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.