Tactically Challenged: Time For A Real Boss?

With the Lich King set to fall in a few months, the ZAM team wonders why these incredibly powerful foes just keep... dying.

As World of Warcraft players scurry about to get the latest gear from the Lich King's minions, it's only a matter of time before the slow moving Arthas himself must fall, presumably dropping some of the rarest shinies to be seen thus far. Of course, after the fall of the Lich King, and after most players have experienced all that there is to experience in WotLK, Cataclysm will come barrelling out the door, thrusting a new nemesis into the spotlight and leaving the old one behind to be forgotten. A few months after this, three level 85 players will go back to the dusty old Lich King encounter and beat the 25-person version with just the three of them; they will record a video and set the whole escapade to loud techno music, and that will be the last we'll ever hear of Arthas.

Now don't get us wrong, we, here at ZAM, really do love World of Warcraft; so much so, in fact, that we selected it as our "2009 ZAM Game of the Year" for its Wrath of the Lich King expansion. Unfortunately, what we are talking about is just how… predictable this progression is becoming. With every new expansion, Blizzard introduces the arch-nemesis of the day and players meet (and kill) this arch nemesis in about a year's time. Users may also meet this arch-nemesis before the fated final battle is to take place, and since the absolute destruction of the player is usually a bad way to advance the story, World of Warcraft's bad guys (and girls!) must pull one of those "I could kill you but instead I'm going to mock you so that you can kill me later" kind of moves. Every time.

Looking back, even the Lich King prefers to kill his own Warlord instead of the 'amusing' player because they're… well… amusing. And that's not even mentioning the puzzling fact that Arthas continues to allow hundreds of thousands of players to walk right through Naxxramas, home to many of his most powerful generals, minions and even his chief lieutenant, Kel'thuzad. Kel'thuzad even appeals to his absentee master, the Lich King, who then deems it fitting that he should send… four beetles (two if you're in the 10-person raid!) who are instantly gobbled up by the loot-hungry raiders.

If we move back even further, while players will meet (and bother) Illidan constantly in their adventures through the Outlands, at least they don't see him physically until it's time to actually fight him at the end of The Black Temple. The same cannot be said, however, of baddies like vanilla World of Warcraft's Nefarian (aka Lord Victor Nefarius), master of Blackwing Lair. In fact, Nefarian actually watches you beat up his most powerful minions before you finally fight him in his throne room: once in the Blackrock Stadium, where he watches you smack around his ally, Warchief Rend Blackhand, before he makes a hasty exit, and once in Blackwing Lair, when he corrupts the red dragon Vaelastraz to kill your raid, but then inexplicably leaves so that he can wait for you in his throne room.

Keeping all of this in mind, while Cataclysm promises to deliver destruction and danger on an unprecedented level, will World of Warcraft players ultimately experience the same game of cat and mouse that they've been wading through for the past five years? Since it is considered inevitable that each expansion will deliver an 'expendable' enemy, it stands to reason that the next big name to fall will, most likely, be Queen Azshara (although Tom Chilton has noted that the Blizzard team does not intend for her to be the main enemy in Cataclysm, even  though it is presumed that her influence was the cause of Cataclysm). Will Azshara ultimately follow in the footsteps of all of her powerful predecessors, underestimating these heroes who have destroyed some of the most powerful agents of the Burning Legion?

Either way, for players who are big fans of story, lore or even believable enemies with common sense, it seems this endless parade of tactically challenged opponents may one day run out as Blizzard runs out of stronger foes. In reality, it is assumed that, one day, players will end up facing off against the big boss himself: Sargeras, the creator of the Burning Legion. Considering that it has even been noted in the Warcraft RPG Source Book Shadows & Light that Sargeras is not one to fight fair, it is definitely time for players to hope for an adversary who truly deserves the title of arch-nemesis, and not just another achievement and some shiny loot. No offence, Arthas.


