I've just finished reading the pre-Cataclysm novel, The Shattering. And, on the whole, I enjoyed it. In fact, I'll go into what I thought of it in depth in another post. But first, I want to take a little time to rant, because there's something in it that annoys me beyond all reason. It's not the fault of the book or Christine Golden, its author, in any way. In fact, its roots lie in the previous book, Stormrage.
I bought and read Stormrage. I didn't enjoy it a huge amount, as I'm one of those people who just can't warm to Richard Knaak's writing style. His prose is just too over-worked for my tastes, and his characters feel like plot ciphers rather than real people. YMM, of course, V. But I enjoyed seeing what's happening with the druids, and getting a feel for the druid-y world in Cataclysm. And that's all cool.
The thing that annoyed me, though, was a single event that dominates the last part of the book, and which is referred back to in The Shattering: The War Against The Nightmare. Now, I don't want to go all spoilertastic here, but suffice it to say that this is a major event, whose effects are felt throughout Azeroth during the days it happens. The denizens of the world cannot miss its occurrence: everyone is affected.
Unless, of course, they're a World of Warcraft player character.
For, as far as I can tell, this major lore event, which tidies up many dangling plotlines we've been exploring since vanilla, is not going to be reflected at all in-game. The War Against The Nightmare will only happen in the book. Here's the thing: I don't mind them doing some elements of plot "off-screen". Personal events, like the return of Varian Wyrnn and the handing over of power from Thrall to Garrosh make more sense in books or comics. As long as you can get the basic story somewhere within the game, all is good. The spin-off media became an enhancement to your game experience. But to have an entire event, an invasion of sorts, happen to everyone but the players? That just sucks, in my humble opinion. That's shifting the balance far too far away from the primary medium – the game – to the spin-offs. If the events had been small and personal – Tyrande and others rescuing Malfurion and defeating the Nightmare, fine. I can deal with such events happening where Leafshine is not. But this is explicitly set up as a major world event. Which doesn't happen in the World of Warcraft. Madness.
Now, I could be ranting prematurely. These events may crop up in the weeks prior to The Cataclysm. But it doesn't feel like that's the case, from the hints from the beta of 4.0x. And that's a shoddy way to treat your players.