The Fall of the Lich King: World of Warcraft Patch 3.3

I know we don't talk about World of Warcraft much on Giant Bomb, because World of Warcraft is for nerds, and Giant Bomb is only about cool stuff like guns and boobs and anthropomorphic domino men that refuse to be halted. So it makes sense that serious discussion of WoW tends to take place....well....anywhere but on Giant Bomb.
 
But with today's release of the much anticipated Wrath of the Lich King patch 3.3, I thought I'd take a moment to tell you why this patch may be the most exciting thing to happen to the Warcraft Franchise since 2004......and why even Non-WoW players might be interested to see what goes down.
 
You see, Patch 3.3, along with adding a slew of new game systems, quests, dungeons, and stolen ideas(they TOOK the Tome of Knowledge Questing Map straight out of Warhammer! Those devious jerks!)  3.3 also adds the Icecrown Citadel raid, where teams of 10 to 25 can face Azeroth's toughest enemies and, potentially, take the fight to the Lich King, the Traitor Arthas.
 
Let me reiterate that with the proper emphasis.

The Players of WoW are Going to Kill the Lich King

If you've never set foot into the Warcraft Franchise, this doesn't seem like a big deal. But if you're a Wow player or-- even better-- a Warcraft 3 fan, this news should properly shake you up.
 
You see, the Warcraft 3 storyline presented players with one of the more interesting characters gaming has ever had: the Prince of Lordaron, Arthas Menethil, the Paladin who, despite his best wishes to save his people from the Undead Scourge, was corrupted. The Young Prince gave into his vengeance and lost his soul, becoming the first Death Knight, and, eventually, the Lich King himself.
 
Arthas is one of the few characters in gaming who we watched slowly go mad. The decent into madness isn't a new conceit in entertainment, by any means: Go read Macbeth or King Lear if you want proof that good men have screwed themselves over through their good intentions. However, very few of these characters exist in gaming, and for good reason: how do you empathize with a character who is slowly being corrupted? After all, you the player, are never corrupted, only your onscreen avatar. And, furthermore, watching a good-hearted character be consumed and warped by the evil he was sworn to destroy; kinda a bummer. So many video games
are convinced that, because the medium is inherently entertainment, that you can't provide players with an unhappy ending.
 
But Arthas is the exception to the rule; players of Warcraft 3 watched as the Prince of Lordaron saw the land he loved consumed by the shambling Undead. He saw firsthand how the Scourge distributed their undeath-causing plague in the grain served to the citizens of the land. The player watched as Arthas made one gaming's most gut-wrenching decisions; in order to save the City of Stratholme from becoming a breeding ground of Undead, Arthas purged the still living inhabitants of the city, turning his back on his loved ones in his desperate desire to save the land.  
 
And as Arthas dove farther and farther in his obsession to rid the land of the scourge, the spark of goodness that drove his actions was replaced by a desire for Vengeance, to kill all those entities responsible for the Scourge.  Arthas turned on his own men, sacrificed his friends, and, in a lust for the power to defeat the Scourge, found the Runeblade Frostmourne, a cursed sword that provided a direct link between the Lich King and Arthas. By the time the young prince had achieved his vengeance, the damage was done; the Prince had been corrupted by the sword. 
 
In the Undead campaign, the player watches Arthas commit acts of terrible evil in the service of his new master: he kills his father, destroys the High Elves, assaults the city of Dalaran, and corrupts half of Azeroth.
 
My point is simple: Arthas is, straight up, the most interesting THING in Warcraft. His fall from grace and rise to dark power was the most interesting part of Warcraft 3 and it's expansion pack. Indeed, the Arthas storyline seemed to be building up to a major event at the end of Warcraft 3: The Frozen Throne, as Arthas accends the mountain of Icecrown to become the new Lich King.
 
But, at the end of the game, a strange thing happened: nothing was "resolved". Arthas sat on the Frozen Throne and the game ended. No resolution. No promise of peace. No good characters to defeat evil. The game just....ended.
 
And now, it's seven years after the release of Warcraft 3. Finally, we are going to see how the Arthas story ends. When patch 3.3 goes live later today, players will hit the slopes of Icecrown to END THE WARCRAFT 3 STORYLINE.
 
The players themselves will end the story of Arthas.
 
That's right, following in the illustrious footsteps of The Matrix Online (which was also a game that took place in "the story canon" and also featured a major story character--Morpheus-- die in an in game event), the story of Warcraft 3 will end at the hands of the players,
 
After eight years, the Warcraft 3 storyline is finally going to end, at the hands of Azeroth's new heroes. One of the most interesting stories in gaming is coming to a close, and players will have a front row seat to watch the end of the Lich King's Wrath.
 
So, buckle up, WoW fans and Warcraft 3 fans. The end of the story is finally here.
 
The Icecrown Cometh.
39 Comments
40 Comments
Edited by MattBodega

I know we don't talk about World of Warcraft much on Giant Bomb, because World of Warcraft is for nerds, and Giant Bomb is only about cool stuff like guns and boobs and anthropomorphic domino men that refuse to be halted. So it makes sense that serious discussion of WoW tends to take place....well....anywhere but on Giant Bomb.
 
But with today's release of the much anticipated Wrath of the Lich King patch 3.3, I thought I'd take a moment to tell you why this patch may be the most exciting thing to happen to the Warcraft Franchise since 2004......and why even Non-WoW players might be interested to see what goes down.
 
You see, Patch 3.3, along with adding a slew of new game systems, quests, dungeons, and stolen ideas(they TOOK the Tome of Knowledge Questing Map straight out of Warhammer! Those devious jerks!)  3.3 also adds the Icecrown Citadel raid, where teams of 10 to 25 can face Azeroth's toughest enemies and, potentially, take the fight to the Lich King, the Traitor Arthas.
 
Let me reiterate that with the proper emphasis.

The Players of WoW are Going to Kill the Lich King

If you've never set foot into the Warcraft Franchise, this doesn't seem like a big deal. But if you're a Wow player or-- even better-- a Warcraft 3 fan, this news should properly shake you up.
 
You see, the Warcraft 3 storyline presented players with one of the more interesting characters gaming has ever had: the Prince of Lordaron, Arthas Menethil, the Paladin who, despite his best wishes to save his people from the Undead Scourge, was corrupted. The Young Prince gave into his vengeance and lost his soul, becoming the first Death Knight, and, eventually, the Lich King himself.
 
