Fall of the Lich King, End of an Era

arthas_2

Today, the final wing of the Icecrown Citadel is being patched to the US servers, and with it the final chapter in the Fall of the Lich King.

There are no spoilers in this post, but here are a couple of links if you want to know more:

The tone of the cinematic is sombre. It’s not a ‘Ding Dong the Witch is Dead” moment, even though Arthas was a dreadful monster. Instead, there’s a tone of mourning the passing of someone or something who meant a lot to the players, and to the game. The music is particularly poignant, and if you like that, mmo-champion has a link to a longer version.

If the storyline takes a Diablo-esque turn, it shouldn’t really be surprising. Wrath has always been coloured by the more gothic side of WoW, with its themes of damnation, duty, and morally gray decisions.

(It’s only ironic when you think that when players get to see this cinematic in game, they probably will all be bouncing around and wanting to know what loot he dropped.)

There are still plenty of hanging plot threads. But then again, there are still a few months before Cataclysm, there might be time to at least finish the Ebon Blade storyline before the next world endangering peril. Plus we still don’t know exactly what goes on in Icecrown when players get to fight the Lich King for themselves. It’s possible that more NPCs are involved than are in this cinematic.

And also, isn’t it impressive how great music and decent voice acting and animation can distract you from blocky graphics?

Foreshadowing vs The Twist in the Tale

Reactions I’ve read on boards are tinged with disappointment. Not because people hate the clip, but because they had already guessed the plot.

Sometimes, a storyteller just can’t win. Foreshadowing sets players’ expectations, it often leads to a more satisfying conclusion because of being known in advance. Surprise endings are frustrating if there wasn’t enough foreshadowing in the story or if it genuinely wasn’t possible to see that twist coming.

There aren’t many writers who can deliver a genuine punchy twist in the tale, which makes the readers say, “Oh that’s not possible. Surely. Wait. Oh damn, why didn’t I guess that? All the signs were there!”

For me, it works well enough. There is an emotional punch to the cinematic, and enough closure to inform people that we’ve done what we came to do in Northrend, and it’s time to move on. It won’t win Bookers, but it does the job. And the music is lovely.

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15 thoughts on “Fall of the Lich King, End of an Era

  1. I did not like Arthas since Warcraft 3, but this was really a bitter ending for the poor guy! :(

    Interesting twist, though I do not understand why there has to be a Lich King and why Bolvar must do this or anyone else.

  2. I never played any of the original Warcraft games (I like my stratagey turn based and preferably with hex grids…..) so I dont have the same sense of continuation as many players.

    I have been waiting a few years for this and it will be good to see him actualy Dead. For real.

    Of course we’ll then move on I guess. Will the scourge end? Will all those zone make overs take WotLK into account? What will happen to the Forsaken? All intresting grist for the mill. How many players are hanging on to see Arthas fall is a sad subtext and I wonder if indeed we are seeing the end of an era. Of course Blizz are banking on Cata being a new era. I’m always of wary of change but I must say between Worgen and Goblins it looks intresting. I’ll miss the old zones. Is there a word for the anticipation of nostalga?

  3. Meh. The identity of the new Lich King has been foreshadowed since the release of Wrath, but I was a bit surprised that they chose to treat the climatic revelation of the Rise of the Lich King book as a red herring. I wonder whether they’ll do the same to Night of the Dragon.

  4. Argh I need to get home to watch the cinematic. Got to say Im more excited as it means one thing – the cataclysm expansion cant be as far off as some people have predicted…I hope.

  5. I think it would have been more exciting if a member of the Horde had taken the crown. It would shed some spotlight back on the Horde after the Alliance getting most of the limelight in WotLK.

    Possibly Hamual Runetotem or even Cairne himself?

      • The Horde Onyxia quest chain was longer.

        longer = better, right?

        I think it’s a very bad way of wasting development resources. Most people don’t have a high level char on both sides. Therefore, epic story lines should be available to both sides. There is no need for replayability in an endless game.

        Outland didn’t have anything interesting for Alliance, as far as I remember. You just entered Orc land, killed boars and left 2 years later. Like locusts. Come, destroy, leave. Even in the beautiful zone of Nagrand, the most exciting thing was that you could free Corky… 3 times…

        And there is the scarlet crusade quest chain for horde in classic. Where you disguise as scarlet crusader and escort one of these. A huge quest chain. I would have loved to do that as I enjoy long quest lines.

        Most people probably have multiple alts on the same side. Therefore it seams like a waste that you have to do Ashenvale on every char but can’t do Badlands because it’s horde territory. It would be more exciting if you could level every other char in Badlands.

  6. They knocked him over in the US on day one?!? I can’t help but get a ‘this is coming to an end’ vibe. I’m kinda happy and sad about it at the same time. The game needed an end so it’s good to have one. But I dunno, I’ll miss it when it’s gone.

    I’m reminded of that slightly cool feeling I got when I looted up my first Arthas’ Tears. Like a connection to it. Like it all meant something. I joke about skipping the quest text now but I read it all the first time round. I may forget the details but I still kept the feel of the thing buried there under two years of end-game. Cataclysm is necessary; but for me, I think it’s time to move on.

    I think…I think I need to go gank someone in Tarren Mill T.T

  7. Pingback: No King Rules Forever « Pen and Shield

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