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Ruminations on the Wrathgate

This morning, after wiping on the Insomnia boss, I got my blood elf hunter Illithanis through the last part of the Wrathgate questline, saw the Cutscene of Cool (SPOILER ALERT!!), and completed the Battle for the Undercity (gaining level 75 in the process).  Illy is the third character I’ve run through the Wrathgate (now two Horde, one Alliance) and it’s still pretty much made of awesome.  But as I helped Thrall clean up the mess in Undercity, my sleep-deprived mind started wandering, as it is wont to do, and got me to thinking…

(CAUTION: Spoilers lie under the cut.  If you are one of the, eh, fourteen or so people out of 11+ million who don’t know how the whole Wrathgate/Undercity event goes and want to wait until you see it for yourself, then you may want to skip this and read some of the other fine content on this here blog thang or check out the blogroll.)

– Wrathgate is one of the best showcases of the “phasing” technology that Blizzard added in Wrath of the Lich King; after all, the foot of the Wrathgate itself changes completely, from the battle beforehand to the flaming carnage afterward.  But there are a few inconsistencies I wish they’d fix.  I can forgive Alexstrasza being in two places at once (in dragon form below the Wrathgate, and in her Princess Leia metal bikini up on Wyrmrest)–hey, if Hemet Nesingwary can do it, the Queen of the Red Dragonflight surely can.  But shouldn’t somebody have sent people back up there to calm down the troops?  There’s still people running around screaming and freaking out up there three months after Linedan first saw the event.  Oh, and…who did the gryphon and windrider handlers piss off to get stuck with that assignment, huh?  “Mmmyeeeah, listen, I know we’ve been betrayed and all your friends are either zombie chow or turning into green goo, but, yeeeah, I’m gonna need you to stay here this weekend and take care of the flying mounts, mmmkay?  That’d be greeeat.

– The cinematic is beyond awesome, even though I really hate seeing Saurfang the Younger get one-shotted by Arthas like he’s a level 1 critter.  Then again, what’s worse–getting roflstomped by the Lich King in front of your homies, or choking to death in a plague cloud after realizing you’d been betrayed and led hundreds of your best to a horrible green gooey fate?

– I don’t think Varimathras and Putress thought their Cunning Plan all the way through.  Putress gacks the elite of both factions’ armies (the Seventh Legion and the Kor’kron) and Varimathras deposes Sylvanas and seizes Undercity in a coup.  OK.  Then what? Do they sit there and pretend they’re SPECTRE and hold the world hostage?  (“Ve vill plague Stormwind und Orgrimmar if you do not giff us one beeeelion gold.”)  Do they finally take down those poor skull-less farmers in Hillsbrad?  Do they think that the Alliance and Horde won’t put aside their differences at least long enough to extract some really cool bloody revenge, Varian Wrynn’s mental (in)stability notwithstanding?

– We never do find out who is pulling Varimathras’ strings, but somebody is.  In the final fight in the throne room, Varimathras is speaking to a “Master” as the portals collapse around him, but we never see or have an indication who it might be.  Kil’jaeden?  Archimonde?  Sargeras?  We don’t know, and may never.

– Sylvanas.  Honey.  I know you’re uber-hot and Goth chic with your new Lich King model, but trust me, you are a moron. You epic failed SO HARD.  You kept your pet dreadlord around for years, never seeming to give a thought to the fact that, hey, he might want revenge on you for what you made him do, or that he might betray you–which is what dreadlords, y’know, do. Your Apothecaries have been cheerfully creating a plague to eliminate not just the Scourge, but all life on Azeroth, also for years now, and don’t even try to go Nixon on us and swear you didn’t know what they were doing.  Plausible deniability, you does not has it. If I was Thrall, after I bailed your stupid ass out and gave you your city back, I’m not sure I’d let you run the sanitation department, much less an entire kingdom.

– Speaking of Thrall…not keeping a real close eye on your posse, were ya, big guy?

– Here’s a question for the Alliance–why hasn’t Wrynn the Chin invaded Theramore with an eye toward deposing and executing Jaina Proudmoore for treason?  I know, Theramore’s allegedly an independent city-state, clear over on the other continent, and not subject to Stormwind law.  But Our Lady of the Perfectly Painted Nails not only consorted with the “enemy”–Thrall–right before the attack on the Undercity, but at Wrynn’s crowning moment, his long-awaited chance to behead the Horde’s leadership and start the reclamation of the North for humanity…she froze everybody and teleported him back to Stormwind. And after it happened, we hear exactly nothing about this.  I’d imagine Varian’s a little pissed right now (when isn’t he?) but nothing seems to come of it.  It’s just a hanging loose end.

– And finally, there’s the Battle for the Undercity.  To say that it’s “epic” is to undervalue the word.  It’s beautifully done.  And it’s somewhat unique among WoW quests, in that it’s not all about you. Think about it.  Most of the time, you’re the hero.  You save the village, you get the rewards, you’re The Man (or The Woman, The Cow, The Gnome, whatever).  All well and good, and the staple of epic fantasy.

But in Battle for the Undercity, you’re…an extra.  You’re a prop.  You’re a redshirt.  Let’s face it, Thrall and Sylvanas (or Wrynn and Jaina) can breeze through the entire thing if you stand back and never fire a shot or take a swing or cast a spell.  Your contribution to the whole thing is not to save the day, it’s just to be there and marvel at Thrall commanding the elements, or Wrynn slaying entire legions of undead with just his chin and a psycho stare, or Sylvanas’ epic walk (holy damn, that woman’s got a sway on her, know what I’m sayin’?), or the fact that Jaina can massacre demons and never get a hair out of place.  Basically, you get a nice pair of pants, a +50 crit rating trinket, and 41,000 xp, for being a spectator and staying away from cleaves and goo.

There are some who say they’d rather have been more involved, but I think it’s just fine the way it is.  I like standing back and realizing, RP-wise, that my character was in the presence of these great heroes that lifted them to be able to do amazing things like have an extra 30k health and +OMGWTF% damage.

I’m looking forward to doing this again in six or seven levels on my orc DK Moktor.  Trouble is, knowing Moktor, she’ll be standing up at the Kor’kron Vanguard looking over at Putress and screaming “WOOHOO!  YEAH, BUDDAY!  GIVE ‘EM THE SLIME!”  She’s not a nice orc.

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