Thursday, June 05, 2008

Heroes, not Tourists

I generally like Mount Hyjal. The setup is very different from a normal raid instance, with the trash waves, NPC allies, and bosses that come to you instead of you finding them.

However, one big negative for Mount Hyjal is that there is no purpose to the heroes being there. Unlike the previous Caverns of Time instances, where the Infinite Dragonflight is trying to alter history, pretty much everything seems to happen as it is supposed to. The raid isn't a band of heroes, they're a group of tourists.

I don't demand much from the lore in this game, but there's usually a mission behind our ventures into the various raid instances. Mount Hyjal seems to lack any purpose. It feels like Blizzard thought, "You know what was a cool mission/event in Warcraft III? Mount Hyjal! Let's allow players to revisit it." Playing tourist, rather than doing something heroic.

The Infinite Dragonflight are also superb villains. Mysterious dragons, with that awesome reverb effect for their voices. Epoch Hunter's reveal in Durnholde was an epic moment. Aoenus in the Black Morass made a really good argument for preventing Medivh from opening the Dark Portal. In many ways, the Infinite Dragonflight are the best villains in The Burning Crusade, and it was a real disappointment that they did not appear in Mount Hyjal.

The reason I'm writing about this now is that Blizzard is talking about the new Caverns of Time instance coming in Wrath of the Lich King, the Culling of Stratholme. And the manner in which they are talking about it seems to be emphasising the tourist aspect heavily, "The Culling of Stratholme was a cool mission in WC3. Let's have the players go play tourist with Arthas."

New CoT instances are a great idea. They're fun and often unique. But they need to be along the lines of Durholde and Black Morass, giving the players a heroic purpose, rather than Mount Hyjal, where the raid is just a gaggle of tourists.

Also, bring back the Infinite Dragonflight please.


  1. I'm actually kind of torn.

    I also like the Infinite Dragonflight. I would love to explore the lore and motivations behind them and their messing with the timeline.

    On that note though, I do like being able to see big moments in the past lore like the Battle of Hyjal. I remember the first time I went to Burning Steppes and ran over to Blackrock Mountain and said to myself "Oh man this is where Lothar had his duel with Doomhammer!" AWESOME!".

    I really do find that the lore is one of the things that keeps bringing me back to the game (the reason I wasn't really able to get into AoC). I think its important and exciting to see and experience major places and events from the previous Warcraft games.

  2. Yes, but they could easily have added some plot of the black dragonflight to the hyjal raid, which would still allow people to to revisit that content while making it actually matter.

  3. I agree, it's all about feeling that you have a purpose when you enter into an encounter or instance. It may feel like you're a ham actor asking his director 'what's my motivation for this role' but adequate justification is a pretty big part of making an RPG what it is.

    The problem with Mt Hyjal and The Culling is that we are not progressing in storyline, we're revisiting backstory. We already know how it all ends, so to keep the storyline progressing we need antagonists like the Infinite Dragonflight to make us think that the Role we Play has value and impact.

    Okay, I do know I'm a Lore Whore. But even so I think that for most players WoW is a whole lot more than game mechanics and beating encounters. Immersion in the game is important to enjoy the game, and immersion isn't provided by a series of disjointed encounters reintroducing old lore. Now Old lore with a new plot twist and stand-alone plot arch... I can dig that.

  4. Hello. As an aside, welcome to posting at Subcreation! I hope you come back :)

    Now to comment on your post:
    I hate the Infinite Dragonflight. I think they have bad voice acting; I cringed horribly the first time I heard Epoch, back in beta. My disgust extended so far as to motivate me to post on the beta forums, asking that they be scrapped, reworked or at least renamed ("Infinite" Dragonflight?) Sadly, none of that happened.

    Why am I so opposed to the Infinite Dragonflight? They constitute a lore twist without basis, something straight out of left field to justify including otherwise cool instances (I loved Durnholde apart from the I.D.). I see them as a placeholder, a stand-in and I don't feel their presence resonates deeply with WoW lore, or evokes a sense of epicness, of long threads of history coming together. The lack of any fleshing out of their story contributes to this; I can only say I am grateful that they lack a presence in Hyjal. I hope not to see them in Stratholme, as they'd be distracting from the real reason I want to go to Stratholme: to fight beside Arthas, to see the man, the paladin that walked Azeroth before the Lich King stole his soul.

    All that said, I agree with you that instances should aim to place players into the role of heroes and not tourists. I felt that was what Durnholde did, and I felt that the Dragonflight got in the way of that experience more than it contributed to it. The heroic aspect, for me, came from helping Thrall, not from fighting enemies I had never heard of until I saw them before me.

  5. Being that I have only stepped into Hyjal far enough to be stomped by Rage Winterchill... I hadn't really thought about it.

