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 KingIf 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.