Arthas is one of the few characters in gaming who we watched slowly go mad. The decent into madness isn't a new conceit in entertainment, by any means: Go read Macbeth or King Lear if you want proof that good men have screwed themselves over through their good intentions. However, very few of these characters exist in gaming, and for good reason: how do you empathize with a character who is slowly being corrupted? After all, you the player, are never corrupted, only your onscreen avatar. And, furthermore, watching a good-hearted character be consumed and warped by the evil he was sworn to destroy; kinda a bummer. So many video games
are convinced that, because the medium is inherently entertainment, that you can't provide players with an unhappy ending.
 
But Arthas is the exception to the rule; players of Warcraft 3 watched as the Prince of Lordaron saw the land he loved consumed by the shambling Undead. He saw firsthand how the Scourge distributed their undeath-causing plague in the grain served to the citizens of the land. The player watched as Arthas made one gaming's most gut-wrenching decisions; in order to save the City of Stratholme from becoming a breeding ground of Undead, Arthas purged the still living inhabitants of the city, turning his back on his loved ones in his desperate desire to save the land.  
 
And as Arthas dove farther and farther in his obsession to rid the land of the scourge, the spark of goodness that drove his actions was replaced by a desire for Vengeance, to kill all those entities responsible for the Scourge.  Arthas turned on his own men, sacrificed his friends, and, in a lust for the power to defeat the Scourge, found the Runeblade Frostmourne, a cursed sword that provided a direct link between the Lich King and Arthas. By the time the young prince had achieved his vengeance, the damage was done; the Prince had been corrupted by the sword. 
 
In the Undead campaign, the player watches Arthas commit acts of terrible evil in the service of his new master: he kills his father, destroys the High Elves, assaults the city of Dalaran, and corrupts half of Azeroth.
 
My point is simple: Arthas is, straight up, the most interesting THING in Warcraft. His fall from grace and rise to dark power was the most interesting part of Warcraft 3 and it's expansion pack. Indeed, the Arthas storyline seemed to be building up to a major event at the end of Warcraft 3: The Frozen Throne, as Arthas accends the mountain of Icecrown to become the new Lich King.
 
But, at the end of the game, a strange thing happened: nothing was "resolved". Arthas sat on the Frozen Throne and the game ended. No resolution. No promise of peace. No good characters to defeat evil. The game just....ended.
 
And now, it's seven years after the release of Warcraft 3. Finally, we are going to see how the Arthas story ends. When patch 3.3 goes live later today, players will hit the slopes of Icecrown to END THE WARCRAFT 3 STORYLINE.
 
The players themselves will end the story of Arthas.
 
That's right, following in the illustrious footsteps of The Matrix Online (which was also a game that took place in "the story canon" and also featured a major story character--Morpheus-- die in an in game event), the story of Warcraft 3 will end at the hands of the players,
 
After eight years, the Warcraft 3 storyline is finally going to end, at the hands of Azeroth's new heroes. One of the most interesting stories in gaming is coming to a close, and players will have a front row seat to watch the end of the Lich King's Wrath.
 
So, buckle up, WoW fans and Warcraft 3 fans. The end of the story is finally here.
 
The Icecrown Cometh.
Posted by nanikore

It's kind of bittersweet. No more Arthas, but hey, everytime a door closes another one opens. (is that how you say it?) 
I just hope they don't pull a Kael'thas.

Posted by Darkstar614

It's in fact so interesting that Blizzard is stretching out this patch with Gates between the wings of the dungeon, that won't open for months. Because they know everyone is going to quit after this. Hope you got your subscription fee money ready!

Posted by Creamypies

Wow.

Posted by Rhaknar
@Darkstar614 said:
" It's in fact so interesting that Blizzard is stretching out this patch with Gates between the wings of the dungeon, that won't open for months. Because they know everyone is going to quit after this. Hope you got your subscription fee money ready! "
if you mean quit until cataclysm, sure. if you mean quit wow... yeah right
Posted by Kohe321
@creamypies said:
" Wow. "
Indeed
Online
Posted by Sjupp

Even though I quit wow a long time ago, I'm really excited to see how this ends. As players have slain the "last boss" of this expansion, I'm beginning to believe that they're going to "pull a Kael'thas".
However, Blizzard always finds a way. Always.

Posted by TooWalrus
@Sjupp: 
 What does "pulling a Kael'tas" mean? Are we talking about how they added Sunwell into Burning Crusade so late?
Posted by MAN_FLANNEL

Too bad WoW is just a grind fest.  It's impossible to get into a raid without "OMG SUPA SHINEY MEGAH GEAR!!"   

Posted by ajamafalous

Wish I still had time to play.

Posted by ThatFrood

I kind of would have liked it better if we killed Arthas in some sort of Warcraft 4, but that definitely wasn't going to happen.
Oh well.

Edited by Sjupp
@TooWalrus:
If I recall correctly, Kael'thas somehow magically survived to be fought again. I can't remember the details, but I believe he was thought to be dead the first time.
I might have to go and read up on my old geeky wow-knowledge :P
Posted by MattBodega
@MAN_FLANNEL: That is a gross exaggeration.
Posted by Sjupp
@MattBodega said:
" @MAN_FLANNEL: That is a gross exaggeration. "
If you're really tired of the game, as in just got out of an addiction, that's a pretty common statement :P
WoW is pretty much a love/hate game. It is hard to play it every once in a while and still be all "It's pretty ok".
Posted by guiseppe

Oh man, this almost makes me log on and pay for more gametime. But since I know what it takes to raid and that I'm severly behind in progression, I won't.  Maybe in about a year when Arthas is a 5 man dungeon :P.

Posted by Cerza
@guiseppe said:
" Oh man, this almost makes me log on and pay for more gametime. But since I know what it takes to raid and that I'm severly behind in progression, I won't.  Maybe in about a year when Arthas is a 5 man dungeon :P. "
There is a 5 man for Arthas. You have to go through two other 5 mans I believe to unlock it and then you go into his. So you don't need to raid to kill him.
Posted by fwylo

Loved Warcraft 3, great post.

Edited by Regal

  
This topic reminds me. There is a whole mess of years until the next Warcraft story will be told. I mean they are working on highest priority with Starcraft, I don't even know if that beta for the first of the three games is out yet (I believe I signed up)? And the other big project is Diablo III. That is no less than FOUR games right there, excluding Diablo expansions. Now AFTER that, ie when Starcraft is just finished with all campaigns, in 2013-14, they will focus on their "revolutionary" new MMO, which isnt revealed yet (probably just sketches and technology right now), so add two years, and it will be released in 2016, if everything is on schedule. 
 
