Matt Rossi is Wrong July 7, 2012Posted by Stormy in Raiding.
(Provocative title! Hey, I have no shame.)
Earlier this week, Matt Rossi of WoW Insider published an article called “Attunements and why they must never return.” His thesis basically boiled down to, in his words, “attunements existed to keep you from doing what you wanted to do until you’d done what you didn’t.” On the surface, I can see that. I’m sure there’s nothing more frustrating than zoning into Eye of Eternity all prepared to take down Malygos, then find out no one has the key to the Focusing Iris. I’ve spent many hours grinding through the seemingly endless Therazane quest chain to unlock shoulder enchants just to be able to step into a raid, any raid, and I’ll be the first to say it wasn’t any fun.
However, if attunements are done properly, they represent a unique opportunity to do one thing Blizzard has been roundly (and rightly) criticized for in Cataclysm: tell a story. While Cataclysm succeeded in a lot of areas, it completely crashed and burned when it came to telling the story of Deathwing and why it was imperative for the mortal races of Azeroth to kill him. It failed to tell the story of Cairne Bloodhoof’s premature demise, the story of the reanimation of Nefarian, the story of the showdown between the chromatic dragonflight and the Wyrmrest Accord, and unless you were a DPS caster, the story of Kalecgos’s ascension to the Aspect of Magic. There are thousands of clueless players meandering around Thunder Bluff with no idea who Baine Bloodhoof is and why he’s replaced Cairne–unless they read the book.
In Wrath the Lich King lurked around every corner and occasionally jumped out to yell “Boo!” He showed up in tons of quest chains and at least two dungeons to scare the bejeezus out of you and flex his muscles as the Big Bad Guy Who Must Be Stopped. When I stepped into Icecrown Citadel I knew that the Lich King was the supreme overlord of the Scourge and I had a clear goal: to save Azeroth from catastrophic destruction, the Lich King must die.
In Cataclysm, on the other hand, I had the opposite experience: when I zoned into Bastion of Twilight there was a giant dragon…in a hallway. Who was the dragon? Why was he just hanging out in a hallway, waiting to be killed? The game provided zero context for the existence of these dragons, zero context for the existence of Magmaw and the Omnotron Defense System. There was no reason to kill these guys except to collect their shiny purples. Absent this context, it seems like it would be a whole lot easier for Blizzard just to keep dreaming up bigger, better bosses and planting them in nondescript grey boxes just so they can be killed for loot. Absent an in-game storyline, Deathwing is just a loot pinata. Perhaps there’s some appeal there. Perhaps there are people out there who would just as soon skip the entire leveling and gearing process, start out as a fully-geared 85 and kill dragons in grey boxes for loot.
But it’s a missed opportunity. I’m sad that I never got to complete the Onyxia attunement and unmask Katrana Prestor in front of all of Stormwind. By the time I killed Onyxia in the level 80 version, she was just a big, bad dragon hanging out in a hidey-hole in Dustwallow Marsh, not the devious, scheming villainess who quietly pulled the strings of her Stormwind marionette troupe for years. I killed her, but I killed her for the achievement and the loot, not because she presented a credible threat to the survival of the mortal races of Azeroth. If we’re not going to examine the “why” behind killing Azeroth’s Big Bads, why bother to kill them?