Sorry, but it’s not all about the bass; it’s all about the story

Recently, I found myself back in the world of Azeroth, or to those who need more information: World of Warcraft. I’ve been playing that game off and on for years, and recently I ran out of stuff to play, deciding I’d fire up the game again and see what I’ve missed.

Now, to catch up our story, when we last left our characters in the sword and fantasy world, I was level 85, and the last expansion was Cataclysm. Since then, there have been two expansions: Mist of Panderia and Warriors of Draenor. Well, Draenor is brand new (weeks old) and Panderia has been out for a while. But to get from 85 to 90, I had to go through Panderia, at least until I could go to Draenor, where the game lets me level up to 100.

What I wanted to talk about was Mists of Panderia, which from what I’ve been reading didn’t get the most stellar of reviews. And I can understand why. As I played it, it felt very much like an attempt to parody the world of China, and to do that it introduced a new race of Kung Fu Pandas. Yeah, I’m not kidding about this.

But after all of that, I found a couple of really interesting tidbits to keep me going. And those tidbits were specifically story related. To give you an example, I was playing through the story and at one point you have to relive the incidents that a Dwarf engineer went through. Now, the voice over is a Scottish dwarf who has probably one of the funniest voices in the game, and just listening to him narrate made the game fun alone. But then there comes a time where he’s spotting for a sniper and then befriends a raccoon, which the sniper then kills. Now, this may sound kind of harsh or violent, but it was probably one of the funniest scenes in the game by far, because this poor dwarf took the whole cartoon violence very seriously and for the continuation of those missions NEVER forgave his partner for killing his pet raccoon. The whole banter was quite inspired and well worth the play through.

And that’s the point. I think a lot of games are missing the sense of fun that Blizzard tends to invoke in its games. At one point during the beginning of Draenor, you meet a new soldier on the frontier, and his name is something like Newbie Greenguy, or something like that. It reminded me of the one noob character they had running through Cataclysm who the undead npcs were always trying to kill off, just to get him out of the game and out of their hair.

Those kinds of funny moments are truly inspired, and I wish there were more of them in other games.

But for now, I’m happy finding them whenever I can. And sometimes you find them in the strangest of places. One of my favorites for the longest time was when I found a Dwarf Fishing Rod, which was actually a shotgun. It’s one of those jokes that takes you a second to get, but it so cool when you finally do.

duaneSorry, but it’s not all about the bass; it’s all about the story

One Comment on ““Sorry, but it’s not all about the bass; it’s all about the story”

  1. Todd

    This is definitely an understated part of good storytelling. My experience is more with games like fallout and ES 3: Morrowind – both of which also have small side stories that add depth to the world.

    I’ve seen weaker storytellers bend every thing in the universe to the One Important Thing. I count a lot of Hollywood studios in this camp. “But why get caught up on petty stuff when bigger things are happening?” I used to ask. But today while wars rage and astronomers detect earth-like planets, families argue about dinner. It is petty, but human (or Elven, I guess).

    I wonder if the epicness of epic stories are best appreciated when we see how they interact with those smaller tales. And Blizzard certainly knows how to showcase those secondary and tertiary story implications.

    At the same time, I wonder if the effect is still liable to be lost on the most dedicated player base. Fast grinding and repeated gamification of instances are the behaviors i associate with dedicated players, and those don’t seem conducive to a “smell the roses” appreciation for the story.

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