Tell me why (I don’t like Uldum)

I’ve really enjoyed my time in WoW getting from level 80 to 85. I started at Mt Hyjal after a brief journey into Vash’jir to get a Seahorse mount. Then I moved onto Deepholm, which is the most gorgeous place to hang out for a while, even if the airship made me physically sick. And through this time I heard from others how much I’d like Uldum, how beautiful it was, how thoroughly Egyptian in mood. So I was excited when it was my next port of call. I actually found the way there a few days earlier than I’d meant to, got distracted while doing the Metzen the Reindeer quest and found the caravan headed for Uldum, and that was my introduction to the only WoW zone so far that I have extremely mixed feelings about.

Uldum is undoubtably pretty. I really loved the questline for the Ramkahen. Even the boring bits of ‘killing x’ I was quite enjoying. I adored the gnome obliteration quest (this isn’t my video of it): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7dJuALvrKrw. Everything was going pretty well and the zone was living up to expectations. Until, that is, I finished that questline and wondered why it didn’t feel like the zone was done. One of my guildmates suggested I might not have finished the Harrison Jones quests, and I remembered that I had kind of wandered away from them, maybe a sign of things to come. I went to look up the ‘famed’ explorer and picked up where I’d left off.

I’m sorry world, I didn’t like it. That’s not entirely accurate, I liked good chunks of it, the bits that revolved around tomb exploration, pyramids, archaeology and even roping camels and caging pygmies. I didn’t like the Schnottz stuff. I know we needed a baddie. I liked that the bad guys were Deathwing’s (am trying to avoid TOO many spoilers here). I didn’t like Schnottz, the Hitler pastiche, the faux German accents. It made me uncomfortable. I think we’re done with the age where German accent = baddie. I didn’t really feel comfortable having Hitler as a pop-culture reference that lingered. It’s hard to explain. I’m sure I could have dealt with it for one quest, but it went on and on, and I felt more uncomfortable as it did. And that discomfort made me stop enjoying the quests. I was talking to a friend who lives in Germany and wasn’t up to Uldum yet, and I got as far as mentioning the Indiana Jones questline, but stopped short of mentioning I was currently questing for ‘a really bad guy with a Hitler moustache who speaks with a German accent’. That’s the conversation that made me realise I wasn’t entirely comfortable with it.

And then, talking to Spinks, I managed to formulate my thoughts more. It wasn’t just the German accents I didn’t like (and yeah yeah, I like Indiana Jones films, but they’re historical and set in the right period for him to be fighting Nazis!)… Uldum just seemed to take me out-of-game more than the other zones, though the Harrison Jones quests, so they became the focus for my ennui. I’m not sure if anyone else feels the same way, but since it was such an odd reaction for me, I thought it might be interesting to blog it – since I don’t often have much to say!

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54 thoughts on “Tell me why (I don’t like Uldum)

  1. The whole Uldum rubs me the wrong way for some reason or another: I’ve explored it through, not even close to coming to there for quests, but still it feels to me almost as out of the game as the goblin starter area. Not the WoW I like at all.

    C out

  2. Good to hear that it isn’t just Germans who think that way. I really didn’t appreciate the joke where the Schnottz guys explained their politics as “Fashionism”, as if Faschism was dead and just a joke these days.

  3. Like it or not, Hitler and the Nazis have been a pop culture meme since.. Chaplin. I doubt it would have been any better if the referenced the real Nazis and not the pop-culture version shown in Indiana Jones and Inglorious Basterds movies.

  4. Yeah, you do know that in Raiders of the Lost Ark the baddies were Nazis and that Schnotts was a pastiche of Dietrich, the German General, likewise Belloc Brightblade is, quite obviously, Indy’s Archaeological nemesis Belloq.

    I admit, they could have characterised Schnotts better, Deitrich may have been the baddie in Lost Ark but he wasn’t the blindingly stupid character Schnotts was. But then again, Blizzard have never really been one to build multi-dimensional characters, especially for 1-shot minor characters.

