Yes, I Felt Like A Hero. Sometimes.

Last week, at MMO Melting Pot, the question was raised (indirectly taken from a post at Killed in a Smiling Accident), “Can you ever feel like a a hero in game, and is that as a player or character?”  I think that WoW provides opportunity for both.

At Killed in a Smiling Accident, Melmoth seems to equate being a hero with being more powerful that your opponents.  Then he goes on to say that being overpowered is dull.  I don’t think that being a hero means being powerful.  It means doing important deeds, often against more powerful foes.  It also means being singled out and recognized for your accomplishments.

As a player, still remember evasion-tanking Prince Malchezaar to his death while my nine raid-mates all lay dead around me.  That was a truly heroic-feeling moment as a player.

In game, the improved-in-Cataclysm method of storytelling through questlines has done a pretty good job of generating a heroic feel for my character.

Here’s one moment…

<mild quest spoilers below, so don’t read on if you haven’t done these zones yet>

In Twilight Highlands, toward the end of the questlines in the zone, you are sent to assist Alexstrasza in her efforts against Deathwing.  The quest givers and NPCs often refer to you by name, praising your efforts.  The word “hero” is thrown around or implied a number of  times.  When Alexstrasza is injured, they ask you to carry her to safety.

The fact that I got to interact with Alexstrasza, one of the most iconic figures in the lore, and that my efforts were more than just as an errand boy, and that I was personally recognized by name really hit home.  I definitely felt like Blizzard did a good job in that zone of getting me invested in the story line.  I actually worried about the fate of the Dragon Aspect, and was eager to take part in the event.

(Of course, those who never read quest text miss all of that)


On the other hand…

I thought Uldum failed in that.  I never felt like I was doing much of anything.  The quests implied that I was going to do something important.  More often than not, though, the key parts of the quests happened in cinematic cut scenes where I was just an observer.  It felt like Harrison Jones was the hero in that zone, and I was a glorified assistant.

The story was entertaining, I guess, but it definitely did not make me feel heroic.

To summarize:

  • doing something important to help your guild achieve = heroic actions
  • being recognized for your deeds by name by important lore figures = heroic feeling
  • following a lore figure along while he does everything = not so heroic


Also, I think the game really missed a lot of opportunities to have more heroic-feeling quests.  One of the new Cataclysm quest styles is to follow a whole quest chain, and then at the end pit you against a named “quest boss” who is a bit tougher than a typical mob.

It seems like every time that happened, and I got myself all psyched up for the challenge, the game would throw something in there to remove the difficulty.  For example, there is a quest in Twilight Highlands to go kill several Twilight Cult leaders.  As I started to fight the first one, I noticed that he was pretty tough.  I was prepared to dig into my rogue bag of tricks – evasion, vanish, stuns – in order to beat this challenging foe.  Then *pop* Mathias Shaw shows up and backstabs him and he dies very quickly.  /yawn

The “boss” quests do that repeatedly – give you a chance to fight a hard opponent, and then steal your glory with some NPC that helps, or a magic item that makes the opponent weak, or some quest item that does massive damage.  I think the only quest mob that really gave a challenge was Skullcrusher the Mountain.  You still had help with that from NPCs, but at least it took a while, and there was the interesting mechanics of having to revive your NPC friends.

I consider that a big miss by Blizzard.  If the “quest bosses” were a little tougher, we might feel more heroic from beating them.  Also, players might have to learn to play their classes a bit better in the process.  Still, that cannot be done.  Why?  In the current system, if you can’t complete a quest, then the entire rest of the zone’s quests are cut off for you.  So quests have to be idiot-proof, and that removes the possibility of hard quest bosses.


7 Responses to “Yes, I Felt Like A Hero. Sometimes.”

  1. 1 K.
    February 1, 2011 at 12:18 pm

    I think I would have appreciated Uldum a LOT better if they had spread out the Ramkahen storyline more. There, I felt like I was appreciated more by the NPCs. Once that was done I was stuck with cut scene after cut scene as somebody else’s camel jockey (literally thanks to “Camel Tow”). Maybe if they at least tied and intersected the two storylines (Ramkahen & Jones) together (Schnottz conspiring with the Nepherset since they’re both aligned with Deathwing) it wouldn’t have felt so haphazard. And, while I appreciate the daily for rep, just what exactly does “Fire From the Sky” have to do with the cat people anyway?!

  2. February 1, 2011 at 1:17 pm

    It was always like that with Harrison Jones, though. Remember in Grizzly Hills when you were escorted out of the ruins by him? Remember Zul’Aman?

    Good point on taking Alexstrasza back, though. But it starts even earlier, on the introduction quest to Twilight Highlands. Go speak to the King, the note on the Hero’s Call board says, I was totally expecting some short speech about how they need me there, blah blah – I certainly didn’t expect to do things together with Anduin Wrynn. Me, Crusader Vrethir, being an example to the young Prince? Now that’s what I call recognizing me for all the things I’ve done.

    There’s also a quest in Mount Hyjal, where you have to catch and interrogate a harpy leader – and I think they’ve learned from their previous interrogation quest how to do it properly. Do you torture her? Do you let her live after?

  3. 3 Karmakin
    February 1, 2011 at 3:40 pm

    The problem with Uldum is that the quests really don’t lead you to the whole point of the story, which is that the Halls of Origination is the location of the “cleansing” device that the Titans would have used via the signal from Algalon.

    That’s the problem I had with it. There was no link, or at least very little to the whole Titan storyline which should have been moved forward in that zone. Halls were a big deal but they made relatively little of it. No more information on the origins of the “Earthen” races. That’s what I didn’t like about it. The story, for what it was, I think was pretty good. I just wanted a different story.

  4. February 3, 2011 at 3:37 am

    YEah, I’m with ^ on that. I was eagerly anticipating the titan storyline. After years of staring at that gate, I had big eyes for it.

  5. 5 Legatus
    February 3, 2011 at 11:10 am

    Agree with what you say about the ‘bosses’ at the end of quest lines in cata being made easy to the point of no skills required. Im not saying it was better but, I remember how it was different in wotlk where the final ‘bosses’ in a quest chain required you to be in a group (2,3 or 5 man) in order to stand a chance of defeating them. (unless you were imba ofc 🙂

    • February 3, 2011 at 7:40 pm

      Yeah, so if you leveled alone/later in the expansion/at weird hours you never were able to see the endings of the storylines.

      Can’t eat the cake and have the cake, I guess.

  6. February 4, 2011 at 2:24 am

    Going to say it now. I still feel like a bit of a hero for Hodir. I mean. A bubble kill on him doesn’t happen every day. Right? It really caused me to feel like I was a big use in that raid. But in questing. I gotta add the Vash’jir quests to the chain. At first you feel like it’s just a horde/ally battle. But then you get ambushed. The shammy could EAISILY have chosen sombody else to help him. But he decided to save you. And after questing there longer you go into the darker area’s of it. Help build a ‘weapon’ To help defeat the Naga who are trying to attack Neptulan. I don’t know. I just feel that zone was great.

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