Spoilers abound below for those of you who have not completed the Wrathgate quest chain in the Dragonblight (or watched it online).
Yesterday, Lal and Salthier completed the Wrathgate quest chain. First of all, I was really excited about it, and I had avoided seeing it or reading much about it online before actually doing it so it would be that much more epic when we did see it. It was impressive, and there are a lot of things I liked about it, but there were some things that didn't sit well with me either, and they were mostly related to lore. First the good stuff.
I love this phasing technology that actually makes the world change as if I affected it. I suppose it can be weird that you and the person next to you are seeing different things depending on what quests you have completed, but it works really well to develop the story of your character. I've noticed that the quest givers in Northrend will often call you a hero, or talk about how they've heard of your activities in Azeroth and Outland. We are the new heroes of the world, and we are the driving force in the war against the Lich King. That's pretty cool.
The cinematic at the Wrathgate was really cool. I wish (and hope) that they will use these more to tell the story of the game or give us a reward for a hard earned quest chain (besides a green item to disenchant). And because I had avoided the spoilers, I was actually surprised to see Putress show up and dump his plague on everybody. There are a couple things I would like to key in on. First, Putress shouts out that he wants to destroy the Scourge AND the Living. Which means basically everybody but the Forsaken. Now just before he did this, Bolvar and Saurfang Jr. were fighting side by side against the Lich King. Horde and Alliance united against a common enemy, which has sort of been a staple of the game for awhile. Then we have Putress, an agent of Sylvanas and the Forsaken, who basically turns on everyone. And after he dumps his plague, you hear the Lich King whisper "Sylvanas!" as if he's surprised to see that his old banshee has come back to haunt him. So it's pretty intense. The Alliance feels like the horde betrayed them; the Horde are saying the Forsaken are the only one's responsible; and even Arthas is surprised at Sylvanas' action, and it causes it him to retreat.
Our poor characters are tasked with telling the newly returned king of Stormwind what happened. And this is where I feel like things got messed up with the lore. We talk to Varian, and Jaina is right next to him (again, phasing ftw). She encourages us to go talk with Thrall. Varian seems cool with this. It's a diplomatic mission. So we portal off to Orgrimmar and Thrall and Sylvanas are right there to talk with. Apparently, they were both betrayed by Varimathras, who was the co-leader of the Forsaken in the Undercity with Sylvanas. Varimathras was a Dread Lord who had supposedly turned his back on the Burning Legion and the Lich King to assist the newly freed Forsaken. Turns out it was a big lie and his real goal was to wipe out all life. The Undercity is now controlled by Putress and Varimathras. So we take this information back to the king. He decides that now is the time to attack the Undercity, to destroy the traitor Putress, and take it back for the Alliance. So far, it's all pretty plausible. The Horde have a slightly different quest line that involves going with Thrall to the Undercity to kill Varimathras.
In an incredibly fun filled adventure, you basically go with the King to Undercity and receive a buff that makes you nearly invincible. You work your way through the sewers and kill Putress for his deception and his crimes. Then things go down hill. Varian, apparently thirsty for revenge and mad at how Thrall's acceptance of the Forsaken into the Horde lead to this event, goes crazy and decides that he's not satisfied with the death of Putress. He wants to end the Horde too. So when he hears Thrall yelling, he makes a bee line for the Orc and basically tells Thrall that all bets are off, the Horde ends now. Thrall really has not choice and they fight. Jaina, protesting, frost novas everyone and ports us all back to where we belong, in Stormwind.
So here's where I have trouble. If all we know is the lore that is in the game, we know that Varian was lost for a long time, and then found and forced to fight in gladiator arenas by the orcs, but he made his way back, and now is the king again. Bolvar was a good friend of his and had taken pretty good care of things in the king's absence. Well, except for that whole Onyxia thing, but that's another story. So anyway, with the Forsaken being part of the Horde, you might think Varian is justified in being angry at Thrall, once for the whole forced to be a gladiator thing, and twice for their acceptance of an evil that caused the death of Bolvar. But the problem for me is that we've already done the diplomatic thing for Varian and talked to Thrall who explained what happened. Putress didn't just attack the Alliance, he attacked the LIVING, which means Orcs and Humans and all the rest. If Varian was going to declare all out war with the Horde, then why did we even have to go talk to Thrall in the first place? It looks like Varian is blaming Thrall for Bolvar, and for his time as a gladiator because Thrall created the atmosphere for the tragedy to happen. Sylvanas says she's innocent too, which I think is a bit more circumspect, but it makes sense to give the forsaken players an out for being involved in the treachery.
If you've read the blog a bit, you know I've been reading the WoW comics involving the king, and it makes things a little more complicated as well, since Varian didn't have such a bad time in the gladiator arena's as he makes it out to be in the game. On top of that, when he made his escape, his orc captor basically let him go because of some sort of respect. So in conclusion, I'm a little miffed at how vengeful and and warmongerish Varian is. Yeah, he's had it rough, but shouldn't he be more concerned about the threat from Arthas instead of f vengeful war with the Horde right now? And what happened to thinking and reasoning? It's more like he just got too excited after the battle in Undercity and decided to take it out on the rest of the Horde. Maybe I'm a little to sympathetic of the Orcs because I've read the novels that show them to be somewhat honorable and a noble people that got a bad reputation for being bloodthirsty because of the involvement of the Burning Legion. Maybe Thrall or Sylvanas should have seen this plague thing coming, but they seem more level headed about it than our blood thirsty king. I guess I'll just have to see how it all plays out in the coming patches. Maybe by the time we assault Icecrown again, things will have changed.