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The Theramore Disaster

September 18, 2012

The Fall of Theramore scenario has perfectly demonstrated everything that’s wrong with Blizzard’s storytelling process.  I hate writing posts like this.  I hate talking about how bad some aspect of WoW is because there truly are a lot of wonderful things about this game.  But the Theramore scenario just got so many things wrong that I had to dedicate a few hundred words to it.

Note:  This post will contain spoilers both for the scenario itself and the novel Tides of War.  I have only Alliance 85s, so I’ll be only speaking from the perspective of the Alliance version of the quest.

Lack of Lore

Pure and simple, the story of this scenario makes absolutely no sense without having read Tides of War.  Blizzard is no stranger to forcing us to go outside of the game for the full story about most major lore developments, but we usually have enough pieces of the puzzle given to us in-game that we can get a decent clue as to what’s going on.

This scenario drops us into the very last possible moment we could see Theramore from the story told in the book.  When I read the novel a few weeks ago, I assumed we would be doing some sort of escort quest helping Jaina get up to the top of the tower so we would see her final conversation with Rhonin, and his sacrifice that saves many of the civilians on the island.  I thought we might hear her talk about Pained or Kinndy, or any of the other important figures who are lost on that day.

I thought we would at least see or hear Garrosh giving the order to drop the mana bomb, or leading the Horde troops through the gates of the city before the retreat.  Instead, we get a cut-scene that almost seems to implicate the Goblins more than Garrosh himself, and barely any explanation as to how the mana bomb works or why the Horde just happens to have the Focusing Iris.

With the way the story is presented in the scenario, it makes no sense at all.

We are given no context.  We get to Theramore by queueing using the new Scenarios interface, so it’s not even as if we are told to go there by our King or some Alliance general.  I can see how this system might make sense for some all-inclusive stories that might be presented in Pandaria, but for such a HUGE lore event, this is really a bad call.

The World Event That Wasn’t

I bet you thought that the Theramore story was going to be the world event going into Mists.  I know I did.  Turns out we were  wrong, according to this Blue tweet from last night:

Theramore scenario completely underwhelming compared to other pre expansion events. It’s Meh.
Was never meant to be a world event. It’s the first Scenario of the game. Tons more content coming next week!


If there is one thing Blizzard should understand after this many years in the game, it’s how to manage customer expectations.  Every expansion has had a world event.  Mists of Pandaria is a new expansion.  Therefore, it is reasonable that we assumed Mists would have a world event.  And when we heard about a new playable scenario, with a ton of far-reaching implications for lore, which was going to be released a week before the expansion was – what the hell else would we assume it was going to be?  It’s like handing a kid a piece of candy and then saying, “Well I didn’t promise you any candy,” when they open up the wrapper and find nothing inside.  Of course we thought this was the world event, and so of course we expected it to be something bigger than it was.

So please, Blizzard, don’t play dumb about your subscribers assuming this was a launch event.  If you weren’t intending to give us one, well that happens.  You’ve specifically told us you didn’t want to release another content patch after Dragon Soul so you could focus your efforts on Mists development, and I guess that a world event fell under that axe, too.  In another week, when I have fresh content to dive into, I’ll probably forget that all of this even happened.  But right now, on this night when I was expecting to see a powerful piece of lore development explored in-game, along with implications that extended into our home cities (as has always been the case in the past), I’m really just pissed off.

17 Comments leave one →
  1. September 18, 2012 7:51 am

    I think they’re pinning their hopes on us forgetting it. That’s never a good way to manage anyone’s expectations. You try doing that with a child and see how far it gets you ^^

    • September 18, 2012 9:17 am


    • September 18, 2012 4:00 pm

      Agreed. Your post on this topic really said it all for me – an appropriate final nail in the coffin for Cataclysm.

  2. September 18, 2012 8:45 am

    I am crafting my own POV this morning, and will link back to this one, too.


    • September 18, 2012 4:00 pm

      Thank you! *Sigh* indeed. 🙂

  3. September 18, 2012 11:17 am

    I started writing a comment and it somehow turned into an entire post. >.< I echo your feelings of disappointment and I particularly wanted to talk about that blue tweet you mentioned.

    Like you, I really don't buy what the blue is saying. Theramore's Fall, despite being a scenario, was always portrayed as an important part of the pre-expansion lead up to the atmosphere in Mists. Regardless of whether it's an "event" or "just a scenario" – it's no excuse for the lack of lore and the way it was executed.

