So, what initially drew me to this campaign was the interesting concept. "What if Arthas didn't
purge Stratholme?" This is a major
event in Warcraft
history. Removing him from Ner'zhul's compulsion would change so many
things. No culling of Stratholme, no betraying his own people, and probably
no going to Northrend and finding Ner'zhul's cursed blade… If none of that
happens, then what does that mean for Lordaeron? What does that mean for Azeroth, as a whole? And, most importantly… what does that mean for the Undead Scourge? This campaign that posed the question and answered it all in one fell swoop. But, to what end…?
The Custom Campaign starts the player at the Reign of Chaos
Human Mission 06: "The Culling
." Just like in that mission, Uther rolls up on Arthas and Arthas explains the situation before offering a rather drastic solution: razing the city to save the country. Just as Arthas starts to make his case, however, something happens that not even The Prophet who warned him of the coming darkness had foreseen. (I'll talk about him in a moment.)
In-an-instant, Arthas finds himself falling out-of-sync with time as everything around him freezes. Or, perhaps, everyone else
gets paused. Either way, Arthas hears a strange voice and looks around before seeing an unfamiliar, female figure. This figure introduces herself as Alexstratza, Aspect of the Red Dragonflight. She explains that she was the one who pulled Arthas aside and tells him that he cannot purge Stratholme or terrible things will happen. Understandably, he doesn't believe her… so, she uses her powers and grants the king-to-be FutureVision™.
… okay, so, anyone who's read the books – or simply skimmed WoWWiki
, like I
did – can immediately detect a problem, here. Alexstratza is part of the Red Dragonflight. The Red Dragonflight are guardians of life and guardians of nature. Alexstratza, herself, has been shown to have abilities or regrowth and revival. In short: she is not Chronormu
Anyway… after Arthas sees what awful future could await him, he changes his mind about attacking Stratholme and, instead, decides to… completely abandon his kingdom
. That's right. The son of the King of Lordaeron decided it would be a good idea to just… up-and-leave. This, despite the fact that The Prophet couldn't convince him to do so, not much earlier. But, to be fair, The Prophet was kind of vague
about what the "shadow" befalling Lordaeron was while Alexstratza outright showed
him, so… okay. Sure. What doesn't
make sense, however, was the fact that Arthas got the idea in his head that "west" meant Kalimdor. As in, he outright says
they need to go to Kalimdor. Neither the Prophet nor Alexstratza specifically mentioned anything about Kalimdor. Benefit-of-the-doubt, though? Maybe, Arthas knew his geography…? (Did people even know
about Kalimdor, back before the Third War…?)
In any case
, after arguing with Uther who, understandably, wants to stay and defend his homeland
, he and Uther set up a blockade while Jaina heads to Lordaeron to warn them of the coming danger. Just like in Hearthglen, reinforcements from Lordaeron come in and save the day while the heroes fall back further. Once back in the castle-town, Arthas tells Jaina to start setting up defenses for an incoming invasion while he goes to have a chat with his dad, King Terenas Menethil. Once again, no one is surprised when the idea of completely abandoning the kingdom
gets dismissed – though, it's kind of funny, to me, that neither Arthas nor Terenas mention meeting The Prophet, given that what Arthas was proposing… "going west to the forgotten lands of Kalimdor…" was exactly
what The Prophet suggested. Actually, it's almost like The Prophet doesn't even exist
, in this timeline. If that's
the case, then why– no, I'm getting off-track. That's a question for later
Despite their best efforts, Lordaeron's might fails to stop unending numbers of the Undead Scourge, so King Terenas and the heroes slip into the Undercity of Lordaeron to get away. There's just one problem. The Undercity, which is usually a place of royal crypts, prisoners no one wants to deal with, and the living place sub-lower-class citizenry… is also full of danger
It seems that some bandits had taken up residence in the Undercity when the king wasn't looking. That, and the Kirin'Tor golems assigned to keep the place safe are malfunctioning and can't tell friend-from-foe. Also, a bunch of thunder lizards
, are roaming around, down there. Oh, and let's not forget that some of the Undead Scourge found their way in, too, led by not one, but two
"commanders" – a dreadlord and a lich.