  5. Thanks for the post, it really feels offensive. That are supposed to be german accents? I hear germans speaking both german and (badly accented) english quite often but I didn’t recognise that. The most offensive part for me was not even that Hitler-Reference appearing, it was having to play along with it. Its not too nice having me to help little Hitler for several quests if I want to complete that zone!
    Generally I feel like Blizzard are just overdoing it with their popcultural references and jokes. Its okay having Harrison Jones being a joke around ZA, but having him appear behind every corner since then just feels like Blizzard is a young boy who doesn’t notice when a joke is played out and repeats it again and again until you want to ducktape him to a lamppost.
    Same goes for the whole of Uldum.. if I have to endure any more bosses that are named like a badly disguised version of an egyptian god I’m gonna puke. Thats not a reference.. that is a missing ability to think up something new and blatantly stealing something from reallife instead.

  6. Personally, i loved the zone. It has quickly became my favorite, and the storyline was fantastic. I felt like i was part of an ongoing adventure and i LOVED the indiana jones feel of it. I am German myself but didnt find anything offensive about this. I tip my hat to Blizzard for a job well done on this zone. To each his own I guess.

  7. I was really surprised and a little shocked when Stumps told me there was gonna be a Hitler ‘cameo’ in Uldum and that I was gonna run entire questlines revolving around him. Until now I’ve been battling with myself on how exactly i feel about this – I realize it’s different depending on where you live and in what culture you’ve been brought up in, but to me it was really baffling that Blizzard would implement something like this, even in jest, in WoW.

    I felt uncomfortable through many of the quests even though they’re obviously meant to be parody. Nevertheless, it’s a sort of wrong ‘hommage’ to a character and time that IMO doesn’t deserve a spot in a game like WoW, it just feels very misplaced.

    and maybe it’s an american thing too because where I live people are a lot more aware of the issue and also nazis don’t have anything of the ‘cool game villain’ flair they have in so many US games or movies. so maybe from Blizzard’s PoV it was a mild wink, but personally I find it a lot more problematic.

  8. I haven’t got there yet but in principle at least I’m inclined to defend Blizzard. It’s comedy, surely there are no sacred cows in comedy?

    The Nazis were lampooned in many of the British comedies I grew up with including Dad’s Army, Allo allo and Fawlty Towers. If making fun of the Nazis is unacceptable we need to jettison a large chunk of twentieth century British culture.

    I mean I can see how it is offensive to some people (like most comedy is) but how is it better if we stop people doing this. Do we simply not mention history we’re uncomfortable with which opens the door to revisionism and holocaust deniers? Do we endlessly re-run horrific documentaries on Auschwitz and force schoolchildren to watch them six times a year?

    And then of course we come to the issue of what comedy is permissable? Is it ok to poke at religion? Is it alright to be rude about politicians?

    • Will be curious to see what you think after you’ve played through the storylines. They were fun, but I think I do agree with Arb that it was all a bit anti-immersive. Like a running joke that went on a bit too long.

      Imagine if you had a whole questline about Harris Pilton, rather than a single comedy NPC in a bar.

    • To be fair, I didn’t say it should be censored. I said it made me not enjoy Uldum as much as other zones. Mostly because of anti-immersion, initially because it made me uncomfortable.

      • Quite, Arbitrary, I didn’t mean to misrepresent your views, just that censorship seems a logical progression from “I didn’t like this because it was tasteless.”

    • I think therein lies the difference: WoW is an MMO that over 10mio people are playing. it’s in fact not a comedy, the comedy aspects or easter eggs are a very small part in the end. I agree that there should be no scared cows on the stage of let’s say a stand-up comedian and if I enter a show like that, as an audience I should know what I’m in for. it’s an unspoken contract.
      that doesn’t really apply to WoW though in my opinion. and while I’m not exactly offended and ambivalent at best, I still find it lacking taste and misplaced in this context.

      also, one could have a long debate about ‘scared cows’ vs. ‘how making fun of something trivializes it’ – but that’s maybe a debate for another time.

