I don’t know what got me thinking exactly. Perhaps the talk of Icecrown Citadel, the final raid instance to be released in this expansion, which is currently in development. The last boss will most certainly be Arthas, The Lich King on his Frozen Throne.
We’ve been raiding and fighting and jousting in Northrend for all this time to take a shot at Arthas and kill him. That’s a lot of anticipation. And the actual final encounter with Arthas needs to live up to that.
I’m not talking about the fight being hard. This is not a the-game-is-too-easy-and-I-find-that-unfulfilling type post. This is about letting the imagination run free.
I’ve read Arthas: Rise of the Lich King, and I still don’t get Arthas (but perhaps I’m a righteous kind of person) and I still think of him as something of a spoiled brat. But Arthas and I have had our moments:
There’s a quest very early on when you first arrive in Howling Fjord that asks you to take some magic drugs, go into a dream state and see with your own eyes a couple of Vrykul from the past. With Questhelper pointing the way I found myself just south east of the front doors to Utgarde Keep near the river, phased out in some kind of eerie in-the-village-but-not-in-the-same-village-as-everyone-else dream state. The trouble was, I could see the Vrykul couple sitting on the floor, but they didn’t say or do anything. They didn’t talk.
And my quest didn’t complete. Well I got itchy feet after standing around for a minute or so and started to wonder if perhaps I was in the wrong hut. So I head back out outside towards the center of the village. And f u c k.
[youtube MsVJKC9PQBA The Lich King and The Echo of Ymiron ]
The village is deserted save for some angel-type creatures and Arthas. I don’t know what Arthas was doing, but he hadn’t spotted me yet. In that moment I think I stopped breathing altogether. Was I meant to be here? in this place? What would happen if he sees me?
It took me another minute or two to test the waters and sneak forward. Then he turns and I’m stunned in place. He says something (I’m too puzzled to listen) and bam, I’m dead. He killed me, just like that.
One-on-one Arthas is terrifying.
During leveling I came across Arthas a couple more times, and as others have pointed out, he makes his little speech (but if I see you again, I’ll kill you) and disappears. Hardly as terrifying as the first time I mistakenly stumbled across him.
At level 79 I was slowly working my way through Icecrown, working my way north from the Argent Crusade’s southern bases. Then an annoying little ghost boy, Matthias Lehner, meets me at an abandoned camp to prove to me why’s it’s pointless to fight Arthas.
You probably think you’re quite strong — fighting these undead and crushing their bones beneath your war machines. That is nothing compared to the strength it took to create them. I saw the prince do it himself. I can show you how it happened… if you’d like.
You become Arthas in the quest. And you’re being attacked by Alliance soldiers in droves – 20, 30 at a time. They hurt you at the start, but you can kill a few of them. And then raise all the dead to fight at your side. And as the Alliance keep attacking, your army only grows stronger, fast. It doesn’t take long to reach a tipping point where you can sit back and your ghouls overpower the soliders. Oh yeah, and you can heal yourself.
I didn’t stop when the quest completed. And with an army of hundreds of ghouls ready and waiting to swarm over the next batch of soldiers I sat back and something clicked into place. This guy is unstoppable.
Before I left Icecrown Matthias asked me to relive another of Arthas’s experiences in becoming the Lich King in The Hunter and the Prince.
This time it’s you, as Arthas, single-handedly fighting for your life to defeat Illidan Stormrage, the baddest bad guy of The Burning Legion.
Before the prince became a king, he fought many battles… but only one where he came close to dying. It was fought right here. After you let me show you what happened, you’ll understand everything.
Compared to Illidan, you’re weak. This quest took me several goes to get the hang of, and even then it’s part luck, part timing and a very close fight.
One on one Arthas is strong, but he’s not invincible.
Icecrown Citadel imagined
If we claw our way through Icecrown Citadel, through underground tunnels, Nerubian spidery things, killing one boss after another, defeating Sindragosa and then calmly walking into an empty room with Arthas sitting on his Frozen Throne I will be severly dissapointed.
Arthas’s strength lies in his army, in numbers. Arthas himself must know that. Why would he leave himself defenseless and alone on his Throne?
We should be fighting through legions and legions of undead and ghouls while Arthas directs his minions and trys to overwhelm us. And Arthas’s army should be truly dangerous, able to wipe out the entire raid, unless we keep them occupied. How do we do that? Through some kind of trickery I hope.
Kiting? nah. Something unique to this encounter and this room? I certainly hope so.
What if the Frozen Throne had some areas that were so polished they were like mirrors? What if you could trick Arthas’s army by hiding in amongst your reflections? What if you had to use your raid’s fire spells to melt it into a polished mirror?
No raider can afford to die at Arthas’s feet. When an ally dies in combat they should be raised to serve as Arthas’s undead pet – physically transformed, demeaned – and lethal. This is the guy who chained Sylvannas to his side as a banshee!
I wonder if we’ll see a lot of disease in this fight. Something contagious I think. Arthas is a Death Knight after all. What if you were afflicted with a disease and another player inherited the disease upon cleansing? What if the disease got worse and worse, but if left uncleansed would kill you after a minute? What if you couldn’t quite recover from the disease and would die if you were afflicted twice?
Ok forget all that. What if the only way you can kill Arthas is to become one of his undead soliders? What if you gain special abilities when you die fighting Arthas that render him temporarily weakened? But once used, you lose all will power and turn on your allies – making their efforts to kill Arthas much much harder?
What do you hope to experience when we come across Arthas in his Frozen Throne? Other than Shadowmourn of course.