Now when WoW was released in 2004, they focused on that for a while, actually its been soon 6 years since it came out and Starcraft is still a while away. Perhaps the next warcraft game, whatever it is then (probably a mix of WoW and WC), will be announced 2020! That's right in 10 years, which isn't that suprising, its what the did with SC. But still, one decade.  
 
They did say though that they plan on releasing new WoW content and keep the universe alive, but I doubt they will embark on a new huge storyline after this, or will they? 
 
@ThatFrood said: 

" I kind of would have liked it better if we killed Arthas in some sort of Warcraft 4, but that definitely wasn't going to happen. Oh well. "

Well I think this has its place in the WoW. With some quests, these guys have  gotten real sharp at storytelling in an online setting. Quite impressive. 
 
I mean WCIII Frozen Throne ended with Arthas as the big baddie, it would be to hamper WoWs sense of chronological progression if this storyline was left open and not 
  fully concluded in this game, he was what was "next" in WCIII.      
Posted by riffingt0n

My account is still active but I haven't played in a couple months (I paid for 3 months at a time :P) - and even with an active account, I'm going to Youtube this one.  It's a bit ironic - I loved the game, and I think it's still one of the best examples of game design out there, but i can't bring myself to climb on that treadmill anymore.
 
I was pushed into guild and raid leadership from early on while playing WoW, and it's ironic that the sense of accomplishment was taken from the game alongside the introduction of the achievement system.  Back in vanilla you had all manner of flaws with the way raids were made up, the pure huge size of them (can you say you "know" 40 people well?), and fact that the major challenge was one of organization.  Molten Core was easy.  Recruiting 40 people to fill it was not.  Having said that, there were some accomplishments my guild achieved that were never cheapened at any point in the life of that initial release.  Taking a motley group of people who on the whole weren't very good gamers, and weren't very organized, and beating ZG in blues, and surviving the Ragnaros, Razorgore, Vael trio of guild killers was something that I'm always going to be able to look back on and think of as a real accomplishment.
 
Fast-forward to BC and a slew of good improvements in the formula.  "Hybrids" became viable play styles.  There was content progression (albeit limited) 5 and 10 people at a time - or even solo.  The content was released at a good difficulty and was compelling to complete, but they had a measured way of making it easier/more accessible as they went.  Still, some challenges were difficult pretty much until the end.    Amani War Bear is probably going to be the most treasured achievement I obtain for the forseeable future because I remember so much of the dozen or so learning runs and near-misses that preceded it.  Getting a group of gamers that coordinated was a blast and the accomplishment was a thrill.  And even with the "easy T6 epics" you could get from badges, beating Lady Vashj (the last 25-man raid thing we managed to do) was a legit challenge at every level. 
 
When Wrath came out, and it looked like we'd be able to do that kind of content 10 people at a time I was stoked.  But Naxx was a joke.  Artificial attempts at difficulty via achievements weren't really interesting my raiders.  Ulduar was much better, but just when we're getting to the point of beating hard modes, Blizzard started pushing 3.2 and the added effort to get all the hard-mode gear (and it is about the gear for some folks - always will be) took the wind out of our collective sails.  Total gear resetting every expansion made sense to me, but when you only have a couple months to beat anything 'as intended' before the gear inflation trivializes it, I just stopped being excited about WoW and realized that the lasting accomplishment aspect of the game was dead for most of the content in the game and took my exit.

Not to take away from the point of this blog - Arthas (and arguably, Deathwing before him) are both fantastic characters and I look forward to seeing how the story plays out, but WoW doesn't owe me anything anymore.  But I hope those who continue to play enjoy the ride.  It's probably the leader in me that's burned out on the formula, but I'm sad they overcorrected a problem that wasn't really there.  They could have had the "everyone interacts with Arthas" without the gross dumbing-down they did to get there.

Edited by D0tti

As a BIG WC3 fan I would have rather seen Arthas' story end\continue in WC4 or in a other Warcraft related game, cause I loved WC3 and have played it and the expansion pack to death and they are on off my favourite games to this date.

Posted by Kombat

Slight WoW Spoilers: 
 
Being the huge WoW lore nerd that I am (if you take the time to follow it, it's pretty amazing stuff), I have to point out that Arthas hasn't really gone mad.  The Lich King is now a completely seperate entity, and it's the small fragment of Arthas that remains that prevents him from sweeping the Scourge across the world and engulfing it in a plague of death. 
 
If you wanna be technical, Arthas is still the good guy here.

Posted by 71Ranchero
@MattBodega: Agreed. Firstly you can do lower end raids in just about any gear and secondly in WoW you only grind if you want too. You can play the entire game without any grinding whatsoever.
Posted by Symphony
@riffingt0n said:
" My account is still active but I haven't played in a couple months (I paid for 3 months at a time :P) - and even with an active account, I'm going to Youtube this one.  It's a bit ironic - I loved the game, and I think it's still one of the best examples of game design out there, but i can't bring myself to climb on that treadmill anymore.

Sums up my own feelings pretty well, though I could be tempted to jump back into WoW if they offered more than just new dungeons to grind. As riffingt0n said, I can just Youtube em. Sure, being there and witnessing it first hand is much different than watching it, but I've gone through the whole "been there, killed the boss, took its loot" exprience way more than enough to know that the monotonous dungeon grind isn't worth the payoff for me, personally, any more. But for those who still do enjoy it, best wishes to you and hopefully the Arthas fight (if they letcha finally fight him) is a fun and challenging one!
Posted by Bigandtasty
@Kombat: Haven't the dudes at Blizzard said that the Lich King is one perfectly fused being now, and they do not exist as separate entities at all?
 
'Course I haven't read Warcraft lore since Burning Crusade so maybe they changed their stance on that.
Edited by pause422

Im with Riff and Symphony, I stopped my subscription about half a year back, started up when I wanted to see all the Lich King content. Im not ready to go back into that again, and I can easily find the fight online.
 
Also, Kombat and Bigandtasty, Im pretty sure that in quests in the Icecrown Blizz has confirmed this- You run into this kid who is showing you all this stuff about Arthas, and find out that he is a part of him, and Arthas cut out his heart or something. When he thinks he is getting through to Arthas, he kills that part of him, and kills Nerzhul, and Arthas alone now is the Lich King. Pretty sure thats how it went, of course missing a small thing here or there, but thats what I remember.
 
