With all the imminent Cataclysm excitement on the horizon, I thought this was a good time to start looking back over Wrath of the Lich King. The good, the bad, the ugly, and the plain crazy.
Let’s start with some achievements. I’ve picked out five that epitomise the Wrath experience to me. I don’t have all of them myself.
This is the meta-achievement for completing lots of various holiday achievements around the year. There was a time when it included pretty much all of the holidays, but Blizzard have added a few new ones without updating this achievement (on the grounds that it would be unfair to those who picked it up later.)
The achiever is rewarded with a shiny pink dragon that is not girly at all, but is very fast. And one of the interesting sides is that even though the achievement can be completed solo – at least if you don’t mind using the dungeon finder for the instance holiday bosses – it hasn’t really got easier with gear inflation. This is because most of the holiday achievements don’t require much in the way of gear anyway.
There are other meta-achievements which reward people with shiny mounts. There is one for completing achievements in instances, and also one for the Ulduar hard modes. There was one for the Naxxramas hard modes too but it was phased out to stop people trivialising it with gear. The Undying (an achievement for beating Naxxramas without anyone in the raid group dying) however, still requires people to pay attention.
Everyone loves jousting, right? Right?
This is the achievement you earn when you use 150 shiny champion’s seals from the Argent Tournament and buy your squire pet a pony, which means he (and in turn you) can access your bank and mail remotely.
Jousting and the Argent Tournament itself represented a huge amount of single player content/grind that was dropped into the game after Ulduar. It’s been contentious to say the least. I quite enjoy the jousting myself, but it’s very hard to argue that putting up a huge tournament ground was a good way for the Argent Crusade to combat the scourge in their own backyard.
And if you don’t fancy the achievement you could always spend your 150 seals on one of the fanciest flying mounts in the game, the Argent Tournament Dragonhawk. That’s if you are Horde, anyhow.
The 5 man instance achievements were the first time players encountered the notion of hard modes in WoW. Whilst some of the hard modes were very contrived, others were so trivial that people knocked out the achievement every time without even meaning to.
This is one of the tougher ones, and involves a lot of interrupting, burst dps, and a bit of luck. Or at least it did when the game went live.
But oops, I actually did it on my new DK alt this morning in a pick up group. So much for hard modes and gear inflation. Speaking of pick up groups, it wouldn’t be right to mention the 5 man instances without a shout out to Looking for Multitudes, the achievement for completing enough random groups via the dungeon finder that you have grouped with 100 different people. (i.e. fixed groups won’t count for much.) The dungeon finder has been one of the great successes of the expansion, and the achievement was there to help lure people into using it when it was first introduced. You get a pet for this one, a pug with worms or something as well as a fairly appropriate title, “The Patient.”
Now, at the beginning of the expansion, there were raid achievements to complete in Naxxramas but they were a bit hit and miss. The raid had not originally been designed to include hard modes so the achievements mostly involved either doing the encounters in a completely wrong-faced way, or beating some timer or other.
But Sartharion was a different matter. It was the first raid encounter in Wrath that was properly designed to include hard modes that both changed how the fight played and were also bitching hard. The Twilight Zone achievement is for beating Sartharion with all three drakes up. It was also the first raid achievement that neatly showed exactly how a 10 man fight can be harder than the equivalent 25 man.
And also it showed up how overpowered both druids and DKs were as tanks at the time. Something which DKs suffered for significantly during the rest of Wrath as they were repeatedly nerfed. Druids got away relatively lightly.
As with the achievement above, people now casually romp through this one in pick up groups when Sartharion is the weekly raid. It is purely due to gear inflation.
Another very iconic raid achievement is Alone in the Darkness, which requires a raid group to beat Yogg Saron (the penultimate boss in Ulduar) without any help from the keepers. It is the hardest hard mode in Ulduar, so much so that it isn’t even included in the Ulduar meta-achievement. And it also gives a title to the realm first achiever.
This is an Argent Coliseum raid achievement, awarded to 10 man raid groups who can beat the final boss on heroic mode with no wipes at all (ie. no wipes or deaths in any of the boss fights at all.)
But what makes this one different is that it requires that no one in the raid is wearing gear obtainable from the 25 man trial of the crusader (or higher). This was intended as an achievement for strict 10 man guilds – i.e. people who only raid 10 man instances.
This was not the first attempt that Blizzard made to reward the strict 10 man guilds. There was a similar achievement for Algalon in Ulduar. But although there is some genuine admiration for the strict 10 man achievers, it’s largely seen as a sideshow to the real raiding scene. In the same way that Gevlon’s guild completed Ulduar in blue gear, it’s impressive but largely pointless. This is something that Blizzard are hoping to change in the next expansion. Also, having to fuss over everyone’s gear just in case one player had hopped into a 25 man PUG one week and forgotten to change their boots is a pain in the neck.
It would also be unfair to discuss crazy Wrath achievements without mentioning Insane in the Membrane. This achievement actually has nothing to do with Northrend, instead requiring players to become exalted with all the most annoying and difficult factions in Vanilla WoW. But it was introduced during Wrath and – for some reason I cannot comprehend – some people did it. Congrats, I guess. It does reward the most appropriate title in the game though, “The Insane.”