I love it when an MMO can both shake me out of my happily sedated routine and surprise me by making me pay attention and feel engaged in a story. World of Warcraft’s been delighting me with little vignettes in the old world (again, this is my first post-Cataclysm trip through the game), but none so entrancing as a rickety caravan in the Eastern Plaguelands.
After bumping into worgen Fiona and her two adopted (?) sons (?), we headed off on what was a WoW first for me: a genuine road trip. Fiona and company have this neat-looking gypsy wagon, and as a player I get to hop on it and ride from hub to hub as we made our way around the zone.
It might’ve been faster to ride a mount, but the caravan serves as more than just a bus. It’s on these little journeys between towers that I see my character sitting in the back and listening to the chatter between all of the riders. There’s some amusing and character-revealing bits here, and after a while I started eagerly looking foward to the next interlude as we continued on the road trip with these paladins-in-training.
I also liked how Fiona offered to let me root around inside the caravan to borrow items for time time being. This is effectively a list of buffs, some more useful than others, that grows in number the more adventures and significant people you meet. One item I could use was Pamela’s doll, which would summon her as a ghost to follow me (because I need more heartbreak, I guess). The buffs were a neat device and were integrated in a clever little way.
I don’t need massive set pieces with dragons and world-ending devices to make me happy and create important memories for MMOs. I need creativity and clever storytelling like Fiona’s caravan. I even started to think about how cool it would be to play an MMO where you always were traveling as part of a caravan, going from place to place in search of adventure, and you could customize your little portable house to your heart’s content.
Anyway, this caravan took what could have been a very standard romp through a zone and elevated it to a great story in its own right. More road trips, please!