Though as much as I love Blizz, its obvious some of this stuff got messed up because of WoW and since there isnt an actual Warcraft game to continue the story of WC3. Being an mmo, I guarantee they would of done things a lot different if it hadnt been. 
 
(if anyone wonders why some of my posts dont show punctuation, something fucks up and it doesnt let me use it, instead going into a quick find bullshit thing, so thats why)

Posted by Oni

Haven't played in about half a year, and as a huge WoW lore nerd, I really kinda want to get back in to nail Arthas. But I'd pretty much have to start all over - no guild to my name, only Naxx epics (excluding 1 or 2 pieces from the first 4 Uld bosses on normal 10man), and everything to prove as a tank. Not looking forward to climbing the sheer wall. I don't know, maybe I can be tempted... but I'm not sure it's worth the commitment.

Posted by Sweep
@MattBodega said:
"You see, the Warcraft 3 storyline presented players with one of the more interesting characters gaming has ever had: the Prince of Lordaron, Arthas Menethil, the Paladin who, despite his best wishes to save his people from the Undead Scourge, was corrupted. The Young Prince gave into his vengeance and lost his soul, becoming the first Death Knight, and, eventually, the Lich King himself.
 
Arthas is one of the few characters in gaming who we watched slowly go mad. The decent into madness isn't a new conceit in entertainment, by any means: Go read Macbeth or King Lear if you want proof that good men have screwed themselves over through their good intentions. However, very few of these characters exist in gaming, and for good reason: how do you empathize with a character who is slowly being corrupted? After all, you the player, are never corrupted, only your onscreen avatar. And, furthermore, watching a good-hearted character be consumed and warped by the evil he was sworn to destroy; kinda a bummer. So many video games
are convinced that, because the medium is inherently entertainment, that you can't provide players with an unhappy ending.
 
But Arthas is the exception to the rule; players of Warcraft 3 watched as the Prince of Lordaron saw the land he loved consumed by the shambling Undead. He saw firsthand how the Scourge distributed their undeath-causing plague in the grain served to the citizens of the land. The player watched as Arthas made one gaming's most gut-wrenching decisions; in order to save the City of Stratholme from becoming a breeding ground of Undead, Arthas purged the still living inhabitants of the city, turning his back on his loved ones in his desperate desire to save the land.  
 
And as Arthas dove farther and farther in his obsession to rid the land of the scourge, the spark of goodness that drove his actions was replaced by a desire for Vengeance, to kill all those entities responsible for the Scourge.  Arthas turned on his own men, sacrificed his friends, and, in a lust for the power to defeat the Scourge, found the Runeblade Frostmourne, a cursed sword that provided a direct link between the Lich King and Arthas. By the time the young prince had achieved his vengeance, the damage was done; the Prince had been corrupted by the sword. 
 
In the Undead campaign, the player watches Arthas commit acts of terrible evil in the service of his new master: he kills his father, destroys the High Elves, assaults the city of Dalaran, and corrupts half of Azeroth.
 
My point is simple: Arthas is, straight up, the most interesting THING in Warcraft. His fall from grace and rise to dark power was the most interesting part of Warcraft 3 and it's expansion pack. Indeed, the Arthas storyline seemed to be building up to a major event at the end of Warcraft 3: The Frozen Throne, as Arthas accends the mountain of Icecrown to become the new Lich King.
 
But, at the end of the game, a strange thing happened: nothing was "resolved". Arthas sat on the Frozen Throne and the game ended. No resolution. No promise of peace. No good characters to defeat evil. The game just....ended.
 
And now, it's seven years after the release of Warcraft 3. Finally, we are going to see how the Arthas story ends. When patch 3.3 goes live later today, players will hit the slopes of Icecrown to END THE WARCRAFT 3 STORYLINE.
 
The players themselves will end the story of Arthas.
 
That's right, following in the illustrious footsteps of The Matrix Online (which was also a game that took place in "the story canon" and also featured a major story character--Morpheus-- die in an in game event), the story of Warcraft 3 will end at the hands of the players,  After eight years, the Warcraft 3 storyline is finally going to end, at the hands of Azeroth's new heroes. One of the most interesting stories in gaming is coming to a close, and players will have a front row seat to watch the end of the Lich King's Wrath.  So, buckle up, WoW fans and Warcraft 3 fans. The end of the story is finally here.  The Icecrown Cometh. "
I think the big problem I have with World Of Warcraft is that nobody actually cares about any of this shit. It's all about ganking kids and getting new gear. The shared mindset of players is now to be more functional and less open to the developments taking place in the world around them. All this stuff you just wrote is going to go over the heads of about 99% of the playerbase. Which is a real shame, because it's actually quite interesting...
Moderator Online
Posted by MAN_FLANNEL

YAY!!!! Got into the new instance and guess what!!? The shit crashed and now I can't log my 80!!!  Oh and LFG crashed too!!! And horrible lag!!!
 
Hurray for patch 3.3!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  ^_^
 
(the game is Five years old...Blizzard makes like 2 billion a year off of subscriptions....you would think they could launch a working patch by now)

Posted by Geno
@nanikore said:
" It's kind of bittersweet. No more Arthas, but hey, everytime a door closes another one opens. (is that how you say it?) I just hope they don't pull a Kael'thas. "
The saying is "every time a popsicle melts you can always steal another one". 
Posted by pause422
@Sweep said:
" @MattBodega said:
"You see, the Warcraft 3 storyline presented players with one of the more interesting characters gaming has ever had: the Prince of Lordaron, Arthas Menethil, the Paladin who, despite his best wishes to save his people from the Undead Scourge, was corrupted. The Young Prince gave into his vengeance and lost his soul, becoming the first Death Knight, and, eventually, the Lich King himself.
 
Arthas is one of the few characters in gaming who we watched slowly go mad. The decent into madness isn't a new conceit in entertainment, by any means: Go read Macbeth or King Lear if you want proof that good men have screwed themselves over through their good intentions. However, very few of these characters exist in gaming, and for good reason: how do you empathize with a character who is slowly being corrupted? After all, you the player, are never corrupted, only your onscreen avatar. And, furthermore, watching a good-hearted character be consumed and warped by the evil he was sworn to destroy; kinda a bummer. So many video games
are convinced that, because the medium is inherently entertainment, that you can't provide players with an unhappy ending.
 
