Friday Top 5: In-Game Cinematics

For a return to the Top 5, I wanted to look at the in-game cinematics. To be clear, this list does not include any patch trailers or expansion cinematics. And for today’s list I’m looking at pre-Shadowlands content. Heck, Shadowlands could have a top 5 all their own with how many there are. Moving on to the list.

5. Immortal No More
This one is on the list not out of any enjoyment on my part. I found this to be part of the Mary Sue that we call Thrall after all these years and I’m honestly done with it. It’s why Garrosh’s death didn’t make the list. Players did all the work just to have that moment taken from us. Thrall at this point is no better, but it’s the impact of the scene. The dragons gave up their immortality (which, again, I find silly) for the people of Azeroth. That was huge, no matter how one feels about it.

4. There Must Always Be A Lich King
This video was the culmination of a fantastic story. Arthas succumbing to defeat was the closing chapter, and I don’t think any of us expected to see Bolvar show up and take the mantle. He made for an interesting, lesser version of the Lich King over the years. Being able to watch this cinematic by viewing the statue in Dalaran was a nice little touch as well. My only issue is how “human” Arthas was at the end…given if you read the books he deliberately kills Ner’zhul in his mind to be the one true Lich King.

3. The Hour of Blood Approaches
Going through the Zandalari quests was an enjoyable story. The betrayal of Rastakhan was well told. What came as a complete surprise was the full scope of Zul’s power play. My draw dropped watching this scene as a player you are literally looking at an “ohhhhh no” type of moment.

2. Rejecting The Gift
Say what you want about Illidan’s return and redemption, this was powerful. Part of me actually expected Illidan to have his demon side expunged. This showed not only how powerful Illidan is, but how controlling the Light can be. “I am my scars!”

1. Wrathgate
This one probably does not come as much of a surprise. It had so much going for it at the time. It was a fantastic reward for a lengthy questline. It was really the first of its kind, and held so much lore and storylines. The Forsaken “splinter group,” Saurfang the Younger, Bolvar’s death…I can’t think of any in-game cinematic that came close to what the Wrathgate was and meant.

There you have it, my top five in-game cinematics. For what it’s worth, there were a couple of other’s I strongly considered. “Thorn Removal” where Aysa and Ji went their separate ways was close. It was short but showed so much. Also up there was Maev’s capturing and release of the Demon Hunters. What about you? Which have been your favourites?

The Dead Sea

Swim

When Cataclysm came out, I made sure to hit up every zone. Tumunzahar went through Vashj’ir and even as a Holy Priest it was enjoyable. I quite liked the quests and the lore of the zone. Granted, it took much longer to do anything until you got your swimming boost, but it wasn’t all bad. At least not as bad as everyone made it seem to be.

At least not the first time.

I’ve taken several toons through the Cataclysm content since then and always went to Hyjal simply because of how quick and easy the zone is. It’s more familiarity than anything else. So when the Death Knight recently hit 80 I decided to shake things up a bit and head back under the sea. What a terrible idea that was.

Now, as you might expect, there wasn’t another soul in sight. I’m used to that at lower levels, so no biggie. Got my quests and off I went swimming. And swimming. And swimming. It was painful. So much so that I managed to hand in one quest (despite being in the process of completing several more) and then hearthed back to Orgrimmar. Because damn.

It then reminded me of what I mentioned earlier, and that’s that most people hate the zone and avoid it like the plague. It got me thinking about all the zones in the game now, and there are plenty of them. Is there any other one that comes even close to Vashj’ir in terms of disdain? I mean, for me Hellfire Penninsula was revolting because of all the damn boars everywhere and the grief that caused me over time. But that’s peanuts compared to trying to go through Sea World. I know some might mention Lost Isles but even that’s limited to Goblins only.

The thing with Vashj’ir is that in principle it was a fantastic idea. I think what separates it from everything else is the 3D movement and combat. It’s one thing to do it in the air, such as we are used to courtesy of the Oculus and other such events. But in the water folks can get confused. And really, we were in the water for a lot longer than a few minutes in a raid. Not to mention, you were hardly ever on the ground.  Interacting with mobs and NPC’s was tricky as a result…and they weren’t always easy to find because the zone was huge in terms of both depth and sprawling.

It’s too bad, because lore wise it’s definitely one of the best zones in the game…even if some of the stories were left unfinished. It leads me to hope we get some sort of follow up down the road. And I think Blizzard could learn a lot from the zone and make a lot of great improvements that would lead to people enjoying the environment more. In the mean time I think Vashj’ir will continue to be the zone that is the most devoid of players.

What Is Love (No Haddaway…)

 

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Love is in the air across Azeroth, and it’s honestly one of my least favourite seasonal event. As much of a romantic as I am, it just doesn’t do anything for me. Plus, there’s no reward of substance though I know folks love the rocket. Peddlefeet is a dime a dozen. You don’t even need to try and get him. Just go to the auction house over the next two weeks and pick one up for cheap.

