In Defence of The Old World

Posted: 28 July, 2009 in misc
Tags: ,

It’s funny how things work out.  Just as I was getting seriously misty-eyed about old quest lines and muttering “They don’t make content like they used to!” at innocent bystanders, Blog Azeroth sprung nostalgia trips on us all as this weeks’ shared topic.  So now I get to unleash a geriatric, semi-coherent rant at unsuspecting vistors and I can pretend it’s all in the name of some wider community blogging service.


First, allow me to address the point, often made these days, that modern content, such as that in Outland or in particular, Northrend, is so much better than the content we crusty old-timers enjoyed back in the days of vanilla WoW.  The charge is often laid, that the majority of vanilla content was boring, tedious, repetitive, poorly-designed and often involved backtracking over the same stretches of featureless real estate over and over to hand in quests at hard to locate quest givers.  The challengers claim that this sort of Stalinist questing would never happen under New Labour the New World Order.  It’s an excellent argument, and one that deserves an equally incisive and pertinent reply, and here it is:

What utter bollocks!

First, anyone who thinks pointless tracking backwards and forwards over a zone simply to speak to one npc after another is a relic of vanilla gaming has clearly never done the Crusader Bridenbrad questline in Icecrown.  At least those quests in the Barrens that had us trudging from one end of the zone to the other over and over had the decency to confine our tribulations to a single zone, and a stunningly gorgeous one at that.  Bridenbrad not only makes you trek back and forth across the featureless wastes of Icecrown until you want to bury your keyboard in your face, but he throws in trips to Moonglade, Dragonblight and Shattrath bloody City to get your passport stamped too!  He is, in short, a git.  Noble, self-sacrificing and dead, but a git.

Much is made of the epic nature of the questlines in Northrend, and I have to admit, this is a fair point.  It may even be one I’ve gushed over in the past.  Now I am an unashamed Tirion Fordring fanboy, I admit it.  His credibility may have taken a knock with the utter farce that is the Argent Tournament and Collisseum, but..

No.  It’s no use.  I have to get this out of my system.  It is not often that I use proper grown up swearing on this blog but what in the name of FUCK is going on with that Tournament?  Bear with me, dear reader, while I put the Argent Tournament/Colisseum  into some sort of context for you all.

The news from the frontlines is pretty grim.  After the slaughter of crusaders in the disastrous Wrathgate and Light’s Breach assualts, the future of the entire campaign was in serious doubt.  The Argent Crusade clawed back some ground with a successful attack on Crusader’s Pinnacle that finally gained them the breathing space and beachead into Icecrown that this campaign badly needed, but things have stalled into a deadly war of attrition that can only favour the Scourge.

Thanks, Bob.  Now here’s Tirion Fordring with the sports news.

Seriously, just fuck right off, right now.  Tirion Fordring does NOT work for ESPN.  I wouldn’t care so much if he hadn’t been the focus of my second favourite and most emotionally involving questline ever, and no, it wasn’t an Outland or Northrend quest.  To see him reduced to a pimp for a sports stadium makes my inner fanboy want to drown puppies.

Way back in the bad old days when most of this were nowt but pixels, Tirion Fordring was living in hiding as a hermit in exile in the Eastern Plaguelands.  He was reduced to this sad state of affairs after sparing the life of and hiding an Orc unjustly sentenced to death.  His enemies in the noble houses of Stormwind seized on this opportunity to have him kicked out of the Order of the Silver Hand and stripped of his titles.  In order to save his family, he chose exile.  His son, Taelan was shaping up to become a noble paladin just like his old man, but without Tirion around to guide him he was seduced by the power of the Dark Side of the Fo..  er..  Scarlet Crusade, eventually becoming Highlord and turning the Fordring family home, Hearthglen, into a bastion of the Crusade.

That’s where you come in.  At first, Tirion’s just some crazy old hermit, living out on the edges of the Dune Sea..  er, Eastern Plaguelands (sorry, fanboy fever taking over again) who gives you three incredibly tedious quests of the “collect 10 bear’s asses” variety.  Yes, they’re pointless and stupid and everyone hates them, but there IS a point this time dammit!  Tirion wants to redeem his son but can’t move alone and isn’t willing to entrust his family legacy to just any old moron zipping through the levels as fast as possible on the way to 80.  So he tests you.  If you’re the type to stop and spend time and energy helping a crazy old man for no better reason than because he needed your help, you’re the type of noble soul he wants to recruit.  And so the quest begins, taking you on a truly epic oddysey that results in Tirion getting seriously medieval on some Scarlet Crusade ass before screaming his rage over the body of his slain son and swearing to renounce his exile and resurrect the Order of the Silver Hand.