But Arthas is the exception to the rule; players of Warcraft 3 watched as the Prince of Lordaron saw the land he loved consumed by the shambling Undead. He saw firsthand how the Scourge distributed their undeath-causing plague in the grain served to the citizens of the land. The player watched as Arthas made one gaming's most gut-wrenching decisions; in order to save the City of Stratholme from becoming a breeding ground of Undead, Arthas purged the still living inhabitants of the city, turning his back on his loved ones in his desperate desire to save the land.  
 
And as Arthas dove farther and farther in his obsession to rid the land of the scourge, the spark of goodness that drove his actions was replaced by a desire for Vengeance, to kill all those entities responsible for the Scourge.  Arthas turned on his own men, sacrificed his friends, and, in a lust for the power to defeat the Scourge, found the Runeblade Frostmourne, a cursed sword that provided a direct link between the Lich King and Arthas. By the time the young prince had achieved his vengeance, the damage was done; the Prince had been corrupted by the sword. 
 
In the Undead campaign, the player watches Arthas commit acts of terrible evil in the service of his new master: he kills his father, destroys the High Elves, assaults the city of Dalaran, and corrupts half of Azeroth.
 
My point is simple: Arthas is, straight up, the most interesting THING in Warcraft. His fall from grace and rise to dark power was the most interesting part of Warcraft 3 and it's expansion pack. Indeed, the Arthas storyline seemed to be building up to a major event at the end of Warcraft 3: The Frozen Throne, as Arthas accends the mountain of Icecrown to become the new Lich King.
 
But, at the end of the game, a strange thing happened: nothing was "resolved". Arthas sat on the Frozen Throne and the game ended. No resolution. No promise of peace. No good characters to defeat evil. The game just....ended.
 
And now, it's seven years after the release of Warcraft 3. Finally, we are going to see how the Arthas story ends. When patch 3.3 goes live later today, players will hit the slopes of Icecrown to END THE WARCRAFT 3 STORYLINE.
 
The players themselves will end the story of Arthas.
 
That's right, following in the illustrious footsteps of The Matrix Online (which was also a game that took place in "the story canon" and also featured a major story character--Morpheus-- die in an in game event), the story of Warcraft 3 will end at the hands of the players,  After eight years, the Warcraft 3 storyline is finally going to end, at the hands of Azeroth's new heroes. One of the most interesting stories in gaming is coming to a close, and players will have a front row seat to watch the end of the Lich King's Wrath.  So, buckle up, WoW fans and Warcraft 3 fans. The end of the story is finally here.  The Icecrown Cometh. "
I think the big problem I have with World Of Warcraft is that nobody actually cares about any of this shit. It's all about ganking kids and getting new gear. The shared mindset of players is now to be more functional and less open to the developments taking place in the world around them. All this stuff you just wrote is going to go over the heads of about 99% of the playerbase. Which is a real shame, because it's actually quite interesting... "
Yeah thats entirely true Sweep, and thats very sad and unfortunate in all honesty. So many people playing WoW care not a slight bit about any of the actual characters in the game or any story background.
Edited by Teran
I have had my subscription open from day one.  I have more or less raided from the start with the occasional break from raiding and the game.  The one thing that keeps me coming back to WoW is the complete lack of anything remotely comparable in quality from other existing mmorpgs.  Nothing reminds me of how much I love WoW better than playing Aion or most other mmorpgs.  These other games tend to do one or two specific things well and fail miserably on the rest where WoW has its flaws but is a complete package.    
 
@Kombat
 said: 

" Slight WoW Spoilers:  Being the huge WoW lore nerd that I am (if you take the time to follow it, it's pretty amazing stuff), I have to point out that Arthas hasn't really gone mad.  The Lich King is now a completely seperate entity, and it's the small fragment of Arthas that remains that prevents him from sweeping the Scourge across the world and engulfing it in a plague of death.  If you wanna be technical, Arthas is still the good guy here. "


I see someone has been doing the new 5 man instances :) 
 
@MAN_FLANNEL said: 

" YAY!!!! Got into the new instance and guess what!!? The shit crashed and now I can't log my 80!!!  Oh and LFG crashed too!!! And horrible lag!!!  Hurray for patch 3.3!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  ^_^ (the game is Five years old...Blizzard makes like 2 billion a year off of subscriptions....you would think they could launch a working patch by now) "

You think it's an easy thing to do?  Launching a new patch especially one that changes so much can only be beta tested so much on two servers.  Things change when you launch it on 200 servers all of which will have different variables involved.    
Posted by Teran
@riffingt0n said: 
 
Let me just start off by saying that your post was excellent and really made sense to me.  I have no intent to offend you with what is to follow nor is it meant to be an insult in any way.  I read your post about a day ago and agreed with it at the time but since then I've done some thinking and have a couple comments.
 
Like you I've played WoW over quite some distance of time (6 months before release actually) and my account has never been canceled.  I was also all but forced into guild leadership early on and that burned me out, it's a lot tougher than most people think and 40 man raids often turned WoW into a second job.  I remember the days of 20-30 man ubrs runs, I remember night after night of molten core and blackwing lair and they are for the most part good memories.

Taking a motley group of people who on the whole weren't very good gamers, and weren't very organized, and beating ZG in blues, and surviving the Ragnaros, Razorgore, Vael trio of guild killers was something that I'm always going to be able to look back on and think of as a real accomplishment.

There was something particularly epic about getting through Ragnaros and Vael that just can't be recreated in a 25 man raid (Razorgore wasn't really that hard compared to Vael and Rag though he certainly was challenging)... however as epic as beating these fights felt actually putting the time into learning them often wasn't fun at all just because of fight mechanics or massive amounts of trash clearing.  I like what Blizzard has done and even though the game no longer feels as epic it is a hell of a lot more fun to raid.
 

 Fast-forward to BC and a slew of good improvements in the formula.  "Hybrids" became viable play styles.  There was content progression (albeit limited) 5 and 10 people at a time - or even solo.  The content was released at a good difficulty and was compelling to complete, but they had a measured way of making it easier/more accessible as they went.  Still, some challenges were difficult pretty much until the end.    Amani War Bear is probably going to be the most treasured achievement I obtain for the forseeable future because I remember so much of the dozen or so learning runs and near-misses that preceded it.

Quoted for comparison with the following quote:
 

But Naxx was a joke.  Artificial attempts at difficulty via achievements weren't really interesting my raiders.
 

