Battle For Gilneas City Turn In Homework

World of Warcraft trope list S to Z.Main Page Index | A to B | C to E | F to L | M to R

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     Sa 

  • Sacrificial Lion: The Wrathgate battle had two, and almost had three.
  • Sacrificial Planet: Subverted in Warlords of Draenor. Things go south much quicker for the alternate universe Draenor, and it appears as if the Legion might force us to retreat to show how much of a threat they are. However, thanks to having more experience with them than last time, we manage to successfully foil their invasion at the last minute, freeing Draenor. It ultimately turns out to be a bit of a Xanatos Gambit, where foiling their attempt to use Draenor to attack Azeroth only allows the Legion to slip an agent onto our world to open a much more devastating invasion path directly into it.
  • Sadistic Choice:
    • In Sholazar Basin, Artruis the Heartless has imprisoned an Oracle and a Frenzyheart; when players fight him, he shields himself and mind controls his captives to attack. Killing one frees the other and makes Artruis attackable, but it also makes you hated by the faction of the one you killed and friendly with the one you freed. The only way to recover your reputation with the hated faction is to redo the Artruis fight and make the other choice, which makes the other faction hate you.
    • The Tauren and trolls of the Horde face this decision: support Garrosh in the war, which they find to be immoral and dangerous to their people, or turn on him and face his wrath. Thankfully, Garrosh has made this decision for them and proven that turning on him is probably the best option.
  • Sand In My Eyes: Referenced by Captain "Soggy" Su-Dao upon the completion of his quest line in the Dread Wastes.

    Captain "Soggy" Su-Dao: Would you excuse me for a moment, <player>? I've, uh... I've got somethin' in both my eyes.

    • Some of the Klaxxi will claim something similar if you poke them enough times.
  • Sapient Steed:
    • Drakes, hippogryphs and wyverns are as intelligent as a humanoid, and drakes can speak. Not that you can see it in the game, though.
    • There are exceptions. Some drake-mounts provided for quests may give you advice on how to advance. And the nether drakes in Shattrath greet you before you choose your mount. Some hippogriffs don't need a handler to provide mount service; you speak to the hippogriff.
    • Despite a blatant desire to investigate your intestines, raptor nests contain crude huts made of skin, and what appear to be decorative dreamcatchers. They also appear to be quite fond of silver.
    • Ban-Lu, the monk's class mount, takes this trope up to eleven. He's quite chatty.
  • Sassy Secretary: As a goblin, you spend most of your time early on consulting with your personal assistant, Servile Snarker Sassy Hardwrench.
  • Satellite Love Interest: Dear god, Aggra. The only reason she seems to exist is to be with and get knocked up by Thrall. Magnified by the fact that she sunk the Thrall x Jaina Ship.
    • To a lesser extent, Vereesa Windrunner, whose existence is part of the reason her husband Rhonin was a Creator's Pet. This turns into an interesting zig-zag, though, as Rhonin then gets killed during the Pandaria set-up, and thus Vereesa is thrust into center stage and we get to see her struggles in finding her center on her own.
  • Save Scumming: Inverted, or played straight depending on your point of view. An exploit introduced in 4.3 allowed for you and your raid to get as much loot as you wanted using LFR, with the top guilds, like Paragon or Method, acquiring the 4-pc bonuses on all their raiders in a span of 48 hours. By comparison, it normally takes you between 2 weeks and several months to normally gear yourself that well.
    • This ended with several of the top guilds across the world banned for a whole week, setting them back in the race to world first. The Korean guild "Happy Raiders" eventually won the race over usual favorites Paragon, Method, Ensidia and Blood Legion.
  • Save the Princess:
    • A quest charges you with rescuing the dwarven princess Moira Bronzebeard from the emperor of the Dark Iron dwarves. In a subversion, she's pregnant with said emperor's child, does not want to be saved, and is slated to replace her deceased husband as the new leader of the Dark Iron Dwarves in Cataclysm. On the other hand she seems to be representing them at the table in Ironforge on an equal footing with the Bronzebeard and Wildhammer dwarves, signaling a possible shift in Dark Iron allegiance.
    • Subverted with Moira once you know the whole story. Dagran Thaurissan did originally kidnap her to try to get concessions from Ironforge. However, Moira states that he in fact never used any kind of mind control on her, and she legitimately fell in love with him because he treated her well and showed her respect. At the same time, she was angry and bitter that her father, Magni Bronzebeard, never respected her, and in fact resented her because he wanted a male heir. So she ended up choosing to stay and marry Dagran until the adventurers came and "saved" her. After Ragnaros was defeated, a great deal of the Dark Irons chose to follow her, prompting a Heel–Face Turn of most of the race. Moira now sits on the Council of Three Hammers as the Dark Iron representative, and the 3 dwarven clans are showing signs of reuniting.
    • Another dwarf princess, Fanny Thundermar is captured by ogres; this is another subversion as when the player and Keegan Firebeard rescue her, they find she has already started her own rescue, killing three ogres with her bare hands.
    • In a somewhat less fanservicey way, Princess Stillpine of the Stillpine furbolgs on Bloodmyst Isle gets locked in a cage by the corrupted Bristlelimb furbolgs. Freeing her requires killing enough Bristlelimbs to piss off their chief and summon him to the area, where you can kill him for the key.

