As a pre-expansion event, it may be somewhat underwhelming, but it is significant as our first taste of PvE scenarios, which comprise an entirely new way to play the game, and as the event that launches the storyline of Mists of Pandaria.
My feelings on it are… mixed.
The Horde version left me feeling underwhelmed both as a player and a lore fan.
My group had a well-geared protection paladin, and while I never expected scenarios to be hard, he made things into a complete faceroll. There was never even the suggestion of danger.
From a lore perspective, it just seemed a little lacking for what’s supposed to be such an epic event. I know from “Tides of War” that the scenario mission takes place during a massive all-out attack on the front gate, but there’s never any hint of that. There’s no feeling of the scale of the battle.
Beyond that, I never like playing the villain, and the destruction of Theramore is one of the most unabashedly evil things the Horde’s done since, well, ever. I’d argue it’s even worse than the atrocities of the First and Second Wars, as those were only perpetrated because the Orcs believed they had no choice but to conquer to survive. The massacre of Theramore is an act of pointless, petty, unprovoked cruelty.
The Alliance version was a lot more compelling to me, for a couple of reasons.
Firstly, I did it with an all DPS team — two mages in addition to my rogue. Without a tank or a healer, things are very chaotic, and while it wasn’t exceptionally difficult, there was an element of challenge there. There were times I pulled too much aggro and had to start popping my defensive cooldowns.
It actually made me feel a little bit better about the state of rogues going into MoP. I found uses for talents I had previously thought to be unusable in group settings, like combat readiness and prey on the weak. (Still couldn’t see a purpose to shroud of concealment, though.)
This is what excites me about scenarios. If there’s one thing I miss about the old group quests, it’s tackling challenging foes with crazy group compositions where hunters tank and moonkin druids heal and rogues are trying to keep everything stunlocked so the group isn’t overwhelmed.
From a story perspective, I also enjoyed the Alliance scenario more than its Horde counterpart. Partly, this is down to being the good guys this time around, but there’s more to it than that.
I thought I’d feel cheated by the fact Alliance players don’t get to participate in the battle itself, but honestly, there’s a certain poignancy to being the first responders after the disaster. There was a bittersweet nostalgia to wandering the ruins of the place I can remember doing quests in as far back as Warcraft III.
It was a little distracting that the Horde version shows the bombing happen at night and the Alliance version shows it during the day, though.
As is so often the case where Warcraft fans are concerned, the Theramore scenario has caused a massive, negative fan backlash. To some extent, I understand the outrage, but in other cases, I don’t.
One of the most common complaints is how easy it is, to which I can only reply, “What did you expect?” Scenarios are designed to be doable by any combination of classes or roles. How hard could they possible be?
Everything about scenarios since their announcement has screamed “something easy for casuals or people who are burnt out on serious content.” Why anyone expected anything different is beyond me.
Another common complaint is that it will not be removed from the game once Mists of Pandaria launches, but I don’t see how this could be a bad thing. I don’t think any content should ever be removed from the game if it can be avoided, especially if it’s something with major lore implications. I still can’t get over my anger that they removed the Battle of Undercity.
Compare that to the lead up to Cataclysm. That brought us two major world events including numerous quests, open-world dynamic events, invasions of the capitol cities, takeovers of Stormwind and Orgrimmar by cultists, and four new(ish) dungeon bosses.
Compared to that, the Theramore scenario seems pretty weak, and in that respect, I definitely understand the anger.