The above two quotes are the parts of your post that puzzles me most.  I fail to see the difference between the difficulty involved in running Zul'Amon and beating the timer than say running Naxxramus and beating several encounters and completing the challenging achievements involved.  Effectively the only difference between ZA and Naxx is that ZA has only one difficult thing you must do while Naxx has ~10+ on the various bosses.
 
The achievements are effectively tests of skill (some hard, some not) which is exactly what true raiders should be interested in.  Doing things like completing the entire instance without allowing a single player to die, doing certain encounters without getting hit by a certain aoe, or killing a boss without utilizing really nice buffs that float around the room give guilds an opportunity to play at a higher level.  I understand that achievements aren't for everyone however the skill involved with accomplishing some of them is just as legitimate and authentic as trying to beat a ZA timed run.  These are optional, far from necessary, no one has to do them if they don't want to do them but there is a reward for those who do.

They could have had the "everyone interacts with Arthas" without the gross dumbing-down they did to get there. " 


I'm not sure I agree with this statement.  Arthas wasn't dumbed down, he's always been dumb.  Most of Blizzard's stories have been.  They're entertaining most of the time but far from smart... but that aside Arthas' interactive presence in wotlk added a lot more to the game for me though some parts felt a little odd it was nice seeing something of a meta story in this expansion.
Posted by riffingt0n
@Teran said:

 Fast-forward to BC and a slew of good improvements in the formula.  "Hybrids" became viable play styles.  There was content progression (albeit limited) 5 and 10 people at a time - or even solo.  The content was released at a good difficulty and was compelling to complete, but they had a measured way of making it easier/more accessible as they went.  Still, some challenges were difficult pretty much until the end.    Amani War Bear is probably going to be the most treasured achievement I obtain for the forseeable future because I remember so much of the dozen or so learning runs and near-misses that preceded it.

Quoted for comparison with the following quote:
 

But Naxx was a joke.  Artificial attempts at difficulty via achievements weren't really interesting my raiders.
 

The above two quotes are the parts of your post that puzzles me most.  I fail to see the difference between the difficulty involved in running Zul'Amon and beating the timer than say running Naxxramus and beating several encounters and completing the challenging achievements involved.  Effectively the only difference between ZA and Naxx is that ZA has only one difficult thing you must do while Naxx has ~10+ on the various bosses.
 
The achievements are effectively tests of skill (some hard, some not) which is exactly what true raiders should be interested in.  Doing things like completing the entire instance without allowing a single player to die, doing certain encounters without getting hit by a certain aoe, or killing a boss without utilizing really nice buffs that float around the room give guilds an opportunity to play at a higher level.  I understand that achievements aren't for everyone however the skill involved with accomplishing some of them is just as legitimate and authentic as trying to beat a ZA timed run.  These are optional, far from necessary, no one has to do them if they don't want to do them but there is a reward for those who do.
 
This is a great question, and it's one I grappled with while trying to understand why the goals in Naxx weren't getting the same response from my raiders that ZG were.  The achievements are skill, but they are (more) artificial than the timed run.  There's a couple problems with some (not all) of the achievements in Naxx: 

  • There was no lore behind them.  This was part of what made them feel more artificial than the bear run.  There's an achievement to speedrun the spider wing. As a raid leader, I can get behind that - if I'm not chain pulling I get antsy - but there's no reason for that particular speedrun except the achievement.  Mind you, that was one of the achievements types I liked because it rewarded you just raiding, but raiding right.  (Safety Dance and Shocking are two others like this that I liked).  But why are we killing all 4 horsemen at once?  In 10 man in particular that made the fight harder for sure, but there's no lore behind it. (and no material benefit - more on that later)
  • Some of them were too lucky for their own good - we never got the "no deaths in a clear" achievement, though we played perfectly twice.  Because the wrong person would lag out at the wrong time and that was that.
  • Some of them were just stupid.  For Spore Loser, I kinda want that 10 minutes of my life back.  "Do this fight without the thing that makes it fun" is not achieving.  I felt kinda taken advantage of, but with a raid achievement it was all of us or none of us, so I sucked it up.  "Gotta Go When the Volcano Blows" is best "achieved" by having the raider in question dead on the floor.  WTF?
 
Now compare that to the bear run.  Hex Lord is going to sacrifice people unless you move fast, and in a game where people are (I'm sad to say) loot motivated, you're going to have a couple people who won't care unless they get a shiny ring or mount for their troubles, which you do as you progressively get better at the run.  And it was in line with what you want to be doing in a raid zone anyway.  Add to that that it was a fantastic challenge 10 at a time, and you have one of the best-design challenges in the game.
 
The case where Blizzard did them right imo was Ulduar.  The hard modes at least had an effect on the fight that made it harder, vs. you tying one hand behind your back while doing them.  
 
While I banged that "real raiders should want these achievements" drum, I found that even my relatively hardcore small guild was just not that "real" about it.
 

They could have had the "everyone interacts with Arthas" without the gross dumbing-down they did to get there. " 

I'm not sure I agree with this statement.  Arthas wasn't dumbed down, he's always been dumb.  Most of Blizzard's stories have been.  They're entertaining most of the time but far from smart... but that aside Arthas' interactive presence in wotlk added a lot more to the game for me though some parts felt a little odd it was nice seeing something of a meta story in this expansion. "
 
I don't mean dumbed down lorewise, I mean in terms of difficulty.  I never got to Illidan (I know, I teh sux0rz), but I'm perfectly OK with that.  Your raid progression was a meaningful indicator of your success as a guild.  I felt pretty good for having gotten to and killed Vashj. 
 
Now they have at as a design goal that you WILL get to and defeat Arthas if you want to.  They got the "want to" right with the leveling process in Northrend.  The "kill" tho?  Create some 5-man content that  you kill his double, or force him to flee.  Let people interact with him without making the "end boss" of the expansion something any guild can beat.
 
I don't like that the last dungeon in the game is balanced to be beaten.  It cheapens the experience for me.  I'm not saying Blizzard is wrong to have done it, they were just wrong by me to have done it, which is why I removed myself from the equation.
 
Very insightful comments on your part :).
Posted by Emandudeguyperson

I hate WoW, but thanks anyways, now I guess I'll know what my brother will be talking to me about for an hour today, maybe I can just give him the old "I already know" excuse now.

Posted by Gary_Gannon

Nice post...Im so tempted to re sub for 3.3...trryyyyinnngg to staaayy cleeeeeaannnn :p must not click re sub!

