Where do I begin. I was looking forward to Theramore. Really, I was. I even waited until my buddy got home to run it for the first time! And then, I ran it…and came out with mixed feelings of shock, disappointment and a general sense of being annoyed and underwhelmed. Why?
Theramore’s Fall involves the destruction of a city that’s been around since Vanilla – its destruction marks a key turning point in the story of the Horde and the Alliance. It was supposed to foreshadow the war that is to come. And the destruction of her city by the bloodthirsty warchief changes Jaina Proudmoore herself. I expected that event of this magnitude would have some amount of detail shown ingame.
Well, it did none of that.
Warning: This post contains spoilers from Tides of War and the Theramore scenario.
I’m going to start with the good: I like the concept of scenarios. I think they’re well-paced, flexible in that they don’t always require a tank and healer, and not a huge time sink. This is great for scenarios in general, and it almost seems as though the intent of this scenario was to showcase a new feature rather than a key point in the story.
No Story For You
The problem is however, the destruction of a city is more than just a scenario. It’s the setting for the conflict – the flavour of the new expansion. This is supposed to be important stuff! How are you supposed to get both factions riled up for war if there’s barely any story in the scenario?
I don’t always read Warcraft books to keep up with lore – I don’t always like how they’re written, and so I usually end up reading reviews of them and keeping up with the gist of what’s going on. In this case, I kept up with the fact that Theramore was going boom, and that Jaina was shedding her diplomatic ways and taking the war to Garrosh. I didn’t know the details of how it would happen, when we as adventurers would get to know of it, and how the rest of the Alliance would react to it. I expected these kinds of details would make themselves known in the game. Ha.
Personally, I would’ve liked a couple quests leading up to Theramore at the very least. At this point, it almost seems as though some of the ordinary dungeons have more background as to why you’re there than Theramore does.
Who Died Now?
One of the biggest things we as players notice when story progresses, especially in a destructive way like this one, is that well-known lore figures die. It happened at the beginning of the Cataclysm, and it’s an important thing. Having not read the book, I hoped that the scenario would give a bit of a nod to those who lost their lives in the event. Nope. Nada.
If I were to go solely by what the scenario showed me, it would appear that a bomb was dropped but miraculously everyone lived. I didn’t see familiar corpses like Auberdine. I didn’t see anyone mention anything about sacrifices that apparently made to save Jaina’s life. I ended up at the trusty WoW forums to fill me in on the people we lost – and it turns out, we lost a couple who were familiar to me. So here’s my homage to them:
Finally, there’s the death of Rhonin, leader of the Kirin Tor. I didn’t know much about his story but in my time in Northrend, he seemed like a cool mage and I’ll be sad to see him go. Turns out, Jaina has him to thank for saving her life. I don’t have a picture of him because I never got to see his heroic deed. Maybe that would’ve been a lovely cutscene to watch.
Before I wrap up my thoughts I want to point to two other views that I agree with:
Tzufit talks a little bit about how Theramore was “the world event that wasn’t”. I couldn’t have put it better myself. Apparently a tweet from a blue last night claims that this wasn’t meant to be a world-event, just a scenario. As much as I hate doing this, I’m going to call a contradiction when I see one. It may still only be a scenario but it has several qualities that other pre-expansion events did: it awards a feat of strength for completing it; and gives you special items for running it during this time before launch. If that’s not pre-expansion event-type stuff, I don’t know what is.
The other interesting issue was brought up by the Godmother at alt:ernative. She looks at the decision that kept this scenario away from public eyes and testing until its launch.
“In fact, unless you were MMO and able to datamine your own version, no-one got a sniff at this Lore-rich nugget during the entire Beta process. When the PTR launched for 5.0.4, again… no Scenario. I assumed this was because Blizzard was keen to keep the spoiler-rich nature of the encounter a secret until the Lore-related novel of the event was released. It never occurred to me that they might simply be hiding something below par…”
It comes down to the fact that Theramore was badly done. I really do dislike writing this because I don’t want to be Negative Nancy or the one who always criticises Blizzard. But fact is, there is no nice way of saying it like it is. I’m incredibly disappointed in how Theramore’s Fall was executed – it reminded me of the overdone cutscene disaster that was Uldum. Now, Theramore’s somewhere they could’ve actually used more cutscenes. I’ve always been a little bit afraid that Mists of Pandaria will be rushed and things like these seem to point in that direction: the lack of a world event, and a scenario for the sake of scenario rather than the story.
At the end of the day, I was looking for a little inspiration to go into the next expansion with. I hoped it would be in the events leading up to the release of Mists of Pandaria – unfortunately, it wasn’t so.