    You make a good point... the CoT instances always felt very epic and cool beyond the Auchindoin or Hellfire Citadel ones because of their lore base and well... beating on evil dragons is cool.

    I think the most recent Blizzcast talks about the new CoT raid and how they are changing it up a bit... hopefully we will see the return of the Infinite Dragonflight then?

  6. You might like this. From the podcast that came out today when talking to Kaplan (Tigole) about CoT: Strath:

    "And then I think it’s also really important that we continue to tell the story of the Infinite Dragonflight and sort of explain what’s going on with the Caverns of Time in general."

    So I think its somewhat safe to say there will be a resurgence of the Infinite Dragonflight.

  7. Hyjal was not only a tourist instance, it was bad at that. The overwhelming theme in the original Warcraft 3 mission, Twilight of the Gods, was that it was a desperate delaying battle against the unstoppable Burning Legion. No matter what you did, Archimonde was going to reach Nordrassil eventually.

    Instead, in the WoW Mount Hyjal the heroes have no problems keeping Scourge at bay and get bored waiting for the next wave. When you finally get the boss to spawn and kill him, it's time for the next attraction. No desperate retreating battles, just "Ok, we won. Let's give the Scourge our base now." It's like those old theme parks with lame animatronics. You just want the show to be over.

    And then there's Archimonde. When you first see him, he's already draining Nordrassil. You know, doing the very thing that Jaina, Thrall, Malfurion, Tyrande and Madivh wanted to stop from ever happening, even if it meant sacrificing the combined armies of the Alliance, Horde and the Kaldorei. But no worries. Just pick up your trinkets from your local tourist trap and off you go, kicking the snot out of one of the most dangerous beings that Azeroth has ever seen. Meanwhile, the mighty Kaldorei army is just going to watch while you doom Azeroth by standing in a fire like a bunch of retards.

    Speaking of the fight itself.. I hope you weren't expecting that desperate battle where mighty heroes sacrifice themselves to buy a few more precious seconds for their comrades. Because what you're going to do for the majority of the time is to stand at a distance well away from any danger and wait.

  8. Id like to point out that there should not be an option to make Gnome warriors.

    carry on



  9. clear MH a couple more times and you will want to stab yourself

  10. You pegged it on the nose; it was a "how cool would it be?" moment that Blizzard added. Drysc himself stated:

    It's a "time pocket" if you will. There's no intended link to the Infinite Dragonflight or their dastardly deeds of altered timeways, and you're not literally interacting with history. It's simply a way for players to experience some of the larger moments in Warcraft history, and admittedly the Mount Hyjal instance isn't really linked to the world for any rhyme or reason. The timeway presented itself, it's an amazing opportunity to be there and experience such a major event, and Archimonde drops phat purples.

    It's a bit disappointing that they didn't try to justify the reason we're there, but it is a rather cool instance, the fights are fun and sometimes have quirky little mechanics, and I enjoy heading back week after week.

  11. Shalkis, I agree with you completely. Perhaps the reason I stopped raiding 25-mans, the reason I still have not been inside Black Temple despite my guild clearing boss after boss without me, is the disappointment I felt in Hyjal.

    We wiped a few times on each of the first four bosses, and it wasn't like "oh no! you failed and now Jaina is dead and the world is doomed!" it's more like "oops, let's respawn the NPCs and try again."

    Whenever you kill a boss, it's not "we just had a minor victory, but hurry and drink up so we can be prepared for the demons headed our way right this moment!" it's more like "okay, let's distribute loot. Is everybody ready? Somebody go talk to Thrall so that we can start the next wave."

    And when you kill Azgalor and leave Thrall's camp, and you see Archimonde, all you can think is "is that tree supposed to be the world tree? It's kinda small... it's barely bigger than the other trees around here!" when you expect it to be somewhere closer to the size of Teldrassil. You know, the new world tree. And with Archimonde being big enough to climb the thing, you kinda expect him to be bigger than Prince Malchezaar.

  12. Shalkis, I agree with you completely. Perhaps the reason I stopped raiding 25-mans, the reason I still have not been inside Black Temple despite my guild clearing boss after boss without me, is the disappointment I felt in Hyjal.
    While Hyjal was a disappointment, Black Temple was not. If you have an opportunity to go there, please do. There's variety on the trash mobs, there's nice places for sightseeing like Supremus' area and the Reliquary of Souls. Finally, the bosses are interesting, especially Reliquary of Souls and Illidan. Even through Illidan is on farm status, fighting him still feels epic. There's unique music, speech from the three NPCs (Illidan, Akama & Maiev) and plenty of eye candy. Surviving even though he's thrown everything but the kitchen sink at you feels good. Even.. heroic.