Some spoilers ahead, but not so much.
The more I think about Theramore the more disappointed I am in Blizzard. One person on my twitter stream remarked that he (or she; I think it’s a he but I’m not certain) enjoyed the scenario, and I suppose that’s true. I enjoy killing orcs with fire, and while it wasn’t really a challenge it does give me that satisfaction.
It could have been so much more.
I’d like to take a step back in time to late summer 2008, back when I first started playing the Wrath of the Lich King beta. I got Jana through Howling Fjord and was sent to Wintergarde Keep. And at that point I started what is almost certainly the most memorable line of quests in my Warcraft experience.
- I rode on a gryphon into the chaos of a Scourge-torn village to rescue panicking villagers who had no hope of survival. This quest was unlike any I had done before.
- I descended into a crypt to destroy a Necrolord who was raising scourge that would otherwise overwhelm the keep.
- I discovered that the village had been built upon a mausoleum, and that Thel’zan the Duskbringer, a powerful Lich, was going to send “a thousand thousand corpses” to kill us.
- I parachuted down at the far end of Wintergarde and drove a Steamtank to destroy plague wagons and ferry troops to the mausoleum. This quest was unlike any I had done before.
- I used a chain gun to destroy Scourge by the dozens while soldiers fled to safety. This quest was unlike any I had done before.
- I learned the location of Thel’zan’s Phylactery, which was on a giant undead frost wyrm. With the aid of NPCs, I downed the frost wyrm and recovered the Phylactery.
- I took the phylactery to coax the Lich out of hiding, with the aid of some NPCs. The NPCs and I were overwhelmed by the Lich’s power until Bolvar Fordragon, baddest of all Alliance badasses, shows up. I fight alongside Bolvar and defeat the Lich. Better yet, Bolvar recognizes me from a quest I did long ago.
- I then travel to Fordragon Hold, where Bolvar himself tells me to talk to Alexstrasza, the Queen of all the Dragonflights, and possibly the most awesome creature Jana would ever meet.
- Alexstrasza warns me of the threat of Galakrond, a gigantic frost dragon. She sends me off on a Ruby Drake to fight the Scourge and one of its many badass leaders. This is a quest unlike any I’ve done before.
- Alexstrasza then gives her blessing for the attack. I travel back to Fordragon Hold and give Bolvar the go-ahead, and then…
- BLAM. The best cinematic Blizzard has ever produced. Bolvar and the Alliance march on the Wrathgate! Saurfang rides down from the cliffs with the Horde, allied in purpose against the Lich King! Vrykul and ghasts and ghouls and other undead are slain! The Lich King appears! Saurfang charges! The Lich King decapitates him! Frostmourne absorbs his soul! Bolvar readies himself! Putress shows up on the cliffs above and launches plague bombs into the valley below! The Lich King says “Sylvanas” in a voice that shows that she is the one person he truly fears! The Lich King retreats! Putress laughs and says it is the time of the Forsaken! The valley fills with a green gas and the Alliance and Horde soldiers choke to death! Red Dragons appear and set the valley ablaze! I cannot say how incredible this cinematic was the first time I saw it after completing this quest line. It was like nothing I had ever experienced on any game, ever.
- I find Bolvar’s shield and take it back to Varian Wrynn.
- I travel with Jaina to talk to Thrall and Sylvanas in Orgrimmar. Sylvanas says that there was a coup and Varimathras and Putress control the Undercity.
- Wrynn gives the order to invade the Undercity.
- I invade the Undercity with Varian and Jaina! Yes, I invade the Undercity. We track down and kill Putress, and then we hear Thrall yell out.
- We meet up with Thrall. And then Varian Wrynn says: Not good enough, Thrall. AND WE FIGHT THRALL AND SYLVANAS. I get in a good few fireballs on Sylvanas before Jaina freezes us all and sends us back to Stormwind.
Yes, this was the Wrathgate sequence. It was without question the most epic questline in Wrath, involving plot, new mechanics, real interaction with heroes, betrayal, etc. Anyone who did this questline will tell you that Blizzard did an excellent job of not just telling the story, but letting you feel like you were living through it. That you were an integral part.
Wrathgate was the sort of thing that, after I had experienced it, I went out and told people that it was something they would want to play the game for.
There aren’t many opportunities for a Wrathgate event. I believe that the fall of Theramore was one.
And I believe that Blizzard blew it completely.
The experience of the Theramore scenario from the alliance side is that you and two friends kill a lot of orcs, loot them, kill an orc general that you had never heard of before and will never hear of again, and hear Jaina make some threats of vengeance which aren’t acted upon right now and probably won’t be acted upon for three more patches.
The thing is, the story was there. It was in the books. They had time. This could have been a signature event, one which the nine million or so current subscribers would use as a shining example to convince the six million or so who have left that they really need to play this game to see it.
But instead it’s a confusing event that is treated with less significance than your average dungeon.
Blizzard could have and should have done better.