Walking with the Forsaken for a while

FireShot Screen Capture #007 - 'Hovorsa @ Dalaran - Community - World of Warcraft' - us_battle_net_wow_en_character_dalaran_Hovorsa_advanced

As a diversion from end-game burnout, I decided last week to explore an area of the game that has long fascinated me from a distance: the Forsaken starting zone story in Tirisfal Glades, Silverpine Forest, and Hillsbrad Foothills.

I’ve only ever played an Undead character once before. Back in early 2007, when my better half and I were just starting to play WoW, we made several little toons in different areas. We made humans and night elves, and then we branched out and made little Draenei. Eventually we tried out the Undead area – I made a warrior, can’t recall what she made – and played it for a few levels, but we didn’t really enjoy it much, so those toons were soon deleted. We were basically Alliance, and have remained so all this time.

However, with Cataclysm, almost all of the zones were revamped, and the results were sometimes extremely compelling. The Undead zones were particularly so, as they represented an intersection between the Aftermath of the Lich King, conflict with the ‘new race’ Gilneans/Worgen, and their own territorial expansion into Hillsbrad Foothills and so on. And Sylvanas. Etc.

My connection to the Forsaken has been by way of disgust and revulsion, for the most part. During Cataclysm, I spent a not-insignificant amount of time in modern Hillsbrad while engaged in both Archaeology and farming herbs. Beginning in 4.2 with the announcement that transmogrification was coming in 4.3, I also found myself in the Old Hillsbrad Foothills instance via the Caverns of Time, chasing a couple of elusive pieces to complete sets that I would eventually wear. It’s a place I still like to revisit from time to time, because it’s like a Sanctuary from what eventually happened… but it’s also not, really.

One of the things that I liked about Archaeology was that it brought me to places that I didn’t normally visit – or, in this case, a place that I didn’t have reason to visit any more. And while I’m not someone who has been with the game since the original beta, I’ve been around for six years. As such, I spent a fair amount of time in Hillsbrad before the Shattering, and really, REALLY enjoyed that entire zone, as well as Alterac Mountains.

There are places that the Shattering destroyed that are sad, like the destructions of Auberdine or the dam in Loch Modan. But nothing approaches anything close to the emotions that I’ve felt while exploring every nook and cranny of the new, forsaken-controlled Hillsbrad Foothills.

I’ve mentioned these feelings before, in the following post: Of Southshore and Oakvale: the complete and utter destruction of something good.

Well, this time, I’m playing the other side of the story, doing all the quests; reading all the quests. Not because I am shallow and forgetful of my feelings on the genocide at Southshore etc., but because I want to see it for myself. I’ve finished the quests in Tirisfal, and I’ve just started Silverpine at this point. The plan is to play through the culmination of the Gilnean story and into Hillsbrad, get that under my belt, and then possibly abandon the character for the most part.

It has taken me years, obviously, to get to the point where I am interested enough to explore the morbid reality that is present-day Hillsbrad and have time to do so, and now seems to be that time.

It feels weird to be playing something just for the lore, and to explore my fascination with the Undead situation. It’s a unique one, in my opinion, because – and maybe this is just me – this will be a time, and possibly the only time, where I don’t feel any connection at all with my character. This has nothing to do with Alliance or Horde. I love Tauren, for instance… except in PvP, of course. I’m not much of a fan of most Orcs, Trolls, or Goblins, but I’d still put them a few ticks above the Undead on the “I might actually care about you and your cause” list. But, while I’ll acknowledge feeling a smidgen of ‘sorry for (my toon) the guy’s situation,’ that’s all. In this case far more than any other, he’s simply and solely a means to an end; that end being discovery and experience, and that’s it. This isn’t to say that I’m not enjoying my time. But that connection isn’t there, and that’s fine.

The Forsaken experience is different from others I’ve experienced. There’s a grimness to every aspect of it, from the “we just resurrected/birthed these new Undead, but some of them aren’t with us and need to die – make that happen” situation, to the blinders-on focus that they have for building their armies and developing their plague, to the icy coldness that the decrepit old undead lady is feeling when you gather pelts to make a covering for her. It’s definitely a different feel from the zones of other races. I do like that.

It’s early to definitively say this, but I’m nonetheless certain that playing this set of zones isn’t going to change either my general apathy toward the Undead or make me feel any better about any justifications for their actions in Hillsbrad – the logic for them can be damned, as far as I concerned.

And when it’s all over, I’m still going to mourn the Hillsbrad Foothills of years past. Nothing can rip that from me.

Thanks for reading this post by Mushan at Mushan, Etc. Comments are welcome!

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One Comment on “Walking with the Forsaken for a while”

  1. Horde for life here! I tend to love the races that aren’t noble whatsoever; goblins and the walking dead seem more “real” and relateable than most other options. (Firefox spellcheck insists that relateable is not a word. I am going to use it anyway.)

    My absurdist sense of humor is often tinged with a bit of acid (in the sense of a corrosive material and not a drug trip), which is probably why I like goblins. They’re not as cute as gnomes, and they are far more destructive. Playing Forsaken is the reverse of those aspects – it indulges in the acidic with a bit of the absurd (if you don’t do the “Welcome to the Machine” series in Hillsbrad, I will be sad).

    I don’t “like” Forsaken in the sense of identifying with one. After all, if you breathe, you can hardly share the same priorities. I do, however, enjoy the sense that life as you knew it is in shadows all about you and is dissolving in ever smaller pieces even now – but you will be damned if you fall apart. There is nothing to do but go forward and make the world a safe place for yourself.

    Sometimes, the destroyed homes and warped trees remind me of part of my Rust Belt past in cities where many people left years ago, and the things they left behind were shadows and wrecks. But in a fantasy world, the imagery has less pain – I can float through as an observer, and not necessarily a participant.


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