    • And again, I didn’t say it should be censored, just that FOR ME, it went on too long and made me enjoy the zone less than others.

      It’s not like I’m preaching that Blizz be told off for it. Just saying that of all the new zones, I liked this one least and trying to find a reason for that.

      It’s personal opinion, that’s all.

  9. I loved the area. It is by far the best zone every created by Blizzard. The only group that everyone agrees that it is okay to make fun of is Americans!

  10. I didn’t like the Harrison Jones questline because it seemed so cheap; they weren’t making up new stories, they were just making fun of someone else’s story in another medium. I like the pop culture references sprinkled through the game, but there are lines between reference/homage and lazy copying. Harris Pilton is a great throwaway character, but I would hate to have a questline involving her trying to be an ordinary adventurer in a takeoff on The Simple Life.

    Someone else noticed that too many times in the Uldum questline you’re not the hero, you just stay out of the way as Harrison does his scripted hero thing. I don’t play video games this close to endgame in order to be the bumbling sidekick.

    I loved Ramkahen, loved the crazed gnomes, didn’t mind some of the Schnottz stuff. Hated pretty much anything with Harrison Jones.

  11. The German thing did not bother me because the whole quest line was supposed to be a tie in to the movie.. from the Staff to the Germans to the guy getting his head chopped off by the plane… I did not like the cut away stuff and all the gimicky plane fight type mechanics… It was just too much and not a lot of fun… the whole like “Hey you can not beat these guys but go around and booby trap the camp” thing was no fun. I are powerful! I can take them! Let me at em!

  12. Hmm, I thought it was more about the Indiana Jones movies and less about Nazi’s, and I also caught the reference to the Knot’s Landing TV Show.

    It didn’t bother my immersiveness at all. After years of motorbikes, trikes, flying rockets, sidecars, sunglasses… Haris Pilton appeared years ago, and quite frankly, I’d be shocked if we didn’t get a whole questline with her sometime in the future…

    The really annoying bit about Uldum is finishing a quest to receive a cutscene and then doing another quest and having to endure another cutscene straight after, and on and on…

  13. Uldum was probably my most favorite zone in the game.

    I like WoW best when it is not trying to be serious. Uldum and the Goblin 1-13 areas are probably my most favorite areas in the whole game at the moment.

    It made me laugh a ton.

    • I totally agree. The Goblin starting area is absolutely my favorite newbie zone.

      I also disagree. I hated Uldum, not for anything in particular. The quests were just boring. My favorite 80+ zone is Vashj’ir.

  14. I can certainly see how you would feel uneasy about the zone, but personally, I loved Uldum. I loved replaying Raiders of the Lost Ark, and I felt that Schnottz with all his stupid glory was a semi-integral part of it.

    I don’t think that Blizzard meant to offend anyone. I think Uldum is a zone that is meant to be strictly “fun” with silly references as opposed to lore. The other zones contained a few pop culture references, but Uldum has definitely been the leader in the references. There really isn’t that much lore to be found in Uldum.

    I thought the Egyptian integration with the Old Gods and the Titans was done very well.

    Still, to each his own.

  15. I just wish they would make their own history and build something interesting around that. Riffing off of real world history and playing the “satire” card doesn’t offend me (though I wish real history were taken seriously), but neither does it satisfy my curiosity about the World of Warcraft. All it tells me is that the devs aren’t confident in their own creativity, and that’s never a good thing for me to see in a game.

  16. I liked the zone.
    But the anti-immersiveness made me stop for a few seconds.
    I’m German and I’m historyaware. But I never thought of real Nazis when doing the questchain. I always saw them as Indi’s enemies and it was ok and even immersive. But seeing modern weapons and modern uniforms, THAT was anti-immersive. Burning down 1000 crazy goblins with a plutonium core wasn’t. Hm.