Now, don't get me wrong. I can believe that the bandits have a hide-out, under the kingdom. That was the place where the lowest-of-lower-class citizens lived. I can also believe that the Kirin'Tor golems which were placed there to keep the tombs safe from robbers might have gotten old and stopped working right. I can even believe that the undead busted their way in through the sewer access outside of the city. But… where-the-heck did those thunder lizards
come from? Those things are supposed to be native only to Kalimdor. I think it's more likely you might see wolves, or giant rats and spiders, or even putrid slimes
down there, rather than thunder lizards
So, after fighting their way out of the Undercity, King Terenas makes a bold decision. After seeing the Undead Scourge for himself, he pulls a 180°-turn and decides that, perhaps, they should
relocate the entire kingdom of Lordaeron to the uncharged, time-lost lands
to the west. With that decision made, he sends Arthas and Jaina off to gather troops and survivors and scout ahead to Kalimdor.
Now, uh… before I get into that, I think I should point something out, here. Lordaeron is about as far inland
as one can get
in the northern region of Azeroth (aka, the "Eastern Kingdoms"). Even on the Warcraft III loading screen maps
, the nearest way to get out to sea is through Strahnbrad – which had already been freed from the Orcish Horde
, earlier in the timeline. Alternately, access to the sea might have been available through Silverpine Forest, but either way would have been a long haul for Arthas' party. Where did they go? What did they do? How did they get there? Actually, we never find out because we immediately hit a time skip
to three weeks later.
After sailing to the west, just like the Prophet instructed (oh, I guess he does
exist in this timeline), Arthas and Jaina's party make landing at… Thrall's Landing Site southeast of The Barrens. Um
… How would they know that? (Yes, I know. Reusing assets.) That aside, the duo head out and wander around to find… humans. Not just humans, but human settlements. Specifically, Lordaeron
human settlements. Several
of them! There's even a full-fledged city already situated to the northeast, which Arthas names "New Stromgarde" because… it… didn't… already have
So, some questions come up, here. How did the humans of Lordaeron build a city so fast? I don't mean, like, two houses and a wall. I mean a full-fledged city
the size of Stratholme! Also, why name it "New Stromgarde?" Arthas claims it's "in remembrance of the First Human Empire," so would that make the land surrounding it "New Arathor?" Why not just "New Strom," in that case?
Just as Arthas and Jaina get settled it, New Stromgarde gets attacked by the Warsong Clan of Orcs – who were already over there, presumably scouting for a good place to make a new kingdom (just like in Reign of Chaos
). After destroying the orcish encampment there, Arthas' company moves inward toward Ashenvale. It's there that they butt heads with the territorial Night Elves who, presumably, take great exception to the humans encroaching on their land? I guess between the humans and the orcs, they're not entirely wrong. Also, Arthas makes a throw-away comment about the Night Elves "looking like High Elves." Sure, buddy. Sure.
Eventually, Arthas and Jaina go deeper into the woods and annihilate a colony of Night Elves that attacked them (way to be a diplomat of New Arathor, Arthas…). Shortly after that's finished, Captain Exposition (as I'm calling him) brings news that the orcs' leader has been found a short distance from their camp. Since the orcs were still posing a threat, Arthas decides to go and kill Thrall. I'm not being facetious, either. The actual quest objective says "Kill Thrall," even though Arthas probably
wouldn't know who he is, at that time. It's also worth noting that this doesn't happen in a cutscene and there's no further story. Captain Exposition just says "we've found the leader," you get the quest objective, and you go kill Thrall.
So, yes. Thrall the Far-Seer canonically dies
at the hands of Arthas Menethil and Jaina Proudmoore, in this timeline, with little more than a pitiful whimper of "I tried to help the Horde" and a final sneak-attack of Chain Lightning on Lordaeron's forces. With that… poof
. He's gone
. Honestly, the whole fight made absolutely no sense, considering that Thrall was the "kinder, gentler" Warchief of the Horde. At least, he was supposed to be. This version only seemed capable of bloodlust and vengeance, so he got killed for it. Oh, well. At least Arthas saved him from all the weird nonsense that happens in World of Warcraft
, later on.
