Home > Features (Gaming), Gaming > Gaming: World of Warcraft: 2) Goblin

Gaming: World of Warcraft: 2) Goblin

Kezan

The setting is radically different at first, putting you in the heart of the city instead of a small village.

The goblins are one of the two new races introduced in the Cataclysm expansion pack (the other being the worgen werewolves). Traditionally the race has mostly been associated with the Horde, at least when they were an evil faction in the service of the demonic Burning Legion, but like the trolls there are many different factions (or cartels) with their own agendas and alignments, and the playable goblins in World of Warcraft are a formerly neutral one who are drawn into the conflict.

This gives them a big advantage over all of the pre-Cataclysm races. They carry none of the existing baggage that comes from the established story or locations already present in the game, and as such their opening has been designed purely according to the new goals Blizzard has for the game’s structure. Their story starts with the cataclysm, and it’s so much better.


The goblin starting area is a series of islands with no connection to the other continents, and as far as I know they’re only accessible in this sequence. You start as a highly-respected goblin who is tipped to become the next trade prince (leader of the cartel), you own businesses and property, have a superficial partner (always of the opposite gender) and plenty of money in the bank (though you can only access that through quests).

In game terms you’re still just a level one nobody but in story terms you’re already well established in your community, not a newbie just starting out and having to prove yourself. Structurally it’s still the same, people give you tasks to do and you carry them out for experience points and items, but the story around it is very different. The quests have some variety too, picking up friends in a company vehicle, shaking down people for the money they owe, sneaking into a mansion to steal artefacts, committing insurance fraud, and so on.

Obviously at some point you need to be pushed towards Azeroth and lose your privileged position, and the goblin opening uses the cataclysm itself for that, the events that trigger it causing their island home to become unstable and force them to evacuate, abandoning the majority of their possessions in the process. After that everybody looks to you to get the goblins back on their feet, dealing with problems, securing food and eventually aiding (and subsequently joining) the Horde.

It all plays out as one connected story with you as a major player, and Blizzard makes excellent use of the phasing technology here. One area starts mostly deserted, then there’s a big party in it, then it’s under attack by pirates, and then it’s in chaos from the cataclysm. Areas change often and dramatically, and there’s even a cutscene in there.

It’s the closest I’ve seen Blizzard come to making a campaign that is solid even by RPG standards, rather than just being good within the limitations of an MMO, and in some respects it’s a shame that once you’ve finished this opening sequence you’re back to the regular game world and the story becomes much less personal. Within the context of this list there’s a single place between this and the undead one, but in terms of structure and design the goblin campaign is far removed from classic World of Warcraft.

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