     Sc to Sd 

  • Scarab Power: Spiderlords, and their undead counterparts, Crypt Lords are heavily based on scarabs in Egyptian mythology, being mummified and reanimated beetle-mantis-spider mashups. Their names are all vaguely related to Egyptian mythology, one of their abilities generates a huge beetle from a corpse, and their faces have a spike invoking the false beards on royal funerary masks.
  • Scare Campaign: The only race the Mogu couldn't enslave were the Mantid, a race as strong and fearsome as them; instead, the Mogu used the threat of the Mantid to scare its slaves into submission.

    "It would take many generations to build. But Lei Shen knew how to motivate his subjects. Fear. Fear of the mantid moved mountains, raised armies, secured his empire, and built his wall."

  • Scary Impractical Armor: The Lich King — this is even lampshaded in the hilarious Scourge Vent Recordings; Arthas complains about his armor. "No, it's not okay, I have skulls...on....my....kneecaps!"
    • Can also apply to the shoulder armor for all classes starting from the first tier sets onwards. Especially obvious when said shoulders have spikes. For most races, if they sit down and they're wearing shoulders with giant spikes on them, they end up stabbing themselves through the brain. This is specially obvious with orcs, whose shoulders are always scaled at least twice as big compared to other races.
  • Scary Shiny Glasses: Lord Godfrey has a wonderful pair on, especially during the post infection worgen cutscene. Bonus points for the reflection of the worgen's eyes in the glasses.
  • Scenery Porn: As might be expected, Blizzard keep trying to up the ante with each expansion. Burning Crusade featured some stunning vistas unlike anything in vanilla content; Wrath of the Lich King took players from chilly tundra to verdant jungle and dead frozen wastes; Cataclysm redid the original game world with new high-end effects and added beautiful elemental regions; Pandaria was a visual feast from start to finish; Warlords of Draenor was jaw-dropping, as much for the revelation of what Outland originally looked like as for the higher-res, higher-poly count scenery. Legion is seen by some as relatively underwhelming, but if nothing else the view from atop Highmountain is impressive.
  • Schizo Tech:
    • Troll, Orc, and Tauren civilization is mainly early Iron Age, and Human civilization is stock Renaissancenote Reliable firearms and ocean-ready ships? We're not in the Middle Ages anymore. Europe, Dwarves have siege tanks, while Gnomes have nuclear energy and cybernetics, and the Draenei capital city is a crashed interdimensional spaceship...sort of. Goblins are very industrialized and have cars, rockets, oil wells, Mini-Mecha, high-grade explosives, and implied with "Goblin Gentleman's Magazine", the printing press.
    • Technology left behind by the Titans seems to take this even further, with androids and enchanted computers.
    • The non-canon RPG gave an explanation for the Medieval Stasis most races on Azeroth seem to have: The superiority of magic is so ingrained in their cultures that the idea that technology can ever match or surpass it is laughable, even if said technology is right in front of them, and they treat inventions like curiosities at best and abominations at worst. Other races such as the Orcs and the Tauren acknowledge the potential of technology but they prefer their own way of life too much to take advantage of it.
  • Schmuck Bait:
    • A quest for the Argent Dawn has the player sabotaging a death cult's plague cauldron by adding a very reactive counter-agent. The instructions say to only add a single drop; players can add a single drop, and complete the quest, or they could throw in a whole flask or 12.
    • Mimiron's big, red "DO NOT TOUCH THIS BUTTON" button, which sets the room on fire, makes him stronger and shortens the time limit.
    • There are a couple areas where you can loot offerings at graves for Vendor Trash. Doing so gives you a debuff that makes enemies in the area more aggressive.