All of which leads directly to the Wrath of the Lich King, the Battle of Light’s Hope Chapel, the formation of the Knights of the Ebon Blade and the assualt on Icecrown.  And it was written into the game before Molten Core was open for business.  You want epic questlines?  We got your epic questlines.

Sure, Tirion’s crusade in Northrend is epic, stirring stuff, and I loved every minute of it.  But it doesn’t engage you on any kind of personal level other than the “ooh, I’m taking part in some epic lore moments” way.  And another thing, a lot of the time in Northrend you’re not taking part in any epic lore moments.  You’re watching NPCs act out some epic lore moments, which is cool too but it’s not the same.  Infiltrating the Cathedral of Darkness with the Argent Crusade and watching Tirion smack seven different shades of shit out of the Lich King’s frozen heart is cool.  The Wrathgate is cool.  But you’re a bystander, not a participant.  Worst of all, if you’ve never done the original vanilla questline (and I’m not even sure you can anymore) then Tirion Fordring’s just some mega boss npc because Blizzard says he is.  You may even care who he is but only because Blizzard have told you you should.  You don’t actually know who he is or how he came to be the force in Northrend that he is because no-one quests in Eastern Plaguelands anymore.  Of course if all you care about is getting to 80 as soon as you can so you can start the loot accumulation treadmill then you probably don’t care and don’t even know where the Eastern Plaguelands are, but you’re missing out.

You know what else is epic?  Molten Core, that’s what.  Yes, I know the boss fights are scoffed at these days and yes, there was far too much really annoying trash, and yes, herding 40 cats through the place three times a week broke raid leaders on a daily basis but that’s not really what I’m talking about.  Just getting into the place was epic.


If you’d done all the Burning Steppes and Searing Gorge quests (and let’s face it, back in vanilla WoW, you had done them) then you’d heard ominous rumours of trouble from the Dark Iron Dwarves in the depths beneath Blackrock Mountain.  Hang on, I need my Sir Ian McKellan voice for this…

They’d delved too deep in their thirst for power over the surface world and awoken…   something evil.
<ominous chord>
Information was sketchy, only a whispered name had been mentioned fearfully…  Ragnaros.
<another chord, more ominous than before>

Getting to the bottom of it all, technically, required nothing more than a simple quest: Attunement to the Core, given out by a high elf npc at the entrance to Blackrock Depths.  What Lothos the Summoner failed to mention, of course, was that to get anywhere near the Core fragment he wanted you to retrieve for attunement, you were going to need the Shadowforge Key that granted access to the lower levels of Blackrock Depths.  And to get the Key, you needed to find a questgiver who only appeared while you were dead.

Yes, you read that right.  Dead.

On your many, many corpse runs back into the Depths you’d see a ghostly dwarf npc in Forgewright’s Tomb who, if anyone bothered to stop and actually interact with him, gave a quest that began with finding a particular Dark Iron Dwarf npc further in the depths and killing him, then retrieving an item from his body and using it in a statue further in the depths to create the Shadowforge Key.  Great, now you can finally get into the Core and get attuned right?


The next cockblock you came across was the Grim Guzzler, a Dark Iron Dwarf bar in which you REALLY didn’t want to start a fight, with a back door guarded by the grandaddy of all bouncers who absolutely would not let you pass.  There were a number of ways of getting this door open, one of which involved a quest to go to the hot springs in Un’goro Crater, which is about as far from Blackrock Mountain as Pluto is from Mars.

When you finally get past the Grim Guzzler there were numerous bosses that had to be faced down and hordes of trash to be killed before you finally got to the entrance to Molten Core, which incidentally, was guarded by some seriously nasty Fire Elementals and could loot your Core fragment and return to Lothos to complete your attunement quest.

Oh, and just in case it wasn’t clear, this wasn’t just a simple case of “check Wowhead, go here, kill that, loot this, hand in quest” series of events.  Blackrock Depths is HUGE.  People get lost in there and not in a “Oh-My-God-Why-Does-Every-Room-In-Maraudon-Look-The-Same?” way.  It’s big like Jupiter is big.  People whine today about how Naxx is too big, Ulduar is too big…  Christ up a tree!  Take a walk around Blackrock Mountain one day and then enjoy your nice warm cup of shut the fuck up!

