Undead at the End of the World

This was originally posted to Tumblr on 11/24/10. It contains SPOILERS for the new Forsaken starter quests.

I love the Forsaken. They’re angsty, they’re posthuman, they’re less vanilla fantasy than some races in WoW (though that’s an argument in favor of most of the Horde), they’re inherently evil but able to seek redemption - or not, they’re just all-around awesome. I also like hunters. They’re the class I have half a dozen of (almost all Draenei) sitting at level 12 on random servers here and there. I love the customization options of their pets, I love their ranged fighting style that’s still more active than a caster, I love their general solo OP-ness. They were the first class I got to any significant level, but they were left by the wayside due to not being available to Forsaken.

Oh, but that little issue has been resolved.

But what I’d really like to talk about is the changes to the Forsaken starting storyline and the area of Deathknell. My new hunter Anders is just the driving force that brought me there on the first night of 4.0.3a. There was always some question of where exactly all these new Forsaken were coming from, especially several years after the moment during the Frozen Throne when the Lich King’s power over his minions was interrupted and Sylvanas was able to break away with the first Forsaken. Most of us just fudged things a little, saying that Scourge were still breaking away here and there and joining the Forsaken. The new Deathknell gives a more solid answer for new Forsaken: Sylvanas has tasked her new val’kyr allies with raising every corpse they can find to join the Forsaken ranks. Your first “quest” is to be raised by the val’kyr hovering over your prone, immobile form. According to Deathguard Saltain they’re shipping bodies in from “Silverpine, Hillsbrad… hell, anywhere we can get them from.” He even sends you - and your new guardian buddy Darnell - to bring back the corpses of the Scarlet Crusaders who used to harass Deathknell. The Forsaken are serious about bolstering their ranks, and that’s where you as a new Forsaken character come in.

This doesn’t always work out, and that’s the main conflict in the starting zone. Undertaker Mordo is doing his best to sew people back together, but he can’t fix their heads. Some end up as mindless zombies who need to be culled, while others need to be coaxed into coping with their new unlives. Those who have minds but can’t cope try to form a revolt that has to be put down by force.

Deathknell incorporates phasing in a way that’s virtually unnoticeable when you’re playing through it. This significantly mitigated the overfarming of quest mobs in an otherwise busy area and made the whole thing flow as a story much better. The actual environment hasn’t changed much at all, but the quests and NPCs make it feel fresh. I haven’t played through any other starting areas yet - though I have a now-Horde-loyal Grimtotem druid planned - but I hope they’ve been overhauled as beautifully and thoughtfully as Deathknell.

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