Editorial: Did I Fall Asleep?

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?