Read on at your own risk.
Still with me? Good.
When you arrive at the Halls of Reflection there is a dialog between Uther the Lightbringer’s spirit and either Jania or Sylvanas.
One of the first things that Uther tells her is that there must always be a Lich King. What an amazing let down. All this time we’ve been fighting our way to Ice Crown Citadel to end the scourge threat, and then Uther tells us it’s all for naught for there must always be a Lich King.
There was a time, even as late as the Second War, when there wasn’t a Lich King. Since there hasn’t always been a Lich King, why must there always be a Lich King. It’s a very unsatifying ending. In fact, it’s no ending at all. Stories have a conflict and a climax. They reach a resolution. Without being able to destroy the Lich King, the story never reaches a resolution.
But it gets better. Not only does there always have to be a Lich King, but apparently there is still good in Arthas. Can we push the Darth Vader allusions any further? So the good Arthas is inside the Lich King. If Uther is to be believed, it is the good Arthas that has been holding back the Scourge from destroying Azeroth.
First of all, in both the novel about the Lich King and subsequent quests in Ice Crown, Blizzard has pretty much laid out that Arthas is no more. He and Lich King are one. They are inseparable.
Secondly, the Heroes of Azeroth can handle the Scourge.
The Heroes of Azeroth have been defeated the Scourge time and again. We defeated them in the Western Plaguelands and the Eastern Plaugelands. We defeated them at Scholomance and Stratholme. We defeated them in the original Naxxrammus. Some of Azeroth’s heroes defeated the Scourge from within and broke free of the Lich King’s control. They walk among us now as Death Knights. We pushed them back in the Howling Fjord and the Borean Tundra. We halted their gains in Zul’Drak. Now we’ve taken the fight to their very door steps in IceCrown.
Now we’re to believe that every victory was only because a benevolent Arthas was holding the Scourge back? Are you freaking kidding me?!?! It’s like your older brother, after you beat him the first time at One on One says ‘yeah, yeah, whatever, you beat me, but I wasn’t trying my hardest.’
Furthermore, Uther tells us that without a Lich King, the Scourge would swarm over the face of Azeroth. So this unthinking, massive zerg would just overwhelm a battle hardened, thinking, and strategic foe. I find that unlikely. Remember 300 Heroes of Azeroth held Light’s Hope Chapel against 10,000 Scourge! Numbers alone do not win a battle.
With the Dark Portal open, Azeroth has access to aid from the Naaru. With Illidan defeated, Xiri or another Naaru could come to Azeroth to assist the Heroes. How well are the Scourge going to do against a being of pure Light. And we now have the cleansed Ashbringer which can lay waste entire swaths of undead.
Look, we got resolution in Vanilla WoW.
Ragnoros was sent back to the Plane of Fire. We got to the bottom of the Silithid problem and destroyed C’thun. We even got resolution with the Scourge over the Plaguelands and turned Kel’Thuzad’s phylactery into the Argent Dwan.
We got resolution in Burning Crusade.
We put and end to Kael’thas and Vashj. We killed The Betrayer and reclaimed the Temple of Korabor aka The Black Temple.
There will be no resolution with Wrath of the Lich King. He will live on and we will be distracted by Deathwing’s movements and have to leave Northrend.
The entire story now seems contrived, and wholly unsatisfying.
Arthas is the last major villain from pre World of Warcraft. After him, World of Warcraft Lore will have to stand on it own. I’m not sure the it is up to it. We don’t care about another villain the way we cared about Arthas, Illidan, Kel’Thuzad, Kael’Thas and Vashj.
I'm sure there will be a sentiment among some to end their Warcraft careers with Arthas. He seems like a good and logical ‘stopping point.’
Were I more cynical I might believe that this is simply Blizzard’s leaving open a way to bring the Lich King back at some point. He’s been such an iconic villain, surely the allure of fighting him again would keep people playing. Perhaps at the end of Cataclysm we’ll fight him again and he can tells us that Ice Crown Citadel was ‘merely a setback’. That is a distasteful thought.
What do you think? Have I got this all wrong or does the idea of there having to always be a Lich King seemed contrived. Is there something I’m missing here?