Tuesday, February 2, 2010

The Fall of the Lich King

The conclusion to the six year Arthas saga is here. It brings a large degree of closure to the majority of the Warcraft fans out there. For me, just a reminder of how decent storytelling and standards can be corrupted by wealth and fame.

Let's look back at Arthas's tale. The quick rundown is...
-Arthas is a mighty paladin for the Alliance serving under Uther.
-Arthas gets manipulated into killing innocents by believing they are under the effects of the Scourge.
-Arthas finds the mighty sword, Frostmourne, and supposedly defeats Muradin Bronzebeard.
-Frostmourne begins to corrupt Arthas making him into a Death Knight.
-Arthas feels his power diminishing and heads to return to Icecrown.
-Arthas defeats Illidan at Icecrown and dons the Lich King's armor as his own.
-Arthas is now the Lich King leading the Scourge against humanity.
-Apparently Arthas's heart still exists and there is a degree of humanity left within him and that is the reason that the undead have not overwhelmed Azeroth.

So that brings us to Blizzard's conclusion and story manipulation. As the player enters Icecrown Citadel for the 10/25 man raid encounters, they listen to Bolvar Fordragon resisting the Lich King's corruption.

The rumor is, the life-giving fire of the Red Dragonflight has fused itself with Bolvar and makes him resistant to becoming undead. So now he is this elemental being of fire with Bolvar's consciousness and memories.

Now here's where the internet made me disappointed. After browsing numerous forums and internet boards, the majority of the fanbase doesn't even really understand Bolvar's background. I would venture to say that the majority of these WoW players have begun their Warcraft experiences AFTER the first expansion had been released. Only a very select few of the original "Vanilla" WoW players remember Bolvar from the Onyxia questline where you discover that Onyxia has had a presence in Stormwind and Bolvar valiantly fights off many dragonkin with ease. Giving you the first glimpse into his might. Most of the player base only remembers the Wrathgate cinematic and that's how they know who Bolvar is and what he has done. It hardly does the character justice. This leads to the eventual conclusion I was making about Blizzard.

Blizzard might as well have phoned in the ending to the Arthas saga to Hollywood. Oh, Arthas is dead, but there always needs to be a Lich King to control the Scourge, so naturally since Bolvar is barely human anymore, but still a beacon of light in the darkness, he should take the crown. So we've resolved nothing and instead created a more powerful being of darkness once his corruption has completed. It took Arthas around seven years to become fully engulfed by evil, and it may take Bolvar longer, but it continues to leave the end of the Lich King very open ended. It leaves the possibility for additional expansions to be created for WoW while re-using old content and lore behind the Scourge.

Here's what should have gone down. If Bolvar had taken the crown, and still had his sanity, why couldn't he have used the power of the Lich King to destroy all the Scourge abominations that plague Azeroth? Why could he not call them all to his side and trap them forever within Icecrown and leave the lands of Azeroth safe from the undead? Why couldn't Tirion have destroyed the Lich King's armor after this had been done? It seems like a real cop out to simply end Arthas and just replace him with another. I agree with many that Bolvar is a much more "badass" Lich King than Arthas was, but it still doesn't create any permanent solution for the races of Azeroth.

I stand by my opinion that I believe the Icecrown Citadel instance and the end of the Arthas saga was far too rushed in order to keep players engaged in the franchise and they could have been much more creative with their plot.

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