Why I don't like death knights

No, this is not about how overpowered, underpowered or whatever else death knights are. Nor is it about bad death knight players in pugs. This is about why I, personally, just can't seem to get into playing a death knight.

I did create one of course, some time after WOTLK release. After all the new class was supposed to be a big new feature of the expansion; got to at least try it out, right? I got through the starter zone relatively quickly and thought that it was a pretty enjoyable experience, but once I made it to Orgimmar and was accepted back into the Horde, I felt... lost. I went around exploring the world, picking flowers to level herbalism and inscription, and once both skills were high enough I went to Outland. I did a couple of quests in Hellfire and my boyfriend ran me through the low-level instances in the area, but the feeling just wasn't there.

And after thinking about it, I think that the problem lies in the fact that the class starts out at level 55. Yes, the very same feature that everyone else praises about it.

The thing is: I like levelling. I haven't done a whole lot of it lately as my high-level alts have kept me very busy, but when I do play lower-level alts I enjoy it. It's rare that I feel like I'm just grinding to get to the next level; I enjoy the journey.

As such I also like that my character is a complete nobody in ragged clothes and with dull weapons when I first see them at level one. Where they go from there is up to me. Of course many people will go down the same path, just following their starter quests, but there is choice. You can also run your new alt over to another race's starting zone and be a stranger in a strange land. Or try to level without killing things; the world is your oyster.

Compare that to the death knight starting area, which is heavily phased and scripted. Don't get me wrong, it's nice in its own way, but it's really more of an interactive movie. You can't run away and decide that you don't want to fight the scarlet guys. You've got to follow the premade plot. Said plot also provides you with both a predetermined past and a future: You were a hero of your faction - though nobody really tells you what you did that was so heroic - and in the future you will do everything to fight the Lich King! And then you suddenly find yourself in Orgrimmar, kitted out in awesome gear for your level, supposedly with a great backstory, but in reality no more developed than a freshly rolled level one. It just feels wrong, as if I suddenly ended up playing someone else's character. I don't want to play someone else's characters though, I want to level my own!

There is a practical aspect to it as well. I often see people who hate levelling make the argument that you should just be allowed to create new characters at the level cap. One argument that I've frequently seen brought up against this is that it would throw players into the game with no knowledge of their class and they'd be terrible at it. To which the no-levelling supporters say: "What? It's really easy to learn how to play any class really quickly, you're just stupid if you can't!" Well, maybe I'm stupid but I simply don't like being thrown into the game as a new class and start out with a full spell book. I don't like having to sit down to read and figure out twenty different spell descriptions when I only just rolled this character. I want to go out into the world and play. At level one that's easy, no matter the class, because you usually only have like three skills. You actually look forward to gaining new abilities one at a time and then testing them out in your environment as you level. It's a gradual process and it's learning by doing.

This applies to talents as well. I don't know how other people do it, but when I roll a new alt I don't usually have their spec all planned out. I may have a general idea, like "this will be my BM hunter", but I don't go around looking for optimised specs of any kind. I just look at my talent trees every time I gain a new talent point and then decide what looks the most interesting. Doing this one point at a time also allows you to really see the difference each point makes. Imagine my horror when I was assaulted by 46 death knight talent points that needed spending at once. I actually pictured how much more fun this would be for me if my little death knight was only level ten, having to decide whether to spend her first talent point in improved icy touch or butchery (as little sense as that makes lore-wise - nobody decides to be a death knight, they are made). But 46 points? God knows! I do like reading up on optimised specs and the like once I have figured out the basics myself, but I don't think I should need a manual for my new character the moment they leave the starter zone.

In summary, I don't like playing my death knight because she doesn't feel like "my" character, but like someone else's premade. And while I have no trouble running around and killing mobs, I still feel slightly lost in terms of which abilities I should use - and since I don't care about the character to begin with, I can't be arsed to do more research. A vicious circle.

I can't help feeling a certain admiration for people who have a death knight as their main. How did they ever manage to get into it? I have no idea. All I know is that I'm glad that for all the rumours about the new expansion that have been making the rounds lately, none of them have been talking about a new hero class. I really don't fancy any more premades.


  1. I started a comment on this but then got carried away and made it into a post on my own blog :P

  2. My main is a DK and it started as a lark to see the new content, and I've been totally seduced by everything about the eath Knights.

    I can respect that the style is not to everyone's liking, and this that thats a good thing. If it appealed to everyone, it would be so bland, as likely not hold attention for anyone very long.

  3. My main was a DK for a while, before I got seduced back Hordeside again.

    I totally hear what you're saying about the starting area, the premade backstory and motivation really annoyed me too (to be honest, I've found all of Wrath weirdly linear like that).

    I thought the learning curve on the DKs was alright actually. You actually do have fewer skills than a level 55 character - DKs are very pared down compared to most classes - and there's usually a reasonable amount of time to get used to how everything works before you get a new mechanic (there's also free respecs in the starting zone, although I didn't work this out the first time around).

    I found I got more of a sense of ownership of the character as I levelled through Outland, as you swap out your just-like-everybody-else DK gear for the Outland Clown Suit you start to feel like your character is on their own journey, so by the time you hit Northrend it feels like you've got there on your own terms. In fact ironically I found that in Northrend I felt *too* disconnected. It really confused me that the Knights of the Ebon Blade treated me like an outsider when as far as I was concerned I was one of them.

    - Chastity