Editorial: Did I Fall Asleep?

by on November 25, 2010

Contains some minor spoilers for recent events.

Let’s get something out of the way before I start here: Orgrimmar is really very pretty indeed right now. I took the flight from Orgrimmar to Thunder Bluff this morning, and it was stunning. I love the new stuff. The Blizzard Art and Design teams have hit it out of the park as far as I’m concerned.

I should also emphasise that I’ve only played for about an hour or so since The Big Patch Of Ultimate Changes, so I’ll acknowledge that there’s plenty of stuff I haven’t seen yet.

Nevertheless, I’m very unhappy. I went to bed last night and woke up to find that the world had been entirely destroyed, burnt to ashes – shattered, in fact – and then totally rebuilt. All of this in the few hours I was asleep.

It’s really thrown me. It’s not that I didn’t know it was going to happen – of course I did – it’s just that I (perhaps foolishly) thought that I might get a chance to see it happen.

Remember when details of the proposed changes for Cataclysm first started to leak out? Remember how exciting it all was? Orgrimmar is going to be destroyed! Thousand Needles will be flooded! The Barrens will be split in two, with a huge volcanic chasm running down the middle! Thrall will get a new outfit! Some people were upset, some people were excited … but everyone agreed: this was going to be awesome. Personally, I’ve been looking forward to this for a long time. The most tumultuous and (literally and figuratively) world-changing event in Warcraft’s history: I couldn’t wait to experience it.

Unfortunately, I can’t. It’s already happened, and I missed it.

Do you have a favourite TV series? One that you watch faithfully week after week? One that has you literally bouncing on your seat with excitement at every brilliant plot twist? What if your friends were having an all-night marathon during which they planned to watch the whole of Season Three, one episode after another? It sounds great, but the problem is you’ve only just finished watching Season One. You don’t know what happens in Season Two, but you do know that there are major plot changes. It’s set in a different country, a few of the major characters actually die, and the whole feel of the show shifts into something much more epic. Much as you do want to watch Season Three, you’re probably going to turn down the invitation until you’ve caught up on Season Two.

Well, that’s how I feel. I’ve been looking forward to the shattering for months. I wanted to see Deathwing drop from the skies to rain destruction down on my old familiar haunts. I wanted to wander through the smoking ruins of Orgrimmar marveling at the destruction. I wanted to see the world being gradually rebuilt. In short, I wanted to play the game, rather than watch Blizzard play it for me.

I feel like there’s a whole bit of the game that everybody else has played and that I missed out on. I feel like I’ve been away from the game for months, not days. I’m reliably informed that “it all happened in the book”, but that’s not good enough. I don’t mind Blizzard sidelining more and more of their lore into the various spin-off media. This isn’t lore, though: this is a massive upheaval. It’s a change that is absolutely guaranteed to fundamentally affect every single character in the game, player and NPC alike. More to the point, I was looking forward to it as one of the most exciting things ever to happen in the game. I played through the Elemental invasion, and enjoyed it, but only because it felt like an ominous precursor of things to come.

Now, I just feel cheated. We’ve gone straight from “The Cataclysm will happen” to “The Cataclysm has happened”, without passing through “The Cataclysm is happening” on the way. I feel distanced from the game, in a way that I never have before. My suspension of disbelief just isn’t strong enough to allow me to accept that the grunts built New Orgrimmar in just a few short hours. The Barrens have indeed been split in two by a rift of molten destruction, but it’s no problem. It just gave the Alliance a chance to built a big stone keep at the edge and stand around looking smug. It’s all fine now. Crisis over! As usual, the NPCs have sorted everything out, and as usual they didn’t need you. When Deathwing finally does die, I fully expect to be stood in the doorway holding the coats while Hogger has a ten-minute monologue and then deus-ex-machinas the dragon to death.

Don’t even get me started on Cairne and King Magni. This is how you do an off-stage death.

All I can really say is: Blizzard, can I have a turn now?

If you enjoyed this article, check out our other posts from these categories: Editorial Feature,World of Warcraft

{ 11 comments… read them below or add one }

Teena November 25, 2010 at 11:27 pm

I couldn’t agree more. I do go and roll a couple of baby toons so I could go through the new starting zones. So far the undead (I’m up to level 23) has given me tons of explanations and video’s and cut scenes of what happened. I hope when I get to the other starting areas they’ve done the same as well. It’s been an awesome experience. Perhaps go play in the starting zones before Dec. 7th hits, it might help ease some of this.


