Monday, August 22, 2011

World of Warcraft has Jumped the Undead Shark

Just a little emo.
World of Warcraft has been hemmoraging players since the last expansion, and I was one of them. This week, though, I decided to take them up on a free week of "Please please please come back!" game time, and in doing so I've discovered why I really left.

I am a roleplayer. I know this puts me in a minority of players, so I don't consider my reasons for leaving to be universal. I, personally, can't keep playing a character in WoW unless that character has a compelling story. I like to compare it to romance novels: As a woman, I like a little backstory with my sex gaming.

I'm also a Forsaken roleplayer. I've dabbled in other races, but all the way back to vanilla WoW my mains have been Forsaken. Their history as a race is fraught with terror and psychological trauma. They are dark and maybe a wee bit evil, yes, but it's because of what's been done to them. Their lore is a gold mine of the kind of angst and drama I adore in my own characters. They're an excellent medium for exploring themes of loss and morality and humanity. What's more post-human than sentient undead? The Forsaken are driven by a need for revenge against their former prince and the army he commands, the army that destroyed their home kingdom and enslaved them all as undead monsters. In the Wrath of the Lich King expansion they pushed that drive into the frozen continent of Northrend.  They constructed their own architecture for the first time instead of just squatting in the ruins of their old kingdom. Their leader Sylvanas Windrunner was at the forefront of an all-out assault on their undead prince-king's citadel. There was even betrayal and intrigue as the leader of their Royal Apothecary Society unleashed a horrible toxin called the Blight not only against the Lich King but against both Horde and Alliance forces fighting him as well, turning the Forsaken in pariahs among their allies. It was a good time to be a Forsaken roleplayer.

And then they succeeded.
And the new Lich King is too busy to bother the Forsaken.

There comes a time in the life of a roleplay character where their story arc has reached its end. They may not be dead, but they have reached the personal goal for which they've struggled and are now, to some degree, at peace. The Forsaken as a race reached that point at the end of Wrath when Arthas was defeated. There's a battle raging over Gilneas in Silverpine, but unless you plan to spend your whole endgame in the Gilneas PVP battleground that only motivates your character through level 20 or so. There are still Scourge holdouts in the Plaguelands, but that only gets you to about level 45.

On top of that, most new Forsaken were never Scourge at all. They're humans who were killed in Silverpine or Gilneas or Hillsbrad and trucked north to Deathknell to be raised by Sylvanas' new val'kyr allies. Rather than being freed from the army that killed and raised them, they're now part of it. Apparently they're supposed to be okay with this. Barring those who were a touch evil to begin with, beyond those who just hated their lot in life and their families and their neighbors, why are they okay with this? Perhaps a Gilnean who was killed by worgen before being loaded up on the corpsewagon might be willing to join the Forsaken in assaulting the worgen in Gilneas, but Hillsbrad farmers? I'm not seeing it. If you want to get creative your Forsaken character could be a defeated Scourge minion who was brought to Deathknell, but I never got the impression they were bringing them in from other parts of Lordaeron. They could also be a Forsaken who was once a civilian but has now decided to take up some kind of military training, but really, if you were going to do that, why now? Why not before Arthas was defeated? Forsaken don't exactly come of age. It's not like your character was too young before.

There are still threads dangling out there. What will become of the Scourge under Bolvar Fordragon's control? Will he be able to muster them as a force for good, and if he does, will the Forsaken be willing to work with them? What will become of poor Koltira Deathweaver, tied in Sylvanas' basement? What will be the repercussions of Silvanas' use of necromancy and the Blight in direct opposition of Garrosh's commands? I want to see something come of all this, but until that happens, my account is likely going to stay lapsed. What good is being able to raid in RP armor if I don't care enough to raid?

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