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:P even from a character standpoint
# Jan 11 2010 at 7:54 PM Rating: Decent
16 posts
"Of course this article was written from the point of view of A Player, not from the point of view of A Character.
As a semi-hardcore Roleplayer it looks a bit different to me. "
I don't know how you rp, but even from -that- stand point it makes little sense at all. logic doesn't really work ( or seem to exist ) in terms of role-play aspects of how blizzard runs the game. too often a mechanic gets in the way, or blizzard can't simply kill the player because then ... how do you advance the story?
in the first instance, for example, look at shatrath, and the shatari skygaurd. they won't sell you a mount untill youve reach exaulted with them. why? by this point, if say, youve killed elemental lords like ragnaros, or ****, even illadain, your a powerfull, very well known individual who is working on -their side-. why don't they sell you the mount flat out? 'lolz, you have to prove yourself to us' by what, doing repetitvie bombing runs on places that -should be- burned out husks the very first time you do it? ( IE : daily quests )
in the second example, is simply bad writing. parading around the villain is all well and good, but sometimes, its not needed. for example, drakuru. why not simply have the player kill drakuru, instead of having the lich king himself showing up and 'letting you live because your funny to him.' or ****, when he made drakuru a death knight general, why didn't the lich king stomp on you then, while his newly made minion was with him. I'm fairly certain the job would've been much easier then, not like he's even needed the help to kill something. ohwait, he was hoping that you'd die between then and now, and that'd make you a nice minion. times that were well written to have the lich king show up is on the quest chain concerning his heart in the cathedral of darkness. huge fight, and they give you the chance to escape, implying he's way out of your league right now, and you should run like little girls.
also, role playing in wow is kind of wonky in the first place, because of how much logic needs to be waived. like, reputation in organizations. you could be exaulted with x faction, but all it gets you in game terms is a shiney pair of boots or gloves, or a pattern. it gives you no real power in the organization, other then what players give themselves for role-play, and if they do, they're god-modding. so ultimately, what comes out of this is poor writing. players don't have as much influence on events as they'd like, so they make do with what they've got, and that's baddies that let you live in order for you to kill them later on, unless they pull the moves they did in BC ( kael-thas' super villian escape, or the rarely seen illadain [he was too busy with other things to parade around in front of the players like arthas] )
:P even from a character standpoint
# Jan 12 2010 at 7:22 AM Rating: Good
77 posts
also would just like to add for the person that said its written from the point of view of a player...so it makes sense to your character that you can go back week after week and kill kael'thas or onyxia over and over and over?
Of course...
# Jan 11 2010 at 1:12 AM Rating: Good
18 posts
Of course this article was written from the point of view of A Player, not from the point of view of A Character.
As a semi-hardcore Roleplayer it looks a bit different to me.
World of Warcraft was build like a One Person RPG with Multiplayer option. This means, from the point of View of Rhenphal, my troll warrior, it was HIM who -say- helped liberate the Shadow Vault from the Scourge, or it was HIM who aided Thrall in taking back the Undercity. Not my other characters, not other player characters.
From the point of view of a character, or event better, the world of Azeroth, Naxxramas was raided.. ONCE. That's why Arthas just sends a few beetles, because for him, there aren't thousands of player romping around. He is not A Player.

It is a certain kind of suspended disbelief and separation of real life and in character one might have to employ. But that is called roleplay, and it's a roleplaying game.
~Reality, the refuge of those who fail in RPGs~
"Though this be madness, yet, there's method in't"
The ultimatum
# Jan 09 2010 at 11:31 AM Rating: Decent
You know, this could be the way it is or the complete opposite. Considering Blizzard's methods of marketing WoW, as instant gratification is paramount, there is no reason for them to not do what they are doing. Simply put, WoW introduces new content once the "older" content is soundly beaten and worn out. Now while this may "phase out" the older expansion content, it offers a new experience that many consumers enjoy. While I partially agree with the articles logic, it has one fatal flaw in that: if Blizzard wanted to offer more "withstanding" content, they could do as FFXI does and phase out nothing which in some FFXI enthusiasts minds leaves "to much to do" while in others gives great "variety". Regardless, WoW's system works so do not count on them changing it anytime soon, and if people really wanted the boss system changed, then they could in theory rally together enough support and demand it. Blizzard after all will listen to it's consumers if there is enough demand.
my thoughts
# Jan 08 2010 at 3:47 PM Rating: Decent
1 post
who is to say Arthas can or will actually be killed? i read a post somewhere that this time around Arthas cant be killed the loot will be based on how long you can keep the fight going. also there have been several bosses that have been defeated but not killed and have or will make a return ie. onyxia and ragnaros
my thoughts
# Jan 08 2010 at 3:56 PM Rating: Good
77 posts
im not sure about ragnaros but onyxia was defeated she was killed over and over and over...if she had done something like just before you killed her flew up and burst out of her cave leaving behind her treasure hoard that would be cool but all she actually does is die, die, die, die, die
Unfortunately . . .
# Jan 08 2010 at 10:30 AM Rating: Good
44 posts
Unfortunately, the vast majority of players just don't care anymore. Even on RP realms, players are obsessed with gear scores and hit caps, and could care less about the story or the believability of the enemy. To them, Arthas is just another set of pixels whose sole purpose is to cough up some piece of gear that will increase their ego by .333% (repeating, of course). The lore-junkies and role-players are just "noobs" to be made fun of in Trade chat while linking some achievement about how you downed the latest boss in hard mode in under 10 seconds with one arm tied behind your back and while standing on one leg.
a better ending
# Jan 08 2010 at 8:43 AM Rating: Decent
2 posts
An even better event would be to have the burning legion come back and introducing phasing throughout the world. The legion could take over and even destroy capital cities if players on those servers don't defend them. The game would end when either the burning legion take the last stronghold of the alliance and horde, or when players players kill sargeras. Obviously low populated servers would have a hard time fighting off the invasion, while populated servers with more well equipped players could kill sargeras. They could even take that concept but make it PVP, giving the horde and alliance the ability to overrun capital cities for good.
no need to start at the top...
# Jan 08 2010 at 5:09 AM Rating: Decent
461 posts

