Ok, I know I’m a little late to the hating-on-the-Uldum-cutscenes party, but it took me a while to figure out how to do this comic. My AFR characters just ran Stratholme, so they’re a long way from getting to Uldum themselves. I could have saved the idea for a few years, but by then it would have been old news. So, I finally decided to fudge it and came up with this.
It seems to me that Blizzard learned the wrong lesson from the response to the Wrathgate event in WotLK. The lesson they should have learned is: “Players like being surprised by something new and different; they like to see the usually static game world change; they like seeing important moments of story and lore play out; they like feeling like they are part of big world-changing events.” The lesson they actually learned was: “Players like cutscenes.” And thus was born Uldum, where you can’t swat a fly without getting a cutscene in which you miss the fly but accidentally knock over an umbrella stand which bumps into a baby carriage that then goes flying down a hill towards a sheet of plate glass, until Harrison Jones swoops in riding a dinosaur, lassos the baby carriage to safety, and surfs down the dinosaur’s tail to land beside you with the baby in his arms. The dinosaur then eats the fly.
The problem with the Uldum cutscenes is not that they are bad in themselves. In fact, a lot of them are brilliant. Someone put a lot of love into those scenes and the geek in me thrills to see one of the great movie series of my childhood so charmingly brought into WoW. The problem is that WoW is a game, not a movie. I come here because I want to do awesome feats, not watch someone else do them while I cower in a corner. I come here to be the hero, not to have someone else’s hero thrust in front of me.
There are many thing I don’t like about the Uldum cutscenes. One is how long they take (some are mercifully skippable, but some aren’t). Another is that they take control of my own character away from me, which is something I think a game should do only rarely and for a very good reason. Another is that they seem pointless– is there any good reason, in or out of game, why I shouldn’t be able to do the awesome fun stuff instead of sitting there watching an NPC do it? But the thing that annoys me the most is that they turn my character into an incompetent idiot. I just got back from storming the Lich King’s icebound bastion and kicking him in the snowballs (if you know what I mean), and suddenly I’m cowering in fear in front of a puffed-up goblin with a pop gun? When I control my own character, I’m a hardened veteran of battles against demons, dragons, and deranged demigods, an explorer of ancient caverns untouched since the days of the Titans– but up pops a cutscene and suddenly I’m a bumbling sidekick who’s fit only to knock over lanterns and wave in the rescue plane.
It’s a shame, really. Otherwise, I love Uldum, both the serious Tol’vir storyline and the tongue-in-cheek Harrison Jones vs. the Schnottzis story. If I had just gotten to actually play a bit more of it myself, I’d have called that zone the most fun in the game.