Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Through the Looking Glass

While I was waiting for LFD last night, I was mentioning to Soul about how similar --yet different-- the questlines are between Alliance and Horde.  I've not done a lot of quests on Tomakan as I've been using the LFD tool a lot, but I have done several quest chains in Ashenvale, and I'm partway through the Shady Rest Inn chain in Dustwallow.  What continues to interest me is how essentially the same chain can be viewed through two different lenses.

Take Felfire Hill for example.  The Draenei simply can't believe that they traveled this far just to have a Legion outpost nearby, and want to eradicate it.  While you're cleaning out the mess of demons, the secret plans for the assault on Forest Song drop, and you are then sent to wipe out the Dreadlords.  You see the quest entitled "Never Again!" and you know how important it is for the Draenei to eliminate the Legion.

Sounds like a perfect fit for the Draenei, but until you see the Horde side, you can't help but think that the quest chain was custom designed for the Alliance.

The Orcs, however, are outraged that this group of demons managed to survive.  They have nothing but disgust and hatred for their former masters, and want to destroy them at all costs.  When the plans drop for the assault on Splintertree Post, the Horde questgiver gives you the quest "Never Again!" with the orders to eliminate the Dreadlords.  The Horde will never be subject to demons again, and you believe it.

Same quest chain, two equally valid --yet different-- viewpoints.

Another comparison is the Shady Rest Inn chain.  For the Alliance, you're given a quest to check up on a relative, and when you arrive in Theramore you discover that there was a fire, and the wife and kid of the relative died.  Your job is to investigate the fire and bring the perps to justice, because the Alliance's laws will be upheld.  Contrast that with the Horde:  You enter Dustwallow Marsh and pass by this burned out husk of an inn, with the owner wandering around dazed.  He's human, but not flagged as an enemy.  Well, you think, what the hell happened here?  You arrive in the Horde outpost in Dustwallow and are pulled aside by a questgiver.  Thrall, the giver explains, has received word about the fire at the Inn and he knows that because it's on the border of the Barrens the Horde is the main suspect.  Thrall is anxious to keep the peace, so your job is to investigate the fire to demonstrate the Horde's good faith in maintaining the truce.  And if it does turn out that Horde people are implicated, show no mercy.

The same questline begins with completely different motivations:  Alliance is personal/legal, Horde is diplomatic.

Now that that's out of the way, I want to drop a big gripe about the LFD tool:  lack of context.  So far as I can tell, there are no quests or common ground for the opposing faction in the Deadmines, Ragefire Chasm, or Stormwind Stockades.  Sure, there's an achievement involved, but with LFD nothing highlights the lack of context quite like those three.  If you're Alliance, the Searing Blade means absolutely nothing to you:  an Orc is an Orc is an Orc.  To the Horde, the Searing Blade is serious bidness:  they want to return to the "glory days" of being Fel Orcs in the Burning Legion, and will stop at nothing to overthrow Thrall and the rest of the current Horde leadership.  Likewise, I had never heard of the Defias Brotherhood until I started leveling an Alliance alt.  "Big whoop," I said.  "A bunch of thieves.  Try the Scarlet Crusade on for size instead."  But for the Alliance, the Defias represents a real threat to the existing order, and have a nasty ol' surprise in store for leveling characters.

Don't get me wrong, I like the LFD tool.  It allows solo artists a chance to check out instances they ordinarily would have a difficult time getting into.  From a lore standpoint, however, I have to wonder about the dungeonmaster achievements gained via the LFD tool.  There's no context for several of the instances, and there never will be.  What I'd like to see is a separate achievement, highlighting all of the quests that touch on an instance, and have a separate achievement for that.  Call it "Contextual Obligations" or something similar, emphasizing that your toon has been involved with the lore leading up to the instance.

(EtA:  Cleaned things up because, you know, I need an editor.)


  1. That's awesome - I don't really know the Alliance well enough to be able to stop the correspondences between quests like that.

    Also I think the lack of context in the dungeons is an inevitable consequence of the LFG. I mean, back in the day Alliance and Horde would run completely different dungeons (I mean getting to SFK as Alliance, or Deadmines as Horde was borderline impossible) and because you'd have to form a group and walk there, you'd probably have picked up ALL the quests you could first, so you'd have a strong motivation to be there beyond simply rolling over the mobs for the xp.

  2. @Tam-- I discovered it while I was slumming in Ashenvale, collecting flight points. Over in Forest Song, the Draenei are helping to rebuild the outpost and that's where the quest chain starts.

    Once I discovered that cool little juxaposition, I started watching for other quest chains that might intersect. I was kind of disappointed that the chain for the Worgen/Scythe of Elune ended so abruptly, because it seemed the perfect lead-in to Shadowfang Keep for the Alliance.

    As for the lack of context, yeah, you're right. The Classic Dungeonmaster doesn't mean as much, however, since the LFG came out: it's too easy to achieve. It probably declined in importance once BC hit anyway, as a Level 70 could have blown through Org quickly enough to get to RFC, for example.

  3. The achievement system did not exist until the Wrath expansion, so getting the achievement was pretty much a moot point by then for any higer level character.

    Additionally, the future expansion will require players to find the dungeon before they can queue for it in LFD. So there's a better chance you'll actually know what's going on before you run it.

  4. I was under the impression that was going to be for the new 5-mans and raids only, but if they're going to do that for all instances, that'd be awesome. Right now, the only place where that's the case are the BC Caverns of Time instances.

  5. I admire people that actually read the quests and understand a bit of the lore in game. I have to admit that I am a quest clicker.... you tell me to kill 10 demonlords, done! I don't need to know why. I just know that I am getting experience and hopefully a nice reward. But I greatly appreciate that the lore is there, and am happy to hear that the developers have done a good job adapting quests to the different factions.

  6. @NaturalGamerGirl--

    I admit that in the last couple hundred quests or so before Loremaster I was clicking through like mad --I just wanted to finish the thing, not troop all over the continent on a holiday-- but I do try to read what it is I'm trying to do. Sometimes the info is actually in the quest itself, like you have to do something first in order to kill whatever it is.