Posted by TMThomsen
@Darkstar614 said:
" It's in fact so interesting that Blizzard is stretching out this patch with Gates between the wings of the dungeon, that won't open for months. Because they know everyone is going to quit after this. Hope you got your subscription fee money ready! "
That is one of the most stupid things I've ever read.
Online
Posted by Teran
@riffingt0n:  

 This is a great question, and it's one I grappled with while trying to understand why the goals in Naxx weren't getting the same response from my raiders that ZG were.  The achievements are skill, but they are (more) artificial than the timed run.  There's a couple problems with some (not all) of the achievements in Naxx:  

  • There was no lore behind them.  This was part of what made them feel more artificial than the bear run.  There's an achievement to speedrun the spider wing. As a raid leader, I can get behind that - if I'm not chain pulling I get antsy - but there's no reason for that particular speedrun except the achievement.  Mind you, that was one of the achievements types I liked because it rewarded you just raiding, but raiding right.  (Safety Dance and Shocking are two others like this that I liked).  But why are we killing all 4 horsemen at once?  In 10 man in particular that made the fight harder for sure, but there's no lore behind it. (and no material benefit - more on that later)
  • Some of them were too lucky for their own good - we never got the "no deaths in a clear" achievement, though we played perfectly twice.  Because the wrong person would lag out at the wrong time and that was that.
  • Some of them were just stupid.  For Spore Loser, I kinda want that 10 minutes of my life back.  "Do this fight without the thing that makes it fun" is not achieving.  I felt kinda taken advantage of, but with a raid achievement it was all of us or none of us, so I sucked it up.  "Gotta Go When the Volcano Blows" is best "achieved" by having the raider in question dead on the floor.  WTF?    
It's true that there was not usually any lore behind these achievements however I don't think that this was a bad thing.  Killing all 4 horsemen at once was likely a potential hook in the fight while they were testing and balancing it and because it does change the way you approach the fight allowed it to remain fresh for a bit longer.  In effect it poses a bit of a "what if" scenario because that very well could have been what the original fight was meant to be at one point.  The lore behind that hook could simply have been that each of the horsemen are powerful death knights and resurrecting their fallen partners would be a trivial matter to one at their power level.  When it all boils down to it, I didn't need Blizzard to justify things and was happy enough to get the occasional "what if" scenario.  I do however completely understand your point here. 
 
I've never heard of Immortal or Undying runs bugging out and not giving credit when it was due, I'm not sure what the issue here might be, I will however mention that they fixed this general in Ulduar and listed each boss fight individually under the achievement so you had a better picture of what you needed to do.  This also allowed you to complete it over multiple runs which allowed you to focus more on perfecting an individual fight and allowed you to be more lax in raid invited so you didn't have to bring in your "a-team" every time you wanted to try for it. 
 
I agree that some of the achievements were stupid in the context of them being raid wide.  Spore Loser I didn't care much for but I don't think it was out of place considering you were tasked with beating a fight without one of the tools many guilds needed to beat it.  It's a good measurement when you want to see how far your guild has come and I really enjoyed going in and clearing these encounters without the "thing" just because we had grown in skill and acquired better gear and it showed.  The "gotta go when the volcano blows" achievement doesn't really fall into this category because it is not rewarded to a raid and really has nothing to do with skill.  This is a personal achievement and aside from pure luck or being the tank (which reduces the odds of it landing on you) you are correct in that dying is the best way to get it. 

 Now compare that to the bear run.  Hex Lord is going to sacrifice people unless you move fast, and in a game where people are (I'm sad to say) loot motivated, you're going to have a couple people who won't care unless they get a shiny ring or mount for their troubles, which you do as you progressively get better at the run.  And it was in line with what you want to be doing in a raid zone anyway.  Add to that that it was a fantastic challenge 10 at a time, and you have one of the best-design challenges in the game.
 
The case where Blizzard did them right imo was Ulduar.  The hard modes at least had an effect on the fight that made it harder, vs. you tying one hand behind your back while doing them.   
 
While I banged that "real raiders should want these achievements" drum, I found that even my relatively hardcore small guild was just not that "real" about it.    

I see what you're saying about the lore but at the same time who are the people who are going to be sacrificed?  They're basically nobodies made up for the purpose of adding a sense of peril to the run, basically they are an excuse for submitting yourselves to an arbitrary set of rules in order to receive a reward... no better or worse (in my opinion) an excuse than achievements. 
 
Every content patch in WotLK has been something of an experiment on how to implement hardmode raiding.  Naxx had none to speak of but had extensive achievements requiring (often but not always) a higher level of play.  There was no reward for completing them beyond the cosmetic title and mount but in a way I would say it was their method of testing the water to see if people would prefer a raid format of easy to clear content with a challenging version or simply stick with the old format of half an instance being relatively easy and half being quite hard for most users. 
 
Ulduar they did an excellent job on.  They also did a great job with the "Trial of the Crusader".  I remember clearing the new bosses each week and one or two shotting each new boss encounter every week and really being quite annoyed that the content was so easy... then when we unlocked the "heroic" (hardmode) version of the same fights it became clear that Blizzard had really done a lot of things right.  Often the strategies in the fights didn't change but your guild was required to play at a higher level and forced near perfect execution in order to beat enrage timers and such.  Anub'Arak (the final boss) is very challenging and only a few hundred guilds in the world have killed him even now after months of being released. 
 
What they seem to have done in Ice Crown Citadel is move to a mix between the two.  There are no longer four different versions (10 normal / 10 heroic, 25 normal / 25 heroic) but a format more like Ulduar with a way of activating the hard mode... though Blizzard has promised that this method would be simpler like pushing a button than it was in Ulduar requiring you to do something like operate in a different kill order or kill the heart which was effectively a reset button for the fight, restarting it in hard mode which is a welcomed change by my guild. 
 

 I don't mean dumbed down lorewise, I mean in terms of difficulty.  I never got to Illidan (I know, I teh sux0rz), but I'm perfectly OK with that.  Your raid progression was a meaningful indicator of your success as a guild.  I felt pretty good for having gotten to and killed Vashj.  

Oh, I'm sorry.  I misunderstood your meaning.  I was in a guild that cleared 25 man content and to be honest have a different view of things.  For the most part the difference between guilds that could kill Vashj and Kael'thas and guilds that could kill Illidan was more gear related than skill related.  If your guild had the ability to comprehend and succeed at a technical fight like Vashj or more especially Kael'thas then a fight like Illidan would be more a matter of learning the mechanics and gearing up enough to survive the hits and out dps the enrage because at a technical level Illidan was a lot easier.  Being able to say your guild killed Vashj is almost the same as saying they were able to clear Illidan, in my eyes at least, though I wager a lot of people feel the same. 
 

