Of Heroes and Villains Part 2


Last time we talked about the hero classes of Warcraft 3 and the build up to wrath where we got our first hero class, and I would like to thank everyone that chimed in. Today I’ll talk a little bit about implementation of the hero class.

Let’s face it, Death Knights set the bar pretty high. When you first start a Death Knight a few things happen. First of all you are in your own little corner of the old Eastern Kingdoms map, and in this corner you’re given a multi-phase instance to learn about your class. This in and of itself is pretty amazing. Think back to when you first started your character as a level 1 freshly born into the world. Your area was open to the world, at level one you could in theory run your brand new human all the way to Iron Forge if you felt so inclined.

With wrath, the Death Knights were born into servitude of the Lich King himself, already having established themselves as heroes of the horde / alliance but falling only to be returned in undeath. Being under the Lich King’s thumb you are forced to do things rather then given options, you can’t choose to skip the entry quests and just run to Iron Forge, instead you’re given a story to play out. You’re forced to do tasks for NPC’s that you’ve tried to kill in the halls of Naxxramas.

This feels like a rail shooter to some people and I have heard a fair share of complaints about it, but I personally love it. It forces you to immerse yourself into the character. You’re given beautifully crafted quests to give you gear and talents and a mount and most importantly, a foundation of skills for your character. The quests also give you the foundation of a story and they have a weight of lore about them.

To me that might be the most important thing about these quests, the lore. I’m a lore junkie. I love quests that just drip with story or dialogue with an NPC from the previous Warcraft games. When the Caverns of Time instances and Karazhan were released I was quite giddy (still waiting on the bottom half of kara there blizz! *shakes fist*) and they still remain among my favorite instances. Here we get the story of one of the branches of the Death Knights. We get to interact with Darion Morgraine a character who is at the center of an amazing selection of lore. Go ahead and give it a read http://www.wowwiki.com/Darion I’ll wait, it’s worth it.

When you’re done with all the quests you are treated to an amazing battle between the forces of Ebon Hold and those of Light’s Hope Chapel. When the dust settles you are welcomed to the site of Darion’s redemption and the cleansing of the Ashbringer. He breaks the bonds of the Lich King and swears to bring him down. The Death Knights are then required to purge the Ebon Hold of the forces loyal to the Lich King and then are sent to seek forgiveness with the leader of their faction before the game begins as normal.

What This Means

Even when Burning Crusade was released, both new races were given staring areas that you could skip if you wanted to. You didn’t have to learn anything about them really except that the Blood Elves were emo and the Dranaei were high and mighty hoof people.

Here you were forced to interact with and further along the lore of the game.  The entire starting package for the Death Knights set the bar very very high. Your introduced into a multi phase instanced area were layers are placed and removed to create a seamless environment.  You further along the plot of the entire game, you get to interact with Boss mobs in a way that is new and entertaining (Listening to Noth complain was hilarious) and you get to watch the story of the world change in a way it hasn’t in several years. I mean toppling the plot of Kil’jaden and besting Illidan was fun, but it doesn’t have quite the feel of watching the Lich King lose one of his greatest commanders or the Ashbringer placed in the hands of Tirion Fordring and cleansed or an entire new faction be born on the spot knowing that you’re going to be coming for Arthas in his place of power. Those just feel epic.

Any new hero class introduced into the game from now on will have large shoes to fill. Their introduction into the world will have to be something special and captivating as well as potentially innovative. This is arguably the most important point for a player with the class as often times it will be the deciding factor as to whether or not they keep playing the class. Personally I think the next best bet would be Keepers of the Grove and the Emerald Dream, because I can’t really think of anything else at the moment that would seem quite so epic or immersive.

I give Blizzard big kudos for doing the starting zone of Death Knights incredibly well.
What do you guys think? Did you enjoy the starting zone? Do you think any other hero class could make a comparable introduction?

