Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Arugal Lives!

Last night I found a questchain involving Argual out in Grizzly Hills! I think Shadowfang Keep is one of my favorite instances of all time, and have mentioned it more than once on the blog here. The pacing of the dungeon itself is almost perfect. Start at the door, work your way to the cell where the deathguard lets you out to the courtyard. You have the option of tackling the horses in the stables at a chance for a bag (which isn't as big a deal now as it was long ago, but still), then battle your way either thru the kitchen, or up the ramp to the right. Through that area, and along the ramparts, then into the tower proper, where it's up and up and up, sqauring off against Fenrus, the Hound Master, and then Argual himself.

All of the fights in the dungeon are basic tank and spank affairs, with nothing really special about any of them except for Argual himself, who teleports around the room, and mind controls party members. The atmopshere of the dungeon itself is awesome, and I love the whole 'ghosts, wolves, and wolfmen' theme. Even the neighboring town (Pyrewood Village?) has an awesome twist to it, that the inhabitants change based on the time of day. During the day they're normal humanoids, and at night time they turn into wolfmen. This is the only example I can think of in all of WoW where the time of day in the real world affects gameplay. Animal Forest on the Gamecube and Wii made extensive use of this feature, where you would have to perform certain tasks at 10pm or whatever, but WoW users would just cry and complain if that kind of limitation was in place.

Actually, WoW users seem to cry and complain about pretty much everything these days.

Anyway, I was putzing along in Grizzly Hills, and came across some blind chick that needed me to collect some moth juice or whatever, and then click some crystal ball and have some vision. Pretty run of the mill stuff. But then, when I noticed the vision had three dudes digging up Arugal and saying stuff along the lines of "he will serve the Lich Kings purpose nicely" I just about crapped my pants. I secretly hoped that this would be the beginning of some huge questline that would offer no immediate resolution. That finishing the chain would just offer a glimpse of things to come, and that Arugal would make a triumphant return in a much later raid encounter, like how Baron Rivendare from Stratholme was given a 'second chance to kick ass' in Naxxaramus during the Four Horsemen encounter.

Sadly, I banged out the whole chain last night to it's final conclusion, and no such grand plans were in store for Arugal himself. He wasn't exactly a pushover, and his three lieutenants were tough work to solo as a clothie. The quest is a level 75 quest asking for 3 party members, and at 77 I had a hard time with it. I barely managed to kill two of the lieutenants alone by blowing cooldowns and potting (bonus: they're immune to fear), but Arugal himself was crazy. I actually ended up logging a second account 80 to help with the chain (wiping multiple times even then, as I was manually clicking shit on two screens), but he's finally dead again. :(

Characters returning from the past are a really cool situation, though, and I'd like to see more of this happening. The repurposing of Rexxar as a questgiver in The Burning Crusade, even seeing Nefarion watching us fight Rend in UBRS. They all give a more cohesive feel to the 'story' of WoW. Wrath of the Lich King has taken a larger stance on having us run into Arthas on seeral occasions, and this has been covered to death, but seeing more minor characters make a comeback (bosses from RFD or WC, etc) would be cool, since nobody bothers to go there anymore.

Then again, given that no one goes there anymore, half of WoW's population probably wouldn't even know who Charlga Razorflank was if presented with a re-appearance of her in the next expansion at the head of a level 90 five man. :(


Klepsacovic said...

I love it when lore characters come back and become more than just a someone in an instance to kill for loot. Arugal had pretty much an entire zone devoted to him, along with the instance. Pretty much all of BRM worked with this, with all the lore figures and stories being shown before the instance and presented as true enemies.

I was glad to see Arugal come back, but it would have been nice to see more of him. Hopefully Grizzly Hills will be merely a setback.

Krunchy said...

Watching Nef just stand up there taunting us during UBRS definitely gave me incentive to go fight him in BWL. Having recurring characters that do more than just stand around saying the same thing, or handing out the same quest over and over, and even bosses that do more than just stand around waiting to be killed definitely help make the world come alive to me. I'm pretty sure I said this before, but immersion is huge to me when I play games and if the game world has life, if the NPCs do more than something a signpost could accomplish, then I start caring about the people and places. That's the difference between a climactic encounter with a high cost of lives and a climactic encounter with a high cost of lives that leaves me in tears for several minutes lamenting the people who died.

Taking the other side into consideration, however, every NPC that changes location or moves to a new base of operation has to be replaced where he/she/it used to be by someone new. In some cases, it can work out, like when Rexxar was replaced by that one wandering lady. In other cases, such as where the NPC has a specific lore or ability reason for being there (Only Frank's bloodline can summon the dread demon Ricardo and he's the last one!) it becomes a bit harder to put forth a contrived excuse for why they're not there and the B-stringer is trying to fill those shoes.

It's a cool gameplay idea and it's one I love, but if you've written yourself into a lore corner, you're SOL, because those NPCs can't go anywhere.

Anonymous said...

One of my favorite things was when Nef was watching over the Rend fight and you could summon Vael by clicking the UBRS key, before Vael was known about (other than releasing him from his cage thing in RFD/K whatever). Awesome stuff.

Longasc said...

I liked the quest chain, in the end I wished there would have been a bit more about the werewolves in the Grizzly Hills. There was, but not enough, I really loved all the Werewolf quests there! :)

What I liked was that the plot was inspired by a "Conan" short story by Robert E. Howard. They could add some more quest chains based on fantasy literature classics. The sexy vampire princess Akivasha is one of my favorite characters, she only had a very minor role in only one novel.

Time for WoW to add a sexy vampire princess model to the game, hmm? :)