Let’s just go through the tickboxes here.  Blackrock Mountain contained Blackrock Depths, which was not only bigger than Naxxrammas and Ulduar combined but itself contained the entrance to Molten Core.  It also contained Lower Blackrock Spire, and Upper Blackrock Spire, which itself contained the entrance to the greatest raid instance ever created – Blackwing Lair.  That’s roughly a hundred bazillion raid and dungeon bosses, several trillion items of loot and about seven and half years of entertainment, all in a patch of real estate on the map no larger than Ulduar.

People complain about how the boss fights were too easy.  Funnily enough, I don’t remember people at the time saying “This shit is too simple, let’s play Solitaire instead” when they were busy being cockblocked on Baron Geddon and Shazzrah for the second month in a row.  I don’t deny that a lot of the boss fights relied on the same cliched mechanics, but seriously, come on!  Baron Geddon’s bomb ability?  If you’ve never been blown to bits by some utter bastard of a warlock who’d dismissed his demon after Geddon turned it into the Bomb, only to resummon it in the middle of the Ironforge Auction House with the timer still ticking after the raid, then you haven’t lived.  It’s what being a warlock used to be for!

And as for Ragnaros himself.  Oh.  My.  God.


I’m still working on Hydraxian Waterlord rep on Calli, so I still do semi-regular Molten Core runs with her.  They’re a laugh, and you can still get your ass killed in there if you don’t know what you’re doing (Core Hound Packs and people who don’t know what NO single target dps means, I’m looking at you).  We run in there with anyone level 60 or higher, the place really isn’t much of a challenge these days, as you’d expect, and as well as the rep I also get to rebuild my Tier 1 Arcanist set.  Everyone who’s there for the first time, and I mean everyone, without exception, even the level 80s who came to the game after the Burning Crusade release and are decked out in their level 80 epics, everyone shits their pants when Ragnaros emerges.  He really is that awesome.  If you’ve never seen him, you owe it to yourself to get into Molten Core one day and put him down.  Tell everyone you’re doing it for the achievement if you’re too embarrassed to admit you’re a gushing Old World fanboy, I don’t care, just do it.

And while we’re on the subject of epic Old World bosses.  Onyxia, you had me at “How fortuitous…”


Anyone still awake at this point may recall how a few thousand words ago I said that Tirion Fordring’s questline was my second favourite?  Onyxia is the number one, all-time, all-star best questline there has ever been in this or any other game.  Don’t argue, you’re wrong, it just is.

People started the Onyxia questline by accident.  I won’t spoil it for you with the full details, but try doing Dragonkin Menace in the Burning Steppes one day and then see where it leads you (answer: Blackrock Depths, Upper Blackrock Spire and Winterspring).  If you don’t agree that your single most awesome experience in WoW is marching through the streets of Stormwind City with Marshal Windsor, and all the city guards kneeling before you in respect, on the way to confront and expose Lady Katrana Prestor as Onyxia, the brood mother of the Black Dragonflight, then you’re probably dead from the neck down.  Either that or you’re playing after patch 3.0.2 when Blizzard removed the questline from the game in its’ entirety and robbed, yes robbed you of experiencing one of the finest and most immersive experiences in any game, ever.  Or you’re Horde and could never do it anyway.


  1. Ten'nen says:

    This post…is incredibly full of win. And I’m sad to say that I was Horde and never got the chance to do the questline, but while leveling my Belf Mage during BC, my questing partner was someone who had played Vanilla WoW. I was new to the game and just followed her around, and we did the Blackrock Depths quest chain. I was attuned to do Molten Core before I even knew what the hell it was. I didn’t know what a raid was. I just did what I was told.

    And you know what? You’re right. It was *awesome*.

    I agree with many players that sometimes, you get quests out of order and it’s annoying to have to backtrack and kill 20 more of a mob you JUST killed for a quest (think Battle of Hillsbrad, where two parallel quest chains have you bouncing back and forth from places you’d already been to, because they expected you to turn one quest in each time you did it and you’d end up killing Miner Hackett some 5 times before it was all said and done) but so many Vanilla WoW quests were quite epic. I loved many of the story lines, I just wish that more of them were given at once so you could complete more at a time the way you can in Northrend.

    Anyway, because of the wonderfulness that is your post, you’ve a new follower 😀

  2. pewpewlazerz says:

    Thanks for the comment, hope I don’t disappoint!