Until next time,


Image courtesy of DC Comics

15 thoughts on “Of Heroes and Villains Part 2”

  1. Personally, I’m not really into the lore aspects, but the death knight starting area was pretty epic. You start off with a goal and a purpose, and you see your character evolve a bit. I really liked it!
    Now, for more hero classes… Yum. It’ll have to be a ranged something or other *crosses fingers*

  2. I loved the starting zone but despite all the lore and great quests I still struggled to get into playing my Death Knight. A couple of months on and he’s been level 80 for a while but I still feel as though I don’t really know the class as well as my other characters. I only seem to bring him out as a last resort tank for a group or occasional raid. I think a new hero class would be great fun but perhaps start them at a lower level to let players get a feel for their new character.
    .-= Elyneth´s last blog ..An ounce of prevention…… =-.

  3. I can’t agree enough. My hub found the lore questing stifling when he wanted to get out into the world and killing. Personally I looooved it. You get a real feel for the class and story. It was perhaps Blizz’s best work in LK. Certainly it is their best for allowing you to get a feel for what a class is all about.
    .-= Lenelie´s last blog ..Tier 9 Priests =-.

  4. Blizz really did a great job with the integration of lore and questing in Wotlk. These DK quests sure are amazing, but there are a lot of other epic questlines in Northrend that really imerse you into that scenery.
    There´s the whole Battle for UC questline, finding about Arugal and Yogg´s corruption in Grizzly Hills, Drakuru´s deal with Arthas, Thorim’s ordeal in Storm Peaks, Malganis appearing in Icecrown…
    Questing in Icecrown really comes filled with lore bits and that’s just wonderful!
    .-= Wangari´s last blog ..Wind Blowing =-.

  5. I’m sure Blizzard will come up with some hugely impressive stuff. Personally I’m hoping that they invent a few new hero classes too – I don’t see why they should be restricted to picking the ones they had in WC3. Plus, I’d love to see 2 new hero classes in the next expansion, maybe one for Alliance and one for Horde or one healing class and one DPS. Would be nice 🙂
    .-= We Fly Spitfires – MMORPG Blog´s last blog ..World of Warcraft Miniatures =-.

  6. Crucial and hardest thing is to make the class innovative. Being powerful and or balanced is fine, but the only reason to add another class is if it is really different to play. It needs a new mechanic that is fun and works with other classes.

  7. A small correction – you say that as a Death Knight, you’re sent to beg forgiveness from your faction leader.

    Depends on how you read this, but as a dwarven DK, why was I going to talk to Varian Whine? I’d have much preferred to have gone and grovelled to Magni.

    Just my 0.02p.

    Thanks to you all for an interesting blog.

  8. I haven’t played the DK starting zone yet — I feel like I may be the last person NOT to do so — but I plan on it. I’m not a ‘lore junkie’ but I am a sucker for good storyline quests. I think they’ve done a great job in Wrath with creating many interesting storylines. I hope it’s something they continue with moving forward, not just with the next ‘hero class’, but throughout the game.
    .-= jeffo´s last blog ..Does the Old World need and Overhaul? =-.

  9. I’m no lore junkie in WoW, but I have to say that the DK starting area is what made my DK become my first 80. It was so well done that I actually wanted to quest and play that character, which hasn’t happened before and has not happened since.

    My hope is that the next expansion doesn’t make a single class or race have such a unique experience, but rather, the whole of questing and storytelling is revamped to make it this immersive.
    .-= Beej´s last blog ..She Said Yes! =-.

  10. Excellent article. While I was doing my first DK just for the heck of it I was VERY impressed and talking to a friend about everything I was doing, and she was so excited to get WotLK to try it out for herself.

    Currently, I’m begging for a Demon Hunter/Warden mixed new class with Maeiv as the “leader”, the introduction quests would explain what she did after Illidan’s defeat, and how she mixed her Warden abilities with things she learned during her capture to take the best abilities of a demon hunter.
    .-= Mau´s last blog ..Vent =-.


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