Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Just Like Old World Azshara

Back in April, I compared Burning Crusade with Cataclysm and hit upon what I felt was a weakness with Cata:  the lack of a continuing story for Goblins and Worgen.  I've spent the months since then exploring the Old World under the guise of leveling herbalism, and stopping for quest lines along the way.  The more I've explored the Old World, the more I've become convinced that those new races have been my biggest disappointment with the expansion.

The starting zones held so much promise, as did Silverpine and Azshara.  But outside of those zones, there's the occasional bone but nothing really meaty to dig into. 

From the starter zone, the next logical location for a newly minted Worgen was Darkshore.  And there was nothing there for the Worgen.  Oh, there was plenty going on --hey there, Malfurion-- but nothing much Worgen-centric.  Ashenvale, the center of so much old Worgen lore, only has a couple of Worgen present, who are completely interchangeable with any other race.  If you make it all the way down to Feralas, for a few brief moments it looks like the Worgen are going to have a lot to do with zone.  But the three Worgen there, just like in Ashenvale, could be substituted for Night Elves or another race entirely.  The fight with Cho'gall?  That was all Night Elf.

Ironically enough, if you want Worgen lore in Alliance heavy zones, you have to go to Duskwood and Raven Hill.  Or you could visit the contested Blasted Lands, where there's a Worgen encampment in the butt-end of the Azerothian universe.

The Goblins fare little better, but that's also due to having to share Azeroth with the Steamwheedle Cartel.  There's only so many places you can stick more goblins, although Blizz's love of Trolls seems to dispute that phenomenon.  Blizz seems to have solved some of the Bilgewater Cartel Goblin issues by getting rid of some of the Venture Company spots and replacing them with Bilgewater Cartel instead (like, say, Stonetalon).  But the Horde Goblins end up with only a few bones, and they get the "they're the Horde's Gnomes" treatment instead.

Both races have such great and complete beginnings that it's a real shame to see them so utterly forgotten once you leave the starting zones.  It's like seeing the Draenei and Blood Elves' treatment in the Old World (pre-Cata) only to reach Outland and....  there's nothing for them there.  Can you imagine Burning Crusade without those two races at the forefront of Outland, or the Death Knights (and Knights of the Ebon Blade) missing from Wrath?  Well, I can sure imagine Cata without either Worgen or Goblins, and it wouldn't be very different from what we have now at all.

Cata was ambitious, no doubt about it.  Reworking the Old World, adding two new races, incorporating new zones/storylines, and hefty rewrites of a lot of the class mechanics were a tall order.  And I'm not even counting the things that were left on the cutting room floor, such as releveling (aka grouping with lower level toons), the Path of the Titans, and Arathi Highlands.  But the Goblins and Worgen are a lot like the post-Cata Arathi Highlands; they're incomplete. 

New races are one of those core features of an expansion that once announced, you can't back out of.  While Path of the Titans and some other areas (flying in the BC starting areas) were on the optional side of things, once you say "we're going to have two new playable races!" you can't really backtrack without a sizable portion of the player base revolting.  A playable race becomes --by its very nature-- a core feature of an expansion. 

The least Blizz could have done is add more Worgen/Goblin content in the expansions to continue the story.  They certainly seem to have no trouble doing that with Trolls, so why not with the pride and joy of Cataclysm?


  1. Excellent point(s). i don't think i've heard anyone mention this before and i'm not sure why.
    looking back i think these issues and the similar issue with the undead were the breaking point for me with cata. the 80-85 zones were nice enough the first time, but i couldn't bear playing through all the same stuff again since so much of it is "hidden" until you do X number of quests. being an altoholic, i was really looking forward to the revamped old world and the new races. so, i played both a worgen and goblin through their starter areas and like you say, at some point you just hit a dead end, in typical warcraft fashion. same with the undead. i thoroughly enjoyed rolling my first undead toon through the first 3 zones only to come to a screeching halt in Arathi Highlands. so, for me, these were much bigger issues than any of the talk lately about difficulty and endgame.
    i sincerely hope that SWTOR delivers on its promise of making story count again and maybe start a new trend in mmos.

  2. @Nobody-- Honestly, I'm not sure why you haven't heard more about it either. I get the sinking feeling that the post-Cata Old World is about 75% finished, and that includes the need to revamp the Sindorei and Draenei starting zones beyond little more than reworking the intro speech.

    There are days when I think that Blizz rushed Cata out the door. Not from any bugs, mind you, but from the unfinished feel of many zones: Alterac (now part of Hillsbrad), Duskwallow Marsh, Silithus, Arathi Highlands, and the BC starting zones.