Looking Back on the Long Journey
Wednesday night, my year long quest to complete the Loremaster achievement came to an end.
Loremaster of Northrend was a relaxing experience compared to the other zones — I didn’t have to struggle at all to find quests. I also made a hefty profit!
I thought I would take this opportunity to look back on the long journey and highlight some of my favorite quests. There were many that I’ve forgotten, so forgive me if I leave out your favorite ones. I’m also purposely leaving out any class-specific quests — there are just too many good ones there.
The Defias Brotherhood quest chain is one that I’ve done on almost every character. It’s the first quest chain you come across while leveling that really feels epic. The travel between Westfall, Stormwind, and Lakeshire gives a sense of massiveness to the world, especially if you do the quest at-level without a mount. Tracking down the Defias Messenger is a frustrating experience, and yet it is a rite-of-passage that sticks in our memories, much like Hogger. The quest chain ends in the Deadmines with the death of the Defias mastermind, Edwin Van Cleef. I love the storyline as it reveals the darker side of the humans — the human royalty brought this problem upon themselves when they refused the pay the engineers and artisans for rebuilding Stormwind. I’m interested to see what they do with this quest line for Cataclysm, since they are making the Deadmines a heroic instance.
The Defias also feature in the Missing Diplomat questline. This is an extremely long quest line that sends you scrambling around Azeroth in search of the “missing” King Varian Wrynn. It’s a very interesting quest line that unfortunately no longer makes sense, as Varian has been returned to Stormwind Keep. I imagine this will be removed in Cataclysm. I did it back before the King was found, and I loved the epic feel of it. My only issue with it is that it was extremely anti-climatic. They built up this epic story and then left you with a ring and a pat on the head. I still think it is one worth doing at least once though. There are 17 steps in the official questline as well as 7 follow-ups beginning with A Disturbing Development and ending with Survey Alcaz Island. There were originally two more steps, but they were removed in patch 3.02.
Mor’ladim should be a familiar name to anyone leveling in Duskwood. He’s a wandering elite that has a habit of sneaking up and destroying you while you’re fighting other skeletons. I love the quest line associated with him, which reveals his past as a man named Morgan Ladimore. His death is a victorious moment, and speaking to his daughter afterward is quite sad.
Tiron Fordring is a huge lore figure in Wrath, but his quest line in Easter Plaguelands is my first memory of him. This starts off with a few kill quests which are really quite tedious, but then leads into a very touching storyline involving his son, who became a member of the Scarlet Crusade.
The Prophecy of Akida quest line was a brilliant addition to the Draenei starting area. It begins with learning the language of the Furbolgs and involves visiting various totems and learning about the prophecy. You receive buffs at certain stages of the quest line like increased swim speed, turning into a shadow panther, etc. It’s very fun and has nice lore.
The Kessel Run is another Draenei area quest that gives an obvious nod to pop culture. I just love geeky pop culture references!
Another innovative Azuremyst Isle quest line involves disguising yourself as a tree to reveal a traitor. Surprise — a gnome did it!
The battle with Tethyr in Theramore is another quest I make sure to do on all of my alts. This was probably the first “gimmicky” quest I came across in the game, and I loved it. It was such a surprise when the sky went dark and an enourmous monster appeard from the ocean.
Linken’s quest line is another entertaining pop culture reference. The rewards are even fun — you receive Linken’s boomerang and his “Sword of Mastery” (I still have the boomerang in my bank). It’s a very long chain that begins with It’s a Secret To Everybody.
The Alliance-only quest line, Freedom for All Creatures ends with you being the recipient of an adorable baby Sprite Darter.
The Guardians of the Altar quest in Winterspring is an escort quest that reveals the history of the Wildkin.
Off the beaten path in southwestern Tanaris is the adorable Tooga the turtle who has lost his way. You can escort him back to the other side of the zone to reunite him with his wife and witness some amusing dialog.