Nils November 26, 2010 at 9:54 am

I feel the same. But then it is probably unrealistic to exspect Blizzard to take MMOs to the next level. At least not with WoW ;)
What could and should have been done better was this:
They should have told us that 1 year has past now since the destruction and ..  .. .. >epic story<.
But story telling was always one of those things that Blizzard is real bad at – in contrast to the story that is actually quite good. Let’s see what Bioware can do about it. They are traditionally abysmal at stories, but shine at story telling.


Nils November 26, 2010 at 9:55 am

@ Teena:
The Undead zone is by far the best. The Tauren starting zone, for example, is basically unaltered.
I strongly recomment every WoW player to have a look at the undead starting zone. It is fantastic.


Secatus November 26, 2010 at 5:26 pm

Half of what you want happened in the novel “The Shattering” by Christie Golden (Magni, Cairne) and half of it happened in the Cataclysm Cinematic that launched when you fired up after 4.0.3a (Barrens splitting, Darkshore destroyed, 1k Needles Flooded)
While I agree it’s a little disappointing to not have been able to experience these things firsthand with my character, I also can’t imagine a solid way that Blizzard could have done all of it in-game without months and months of lead up time, not to mention whether the structure is there within the game to actually pull something like that off.


Azure November 26, 2010 at 10:56 pm

THANK YOU!! I tried to explain this to my brothers and a couple guild mates and they didn’t get what I meant!  This is totally how I feel… very disconnected.
It’s was much easier to suspend disbelief with other xpacs because we were getting new areas with no previous memories attached to it.  Sure they had to explain how it got found, but the rush from exploring a whole new place helped to cover any flaws.  BUT all these changes to the old world just my GOD!! I find myself saying, “Why did a whole area get taken over by the Horde?? Give it back!!!! It’s mine!! No! %@%!&!!!” and wondering what the hades happened and why.  It’s like constant irritating slaps to the face and I want to know why and how… (yeah, I was one of THOSE kids.)
I understand why Blizz couldn’t actually soot up more buildings and have us experience more catastrophe, but wouldn’t it have been awesome if in these 2 weeks, we could wander around ruined buildings? Maybe do some mini quests where we rescue people?  Turn in quests for wood and rebuilding materials.. stuff like that! Or hades if they had given us another more comprehensive cut scene, instead of the leaving us with just disjointed teaser that doesn’t really have much substance.  Expecting players to read a book or  create a new character to get more back story is pretty weak. :(    Especially since this is a world we have been running around in for 6 years.
On the upside… wow the world sure is more beautiful! I feel crazy running around the old world trying to take in the new sights!


PVE Rogues November 29, 2010 at 3:47 pm

I feel really stiffed by the changes made too. I love the new stuff but I cant help thinking it was a major error on blizzards part to just go from elemental invasions to rebuilt cities after detahwings been. Is it too much to ask for to see a little of the action not just wake up one morning to see the aftermath supposedly many months down the line if you factor in rebuilding an enitre capital city. Not to mention the huge cemetary stormwind nwo has which hints that it was an epic struggle but laughs at us for not being able to witness it despite the shattering hype.


Teena November 29, 2010 at 8:05 pm

It looks like they’ve given us a bit of the story in written form. Perhaps in time we’ll get even more.


Zato December 8, 2010 at 8:23 pm

Yup, I totally feel the same way, and have told other people how disappointed I’ve been in the transition. The elemental invasion should have ramped up and up until Cats was turned on.. and the cities should have all been on fire and stuff.

It just feels, odd. I don’t feel a part of anything that just happened.


Koj December 8, 2010 at 11:22 pm

Not to put a damper on things, but how could Blizzard really make what you’re asking work from a gameplay perspective? Org has burned to the ground, I get to take part! Wait… where’s the bank? Where’s the auctioneers? Where are my trainers?!?
How about leveling in the old world? While some of the current quests could work in a world between the old and the new, there are others that would not fit within that transition. Should Blizzard create new leveling content that will only be available for a couple of months?
I guess it would be nice to have experienced everything. However, it simply is not practical. Blizzard is good, but they’re not miracle workers.


Revrant December 9, 2010 at 2:59 am

Seen a few posts like these around, not sure what exactly you people were expecting, they discussed this idea in theory but the reality is that it was not possible.
They all kept talking about the lame elemental invasion as a “pre-event”, and I never understood what the heck they were talking about, now I see blurbs in Trade, posts on forums, even guild members acting as if the Cataclysm was going to be the world event.
I never had these delusions, I knew the game would be patched in 4.0.3a and I would be in a whole new world, sorry it didn’t match up with what you had in your head.
The only thing I could suggest is, in hindsight, maybe being more informed would have braced you for the reality of the change?


Skyweir December 9, 2010 at 8:22 am

For a little while. You can go now, if you like…


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