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Bad Doggie: Getting Worgenised in Cataclysm

Our guest Azerothian Al 'Bickers' Bickham returns with more dispatches from WoW's front-lines. Here's the first chunk, in case you missed it.

I’ll be honest, I couldn’t give a fig for most of the races in World of WarCraft. Apart from the big, Navajo-tromping, cow-faced Taurens. I kind of dig them. And the Trolls. They’ve a little Ska in their blood.

But give me an Orc, a Dwarf, a Night Elf, a Blood Elf, a Human… yawn. Terribly hard to get excited about. Which is why the hairier half of Cataclysm’s two new races, the werewolfey Worgen, has come as such a pleasant surprise.

I haven’t played the other new race, the Goblins, as they just seem like smaller Orcs to my mind (see above: Orcs), although I hear entertaining things about their starting quests. And given the way that WoW sometimes packs excitingly creative or interesting content into parts of the game you never explore simply because there’s so much to explore, that does make me want to give the Goblin gubbins a crack.

The Worgen plug right into the kind of fictions that I enjoy, and I won’t bang on about this because it’ll bore you to tears, but suffice it to say, top hats, frock coats and a sense of the macabre are nailed quite nicely, thank you, in the early, level-one-plus Worgen quests, and breathe a sense of identity into the wolf-folk which I feel is kind of forced in many of the previous races.

You start out life a simple human, your town under attack by werewolves. You know full well what’s in store for your character, but not the manner of its coming, and by the time you receive the fateful bite, you’re so engrossed with levelling your class and beating off the attack, you’re not really expecting it.

Waking up with hair sprouting from your ears and a fearfully lupine aspect, it’s no surprise to find yourself in the stocks. The people don’t trust you – you’re one of the enemy, after all – but an old ally takes pity on you and gives you a chance. The show must go on, after all.

What follows is basically your redemption: a series of quests in which you prove yourself a friend of Gilneas, your homeland. Highlights include firing yourself through the air, via military catapult, to board enemy ships and slay their captains, barrelling along in an appreciably Dickensian horse-and-cart to warn others of the impending evacuation, and the final, desperate, and deceptively fated battle to save Gilneas from the Forsaken invaders.

The latter begins just when you want it to. After around three hours of early-game levelling masked beautifully by a concerted series of narrative quests, you’re just wondering what happened to the storyline when you’re thrust back to the city where you first began in human form. Its former residents are gathered outside in force, sabres and muskets in hand, to retake the city. And you know what? They’re all perfectly human. Unlike you, you big wolf-man. But you’re accepted, and welcomed into the fight, and that places emphasis on the greater narrative for the whole Worgen experience: you’re no simple animal. You’re an animal with a brain.

The fight begins, as every epic fight should, with an energising speech from the city’s lord and master. It’s an emotional moment, and one that beats the shit out of Gladiator’s pre-charge rouser. You’re soon piling through the streets of your hometown with an army of citizens, beating back the evil invaders, and attempting to restore control of the city to its rightful heirs.

The only criticism I have of the experience is that, at the end of the Worgen starting quests, an existing race comes to the rescue of the survivors, and it’s with a lack of ceremony that you’re dumped into their hometown, and left to bugger off and make your way in the world.

In the greater scheme of things, I’m not too fussed by it as the quests that are being placed before me are nudging me into areas that have been completely reconfigured in the great Cataclysm shake-up, and that’s cause for excitement. But I’ve grown quite fond of my Worgen heritage, and I sincerely hope the new world order resonates with that.

Thanks, Bickers. Thickers.

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