  Now they have at as a design goal that you WILL get to and defeat Arthas if you want to.  They got the "want to" right with the leveling process in Northrend.  The "kill" tho?  Create some 5-man content that  you kill his double, or force him to flee.  Let people interact with him without making the "end boss" of the expansion something any guild can beat.   

Minor Dungeon Spoilers: 
One of the new dungeons with the 3.3 patch actually has you battling your way into Ice Crown Citadel (three instances actually) in order to weaken Arthas' operation and ultimately try to steal Frostmourne out from under him.  This operation naturally goes bad which leads to a confrontation with Arthas which you must ultimately (with the assistance of Jaina) flee.  Jaina keeps him snared and rooted but must be protected as she works to undo Arthas' own magic which gives you a pretty fun and interesting encounter... if Arthas catches you, your group dies.  Ultimately you find yourself in a dead end at which point the Skybreaker (the alliance airship, horde might have theirs come instead) swoops in and gives you covering fire as you climb onboard. 
 
I was very surprised and pleased by this dungeon just because of the sense of story it has.  Being able to repeat it anytime might take away from that a bit but over all it was still a very powerful experience.  I mention this because it does sound a little bit like what you were talking about, wanting Arthas to be more than just an end boss. 
 
Arthas though shows up in other areas of the expansion, one quest line in particular has you recovering his black heart, supposedly his last sliver of humanity, something he would destroy himself were it not for the fact that it did provide him with some power.  This quest line ultimately leads to you confronting him with Tirion Fordring (who actually had some very story driven quests in vanilla WoW) who ultimately destroys the Lich King's heart.  This was not enough to kill him and Arthas had more than enough power remaining to annihilate those who stood against him but the Death Knights showed up and bailed the Argent Dawn folks out providing an escape.  This had two very large implications within the story.  First, the Death Knights were now willing to work directly with the Argent Dawn and secondly and more importantly Tirion in destroying Arthas' heart had basically finally admitted that he is beyond redemption, beyond forgiveness. 
 
Everything I've just said is information I have received in game.  I haven't read any comics or novels set in the WoW world, this is purely from quest text and conversations these characters have and to be honest it sounds a lot like the kind of thing you are asking for.  These elements of the game are very rewarding and I wish there were more things in game like this but it's a slow process but Blizzard is learning. 

  I don't like that the last dungeon in the game is balanced to be beaten.  It cheapens the experience for me.  I'm not saying Blizzard is wrong to have done it, they were just wrong by me to have done it, which is why I removed myself from the equation.
 
Very insightful comments on your part :). 

I don't like having the last dungeon balanced to be beaten either but at the same time this is content I want to experience as a player.  What Blizzard has now is in my opinion an appropriate mix of beatable content for the players who want to experience the lore and challenging content for people who play to be challenged.  I consider myself to be both and I would rank my current guild as being a little bit under the top tier guilds (the ones who are currently killing heroic 25 anub'arak) but high among the ranks of the serious but not quite hardcore guilds who have cleared heroic everything else. 
 
I really appreciate you taking the time to talk through this stuff.  You sound like you were an excellent player and guild leader and it is a shame you quit.  As I've said before I agree with a lot of what you've said and nearly quit myself a while back but stuck with it because a good friend wanted a fresh start and have enjoyed it quite a bit since.  A lot is changing and WoW in general is one of the best examples of what an mmorpg can become when the dev team is in tune with what the majority of their players want without losing track of what the more hardcore challenge craving raiders want and this is one reason why I haven't been able to appreciate anything that has been released since.
Posted by timejumper

 @Sweep and Pause422 
 
I disagree about the magnitude of Arthas' fall. I think this is the most anticipated event since the expansion was released, given the fact that the Lich King made personal appearances in many quests on the way to 80 and the entire starting story for the death knights.  
 
I went into it more on my blog:  
http://averagespacegoat.blogspot.com/2009/12/death-to-lich-king.html     
 
While many players may just be wanting to drop Arthas for the loot, it's kinda irrelevant given the fact that there won't be another raid after this until Cataclysm, which will have it's own gear. The only thing Icecrown loot will do is make killing the Lich King easier. 
 
timejumper

Posted by Flaime
@Kombat said:

" Slight WoW Spoilers:  Being the huge WoW lore nerd that I am (if you take the time to follow it, it's pretty amazing stuff), I have to point out that Arthas hasn't really gone mad.  The Lich King is now a completely seperate entity, and it's the small fragment of Arthas that remains that prevents him from sweeping the Scourge across the world and engulfing it in a plague of death.  If you wanna be technical, Arthas is still the good guy here. "

@pause422 said:

" You run into this kid who is showing you all this stuff about Arthas, and find out that he is a part of him, and Arthas cut out his heart or something. When he thinks he is getting through to Arthas, he kills that part of him, and kills Nerzhul, and Arthas alone now is the Lich King. Pretty sure thats how it went, of course missing a small thing here or there, but thats what I remember. "

I'm pretty sure it's the other way around. In the questline you are talking aout, the player "stab" Arthas' heart; killing Aarthas, meaning that it's only the Lich King, Ner'Zhul, that's left in Arthas' body.
Posted by Kombat
@Flaime: Nope.  If you follow the new instance Halls of Reflection it's revealed that Arthas is a "presence" (a dwindling one) within the Lich King.  That small piece of him that's left is holding the Lich King back and preventing him from destroying the world essentially. 
 
The novel "Arthas: Rise of the Lich King" goes into more detail with all of this.  It takes place during the five years during which the newly merged Arthas and Ner'zul sleep atop the Frozen Throne.  During those years a new consciousness forms, more malevolent beneath the control of Frostmourne than either of the two merged persons were.  The consciousness of Arthas -- represented as a small child, very likely the same ghost child handing out quests in Icecrown -- tries to stop this new controlling presence, telling him that it's "not too late, we don't have to go down this road." 
 
The Lich King "stabs" him within whatever sort of mental realm they're in, and as Ner'zul laughs the Lich King does away with him too.  If Matthias Lehner (the ghost child in Icecrown) is truly the same little boy, then it's clear that the Lich King failed to destroy him and that he still resides somewhere within that mind.