Death Knights and Taxes
Nov 18, 2008 19:25:35

death knight"Two things in life are inevitable: death and taxes" - unknown

Death knights and taxes: with the release of the Wrath of the Lich King both are now inevitable for eleven million Activision/Blizzard Customers. In fact the Lich King himself and his Death Knights are part of what is stealing Warhammer's thunder at the moment (that and some unforeseen player reactions which I will talk about in my next article).

From the moment I slipped the Wrath of the Lich King DVD into the drive the words of the popular song from the 80's began to play through my mind - I Need a Hero. Blizzard has finally given the players their long awaited, and now increasingly debated, hero class. As if to give definition to the phrase "be careful what you ask for" Death Knights have swarmed upon the face of outland like the Biblical plague of locusts. When my Death Knight (yes I was one of them) leveled through the Hellfire Peninsula, out of 49 players in the zone, only three of them weren't Death Knights.

When I needed a break from the drudgery of leveling through Outland yet again (just part of the whole "hero" gig I guess) I hopped onto my troll hunter and headed toward Northrend.

Ah Northrend...

Even though the Chuck Norris jokes and "your mamma" insults have given way to murloc jokes, Northrend general chat (at least on my server) has become the new Barrens chat - and in the opening days of Wrath of the Lich King it has been fraught with complaints about Death Knights ranging from the sheer numbers to cries for Blizzard to reach into its virtual closet and get out the "nerf bat".

Spoiler Alert:

If you haven't gone through the Death Knight starting zone and intend to do so do not read past this line.

As grandmother used to say, "The squeakiest wheel gets the most grease." The proof of this particular adage is found in the many forum trolls (the un-silent minority I call them) who are typically the ones calling for the nerf bat to be firmly applied to whatever class is the gripe of the week. In this case it is starting to be the Death Knight - a real oddity considering how long players have clamored for a hero class in WoW.

Still, no matter what one may think of the abilities of the new hero class, the way it was launched upon Azeroth is a real class act.

From the moment my Death Knight was thrust into the World of Azeroth the famous Blizzard accessibility was apparent. Like any good novel, the new Death Knight is presented with a real attention grabber. Blizzard has answered the question "Who's your daddy know?" with a loud resounding ARTHAS, THE LICH KING. Not in the form of some NPC who claims to work for the big guy. No. In this case the player comes face to face with the embodiment of evil that gives the new expansion its name. From the first the player is dragged body and morality into what soon becomes readily apparent is the TRUE evil in Azeroth. Next to this guy the horde are just some misunderstood, unfortunate souls (and indeed we are).

The floating fortresses that players were used to see floating over the Plague Lands are back in the form of what the young Death Knight will come to know as "Ebon Hold." Each quest is accompanied by screams of NPCS pleading in vain for mercy as the player is faced with just how truly evil the Death Knights have become as the servants of Arthas. In a well scripted and final scene in the Death Knight starting area, the player participates in the battle of Lights Hope Chapel and find they have been betrayed by Arthas who turns out to be as concerned about his servants as something he might scrape off the bottom of his well armored boot.

The player leaves the starting area, well outfitted in a suit of armor that just screams evil. Sadly this is a suit of armor which will fall victim to mudflation by the time the player reaches Northrend. The "blues" (high quality) items my player left the starting area equipped with wasn't the only thing that left a smile on my face. I was more than just a little pleased with the game mechanic that the Blizzard devs used that resulted in changes to my environment the were the result of my completing quests. As the quest line progressed, for example, and the player was ready to participate in the first battle, the npc Death Knights were no longer simply milling about. Instead they were kneeling before their commander awaiting instructions. North Rend itself has some similar "oh wow" moments like the skies over Hellfire Peninsula (the Azure Forests just outside Dalaran is one of them) but to me the Death Knight starting area and the Death Knights themselves, were worth the price of admission.

See you online,

- Julie Whitefeather

Submitted by Brent on Nov 18, 2008 19:25:35 CST (comments: 3)


'Nice' by Seritaph
Submitted on 2008-11-21 22:08:32 CST
Thanks for the summation. I've heard great things about the DK class and starting quest chain from some of my co-workers. In regard to the nerf-bat screams, well I too am reminded of a song, only one from my childhood. "This is the song that never ends, yes it goes on and on my friends..."

Now try and get that one out of your head. :)

'Thanks' by Julie
Submitted on 2008-11-22 00:28:17 CST
"Welcome back my friends to the show that never ends,We're so glad you could attend, come inside, come inside. There behind a glass stands a real blade of grass
Be careful as you pass, move along, move along"

Thanks now I will have Emerson Lake and Palmer going through my head all weekend. I grew up with that music.

You know the funny thing is, if I complain about a Blizzard game mechanic (or more appropriately gamer's reaction to it for a dev can never truly tell how gamers will react can they?) everyone takes notice. Now don't get me wrong. I like a wall of text as well as the next girl. But let me make a few compliments and no one seems to notice.

In any case I think they have outdone themselves with the new starting area. After I wrote the article I started catching up my podcast and was listening to the latest instance (one of my favorite podcasts) and said "my God their right...I could have cow tipped Arthas right off the side of ebon hold.! Problems solved!"

'Music' by Seritaph
Submitted on 2008-11-22 20:29:28 CST
ELP, ELO, Genesis, Kansas, the Eagles, Chicago... that was a pretty good time for music.

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From the desk of Julie Whitefeather


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