The Netherwing reputation grind for those lovely ethereal Nether drake mounts contains a very long quest chain. You are disguised as an orc in order to infiltrate and win the trust of the Dragonmaws. Some of the daily quests are quite amusing, involving disciplining orc peons with a booterang or simply poisoning them. You can also race various Dragonmaw for rewards and an achievement (although I completely fail at dragon racing).
Corki is an extremely annoying Broken child who insists on getting lost in Nagrand. His father keeps sending to you to rescue him. It’s not the most amazing storyline in the game but it is rather amusing and memorably frustrating when you realize you have to go find him again.
The murloc quests in Borean Tundra and Howling Fjord are among my favorites. In Howling Fjord you meet a murloc who basically asks you to kill his undead son. I don’t know what it is about a grieving murloc that is so epically sad. The murloc quests in Borean Tundra at the Winterfin Retreat are less emotional and more fun — you disguise yourself in a murloc suit, rescue baby murlocs, and kill whales.
The Wrathgate quest line is incredibly epic, and an example of all that Blizzard has learned over the years. I’m hoping that by now everyone has done this chain at least once. I would love to see it on Horde side someday.
In Zul’drak there is an interesting quest line which involves disguising yourself as a Scourge and infiltrating the headquarters of undead troll and Lich King supporter, Drakaru. This begins with the the quest An Invitation, of Sorts… which is a dropped item from trolls outside of Ebon Watch.
The quests in Grizzly Hills surrounding the failed world tree, Vordrassil contain some very interesting lore involving Yogg-Saron, furbolgs, and Ursoc the bear god.
Another favorite Grizzly Hills quest is actually part of the Vordrassil chain – its a vehicle quest in which you run across the zone escaping from Worgen.
Icecrown is full of some truly amazing lore-heavy quests such as one where you become the Lich King and witness the battle against Illidan. Another of note is Tirion’s Gambit — you go inside the Citadel with Tiron disguised as a cultist and view an incredible scene. The quest chain to save Crusader Bridenbrad also contains a memorable and touching story.
In Dragonblight you can witness the moment that the Lich King picks up Frostmourne, as Muradin tries to warn him. The Bronzebeards make a prominent appearance in Stormpeaks as well — first you track down Brann and assist him on his quest to uncover the mysteries of his archaeological findings, and you end up watching him reunite with his long-lost brother Muradin.
Wow… was a long blog post. Epically long. I guess I still haven’t learned how to be succinct. There are just so many brilliant quests in WOW. It’s often hard to remember that when we’re killing our 1000th boar that miraculously doesn’t have a liver.
One thing I noticed when writing this was that I found it extremely hard to remember any quests in the Outlands that I really loved. I’m not sure if I just have a poor memory, or if Blizzard really did fail at creating compelling quests during Burning Crusade. I know that they spent a lot of energy on attunement quests, which I have to admit I haven’t done much of.
I think that Blizzard really hit the nail on the head with Wrath questing. It felt less tedious and the stories really drew you in. Arthas showing up constantly made a huge impact, even if it did feel a bit cheesy at times. I’m really looking forward to Cataclysm to see what they do with the rest of Azeroth.
A lot of the quests that I mentioned, especially in the old world were extremely long chains that had you running around the world. Is this length what makes the quest chains so epic? Not really — it’s the story that really catches my attention. I should really listen to myself and try to create compelling and interesting blog posts that don’t take an hour to read.
In the WOW Magazine, Tom Chilton was quoted as saying, “I think that epicness has way more to do with the content of the quests themselves: how the quests are presented, how compelling the story arcs are, how good the rewards are.” This is a sign of things to come. Extremely long quests that send you around the world (like the Horde Shaman totem quests) are not likely to be found in the next expansion, but if they are, Chilton says that, “we’ll be smarter about how we do it and probably give you tools to get there in a reasonable amount of time”. This type of thinking is evident in Wrath of the Lich King, where you are often given portals or free rides to places that you need to go.
OK, I’m going to stop rambling now. Your turn — what are your favorite quests? What do you think makes a quest truly feel epic?