    • One of the alcoholic beverages in-game is Pinchwhistle "Rocket Fuel", which has a warning label telling you not to consume it near an open flame. If you do exactly that, it will ignite you for massive fire damage.
    • In Highmountain, while on a quest to obtain some reagents for Spiritwalker Ebonhorn, there's a bottle of Airspark sitting next to a vendor looking as though it's free for the taking. Attempting to take it earns the player a scolding from the vendor.
  • Sci-Fi Writers Have No Sense of Scale: The Great Dark Beyond, the term for space in the Warcraft universe, has not been relevant much, with the two main planets, Azeroth and Draenor, being connected by a magical portal.
    • The first volume of the World Of Warcraft Chronicle, however, actually utilizes the scale of the universe as a subtle but important plot point. The Burning Legion has long been a massive demonic army known for wiping out any planet that comes to their attention. The Chronicle reveals that the Legion want to do this to every planet, but have Azeroth as a priority, and the only reason they didn't wipe it out long ago is because it's really hard to find a single planet in the vastness of space. They've only pinpointed Azeroth's location relatively recently on a cosmic scale, and they're still nowhere near it physically after ten thousand years. Further, the chronicle implies retroactively that the reason the demons have historically relied on magical portals to invade planets when they have since been revealed to have spaceships and other sci-fi technology, is because it would take millennia to travel those distances on spaceships. Magical portals are a huge boon when you have a target and a way to open a path since they bypass pesky physical travel times. Also, this explains why the Burning Legion is a Legion at all when their leader is a titanic cosmic being that can literally cleave planets in half: it would still take him ages to get around to destroying every planet in the universe by himself because it's just that big.
  • The Scottish Trope: When the mage's Ice Lance spell was first introduced, it was incredibly powerful. On the mage forums an unwritten rule developed that you must never name the spell when gushing about it, lest the devs take notice and nerf it, instead homophones such as "Nice Pants" were used.
  • Screaming Warrior:
    • Grom Hellscream is the current page image for the trope, and for good reason.
    • The Warrior ability "Battle Shout" acts as a rallying cry to temporarily boost his and his party members' strength and agility. There are also demoralizing attacks which intimidate enemies into lowering their attack power such as Demoralizing Shout, Demoralizing Roar and Demoralizing Mmmrrrggglll.
    • Primarily during Cataclysm, there were several spells that caused the user to let out an audible scream, such as the Warrior's Heroic Fury and Inner Fury and the Hunter's Deterrence.
    • JOHN J. KEESHAN. Summed up perfectly with the quest "AHHHHHHHHHHHH! AHHHHHHHHH!!!", where the player takes control of a tank while the game's resident RamboExpy mows down 200 Blackrock Orcs with a machine gun.
    • Warmaster Blackhorn gains a Disrupting Roar attack, which damages all players in the raid and interrupts spellcasting for a few seconds. In Mists of Pandaria, Warriors got a talent that enabled them to interrupt all enemies' spells.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here!: Two Twilight Dragons, Valiona in Grim Batol and Goriona in Dragon Soul will fly away, leaving their riders behind when they take enough damage. Valiona makes it clear she doesn't like Drahga Shadowburner at all, and won't die with him.
  • Sdrawkcab Alias:
    • In Felwood, you're sent to kill the Emerald Circle's leader Archdruid Navarax, who is actually a satyr named Xaravan.
    • When you meet Shadow-Sage Iskar in Talador, he's initially disguised as a draenei woman named Raksi.
  • Sdrawkcab Name: In Dragon Soul on Heroic, when Morchok reaches 90% health he splits into himself and his twin Kohcrom.