    You’ve got me thinking though. The Alliance can’t possibly have the monopoly on amazing quests. I have a lvl 20ish fruit elf paladin on some server or other, I think I’m going to have to make it my mission on my return to start getting more of a taste of how the other half lives. She should be just about ready to start the Arugal chain in Silverpine Forest, in fact I believe she’s parked either there or in the Barrens right now. I daresay it’s been nerfed into oblivion for the “must get to 80 now” crowd and probably won’t be the same as doing it “old school”, but the lore and flavour are the main thing. Should be fun!

  3. dw-redux says:

    Yes Molten Core was amazing, people quit the game over not going to MC with their guild, it was the place to be seen (on /who)…. But come on, it wasnt a great dungeon. The setting was sure epic enough (and still is), but are you telling me that when you first saw Kil’jaden pop out, you did not get a little misty-eyed (and in need of a change of pants??). That was an epic entrance.

    But i guess by then we where all battle-hardned raiders, where nothing could awe us any longer. Where naught but orange made us lust for gear (purple is for sissies), and everything in our bodies had died. We had tasted the cocaine that was WoW, and nothing beats that first blow.
    And im sorry to tell you this, it will never come back.

    But that doesnt make the old country a better country. It just makes it old.
    Im almost certain that if you took a new player into WoW, and had him play outland first and then do the “dry times” quests or what have you, and THEN tell him that this was the good old stuff, he would laugh *laugh* at you (then ask for a portal back to Dal….and some water too).
    The only reason why you even remember that quest with mr Bridenbrad, is because its the only quest in northrend that reminds you of the 100s of similar quests you had to endure in order to level up in old wow.
    As an example: remember that quest? the “travel around the world and get me some scales and ill give you a crappy wand… oh yea and you dont have a mount” -quest. (yes im leveling a new toon and reliving all of this)

    having ranted all this: Every day I mourn the fate that is Tirion. He was so great, he was so so… well heck imma gonna watch me some star wars movies tonight!!! -and the onyxia chain: Whoa!! 😀

  4. Tamarind says:

    I am weeping with envy and frustration that I’ve been deprived, not once, but TWICE, of what sounds like a fantastic quest chain (Perpetually Late to the Party Guy AND Horde! DENIED, TWICE DENIED!).

    This was a fantastic post by the way. I loved it. And, like a good nostalgia trip should, I’m now itching to throw myself into the arms of pretty much everything you metnioned.

    I love the Tirion questions in the Plaguelands. Again, that felt epic and interactive in a way that a lot of Northrend quets just don’t to me. As you say, he tests you and gradually beings to trust you and then YOU THE PLAYER (yes, you! Meee! Yay!) return to him his pride and hope and he runs off to Northrend to …. oh. To, as you so aptly put it, become a sports commentator.

    Tirion Fordringer, sold out to the man! And after I did Strat for your bloody family portrait. I’m so disapointed.

    Dig out your fruit elf, old chap. The Arugal questline is still well worth the doing. SFK has not, as such, been nerfed (well, it has a bit). It’s just you do it at a lower level (18ish instead of mid 20sish). In some ways, if you do it at the lower end of the new level range it’s actually trickier because you have fewer resources at your disposal to cope with Arugal teleporting all over the damn place, and turning you into worgs. Also you can always compensate for instances feeling like they’re easier by taking fewer people along. SFK with 3 is at level remains one of my favourite WoW experiences.

  5. pewpewlazerz says:

    Don’t listen to that crusty old dwarf up there, he has no soul! No SOUL I tell you! He’s right about Kil’Jaeden though… when that bastard clambered out of the Sunwell it was definitely a Ragnaros moment. Fresh pants for table four, please!

    Another epic moment that will always stay with me was in Blackwing Lair, right after we finally got Vaelastrasz down (and his backstory is yet another piece of genius Old World storytelling that spans three dungeons and would break the heart of a stone!) Fresh with jubilation from finally defeating a boss that broke more guilds than Kael’thas could even dream of, we cleared a tough trash pack and got our first look at the Suppression Rooms.

    By the Sacred Jockstrap of Robert E. Howard, we have to clear that!?

    Ah, Blackwing Lair, shall I count the ways I loved thee? Of course, being a Mage I still to this day wake up in a cold sweat screaming “The goblin packs! The GOBLIN PACKS! ICEBLOCK! AAAIEEE!”

  6. Solidstate says:

    Sure MC was great and all, heck 2 count them 2 legendary items drop there including IMHO the best looking sword in the game to-date.

    But Onyxia was just boring, bugged deep-breath and all. As for her quest line, sure it was epic the first time, but after escorting the slow-moving Windsor for the 10th time for some guild mate or alt who needed to get attuned, it pretty much lost its sparkle. He made the circuit around the jail sector *so damn slowly* it hurt.