  17. I liked the zone, though at points I felt like I wasn’t really playing WoW. I was ‘meh’ on the Schnottz thing, but the thing that really bugged me about the Harrison Jones line of quests was that they went overboard with the cinematics.

    I honestly started to cringe when clicking the quest complete button in fear of some minor cinematic taking control of my toon.

  18. Pingback: Keep Your History Away From My Internet Dragons | Murloc Parliament

  19. I hated the harrison quests too. For me, it was the extended wink wink nudge nudge riff on the movies. I don’t mind and often laugh at the random pop culture references in NPC names and quests. But this was what, 40-50 quests that were little more than an extended joke where the punchline was “you’re reenacting the Indiana Jones movies.”

    It was extremely difficult to view this as at all plausibly in universe. goblins don’t have german accents. Where the hell was Brann during all this archeology? Wasn’t harrison’s previous, one or two quest appearances, showing that he’s not actually a very good archeologist in the WoW-verse?

  20. I hadn’t really thought of Uldum as offensive or uncomfortable when I was playing through the zone, to be honest. This is a really new viewpoint for me. When I was playing through, I was just enjoying the Indiana Jones themes that ran through the Harrison questline and had a good chuckle at every inside joke.

    I’m not saying I’d want to see this done too often, but to me it was really funny and I enjoyed the zone. Of course, ask me if I still like it after all 7 of my characters run through it. The overdone qualities might wear a little thin by that point.

    Like someone else mentioned, my biggest problem with the zone was the cinematics. I think Blizzard threw too many cinematics in one zone; they really could have spread that out a bit.

  21. I thought the Harrison Jones stuff was well done, and sent it up reasonable well, and the climax was an actual LOL moment. However, it’s only a third of the zone, with the Ramkahen arc another, and another third which seems just to be odd bits and bobs. The narrative of the zone just doesn’t hang together.

    Schnotzz really is the worst part of it. The problem was not that it was offensive (as pointed out, Hitler parodies have been staples for years, especially during the war itself) – but that IT WASN’T FUNNY. And the whole time, the game appeared to be trying to convince me how HILARIOUS it all was, as they flogged that poor dead horse for more material.

    It was also particularly heavy-handed humour by Blizzard’s standard. Apart from the poo quests, they’re normally quite sparing and generally very subtle with the in-game humour. In Cataclysm they’ve gone OTT on a lot of elements, which really pulls me out the game – see also, the comedy Scottishness of the Twilight Highlands dwarves, and the Dick Van Dyke voices of the Worgen.

  22. The Schnottz questline was rather lame, as other said a running joke that just went too long, but I saw nothing offensive, just bad parody.
    Biggest issue with the whole zone and questing is the non-stop cutscenes that you can’t skip if you want the quest to complete. That’s what killed it for me. Every other quest did not need a cutscene, and no other zone has the sheer volume of them like Uldum. It got old real fast, and pulled me out of the questing experience, which I’m sure is the opposite of what Blizzard intended.

  23. Breaking immersion seems like a perfectly good reason to dislike Uldum. It felt like it used more cimematics than all the other new zones combined. (It probably didn’t, really, but I said it *felt* that way.) And it used Harrison Jones and Nazis way too much. The “fashionism” joke would have been worth three or, hell, maybe even five quests, but it got 50. (Well, assuming it got half the quests in the zone were for this storyline.) Harrison was great as a pure joke character in ZA or questgiver in a tiny, unimportant quest chain in the Grizzly Hills: hey, WoW is full of those little jokes and homages, here’s one more. But in Uldum he’s almost the only alliance questgiver for one big chain recreating all the Indiana Jones movies. I never stopped thinking “I wonder which scene from the movie I get inserted into next? I wonder if I get to kill the big bad dragon over there or he’s going to do it for me?”