     Se 

  • Sealed Badass in a Can: Each Klaxxi Paragon you awaken is an example of this.
  • Sealed Cast in a Multipack: Much of the Klaxxi storyline in Mists of Pandaria is locating and uncanning Paragons, who were packed away sealed in amber for thousands of years as a defense/backup against an empress going insane.
  • Sealed Evil in a Can:
    • Ragnaros, the Old Gods, and countless other examples. Bolvar's ultimate fate is to willingly become the "Can" for the Scourge.
    • There is also Nihil the Banished, a black dragon that you may accidentally release when questing in Blade's Edge. However, you can use the temporal modulator again on him, and he will be banished again with a Big "NO!".
    • The Sha were sealed beneath the temples of the August Celestials before the Alliance and Horde arrived in Pandaria at accidentally freed them with their war. Doubt was in the east, despair in the south, hatred, violence and anger in the north, and fear in the west.
    • It later emerges that an artifact called the Divine Bell has the ability to control the sha, and Horde Warchief Garrosh Hellscream orders it stolen in an attempt to make super-soldiers with it. It misfires when the sha ends up controlling its test subjects instead of the other way round, and have to be slaughtered by adventurers.
    • The Klaxxi, who you save to deal with the empress, but turn into the second to last boss in Siege of Orgrimmar since Garrosh has the heart of their boss.
  • Second Hour Superpower: Both the Worgen and Goblins have racial abilities that have to be unlocked. Worgen players start human, and half way through the starting zone are infected and become worgen, gaining their Darkflight and Two Forms abilities. Goblins gain a hobgoblin servant when they join the Horde at the end of their starting experience.
  • Secret Police: Garrosh's Kor'kron. Deserters, draft dodgers, and anyone who's vocally against the war are taken off the street by Kor'kron enforcers for what Hellscream considers to be treason. The lucky ones are beaten until they've suffered enough that they swear loyalty, the unlucky ones are killed outright.
  • Self-Deprecation/Take That, Audience!: Blizzard has been known to deliver these, even themselves.
    • During a quest where you save Earthen Ring shaman from nightmares, one of them says that shaman healing is a fine art and that you can't just use Chain Heal all day, and another says that he dreamt he was trapped inside a fiery cave dropping totems, healing ungrateful warriors, and never seeing a single piece of shaman gear.
    • One of the female pandaren's /silly emotes is an anecdote about talking to a tauren or a worgen. She confuses the two, and then makes a comment about the silliness of talking animals.
    • Master Cheng at the Peaks of Serenity will say, "Yes, I'm a monk, but I always wanted to be a demon hunter." a subtle jab at the fans who have and continue to demand the demon hunter class, and particularly the ones angry monks were chosen over DH for the second new class.
    • Wrathion often talks like a stereotypical player would, advocating dangerous tasks for the chance to get valuable loot, and expressing annoyance that the Celestials wanted to talk his ear off before giving him what he came for.
  • Sequel Hook: Plenty of these are created with each expansion.
    • One of the more recent and mysterious ones revolves around the Lich King's sword, Frostmourne. Though it was shattered when the Lich King was defeated, its final fate was rather unclear. Blizzard later had this to say:

    Q: What happened to Frostmourne after it was shattered?
    A: While this is a closely guarded secret, we'll trust you to be discreet: no one knows where the remnants of Frostmourne are now.

    • The shards of Frostmourne are reforged into two swords by the Death Knight in Legion.
    • Ragnaros and Kil'jaeden aren't killed, merely banished.
    • They've been building up Deathwing as a future Big Bad since classic.
    • Also, Bolvar Fordragon could be corrupted by the Lich King's Helm of Command.
    • Sargeras and Ner'zhul were Put on a Bus.
    • A different Ner'zhul is an antagonist in Warlords of Draenor.
    • The Infinite Dragonflight were introduced in Burning Crusade, but while you faced several infinite dragonkin and an infite dragon over that expansion and Wrath, you never realized who their leader was. In Cataclysm, it turned out to be Nozdormu's future self, and he was fought at the end of the End Time instance.
    • After defeating Kel'Thuzad in Classic WoW, players were tricked into giving his phylactery to someone implied to be allied with the Scourge. When Kel'Thuzad returned in Wrath of the Lich King and was defeated for the second time, his phylactery was nowhere to be found.
    • The Burning Legion is still out there on their crusade to unmake the universe, and Kil'jaedin isn't killed in the Sunwell Plateau raid, merely banished.
    • Harbinger Skyriss, a boss in the Arcatraz in The Burning Crusade, makes a few ominous comments during his fight, saying that he bears "allegiance to powers untouched by time, unmoved by fate", that rival the Burning Legion in strength. Who could they be?
    • There are a lot of powerful artifacts and important people that have mysteriously gone missing over the years...
    • Queen Azshara appears in Cataclysm, but isn't a fightable boss or a major villain in that expansion, apart from her past self in Well of Eternity.
  • Serpent of Immortality: Monks that specialize in healing their allies have a heavy serpent motif — they fight in a specialized Serpent Stance, lay down Serpent Statues that duplicate healing, etc.
  • Set Bonus: Some armor sets award bonuses once wearers have a certain number of pieces equipped, usually at 2 and 4 of a 5 piece tier set.

