This post contains some spoilers for the undead faction in World of Warcraft.
I decided to play a Horde character, because I’m quite sick of playing Alliance. I chose undead because I have read that their starting quests are one of the best in the game. So after naming my female undead Warrior after a highly popular anime character, I returned to Lordaeron (again), but this time on the Horde side.
The power of the val’kyr and Lilian Voss
Immediately upon starting a new undead character, the player is introduced to the val’kyr, spiritual female beings with the ability to resurrect the dead. You eventually discover that the val’kyr were formally allied with the Lich King, but have switched allegiances to join the forsaken after their master was killed in Wrath of the Lich King. You are also introduced to Lilian Voss, a seemingly insignificant character, but she plays an important role in the very early starting quests: she was formerly a member of the Scarlet Crusade, but after being resurrected as an undead, she was disowned and captured by her father and scheduled for execution. Lilian breaks free from her prison and displays amazing powers: she can destroy Scarlet Crusaders with ease with some sort of hidden, unknown power.
After killing her father for his betrayal, Lilian leaves Tirisfal Glades, presumably never to be seen again. But you will eventually encounter her again at around level 30+ in the Scarlet Halls and Scarlet Monastery dungeons as a quest giver: she is the true identity of the Hooded Crusader (but this is not immediately revealed after you complete the dungeons: I kind of spoiled myself by reading up about the Hooded Crusader on a wiki page).
The Banshee Queen and the plight of the forsaken
At around level 15+, the quest chain takes you out of Tirisfal Glades and into Silverpine Forest, where you will eventually meet Sylvanas Windrunner (!), the leader of the forsaken, on the battlefront. When was the last time you’ve seen a faction leader fighting near the frontlines alongside her troops? Eat your heart out, Garrosh Hellscream.
As a lowbie undead who has just started out in WoW, the first 20 levels can be a very lonely experience, because everyone is usually at Orgrimmar or at the higher level areas like Northrend or Pandaria. It was really refreshing and exciting to interact directly with Sylvanas as she hands out quests and explains the plight and lore of the forsaken. Prior to Cataclysm, all of the forsaken on Lordaeron were remnants of the Lich King’s scourge (from way back in Warcraft III) who have broken free from his domination. The forsaken are unable to reproduce, and every time one of them falls, their numbers become thinner and thinner.
Enter the val’kyr. With their ability to reanimate corpses into undead, they are the solution that Sylvanas has been looking for. Undead resurrection is a very dangerous power to possess, and even Garrosh makes a brief appearance at the forsaken front to scold Sylvanas: if you start abusing this power, then you are no better than the Lich King.
The rest of the quest line for Silverpine Forest takes the player deep into worgen territory to strike at the Gilneas Liberation Front, the Alliance rebels that are trying to resist the forsaken and fight back for control. Sylvanas resurrects three former human enemies of Gilneas: Baron Ashbury, Lord Walden, and Vincent Godfrey.
The three of them assist the player and forsaken front in turning back the worgen invaders, but ultimately choose to betray Sylvanas by killing her. Yes, Sylvanas actually dies at the end of the Silverpine quest chain! She gets resurrected by the val’kyr, but doing so requires them to sacrifice their existence.
I absolutely love the BGM that plays during the end of the quest chain. It’s called the Lament of the Highborne, and it represents Sylvanas perfectly. It’s supposed to be a dark and melancholic song, very fitting for the forsaken, and Sylvanas herself was once a highborne high elf (or sin’dorei in their language). And the quest ends on a very black note with her death, perhaps an ironic throwback to Garrosh’s warning to Sylvanas earlier:
Remember, Sylvanas. Eventually we all have to stand before our maker and face judgment. Your day may come sooner than others.
Sylvanas lives, but is still grievously wounded from the attack. Ashbury, Walden, and Godfrey retreat to Shadowfang Keep and become the new bosses of that dungeon instance post-Cataclysm. Horde players can enter the dungeon and receive quests to avenge Sylvanas, putting an end to their treachery once and for all. This also completes everything there is to do in Silverpine, and the player is sent to Hillsbrad Foothills for the next chain of level 20+ quests.
Except that I decided to board the zeppelin at Brill to Orgrimmar instead. I wanted to do the Horde quests on Kalimdor and build up my reputation with the Horde races there, so that I could purchase their mounts. The undead mount is absolutely boring. Not another freaking horse, my old Alliance human paladin also rode a horse when I last played four years ago. I wanted to ride something different.
Everything I just typed out above happens in the first 20 levels as an undead character, should you decide to stick with the entire Tirisfal Glades and Silverpine Forest quest chain. I can’t quite remember how long it took me (I used a lot of time to level up my professions and explore the map), but I estimate that it took me about 15+ hours to complete.
Can you name me any other MMO with such a memorable and engaging opening 15+ hours? With interesting quest chains, an emotional soundtrack score, and the unexpected death of an important character in the story. This is why WoW has remained the king of MMOs for the past 10 years. I don’t care if Wakfu Asia is free-to-play, I am more than willing to pay money for a WoW subscription. Because it means that I am playing the best MMO on the planet right now.
For my next Returning to WoW post, I will talk about the mid-level zones, archaeology, and stupid Dungeon Finder teammates. Until then, I’ll end this post with a YouTube link to Sylvanas’s Lament of the Highborne, complete with translated lyrics: