed to avoid the worst bits in MoP, but I'm not sure I can do it this time around.