     Sh 

  • Shapeshifter Showdown: These can and will happen between druids of the opposing factions in PvP, and they can go on for a long time.
  • Shared Life Meter:
    • Some bosses have this, typically with the added mechanic that only one of them is either more vulnerable than the rest or the only one vulnerable. Examples include:
    • The Blood Prince Council in Wrath of the Lich King's Icecrown Citadel.
    • Mogu'shan Vaults in Mists of Pandaria has two examples of this in its first and last bosses:
      • The Stone Guard at the beginning will occasionally become invulnerable, requiring players to change targets.
      • The two main bosses of the Will of the Emperor encounter are both vulnerable to damage throughout the fight. But the encounter throws so much cannon fodder at you it's only possible to really focus on them at a few particular points.
    • The Trial of the Yaungol in the Mists dungeon Temple of the Jade Serpent. Both start out vulnerable, but as they take more damage they eventually develop into a buff that makes them temporarily invulnerable, requiring the party to alternate targets.
  • Sharing a Body: The Class Hall upgrade provider for demon hunters is Loramus Thalipedes, a demon hunter who has somehow had his soul reconstitute in the body of the dreadlord Razelikh and has to be restrained aboard the Fel Hammer so the latter doesn't regain control and attempt to attack everyone aboard. Their squabbling as they fight for control is periodically broadcasted across the ship.
  • Shark Tunnel: The Deeprun Tram.
  • Shattered World: Outland, and later Azeroth itself in Cataclysm.
  • Ship Sinking: Thrall and Jaina have been increasingly sunk as the storyline progresses, but the nail in the coffin comes with the quests surrounding the Firelands raid, in which Thrall and Aggra become life-mates, with Jaina present at the ceremony.
  • Ship Tease: "Thrall and Jaina sitting in a tree, K-I-S-S-I-N-G".
  • Shock and Awe: The elemental Shaman's specialty!
    • Among the Conclave of Wind, Siamat tends to specialize in electric attacks.
  • Shock Collar: Thok the Bloodthirsty has one, as part of the orcish beastmasters' attempts to tame him as a beast of war. Oddly enough, it ends up causing damage to the players in the encounter.
  • Shoe Slap: Are you an Overseer, or someone magically disguised as an Overseer to infiltrate the organization? Do you have peons who refuse to work, sleep on the job, or are just being more clueless than normal? Then you need the Booterang! A tough boot that flies through the air, smacks worthless peons in the head, and returns to sender; and you can stay mounted while using it so you can fly through the air meting out discipline as needed, or more than needed.
  • Shoot Him, He Has a Wallet!: For Alliance players going to meet Vol'jin during Escalation, Zen'tabra tells you to keep your hands where they can see them; an Alliance soldier in Durotar is suspicious enough, but everyone is really jumpy with the civil war and Vol'jin was almost assassinated, so any odd move could be misinterpreted as hostile. This comes after some Darkspear guards trap you when you get too close and Zen'tabra has to tell them to back down.
  • Shoot the Dog:
    • You'll often be forced to kill an NPC that's gone rogue because there's no other way to end their suffering.
    • A big example in Val'sharah where you must kill the former Dragon Aspect Ysera after she is corrupted by Xavius.
  • Shoot the Medic First: A basic tactic in both PvE and PvP combat. In PvP, healers are a primary target. In PvE, if a group of mobs has a healer, you'd better take it out or use crowd control on it first or your fight will be very long, if not impossible. This is hilariously lampshaded by one of the villains.

    Lord Victor Nefarius: "Foolsss...Kill the one in the dress!"

