In our tenth installment of World of Warcraft Wisdom, I continue my series on the expansions – this time, The Wrath of the Lich King.
Here is my disclaimer: I love World of Warcraft: Wrath of the Lich King (WotLK). Of course, there are drawbacks, which I will address, but as a whole, I dig it. I remember seeing the trailers for it and thinking: wow, this is so cool. The story, in my mind, fits so much more nicely with the lore, as do the landscapes and the endgame. Located on Northrend, a new continent, the expansion reminds me so much of the fantasy genre roots of the game.
My first foray to Northrend was through Howling Fjord; while I did enter a couple of characters through the Borean Tundra, I prefer the Howling Fjord for the setting. After making the re-adjustment to being confined on the ground, which really was not that bad, I knew immediately that I was in a different place. Even though there is a little snow at Vengeance Landing and much of Howling Fjord, Blizzard went so far in detail – as to add a bit of steam emitting from the avatar. I was at first disappointed to see that I would have to run around, as Blizzard didn’t let us fly until 77, but once I got moving around, I was not sad at all. The landscape is frozen, except for Scholazar Basin (and I still don’t understand how Blizzard threw a rain forest into the tundra landscape) – as it should be: the Lich King has taken home here in the frozen wastes, a place that is cold to the bone.
Remember, Arthas has been hiding here, and he has made the place as inhospitable as possible. My guess, the inhabitants of Azeroth are not too fond of the cold. Then again, with Dwarfs and Gnomes, that is another story.
The first new monsters I encountered were Vrykul, who resemble vikings and other types of Norse themed people. The Vrykul were a wonderful addition to the game, as it takes place on the frigid continent, one would expect viking-like inhabitants. Of course, the Vyrkul were not the only new addition to the game, Blizzard gave us plenty of new breeds of monsters to fight. As we move through the frozen land, we meet new creatures and see rehashed versions of old ones.
Like all of the expansions, we were given something new, in this case, the Death Knight; mine is still a baby, resting at 63, I only play her when I get bored. Talk about an over-powered class. At first, there was nothing that could beat them, but through some retuning with patches and the like, the Death Knights became a little more balanced – much to the dismay of those who loved that their Death Knight could absolutely own any PvP scenario. But mine, she is sitting somewhere in Zangamarsh, waiting to be taken for a run. Regardless, it is fun being a part of the enemy in the game – albeit for a few levels. But you get to learn the story of the Death Knight and why they defected from Arthas. It fits so well in the overall lore and feel, along with this expansion.
If there is one thing that Blizzard does very well (of course there are plenty), it’s the back ground sound and music in any given area. The score for the game is impressive and suits the environment very well. Again, I turn to how both Howling Fjord and the Scottish Highlands feel – given the addition of the pipes. In each area that Blizzard has created, the music seems appropriate. With this expansion, they added a bit to the score that just seemed in touch with the overall vibe of the place.
As I wrote before, similar to Burning Crusade, WotLK kept casual gamers in mind, perhaps a bit too much. Yes, one can breeze through dungeons easily; yes, one can level quickly; yes, one can hit heroics quickly – but all of this happens far too quickly and too easily. If there is one gripe to be had about WotLK, it is that it is just too easy. I have heard it time and again, that WotLK is just so easy, so easy, in fact, that an old fart like me was able to tank any instance with ease.
Right now, as my baby warrior is just getting his toes wet in the Howling Fjord, I was able to maintain aggro much more easily than I was in any Burning Crusade instance (my warrior tanking leaves a bit to be desired, but that is another story for another time). As well, once you hit 80 in WotLK, then you were ready for heroics – and close to heading off to Naxxaramus.
These were decisions on Blizzard’s part that I found problematic. I like the idea that a player should work his or her way into the end game content – as they did with previous releases. Remember how long it took to gear up for Karazhan or any of those raids? What’s more, with Burning Crusade, at least one player in a group had to possess a key to run the heroics – which provided a nice balance between keeping it fun for the serious player, yet giving the casual gamer a chance to run some heroics and end game content.
Overly easy difficulty aside, WotLK did introduce players to some nice changes in how the game is played. One of those is phasing, which is when you complete a series of quests and change the landscape. If a player has not done these quests, then the players cannot see each other – nor play together until the other person has done so. I learned about phasing when I was helping a friend open up the Ice Crown quests, which I had completed and she had not. When we got there, suddenly, we could not see each other. Phasing is nice in that it gives players an opporunity to see a direct impact on their world – which, if you remember, is something I noted previously that is missing from our actual reality.
When all is said and done, I look back to WotLK and remember it fondly. It was my first time to really be able to level a character and get some experience in raiding. But, what I like so much more about it is the lore. Yes, i realize that fighting against the Burning Legion is embedded in the history of Azeroth; however, the feel of Northrend in its creation of setting and place, the monsters, the story, all seem so in tune with the history of the fantasy genre as a whole.
And now it is your turn: what did you like the best about your adventures in Northrend?
Once again, for the reminder, enjoy the trailer:
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