    • September 18, 2012 4:02 pm

      Right. Saying “it was never supposed to be a world event” doesn’t quite deal with the fact that it’s still bad. 😛

      In terms of gameplay, it was fine. Not particularly compelling or challenging for the group I was with, but an Ok way to spend 10 minutes of game time. As exposition of crucial lore? Total failure.

  4. September 18, 2012 11:37 am

    Before reading any blogs this morning I posted my disappointment in the event/scenario also. I sure hope they have something epic planned to really lead us into Mists…because this sure wasn’t it.

    You can check out my simple thoughts about it at if you like.

    • September 18, 2012 4:03 pm

      I enjoyed your post and it confirmed what I was afraid of – without the book, this thing just makes no sense. 😦

  5. September 18, 2012 12:45 pm

    I’m planning on posting about this too, if I have enough time today. Suffice to say, I agree with everything you just said.

    I’m also a bit irritated because my husband just started playing WoW this month and his first character is currently level 82. I had told him that there would be a pre-expansion event that’s usually a lot of fun and gives you cool flavor items and achievements that you’ll never be able to get again, so he should do as much of it as possible for his level. Now it turns out that there’s nothing happening, and the only scenario available requires him to be max level with an ilvl of 352. And it probably isn’t worth his time trying to get geared up to see it since he can just run it at level 90 anyway, it doesn’t drop anything that looks cool, and doesn’t give you any story anyway. I am really disappointed.

    • September 18, 2012 4:05 pm

      Great point. I hadn’t thought of the implications for non-85s. Elsewhere today I read a blog post pointing out that, before Cataclysm, lower level characters at least had the option of participating in the Troll and Gnomeregan questlines – and, of course, they could see the elemental invasion in the cities.

  6. September 19, 2012 3:44 am

    Many people have now experienced the theramore “event” and the outcry is both terrible and deserved. How blizzard can put this piece of crap out the door as-is is completely beyond my comprehension. It’s terrible. It’s worse than terrible, it’s a slap in the face. I wish I were joking, or using hyperbole, but I’m not. It’s literally just an advertisement for their new novel. Not bad-grammar literally either, but a giant “F-U and your continued subscription, go buy our book” from blizzard. It’s either a sign that they just don’t understand how to use gameplay to tell a good story anymore, or that they just don’t care. Or both. There’s no context, no preamble, no setup, no resolution. It’s like reading chapter 13 of a 25 chapter book without even the summary on the back cover, you’d have to go online and read the wikipedia article to make heads or tales of it. not having read the novel, I only made heads or tales of it because I follow the news sites. It wouldn’t have been so bad except for how much HYPE blizzard has generated for it! THIS was supposed to be their “epic introduction to Pandaria and the alliance-horde conflict”?! It’s a bigger disappointment than the so-called “epic” Thrall questline that in reality consisted of “go kill 20 elementals in a row without getting ganked in a non-sanctuary zone, repeat 3 more times”

    So we get this uninspired turd while the fun lore is hidden behind legendary quest chains that most people can’t see, or in ACTUAL epic quest chains that were removed with the cataclysm revamp. We’re given an “event” that isn’t an event at all, just a group quest with even less meaning since it doesn’t even have quest text you can read or skip. I am not being melodramatic when I say i don’t think I’ll be buying MoP because of this. I was already having serious reservations about the expansion, and this just seals the deal.

    It doesn’t generate excitement, it just makes me angry I was giving Blizzard the benefit of the doubt.

  7. September 19, 2012 8:49 am

    From the horde side… yeah. Just as abrupt and pointless. You start out on a boat with no reason given for why you’re even there, go blow up some boats because… um… that’s what the alliance are doing at this point?, kill a flight master (which was the “whytf are we doing this again” point on my alliance 85), kill a tank for no apparent reason, then free a spy who graciously tells you that “the failed seige was only a distraction” and ports you out.


    What failed seige? What the hell are you on about? And why is there now a cutscene of some eeeeeeevil goblins dropping a bomb? Hell, they never even mention there’s anything special about the bomb, it could be the same as the one from Stonetalon! Where are our lore figures? Just… gah!

    (Yeah, the horde scenario ends at the beginning of the alliance scenario. not that it’s really explained what the alliance are meant to be doing there either…)

  8. hoofdee permalink
    September 20, 2012 4:42 pm

    i agree with this almost word for word. MoP had better be damn good to make up for the total mediocrity that wow has been for the past year.

    at least for me, it’s their last chance; i really like wow and have been playing since BC, but there are just too many other options out there now. if this xpac <= cata, i could easily see myself moving on.


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