    • This one is particurlarly amusing if you remember that due to itemization in those days, you had a lot of healing paladins wearing cloth robes. Also amusing when you face him in Blackwing Lair, as Nefarian, and he fails to follow his own advice. He finds other ways to screw with the healers, though.
    • A possible reference to this idea is in one achievement, in which you must go through the gauntlet of enemies before Echo of Tyrande in End Time without your healer taking damage. Interestingly enough, it's possible to achieve this through Loophole Abuse by having your healer change into a non-healing spec.
  • Shoot the Shaggy Dog: The extensively long Myzrael questline is this if one thing happens: If you try to solo her before you're ready and die, you have no way to fight her again, because the item to summon her disappears after she's summoned and you specifically have no way to remake it. You would need to run it with somebody who hasn't already run it. At least, until they fixed the quest.
  • Shoulder-Sized Dragon: Players can get dragon whelplings as non-combat pets.
  • Shoulders of Doom: And how.
  • Shout-Out: There are more shout outs in the game than any sane person can count. Here is an attempt to categorize them.
  • Shrine to the Fallen: There are a couple of in-game places that commemorate deceased Blizzard employees or their relatives. There is also at least one NPC named after a deceased player.

     Si 

  • Sibling Rivalry: Valiona and Theralion were supposed to be the greatest members of the Twilight Dragonflight, instead this brother/sister pair bickered and tried to outdo each other.

    Valiona: You are worthless, Theralion!

    Theralion

Since the Shattering, the Lollipop Guild has been busy.  They have apparently meandered all over Azeroth building a Yellow Brick Road, a Golden Path Theme Park for Idiots, turning World of Warcraft into a game only brain dead vegetables can love.

Or, so some might have me believe.

OK, OK, that’s a bit of hyperbole.  There are reasonable concerns about pacing in the game, especially dungeon XP gain rate as Klepsacovic noted, which Blizzard fixed.  Pete of Dragonchasers also notes that a player control for turning XP gain off might be nice.  I agree, though I’d also like the ability to remove XP, so I could iteratively reduce my level and keep pushing myself as I solo dungeons.  Well, that, or have nice, tight difficulty control sliders, or even difficulty settings like DDO has for dungeons.  (I can sort of fudge this by removing gear and taking skills of my action bar, though, so it’s not a thought I expect to be taken seriously.)

I broke down and bought TBC and Wrath while Blizzard had them on sale for $5 and $10, respectively (having purchased the original game for $5 last year).  I used a gift card I got a while ago and fired up another month in the game to look around.  I played the possibly overscripted Troll starting areas and found them to be a nice slice of mechanics that show up later in the game as well as a nice bit of Troll species storytelling.  The Gnome staring zone is pretty good, and I love that they are fighting for their home instead of waiting for players to run the Gnomeregan instance.  The Tauren starting zone is great, imparting a sense of impending twilight for the species.  Even the Dwarf starting experience is fun and fresh, though I’ve played the old version many times.

One commonality is the NPCs milling about, caught in perpetual warfare.  Yeah, they never get very far in actually defeating their foes, but at least something is going on in that vast plain by the Tauren starting village.  I wrote about the Death Knight starting areas a while back, and it seems to me that Blizzard has learned that having NPCs doing things in the world helps give it a sense of life.  In the DK areas, battles are going on in the background as you do your quests.  All new areas I’ve played to date have either battles or NPCs training for battle.  Questgivers and trainers move around a bit sometimes and interact with other NPCs.  The game feels more alive and bustling than ever before, and it does that without a player in sight.  That’s a Good Thing.

When there are players, yes, a game will feel more populated, but at the same time, players rarely feel like part of the world.  They run and jump around like caffeinated squirrels (do players ever walk?), loiter around like heroes without a cause, dress like fashion accidents, and run through each other.  And those are the tolerable ones; some are flat out annoying, spamming chat channels, dueling, monkeying around with train sets, dancing naked on mailboxes or any of a number of other random nutty non-Azerothian behavior.  In a lot of ways, player characters kill the much-vaunted “immersion” that can be produced by a cohesive presentation that we see in strongly themed and behaviorally consistent NPCs.

The starting questlines are indeed streamlined and polished to a fine golden sheen.  You’re almost never left wondering what to do, as NPCs go out of their way to advertise their inability to do simple things on their own, requiring errand boys and assassins at alarming rates.  (Though, since death is almost always only temporary in Azeroth, maybe assassination isn’t so much a nasty profession as a hobby.)  The rails in the game are indeed more finely crafted and more prominent than ever before.

