At long last, we have the story “quests” for the Shadowlands Pre-Patch. Unfortunately in the most underrated, banal way. The way Blizzard handled the “biggest Scourge threat ever” was cheap, sketchy and boring as hell so far. Let me explain my rant in two steps: First, we will examine the recent expansion pre-patches, then I will talk about how I felt throughout the Shadowlands Pre-Patch “questline”.
The Legion Invasion
Well, if you have been following me for a while, I guess you’ve already noticed that Legion was my all-time favourite expansion, ever. There are so many reasons for this, but today, I will only cover some of them. I’ve started WoW just before Warlords Of Draenor, barely experienced the Pre-Patch. So Legion Pre-Patch was my first true experience. An awesome trailer, coupled with real invasions. Demons pouring down from the sky throughout the whole day, one Assault at every 12 hours, 2 zones per day. Total of six zones: Azshara, Dun Morogh, Hillsbrad Foothills, Northern Barrens, Tanaris and Westfall. And the frequency and amount of invasions increased as Legion drew closer and closer.
The fact such as how it was better in terms of alt catch-up gearing aside, the real difference was the feeling of a threat. Which we will examine as a whole later on the topic. As I just said, non-stop invasions throughout the world that we need to repel to get meaningful rewards. But more importantly, the game made us feel like we had to stand against the demons, so we made our way to invasion zones to protect our world. And it was, terrifying.
The zone was covered with the iconic fel corruption we all love, demons pouring down from the sky, dark legion towers erupting from the ground and corrupting their surroundings. Infernals, commanders, fire. Not to mention we had been fighting alongside legendary Warcraft heroes such as Saurfang and Muradin. I don’t want to cover the whole post with Legion nostalgia, so I won’t talk in detail about one of the biggest events at the history of WOW: The Broken Shore. If you didn’t know what happened there, Check out these cinematics.
The Cost Of War: Battle For Azeroth
The BFA Pre-Patch storyline was a time-gated one, yet devastating in terms of lore. 3 weeks of questline, 2 weeks for War Of Thorns, the battle of Teldrassil and finished with The Battle For Undercity. Full of awesome and crucial cinematics/turning points an exclusive Warbringer for the event and a CGI cinematic as well! There was no super catch-ups or fast levelling this time but still, there was a decent, interesting lore content to do. Considering how we are still discussing the Burning Of Teldrassil.
So far, I guess you’ve understood how high my expectations for the current pre-patch event. But, as I said at the beginning, for the first week, it is basically underwhelming, boring and almost pointless to do.
The Core Problem Of Blizzard’s Story-Telling
I have opened the game yesterday to start the long-awaited Scourge Invasion questline. I took the quest from Lor’themar, watched a cool cinematic then went to speak with the Argent Crusade guys. He first sent me right in front of Orgrimmar, NPC said that there is nothing wrong here but I better check out The Razor Hill. Just before reaching there, I saw a Frost Wyrm randomly appeared out of the sky and freeze everybody at the place, it was cool but when I get there, nothing was happening at all. The guy pointed out I better check the Far Watch Post at the Barrens as well.
I made my way to the Far Watch Post and found out some riders were killed by a bunch of Cult Of The Damned dudes. The NPC said AGAIN that I better check out The Crossroads this time. No sign of zombies, or death creeping around me so far. A random breathing dragon and some cultist fanatics, just flying from one place to another. When I reached The Crossroads finally, things were finally getting interesting(!). I mean, killing some ghouls and Cult Of The Damned cultists appearing randomly from the portals. Then I went straight back to Orgrimmar, got the quest to kill Nathanos and giving report to Icecrown. Yes, the awesome Nathanos cinematic aside which I’ve already covered in detail, these are everything happening at both Eastern Kingdoms and Kalimdor right now. Just flying one zone to another as a “questline” and repelling the “biggest advance of The Scourge ever” with one, single random mob killing quest.
I won’t talk about much how pointless the quests at ICC right now. A big, spooky “all-consuming” threat appeared and we just pushed it back to its source in a single questline. An enormous army of Undead just chilling out at the foot of ICC. We have been told how important The Lich King’s role was, as Terenas stated before; “There must always be a Lich King”. Preventing from what? This? Was Bolvar’s sacrifice for this boring, cheap, pointless Scourge invasion? I can say he donned the helm for so long for nothing. Look at this, we could’ve dealt with this ” threat” easily one way or another it seems. pathetic.
And the solution to this problem is not an easy one. As the root of the problem is pretty fundamental for Blizzard. You know, I love their story-telling and lore but, they do not know how to make us feel in danger. Or, they do not care, considering they made us feel like this before. The ınfamous zombie plague hasn’t started at the capital cities as well, as they were supposed to. But I don’t think even they won’t be enough to make things right. The breaking of the Helm was supposed to be another turning point for the lore. There should have been random hordes of undead spawning across villages, or near capital cities. As Necromancers – powered by The Mawsworn and The Jailer himself raising one corpse after another, bring death upon us as the name of the event hints: Death’s Rising. Just use dynamic systems which integrate players into the event happening around us, not personal phased experiences, but more of a common event affecting every player, not just with Zombie Invasions but with every aspect of this Scourge attack, only then we could all feel the danger and threat of the Scourge, only then we could experience the real effects of the breaking of Helm of Domination.
If you link the “Scourge attacks” into each individual’s boring questlines, there won’t be chaos or catastrophic event as to how it was supposed to be. Even during Legion, Blizzard had not used a more dynamic open-world system. Like random infernals would drop upon our heads during the Pre-Patch, without an invasion to trigger it, just to make us feel anxious. But even without it, Legion invasions were far better than this ” event”.
To sum up, the first week of The Shadowlands Pre-Patch event is underwhelming and disappointing. Having not a proper catch-up system is a topic for another day. My hope focused on a certain, supposed CGI cinematic about a certain character this time around. Otherwise, I don’t expect anything from the next week of the “event” as well. We can only hope that Shadowlands would be a good enough expansion, to make us forget how bad this pre-patch was.