Ok, so the lamenting of the event really doesn’t go with the title of the post. But, with this event, it got me thinking to what it was about World of Warcraft that I love. Why is it there are dozens of MMO’s that aren’t far off, some even do it better than Blizzard, and yet no matter what I play it never feels like WoW? Admittedly there was a time where the short answer was the people. Back when Claws of Nature was booming, and my blogroll was always active, things were good. It felt like something more than just a game.

But now I’m almost completely devoid of that. There are less than a dozen fellow bloggers I talk to at any given time. The only Claws I talk to anymore are my wife and my son’s Godfather. Heck, I don’t even talk to anyone on my current server. I’d like for my wife and son to both play with me, and that might happen at some point, but still I play without them. So again I ask, what is it?

It’s something I do for other people quite often but rarely have done for me: create a rich story and environment. As a dungeon master I take great pride in putting together fun adventures, characters, and stories for my players. But I’m always the DM. Bridesmaid, but never the bride anymore. Alas, I’m sidetracking. It isn’t because I don’t get to be a player that I play WoW. It’s because I get to jump in and connect with all of it. All the stories. From the Van Cleefs and lazy peons, to Arthas and that idiot druid Zen’kiki. I find it all fantastic. I’m familiar with it, knowing a great deal inside and out. I enjoy considering myself a part of that. Lore wise my character specifically has nothing to do with the plot (despite the game alluding to it otherwise). I’m a background pebble in the middle of a rockslide. But man is it a fun ride.

No other game comes close to pulling you in. Not as quickly as WoW is capable of doing. The quest system often does a great job of setting the narrative of what’s going on and there’s enough flavourful characters out and about to just make some situations that much better…to say nothing of cut scenes (which at points are almost overdone). I loved playing Guild Wars, but I never felt connected to it. Some events, absolutely. But as a whole, I still felt something lacking. DC Online? Same. And I love me some DC Universe.

The one thing Blizzard does as well as anyone, if not better, is tell their stories. For me, that’s the fish hook. Fortunately there’s a fresh batch on the way between the above shown Chronicles, Battle for Azeroth, and the novel that leads into it. And indeed, I love it.

Dee King…Has Returned

From the onset, let us just get it out of the way now that Vol’jin has not returned. Last we saw, he was passing on the Warchief mantle to Sylvanas and was on his way to hang with the Loa. Why? We’re honestly not really sure. The mantle of Warchief and the fallout of it played next to no major part in the overall Legion story. Khadgar and Illidan basically ran the show and we got to tag along. Anduin becoming king was a much bigger development and had more depth to his ascension. With the Banshee Queen she vowed to avenge Vol’jin and that was that. It rallied most of the Horde. And then Genn broke her nightlight.

But this isn’t about Sylvanas today. The focus is on the Warchief we barely had. When Vol’jin took over as leader of the Horde at the end of Mists it was an excellent moment and well developed (given all the crap he went through). Plus, it was the choice most players seemed to agree on after the whole Garrosh mess. Warlords came and we went back in time (in another time, no less) and left Vol’jin in the present. So he basically relaxed while we were gone. Then we came back and he died almost immediately. If that doesn’t leave a bitter taste in a person’s mouth, I don’t know what does.

At this point, we’ve established that him passing on the mantle to Sylvanas before he died (from a spear…) accomplished nothing. It has lead to nothing. But giving the benefit of the doubt, surely there must be a reason this took place and the writers have that mapped out for the next expansion.

“In our darkest time, you would be the one to save us.”

Those were Vol’jin’s words to the Forsaken leader as he died. Well, so far it’s been all the Mary Sue’s of Azeroth that seem to be doing the saving. Thrall, Malfurion, Illidan, Khadgar…heck, what has transpired to qualify as the Horde’s “darkest time?” Again, nothing. At least on the Alliance side, they lost their actual king. So is something coming in the next expansion? It has to, otherwise what’s the point.

There’s no disputing how fond I am of the Sylvanas character, but what had great potential has been underwhelming for an entire expansion because nothing was done with it. So in the next expansion something has to happen, as I just mentioned. But what exactly would it be?

Well, I still believe Vol’jin wasn’t necessarily talking to the loa at the time of his death. With the potential involvement of N’Zoth in the upcoming stories, part of me wonders if it was actually the whispers of an Old God that convinced Vol’jin to choose the successor he did. And if that’s the case, what else has the Old God been up to? I’m thinking much, but that’s a story for another day. But there’s definitely been manipulation going on. So as a result of that, our something major happening to the Horde should come from that source. And that’s where I see the proverbial prophecy coming true with Sylvanas.

I don’t think she’ll directly save the day. I think she’ll bring back Vol’jin to do it. Hear me out. First off Vol’jin wasn’t burned like most trolls are when it comes time for their funeral. Also, it wouldn’t be the first time Vol’jin came back from the dead (read Shadows of the Horde if you haven’t already). So at this stage the window hasn’t been closed yet. Not to mention, any time anyone asks who the leader of the Darkspear Trolls is the answer is more or less circles around Vol’jin.

While I love Sylvanas, she is not going to be Warchief for long. I think it’s great from a fanboy perspective, but all wrong from a somewhat realistic perspective. As pointed out, no one trusts her…and she has done nothing in this expansion to change that. She always has her own agenda, sometimes even revolving around her people. Windrunner is a great advisor or council member but she shouldn’t be leader.