    Although I admit it was always worth a chuckle to escort him to the end where Onixia’s guards turn to elite drangonkin and see some confused low-level newbie try to attack them and get pawned, lol 🙂

  7. pewpewlazerz says:

    The trick with umasking Onyxia was always to try to time it for when a bunch of players were there who had no idea what was about to happen. You could generally always count on being followed there by a bunch of low levels wondering why every guard in the city was saluting you and telling you how great you were on the way in. I have the exceptional honour of doing it on one my many alts about thirty seconds before the Horde arrived to try to kill Bolvar, however. You can’t beat that for shits and giggles.

    I don’t think I would ever describe the Onyxia fight as boring though. Sure, just about anything can get boring from overexposure, but to this day Onyxia remains the only fight in the game that hasn’t had every part of its mechanics fully explained and analysed. No-one really knows for sure exactly what triggers her Deep Breath in phase two even now. We must have tried every tactic from only doing white dmg in phase 1 to hopping on one foot while raiding on full moons and the Deep Breaths were unpredictable every time. You only thing you could guarantee with a Deep Breath was that a quarter of the raid would die to it every time. :p

    I do concede the point that Jailbreak was a ball-ache, but only from repetition. The first time you did it, it was awesome. The fifteenth time started to get tedious. I had 10 level 60’s, all attuned, and had run it enough times for friends that the very mention of the words “Anyone want to do Jailbreak?” was enough to make me fake a disconnect. But the first time is always magical!

  8. DW says:

    “was enough to make me fake a disconnect. But the first time is always magical!”
    Speaking of old-school, am I the only one who suddenly started thinking bout Rickman? (its a guild thing)

  9. pewpewlazerz says:

    Apologies to anyone not in our guild, but yes, Rickman will always be the faking-disconnect-to-avoid-taking-blame-for-screwing-up-while-tanking-Nefarian MASTER!

  10. wildgrowth says:

    Yes, this was a loooong post. But, I’ll tell you what, it held my interest the entire way down. I was lucky enough to do the Tirion Fordring questline multiple times (once even recently – post-tournament – so I believe it’s still out there for those who want it), as well as the Onyxia questline, and they were both a great deal of epic-lore fun. (I remember feeling a great deal of pride seeing Onyxia’s head hanging up in Stormwind and thinking, “I did that!”) According to wowwiki, at least a portion of the Onyxia questline has been reinstated…so maybe there’s hope for those who didn’t get a chance to experience it the first time.

    The big thing I took away from this post, however, was a burning desire to do Molten Core! I started post-BC, so I’ve never even stuck a night-elf ear-tip into that place, although I have ventured into Blackwing Lair, only to get soundly rebuffed. (Apparently 6 people trotting in there at level 65 is not sufficient. Ha!) But now I’m pretty sure I have to gather a group of fellows and head off to see this famed “Ragnaros” – I’m sure we can defeat him with ease- *splat* 🙂

    Anyway, I thoroughly enjoyed the read and the hearty defense of Old World content, which I have always enjoyed leveling through on each of my characters. Thanks!

  11. theerivs says:

    THis post is so awesome I cannot say enough. So I won’t say much at all. That was truly one of the greater moments I had in WoW, was walking with Windsor. Guards Kneeling at my approach. When you here By Fire be Purged. Epic…truly Epic moments in WoW.

  12. […] not just WoW, but other games I sat there in awe of the game.  Also this is a great post from this blog, who I just added to my […]

  13. pewpewlazerz says:

    Never ceases to amaze me that there folks out there who actually find my ranting entertaining. Always happy to amuse! 🙂

  14. Klepsacovic says:

    Oh finally, someone who appreciates the fact that BRD is on of the most amazing instances ever. Pre-BC was annoying and inconvenient and that was part of what gave it force for telling a story.

  15. Cozy says:

    Some questlines are special.

    Having failed to solo-rescue Taelan Fordring at 60 in vanilla WoW, I made the choice to carry that in my log to use it to bing 70 on for my paladin after Burning Crusade.

    It felt right.

  16. […] Even Bigger Adventure Well it’s been an interesting week.  I post about how Onyxia was such a great raid and Blizzard announce that they’re bringing the old […]

  17. […] laugh, this is historical fact.  Actually, back in my day tanks did raids with 6k health, but don’t get me started.  Now I have dps characters and healers with that much health and more.  But these […]

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