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!
Since I’ve had some game time on my hands recently, I went back last week and played through Fable 2 for the second time.
A little backstory: I was a huge fan of the first Fable (I played through Fable: The Lost Chapters many times), and when Fable 2 hit the market, I bought the collector’s edition the first day. It then sat on a shelf, as I was playing WoW a lot, and I wanted to savor my time with Fable 2.
So I put it off, repeatedly, and eventually Fable III came out! Well, at that point I found some time to pull myself away from WoW, and I played through Fable 2 exactly one time – so much for savoring it, right? – but I enjoyed it, although it had its issues. Overall, I liked it a lot. I had to finish it, though, because I wanted to play Fable III. And when I played through that game, I was disappointed with several things, although the main thing was the integration of the menu system with “The Sanctuary” – it slowed down gameplay so much to have to “go to a place” to be in the menu, and then to “go to the correct room” in order to access gear and other things.
And that was my experience with the Fable sequels – wore out my copy of the first, blew through the others.
But I went back to Fable 2 last week, and played through the whole game, and did all of the quests, and got very rich, and so on. And I had a great time.
At one point, I decided to do some exploring. This included both in-game and via the Fable Wiki. And I had an experience that echoed one I’d had in WoW.
From Southshore to the Ruins of…
As virtually everyone knows, the humble port town of Southshore, the last remaining human town of Lordaeron that Alliance players could interact with in-game, was destroyed by the Forsaken around the time of The Shattering. It’s now a stinking mire of undeath, patrolled by Forsaken and otherwise just ruins.
As an Alliance adventurer, I have no reason to go to the beautiful Hillsbrad Foothills or Alterac Mountains, as there are no quests available for us anymore (other than the Singing Songflower questline, which is great, but also basically instanced). However, as an aspiring Archaeology Professor, I have been to the area many times during Cataclysm, and each time I’ve found myself revolted by the changes wrought by the Forsaken.
Going to Caverns of Time to occasionally assist Erozion in his quest to stop the Infinite Dragonflight from preventing Thrall’s escape from Durnhold allows me to visit Southshore as it was a decade ago. It’s a time of sadness and nostalgia, as I can walk among old friends (disguised as a human, at a time before they could have known me, since I didn’t first cross over to the Eastern Kingdoms until after the campaigns in Outland had begun). I am a stranger to them, but they are dear to me, and though I almost never talk with them, I do stop their vendors from time to time to bring some souvenir shirts to the present.
And then, the next time I go to Hillsbrad to further my archaeological studies, I visit the Ruins of Southshore, and my sadness is ever as deep as it was the first time I laid eyes on them.
From Oakvale to Wraithmarsh
In the first Fable game, you play as the character who becomes known throughout history as the Hero of Oakvale. It is your hometown, and at the start of the game, the town is attacked and burned, and your sister Theresa is assaulted, blinded and kidnapped.
The town is rebuilt by the time you return as a young adult, and is beautiful and flourishing, an iconic place in what is a beautiful game.
Oakvale is surrounded in part by Darkwood, a creepy-as-hell place that includes a mire and a bordello. In Fable 2, both Oakvale and Darkwood, along with many other places, are gone from the game. Since it is 500 years later, it’s understandable that things would have changed, but I didn’t think too much about it when I played through it the first time, since there is no way to pull up a full map in 2, and since I was looking forward to playing Fable III anyway.
Well, this time, after reading some of the in-game books, I went to the Fable Wiki to find out what the hell the area called Wraithmarsh was.
And after I found out, I went to Wraithmarsh itself to have a look around. And for me, the person, the player of both Fable and WoW, it was deja vu.
There are three heroes you are looking for during Fable 2, corresponding to the three disciplines: Strength, Skill, and Will. The Hero of Skill is this a-hole named Reaver, a crack shot if there ever was one. However, unlike the other two – Hannah (“Hammer”, a monk) and Garth (the Hero of Will), Reaver used his power for his own personal profit as a prolific and feared pirate.
And Reaver has a secret, a “burden” as he calls it. He never ages, due to a deal he made with some of the most powerful and evil beings in the world.
From Fable Wiki, Oakvale entry:
It is revealed later in the game that around two centuries before the events of Fable II, a young man who feared death, who later became known as Reaver, made a deal with the Shadows that would allow him to stay youthful forever. The Shadows took the lives of everyone in the village as a down payment, and established a Court at the back of the field that Theresa and the Hero of Oakvale [stood] in as Oakvale [was] attacked for the first time. With no one left alive to help fend off the evil creatures or the swamp itself, Oakvale and the Barrow Fields were absorbed by the marshes and turned into an area of evil. The area is mostly destroyed and most remnants of the Old Oakvale were swept away in the 200 years since the massacre. However, a few of the buildings still seem to surface above the swamp; there are a few recognizable Oakvale landmarks, most notably the large bridge that spanned the entrance to Oakvale . . . Oakvale and the surrounding areas are known as ‘Wraithmarsh’, possibly due to the large amounts of undead creatures and Banshees found in the area.
Further investigation shows that Wraithmarsh consists of the old Darkwood regions mentioned above, along with Oakvale and the formerly beautiful Barrow Fields.
Reaver allowed his hometown to be destroyed in order to be eternally youthful. In addition, each year he has to make a sacrifice at the Shadow Court. Apparently, he tricks a ‘messenger’ into carrying his seal to “some old friends” at the Shadow Court, and per the deal he made, the Shadows take the person’s youth and credit it to Reaver. It’s pretty awful.
Anyway, I went to Wraithmarsh to explore, dispatching a Banshee and her minions, several Hollow Men and a few Balverines along the way. I had taken the aforementioned bridge spanning the entrance to Oakvale several times before on quests, but this time I went under it, to the old town, to view the destruction. (I wish I could take screenshots on our TV, but alas…) And while the area right in town is cut off (damn invisible walls), you can still see it from afar. As someone who loved the first game and played it a lot, this was a heavy thing to witness.
Like the Ruins of Southshore.
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Thanks for reading this post by Mushan at Mushan, Etc. Comments are welcome!