As far as Vol’jin goes, again, he was never really Warchief. Garrosh was spared. That’s pretty much all he did. So are we just going to thank him for getting a Garrison? Seems very underwhelming. He was also the most respected of the Horde leaders. Even the Alliance held him under high regard. So you have his own people, his enemies, and the players all pleased with a leader and he was gone in a breath. Blizzard has even recognized the fans were not at all happy with this and it seems early on that some of the content that was written was done so based on Vol’jin just going MIA again and that clearly did not happen this go around.

As for the how or the why she brings him back, the circumstances could be one of dozens. Again, I think something or someone is going to push the Horde to the brink of disaster under Sylvanas’ reign and all the distrust she has earned will make it impossible for her to overcome. Instead, she’ll bring back Vol’jin as a beacon for the Horde because she knows they’ll rally behind him and that will be the “darkest hour” rescue. How she does it could be simple. A bargain with Bwomsamdi. Performing another act like she did with Nathanos Blightcaller. Eh, that one seems less likely. Doubtful the Trolls would be happy about that and the Forsaken don’t seem keen on bringing back non-humans.

The how and why could make for excellent questing on the Horde side in the next expansion and it really does need to happen. Vol’jin should have the chance to be a proper Warchief. Unless Blizzard goes to a Horde council, him leading the faction is the right choice to make because there’s no one else that should hold the mantle. As I said before, not even Sylvanas. That’s why I strongly expect it to happen in whatever expansion gets announced in a few weeks. And that’s why at some point, “Dee King Will Have Returned.”

Legendary Amateurs: Book One, Chapter Three

Zarahi began to protest. “Me? But Archdruid, I was just a conduit for da ritual!”

Malfurion waved his hand. “I cannot go. With the glade vulnerable to attacks from the Burning Legion my duty is to remain here and protect it. Your superiors here have other duties to tend to, and there are few of your caliber that I can send. In Val’Sharrah you will find Archdruid Greathoof. He is wise in the old ways and will provide valuable assistance. However, the Dream can be dangerous so I will send Keeper Remulos with you.”

Remulos took the directive from Malfurion and strode up beside Zarahi. As tall as she was, she was diminutive next to the Keeper of the Grove. With some encouraging words from Remulos, Zarahi nodded and the pair entered the portal. They were met by lush fauna all around, except where the other portals were. Remulos charged towards black vines climbing up out of the land.

He looked around him. “The Nightmare! But how?” He began channeling his energy into an attack. “I will remove the abominations. Find out the cause!”

Zarahi headed off in the direction of several shadowy creatures. In her feral form it would be easier to move and she could strike more quickly. And she did, catching several off-guard. But were they even real or just shadows? She wasn’t sure but suspected the path she was headed upon would lead her to the source of the corruption.

After disposing of several more of the shadowy creatures she came upon something else. Standing three times as high as Zarahi on her best day, it was humanoid. But disfigured. Tormented into some sort of abomination. A blight upon the dream. Where hands would be, there were instead three long tendrils, and they beckoned her when the creature became aware of her presence. Zarahi was not one to decline such an invitation and she charged in. Whatever the creature was, it didn’t expect such a lightning assault. It was not long before the creature fell and Zarahi went back to Remulos to inform him of the encounter.

“And you doubt your prowess? Excellent work,” he said. “Even now the foul creep of the Nightmare has begun to recede. I have cleared our path as we speak. Let us continue our journey.” With that, Zarahi followed the Keeper into the portal and for a brief period time stood still. Then the pair were at their destination: The Dreamgrove. Down the path they went as Remulos explained to Zarahi the area was protected by ancient magic, their brothers and sisters alike would be protected within the sanctuary. With Remulos knowing the land, they traveled right to the Archdruid without difficulty.

Remulos explained to Rensar Greathoof the situation of the Burning Legion. The Archdruid nodded and confirmed his knowledge of the situation as well. As they discussed the Legion’s advance further and how best to combat it, their talk changed to weapons of old. But Greathoof was concerned. There was no one with the ability to wield them. And Zarahi’s head nearly snapped off when she looked to Remulos after he convinced them there was no one better than her to do so.

Greathoof sized her up for what seemed like an eternity before nodding. “Yes. I see it as well and while not an easy task, I will help as best I can.”

The Archdruid explained Ashamane was a powerful nightsaber used in the War of the Ancients. However, it fell years ago within the forests of Val’Sharrah. The Fangs of Ashamane are now guarded by the Ashen, a group of druids, with the weapons within their shrine. “Much persuasion will be necessary. They will not simply hand them over.” The Night Elf handed Zarahi a signet. “Present this to Delandros Shimmermoon. He will know then that you have my blessing.”

An Arthas What If

I came across this video today, courtesy of YouTuber Hellscream. Can’t say as I had seen any previous videos (or even heard of him) before, but the title definitely caught my attention. While I would love to see how some of the further plot points would play out as a result of this version, I still very much enjoyed it and the idea.