believable enemies

This thread reminds me of the other night when I was taking my Death Knight for a spin around Durotar to level up mining and wandered into Tiragarde keep. I casually slaughtered the keep's entire garrison but did Thrall care a jot? Did I see my Horde brethren cheer for joy as I erased this pestulant blot from the landscape? Alas no... (in fact the alliance respawned). Still you would have thought that Thrall with all the level 80 heroes that he has at his disposal just down the road in Orgrimmar would have done something sooner... bit slack from the Warchief IMO.
just a thought
# Jan 08 2010 at 4:54 AM Rating: Good
77 posts
i just thought i would mention something from lord of the rings online
so far throughout moria we have not met any "oo i could kill you but i am going to grossly underestimate you and run away" people
instead they have given us a peek at ultra awesome monsters (such as the balrog) through session play
which for those of you who don't know is a part of lotro that lets you basically play a different character
for example one quest you get told the story of moria's fall in which you play a dwarven guard who is sent with Durin to try to find mithril to prove to some elves that moria has not run out of mithril and you do things like clear the way and help to get rid of some rubble at which point you pile into the room find the balrog and run like **** while durin saves your asses and so you get to see the balrog and interact with him without the whole "haha im too good" thing ^^
would be pretty easy to do this with WoW if blizzard make good use of phasing...remember the quest in icecrown that lets you actually play arthas before he changed?
why not make more use of that and actually let you interact with bosses before your time?
so that way you dont actually see the boss yourself until you fight him or he fights you
doesnt solve the whole "im going to let you kill all my minions while barely helping them" thing but goes part of the way to making it seem more realistic
Azshara =/= Deathwing
# Jan 07 2010 at 8:11 PM Rating: Decent
3,114 posts
Since it is considered inevitable that each expansion will deliver an 'expendable' enemy, it stands to reason that the next big name to fall will, most likely, be Queen Azshara (although Tom Chilton has noted that the Blizzard team does not intend for her to be the main enemy in Cataclysm, even though it is presumed that her influence was the cause of Cataclysm)

Um, what? Other than the Naga being somewhat involved, I don't think Azshara's been mentioned as seeable, unless the Naga city is a raid at a later point. And as for the Cataclysm, that's entirely due to Deathwing bursting out through the elemental plane, who I would imagine is the next Arthas.

wowwiki wrote:
in the Q&A section of the "World of Warcraft Raids and Dungeons" panel at the 2009 Blizzcon convention, game designer Tom Chilton confirmed that appearances by Queen Azshara and the city of Nazjatar were not intended to be part of this expansion

Edited, Jan 8th 2010 2:20am by Micros
Azshara =/= Deathwing
# Jan 07 2010 at 10:07 PM Rating: Excellent
The full quote for you:

"Azshara was expected to make an appearance as a major enemy in the upcoming expansion World of Warcraft:Cataclysm, due to the fact that it was believed a significant portion of the third expansion would deal with the Maelstrom. However, in the Q&A section of the "World of Warcraft Raids and Dungeons" panel at the 2009 Blizzcon convention, game designer Tom Chilton confirmed that appearances by Queen Azshara and the city of Nazjatar were not intended to be part of this expansion, although her Naga would make an appearance in the new leveling zone, the Sunken City of Vashj'ir. It is likely that Azshara may be being saved for a future expansion. The fact that she is featured on the official Cataclysm site seems to indicate that even though she may not be physically present, her manipulations may have dire effects on Azeroth, or that she may at least play a large role in the Sunken City of Vashj'ir. But it is said she will have a starring role in a future expansion."
christopher "pwyff" tom
ctom@zam.com | @Pwyff
What would be sweet..
# Jan 07 2010 at 5:28 PM Rating: Good
...is if when we fought Sargeras we lost. Why does Good have to win? why can't Evil slaughter us and thus end the game.
"Eagles may soar, but rats don't get sucked into jet engines."
What would be sweet..
# Jan 07 2010 at 5:30 PM Rating: Excellent
It would be the greatest ending to World of Warcraft. You walk to Sargeras with crazy gear, and he's like "lol."

And you die.

Credits roll.
christopher "pwyff" tom
ctom@zam.com | @Pwyff
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