Storytelling brilliance: WoW’s plaguelands caravan

caravan2

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.

caravan1

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!

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4 thoughts on “Storytelling brilliance: WoW’s plaguelands caravan

  1. Aywren January 18, 2016 / 9:16 am

    Back in 2014 when I was trying out WoW for the first time since launch, I also highlighted this caravan as a very enjoyable experience. Without it, I noted that the zone’s aesthetics might have gotten to me. But with a friendly caravan by my side, I was interested in travelling through it and getting things done.

    Sometimes it’s the little things, the details, that are memorable. Blizzard did this well.

  2. ironweakness January 18, 2016 / 9:38 am

    If I remember correctly, the two Paladins are a dwarf and a blood elf which I always liked—these two comical friends from opposing factions out in the plaguelands together with Fiona. It makes the Paladin class feel like this uniting force in the world, too.

    Fiona is actually a follower you can get for your garrison but without the story bits she becomes more of a collectible than a person. And I agree, more elements like this in MMOs would be great. It’s not the big end of the world stories that get me, it’s all the little ones in between.

    I’m finding that to be the case in The Secret Word right now. The main storylines are good, but I remember all the people I’ve helped in a zone more than I do the “main” plot.

  3. Wilhelm Arcturus January 18, 2016 / 9:54 am

    Eastern Plaguelands is one of the zones that fared well for me in Cataclysm. Blizz took what used to be a pretty grindy zone that had you running all over the place and paced it out and gave it story arc. Riding with Fiona was a decent vehicle (ha ha) to move the player between quest hubs rather than making the player do everything out of the Light’s Hope Chapel.

  4. Ocho January 18, 2016 / 10:30 am

    An MMO where you’re always traveling as part of a caravan… Oregon Trail: The MMO?

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