While all of this is going on, Uther and Terenas head to Quel'thalas for reinforcements only to find the city sacked. They fight their way through the undead only to get captured. Meanwhile, in Dalaran City, Archmage Antonidas charges a paladin named "Bloody the Seeker…" yes, really
… with bringing the Book of Medihv to Arthas in Kalimdor to keep it safe from the undead legions. Unfortunately, it turns out that Bloody isn't a very nice guy and immediately hands it over to Kel'Thuzad who… became a lich off-screen, for somehow. Kel'Thuzad thanks Bloody for his cooperation, then immediately corrupts him to do the Lich King's further bidding. Aside from Kel'Thuzad abruptly appearing (as a lich), I don't guess I have much to say about this sub-plot other than why
would anyone trust a paladin
, much less anyone
, with a name like "Bloody
?" Oh, and something-something "paladins can only be Lawful Good," yadda-yadda, skip it.
Cut back to Arthas. One fine day, Arthas feels something calling him from the woods. There, he bumps into Cenarius who is… apparently… just fine
with his Night Elf kinsmen being needlessly slaughtered
? I guess that has something to do with him bumping into Alexstrasza, since he specifically mentions
"the Life-Binder…" though, according to lore, it was supposed to be Eluna and Ysera who directly interacted with the Night Elves? Also, I'm pretty sure
Alexstrasza would not
be cool with Arthas ripping through orcs, night elves, and everything in between, even if it was
for the "greater good…" much less would Cenarius be okay with Arthas mowing down his elves.
Despite all this, Cenarius listens to Arthas explain himself before concluding that the Burning Legion was returning. Then, despite calling Arthas to the forest, he asks why Arthas is there if New Stromgarde is under attack by trolls. Understandably, Arthas gets a little confused, but he does go back home while Cenarius heads off to "deal with some demon orcs." (Foreshadowing
Weeks later, Arthas' company is in Tanaris, looking for trolls on-the-attack. They eventually find their way to Gadgetzan, make friends with Gazz Stripbolt, get into a fight with the Sand Fury Trolls, and ultimately enter Zul'Farrak to completely eradicate
the threat of the trolls. Meanwhile, King Terenas and Uther fight their way out of the overtaken Lordaeron… only for Terenas to be unceremoniously killed
, anyway, and for Uther to be captured by Bloody – who was turned into a flaming-skull-head wearing armor.
At the end of the campaign, Arthas is informed of the deaths of Uther and his father via Captain Exposition, then Arthas becomes King of Southern Kalimdor. From there, Arthas and Jaina get married and have a baby – named "Uther," in memory of his fallen teacher. "New Arathor" becomes allies with the Night Elves of Ashenvale, and they all live happily-ever-after… is what I would say, were it not for a cutscene showing us that Uther the Lightbringer has been corrupted and turned into a Death Knight. To be continued…? Well, considering there's an Orc Campaign and an Undead Campaign, I'd say "yes." But, never mind.
So, as you might guess (if you read the first part)… I have many questions and many problems with this entire particular campaign, most of which I've asked throughout the review. I think what all my queries and quibbles boil down to, however, is a single question…
"What was the point of any
In the original timeline, Arthas loses his soul to Ner'zhul, becomes a Scourge Death Knight, raises Kel'Thuzad as a lich, and eventually becomes the new Lich King. In this
timeline, Ner'zhul finds someone else
to raise Kel'Thuzad as a lich, then Kel'Thuzad turns Uther into a Scourge Death Knight (somehow
? I'll get to that…) with either him or Bloody having the potential to become the new Lich King. Do you see the problem?
Sagi went to the trouble to make this whole new timeline
… only for it to turn out almost exactly
like the original
one. Which… fine
? If that's what they intended, from the start, so be it. But, for someone like me? I was expecting something better
… something more coherent
. Why go to the trouble of making a "what if?" scenario if the end result is just going to be the same
? You would think that changing such a key event
in the timeline would have a much greater
impact, but as was stated in the Super NES role-playing game, Chrono Trigger
… "the future refused to change."