And yet… there is nothing keeping players on the rails but their own habit and Pavlovian training.  I can take a new Troll and wander over to the starting Orc area to begin my journey.  I can just go grind away and kill crabs and boars, totally ignoring any quests.  I can try to swim around to Tanaris and see the new Thousand Needles water park.  As a Dwarf or Gnome, I can hike to Ironforge and catch the tram to Stormwind and hop on a ship to Northrend to look around, all at level 1 (though I might level up thanks to exploration XP… might have to try that this weekend, just for fun, and see how many levels I can accrue just by walking around to places I’m not supposed to see).  I can’t tackle enemies far beyond my abilities, so going some places will be very difficult if not impossible, but I’m otherwise free to go in nearly any direction I feel like.

A few nights ago, I took my level 16 Dwarf Hunter to Bloodmyst Isle to train a blue moth.  My daughter wanted to see one in-game, so off I went.  Not having been there before, I had to do a bit of exploring and Petopia/Wowpedia diving, but I eventually acquired a blue moth and took some screenshots of the area.  It wasn’t really a difficult journey, but it was pretty far from the Ironforged rails I was on previously.

A few levels later, the now-19 Hunter went from Ironforge to Wailing Caverns via Stormwind, Teldrassil, Darkshore, Ashenvale and the Northern Barrens (yes, the Westfall>Stranglethorn Vale>Booty Bay>Ratchet>Northern Barrens route might have been faster, but it was an experiment, and I feared STV more than Ashenvale).  Darkshore has been significantly mauled in the Shattering, and it’s a blast to just wander around in.  Ashenvale is tricky, with Horde and Alliance butting heads and dangerous wildlife to a sub-20 character.  Though as always, Hunters can take down foes a few levels higher, it’s still not safe territory.  A level 24 wolf wasn’t much trouble… but a pack of them would be death.  I had to pick fights, dodge aggro bubbles and avoid Horde patrols.

I still couldn’t make it through the Horde gates at the Barrens border, though, even with Alliance footsoldiers running interference.  The Spirit Healer in the Barrens took pity on me and pulled me through, but after accepting the resurrection penalty, the Barrens were still dangerous, especially with Horde players roaming about.  Three Hordies killed me once 40 meters or so off the road on the way to the Caverns, so I carefully skulked in the shadows and along mountain edges after that.  They probably thought I was going to assault the Crossroads, but since Alliance and Horde can only communicate in cutscenes, I couldn’t tell them my intentions were peaceful.

Getting to the instance portal was also an exercise in careful pulling.  I could handle two foes at once in the cave, but three would have been death.  Getting past the nasty pond dinosaur trap midcave was tricky, too.  Luckily, my bear was OK with playing bait, and we both got through.  We even managed to kill one of the raptors in the instance itself, a level 19 Elite, but I chickened out of trying two at a time, since it was a close fight.  (Maybe I just stink, and two would have been easy for a real player, but 1 elite dinosaur was my limit.  Well, 1.5, probably, but I figured 2 was too much, and since dinos don’t come in halves, I stopped at 1.)

Tangentially, I find it interesting that often, those who complain about wanting challenge can’t be bothered to go find it, but want it brought to them on a golden platter and forced on everyone else.  They then complain about lazy players and “easy mode” as if those nefarious casuals (spit) were the only ones with a sense of entitlement.  It’s especially funny to see the complainers using heirloom gear and whining about going too fast.

Most definitely, WoW’s public face is more “gamey” than ever before, but there’s still a world out there to explore, and it’s better than ever, especially for newbies.  It’s beautiful, with the Blizzard artists taking the Old World and stepping up the visuals to great new heights.  It’s still not as worldlike as I’d prefer, not by a long shot, but Azeroth isn’t all about hand-holding and going through the motions unless you let it be.

Boredom is a sign of low curiosity, a personal failure to engage mentally.  It’s not the world failing to entertain you, it’s you failing to investigate some of the many wonders that exist and initiate experimentation with what tools you have.  The same applies to challenge and exploration.

We’re not in Kansas any more, so take that road less traveled, or even go make your own.  There’s plenty of challenging and interesting content off the beaten track if you go looking for it.

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EDITED TO ADD:

MMO Gamer Chick has an interesting article up with some real noob experiences.  Insightful stuff.

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