    I wasn’t bothered by it all that much; I’d still rate Uldum as a zone higher than, I don’t know, Nagrand for Alliance or two-thirds of pre-Cataclysm vanilla zones. But I’d definitely say it’s the weakest of the new zones.

  24. I’m just going to come out and say you’ve got some serious issues if you’re honestly offended by nazis anymore. They’ve been used as fodder and jokes for movies, video games, and probably comics and some books for decades now.

    This is the problem with society today, walking on eggshells over everything and getting up in arms and offended over things that have absolutely no reason to be offended by. For crying out loud, the entire half of the zone is an Indiana Jones reference, just get over it.

    And no, I don’t like Uldum either, but it’s certainly not because I’m getting all worked up over more fauxnazi references. Good god.

  25. I liked Uldum. There were too many cut scenes without knowing what’s really going on. OK, we’re powering up or shutting down things. Except for the last one with a certain dwarf, I wasn’t really sure why we were going around doing all this stuff.

    Mu gripe with the Schnotzz thing was “Why is my character doing this?” “Because I found a book?” “I’m just going along with all of this” If perhaps Harrison said “Hey, these guys are up to something, but I’ll get recognized immediately. Go in and find out what’s going on”

    I did like how it ended with the coffer and that dwarf again. that was well done.

  26. “Troggs… why did it have to be Troggs?” Archaeology was a big part of this expansion… playing off of the Indiana Jones thing seems a natural fit towards promoting that new profession, and Uldum is clearly where the Titan storyline continues. I’m not sure if Indiana Jones would still be Indiana Jones without Nazis. Well, I guess they could have played off of Crazed Hindi’s and made Uldum have a more Indian feel, but then wouldn’t we be having a discussion about how inappropriate the portrayel and use of Hinduism was?

  27. Can’t believe a bunch of yahoos got offended with a movie-related joke.

    Don’t like the joke? Don’t do Uldum.

    Don’t like other jokes? Cancel your subscription. It’s not like you have a Nazi with a gun pointed to your head saying “You vill play ziz game!”.

    It’s not like you have to play this game or face a nice trip to a gas chamber.

  28. It wasn’t just breaking the immersion (at least for me). It was that it felt like a bad recreation of a bad video game for Indiana Jones, except I couldn’t play as Indy and the actual gameplay was kinda dull. The quests were really shoehorned in to fitting with the Raiders storyline, the cutscenes weren’t particularly epic (and gods were they slow; it was like an escort mission gone horribly wrong), and the environment got a bit old.

    I liked the Ramkahen questline and thought it was interesting. But why are we (as horde) following around a human known for fucking over trolls instead of somewhat of a neutral party in Brann? Just…meh.

  29. I liked Uldum. I personally really enjoyed the Harrison Jones quests, but I love the movies to death, so I’m probably not impartial. There was more going on, but it didn’t seem to get as much attention as the Jones storyline did – the Ramkahen/Neferset deal; how the entire zone is a Titan device that would have re-originated the planet if we hadn’t stopped Algalon in Ulduar; and what’s going on with Deathwing and Al’Akir’s wind elementals.

    I dunno. In Hyjal, you were the hero doing the bidding of Ysera and Malfurion Stormrage. Vashj’ir is beautifully made and has a strong storyline. When you get to the Twilight Highlands, you’re fighting Old Gods and the Twilight’s Hammer.

    In Uldum, you’re kinda just some guy. Deepholm is worse. though, because there you’re just some guy plus there’s a giant, hideous fart-floating rock-hambeast.

  30. Wow, what a bunch of thin-skinned weaklings many of you are. Oh, boo hoo, the game isn’t like it has been the past 6 years. Boo hoo, they changed things. Boo hoo, the most fantastic, engaging, and fun zone in the game has references to a movie in which the Nazis were villains.

