Post #8: Letter to Mr. C – What’s Up With Cataclysm, concluded

September 1, 2009 at 8:08 am | Posted in Letters to Mr. C., Predictions, Predictions Made, Preparing for Cataclysm | 4 Comments

Dear Mr. C:

Er. Sorry about the extended dance-mix delay on finishing this up.

To recap: Blizzard and its customers share an interest in updating old maps, but doing that will make a significant amount of change necessary in key locales and in boundaries. Furthermore, changing the map this way provides an opportunity to update the structure of quests, adjusting givers and goals in light of lessons learned about what makes the process of questing more fun and less frustrating.

So, what are they doing to tie it all together with? To my great pleasure, they’re pretty much entirely building on existing platforms. Or, to get image-y about it, it’s act III and they’re firing off a bunch of the guns that have been on stage for some time now.

The biggie here is of course Deathwing, leader of the black dragonflight.

As a reminder, the World of Warcraft background is very nearly Jack Kirby’s Tales of the Cthulhu Mythos. The Titans came to Azeroth when it was lifeless and got things rolling. Then they went elsewhere to tend other worlds, and the Old Gods moved in. The Old Gods:





If you peer closely, you’ll see a few figures to the left of the C’thun shot, one with glowing red hands at bottom left and a couple above the blue beam, one with glowing green hands.

Anyway, the Titans made a return trip, smacked down the Old Gods hard—so thoroughly that nearly everybody thought they were actually gone gone gone—and set up new tenders in place. Those were the five dragonflights, each charged with protecting a different part of the world (time and fate, living creatures, the wild, magic, and the earth itself). Unfortunately, Neltharion, the Earth-Warder, whose brief calls for spending a lot of time tending the deep places of the world, started hearing the Old Gods’ whispers and went mad. Renaming himself Deathwing, he set about wiping out all life. It didn’t quite work, but he gave it a darned good try, and did manage to steal enough of the essence of the other four Dragon Aspects that they couldn’t mount a good resistance. He did make a getaway and mount secret schemes over the millennia.

Finally, during the Second War between Horde and Alliance, a group of adventurers got hold of the soul prison he’d made and busted it up good. At that point the other four dragonflights did put some real hurting on Deathwing and his brood, and he went into hiding.

Now he’s back, mended (if you call that healing), presumably crazier than ever from more time hearing the Old Gods in his head, and ready to try again. Blizzard’s referred to what’s coming up as the second greatest catastrophe in the history of Azeroth, behind only the time 10,000 years ago when the Burning Legion first invaded and came this close to capturing the Well of Eternity, the source of all magic on Azeroth.

And y’know, I love that.

Deathwing will be literally shaking the continents, and his elemental buddies will be loose doing things on their own. In particular, the fire lord Ragnaros, last seen getting his butt kicked in the Molten Core raid, will be assaulting Mt. Hyjal, home of the same world tree that Archimonde assaulted in Warcraft 3. You watched the cinematics, right? That bit with the giant demon, the giant tree, and the wisps (which are elvish souls) burning themselves out to burn him out? That’s the place. This is the fire lord:

Ragnaros in the Molten Core of Blackrock Mountain

Ragnaros in the Molten Core of Blackrock Mountain

There’ll be openings into the elemental planes, at least some of them, with rumbles around the transitional areas and in the planes themselves. This in addition to continental upheavals and general bruhaha.

Back in the day, tabletop RPG designer and author S. John Ross assembled a list of elements he thought crucial for successful game worlds. They don’t all apply to MMOs, but a lot do. Among them are factions and anarchy: groups for characters to affiliate with and groups to oppose, and freedom to operate outside a vigorous, strict hierarchical chain of command. Cataclysm looks to deliver.

Now, one big question is what the status of the Scourge will be by the time Cataclysm comes out. We just got patch 3.2 in the last few weeks, so it’ll be at least a couple months and maybe several before we see patch 3.3, which’ll introduce the raid on Icecrown Citadel. Without breaking a sweat, I can easily think of several scenarios that could include both a substantial, satisfying, serious defeat of Arthas and room for the Scourge to keep operating in some fashion, and so can you. I mean, we read comics, we can do this. Blizzard says they’re committed to a good resolution, I see no reason to doubt it, and I’ll update you when I hear more about that part.

There will be new races and other stuff in Cataclysm, and I’ll post about those separately. I think that this trio of posts covers the really big issue: What does the core audience make of this announcement? Answer: Thumbs up.

Your friend, Ms. B.



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  1. Can’t believe I’m only now leaving my first comment here. This is my namesake series, for crying out loud! 🙂

    You and I have talked about our mutual love of “third force” antagonists many a time now, but I don’t think I ever realized until this post just how many Big Bads there really are in this game. Not just level bosses or whatever, but characters who’ve driven entire storylines. I’m not even going to TRY to get the names right, but if I recall correctly, you’ve got the mad titan/Morgoth figure whose name begins with an S. Then you’ve got his three major underlings. Then you’ve got Arthas and Illidan, I want to say. Then this dragon. All of them world-class threats. This is more like a superhero universe than Tolkien!

  2. It does have that Marvel/DC vibe, doesn’t it? Or Astro City, come to think of it. Various of the bad-guy forces do intersect via past or present connections, but yeah, there’s a strong element of “there’s someone rotten anywhere you look, if you look hard enough”. 🙂

  3. Astro City’s maybe a better point of comparison, because Busiek really tries to hammer home the feeling that any time one of the cosmic Big Bads or real super-duper evildoers shows up, they really could destroy the whole planet. Part of that is the use of ground-level protagonists, I suppose–lots of the stories feature characters literally standing around waiting to find out if the good guys were able to save life as we know it.

  4. Thats very good to know… thanks

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