Monday, January 12, 2009

Unconscionable

World of Warcraft has never been a bubbly, friendly place. Most of your quest objectives require the death of all sorts of different species, people or “abominations.” But, with few exceptions (like Stitches), you’re always the “good guy,” or the heroine. There’s not much recrimination for what you’ve done. Sure, if you go at war with the Booty Bay goblins you get friendly with some pirates and they give you a hat and you get a title. That’s actually a reward for going “bad,” and goblins outside Azeroth don’t seem to really care.

What WotLK seems to focus on, intently, is guilt and consequences.

Look at your quests. Several involve torture. Many involve willing genocide, the capture of infants, or deaths of once-allies. In early quests you do what the Kirin Tor are too good for, and then you kill a sorcerer forced into service against her will, and receive a letter from a grieving parent who doesn’t know you did it.

Face it, you’ve always done “bad things” while playing WoW. You’ve killed other players over flags, you’ve killed ogres for a piece of paper they drop (ogres who call you their king, even), you’ve invaded castles and jungles and just wreaked havoc so you could get some gold or gear or sometimes save the world (not necessarily a bad thing). You’ve decimated the populations of entire species for achievements and Nessginwary.

WoW is just finally making you notice that maybe, just maybe, what you’re doing may not always be okay. That you might not always be in the right, and you can’t always be the hero. Not even a paladin’s armor comes out untarnished, nor a priest’s. Everywhere there is genocide, racism, mistaken identities, dirty secrets and righteous causes that have terrible costs.

I have not yet experienced the culling of Stratholme, so I cannot speak for it. But from what I have experienced so far, WoW has stripped away the shiny veneer of the quintessential “hero” with a heavy application of guilt and bloodshed. It’s much more real now that your actions have heavier consequences than simply a frown or an “oops.”

9 comments:

Udder Madness said...

Think positive: you get an achievement for loving critters

/hug

Kayeri said...

Yep, you are so right about those observations, and there are even some nasty dailies up in Icecrown, too.

::sighing for lost innocence:: Way back when Kayeri walked into Desolace the first time and they wanted her to set the centaur tribes at war with each other, she left rather than participate in such a thing...

Well, when the similar thing in Nagrand happened, she did it. She didnt like it, but it seemed the only way to protect those she was trying to protect...

Now, just because some Kirin Tor wimp doesnt have the stomach for it?? Well, that got done, too...

The things we put up with for XP...

Pike said...

I agree, and it's the main reason why the torture quests don't bug me: because the game is trying to make a point, like good literature =P

Props to Blizz for having the guts to do that.

Bell said...

I'm definitely not saying it's bad that they're doing it.

I just like pointing it out.

Armond said...

I - and I assume you and Pike - think the game's definitely better off for it. It adds depth to the storyline, definitely, and like a good book it makes you think more about what you're reading. I'm almost finished with my death knight's opening storyline (damn the server maintenance!), so I can't comment on that yet, but I liked what I saw around Northrend (especially the Drakuru storyline).

Swordchucks said...

I think there's some heavy social commentary going on in a lot of this. War isn't pretty. War isn't nice. You do bad things to the other guy because he's the other guy and wants to do them to you. The enemy of your enemy may still be your enemy (trolls, I'm looking at you). That's always been there, lurking in the background... it's just now that it's more pronounced.

Culling of Strat really isn't bad. There are a few innocents killed in the first few steps into the place, and then it's all Scourge all the time.

Frostpact said...

That is probably why wowinsider.com reported on some super conservative christian group compiling a list of the most offensive games, in which Warcraft scored a 9. (For comparison purposes, I believe GTA4 scored a 19). Personally, I dont feel any more corrupted now than what I was when I first started playing :)

Lilivati said...

I think, like you point out with the ogres, the fuzzy morality was always there. It's just a bit more in-your-face in Wrath. ;)

Keeva said...

I got to the end of the Drakkuru questline (in Drak'Tharon Keep) and said.. "uh... did we do a bad?"

:/