    @Tobold: Guess what? The Nazis WERE villains. The Nazis committed some of the most horrific injustices ever conceived against the human race and you DON’T want to make fun of them? If you’re offended by Nazis because you’re German, perhaps you should disassociate yourself with Deutschland because the rest of the world will ALWAYS know Germany as the country that gave birth to one of the most dangerous people the world has ever known. I encourage mocking and belittling Nazis as much as possible because they deserve no better.

    Now that that’s out of the way, Uldum is INCREDIBLE! The Harrison Jones quests are the most fun quests anywhere in the game, for me anyway. The environment feels like it should: a vast desert with many secrets to find. I’ll admit, the Ramkahen should play more prominently but there’s plenty to love about Uldum and I know I’ll be doing every quest in the zone on all my alts.

  31. I thought that accents were supposed to be Russian, and I have never seen “Raiders of the Lost Ark”, so I didn’t really pick up on any of this. But I still hated these quests too – and all of Uldum, really. It just didn’t really feel like WoW.

  32. It’s been my favourite zone of Cataclysm, especially as an RPer who loves to poke holes in the fourth wall. I thought it was funny between quests to turn to my levelling partner and remark, in-character, “Why are we doing this again?” Or to have my character recognize Titan things and loudly declare that we shouldn’t touch those!

    Even the cut scenes didn’t bother me; I thought there were a few too many, but I kinda understand what they were going for. I mean, as we did quests and completed the chain, we were changing the zone and that had to be shown somehow.

    I really think there was payoff in the end though; Brann showed up and we were led into Halls of Origination, and as a Starcaller, it was friggin’ profound to go two-for-two on literally saving the world.

    I loved Uldum. I thought it was cheeky, not taking itself too seriously, but still providing a great bridge (the Titans, re-origination, the influence of the Twilight’s Hammer) between fairly significant places/events in prior expansions that seemed to really make no sense.

    Now, as for Schnottz and his minions; remember that they’re not riffs of Nazis per se – they’re the Nazis that were in the film, which I would assume (I haven’t seen the old classic Indy movies) were portrayed as over the top and a little wacky.

    If you’re going to draw offense at the Nazi references, I’d point you toward the source material for the entire parody and ask that you get offended by that, too.

    • Please don’t tell people what they should get offended by. If you read the original post, Arb said she didn’t like it, she didn’t say anyone else had to feel the same way. And especially if you haven’t seen the source material that you’re telling people to get offended by.

      • Also I wasn’t exactly offended, it just made me a bit uncomfortable and stopped me enjoying the quests as much as in other zones.

      • My apologies; those last paragraphs came out a little too tart.

        So let me rephrase, Arb, if you’re still reading this: What about seeing a parody in WoW made you uncomfortable, apparently much more than what you might have seen in the original Indy movies? I can understand that might be a bit of a personal question for many reasons, but I will say I’m honestly curious.

    • I’m really not sure, thus the blog post I guess. I know I hated Schnottz the first time I saw him, and I never really like the German accents fakery. I did like bits of the questline, but I think it was a combination of not really enjoying the cutscenes, or the length of the pastiche as well as the Germans=baddies things.

      I guess if it had lasted only a few quests I’d have shrugged it off, but at points I genuinely felt like just stopping doing them., and it was only everyone’s insistence that the zone was so great that led me to finish them.

      I loved the other Uldum stuff, so I guess maybe I was humourless that day, or it went on too long, or I didn’t like the wholesale Indiana Jones retelling, or felt my char had nothing to do with the storyline.

      But I stand by what I said in the blog post, too. I guess having a ton of people stop by and comment on something I thought was kind of an interesting reaction that I’d not felt before is making me revise whether I should feel anything at all!

  33. I guess I’m the odd one out, but I loved Uldum. After Hyjal its easily my favorite zone in the game.

    Of course, I’m a fan of Egypt, Indiana Jones, and bad Nazi humor.

    It feels like they made the zone just for me =P

  34. Comedy is all about taking a wound and rubbing salt in it.
    These are all meant to be percieved as jokes, and if you get offended by pop culture references like this, then im afraid the internet is not for you.

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