This is a post that I've been meaning to make for a while, and Allison Robert's recent WoW.com article about some of the most fun achievements finally provided me with the much-needed incentive to write it. I always like Allison's articles, but in this case I must disagree with some of what she wrote, in particular with her choice for the 25th most fun achievement. Or rather, I'm not entirely sure whether I agree with the assertion that Guru of Drakuru is a very entertaining achievement to get - I'm not really into collecting achievements myself so I can't really say how it compares. However, I think that as a quest chain it's pretty poorly executed and more frustrating than fun. There are so many more entertaining quests in Wrath; this one just gets a lot of publicity because it has an achievement connected to it.
People praise it for telling a great story, and I certainly won't claim that the story is bad, but it's hardly all that original and inspiring either. We heroes of Azeroth already had quite a history of accidentally helping the bad guys before we ever went to Northrend. We don't always get to exact our revenge right away, but it's not entirely unheard of either.
However, as far as I'm aware we never had a quest chain before that allowed us to complete the ending before we'd even done the beginning, and that's shoddy storytelling if I ever saw it. Why not just do away with quest chains altogether? All quests should be available to everyone right away without anyone having to complete any prerequesites. Forget logic and consistency, long live freedom and accessability! Bah. I really don't think people who went to Zul'Drak before completing Grizzly Hills would have suffered massively if they had been temporarily blocked from this one quest chain for the sake of logic.
That aside, a good quest chain needs more than a nice story, it also needs to be fun to play through, ideally more than once, and I think this is an area where the Drakuru chain fails quite badly.
It's not so bad in Grizzly Hills; in fact the very first step of the way intrigued me a lot. Having to bloody myself with a knife to seal a truce? That's different. The rest of the chain was mostly old-fashioned item gathering however - something that I don't really mind - but considering how far WoW's quest tracking system has come over the years, it still fails quite impressively on this quest. You repeatedly have to gather troll mojo to be able to talk to Drakuru, but I suppose because the quest items get consumed before completion, they don't show up on the quest tracker. Meaning that you'll endlessly go back and forth between your inventory and everything else, trying to figure out if you've got enough troll mojo yet or need to slaughter another dozen trolls, which I found rather annoying.
The real kicker is the Zul'Drak half of the chain though. You have to infiltrate Drakuru's base using a scourge disguise which has a habit of failing every so often. Now, I'll admit that this was a neat idea in theory, especially inside the necropolis itself, where there are a couple of nasty elites and limited space, so the disguise failing really creates a certain sense of urgency whenever you squeeze yourself into the nearest corner to hide. Most of the sub-quests lead you out of the citadel itself however, and nothing out there is truly threatening, which makes the failure chance nothing but a nuisance to stall you as you wait for the "disguise failing soon" timer to run out so you can reapply it before moving on.
It's even worse if it happens during one of the tedious tasks that you have to complete for Drakuru to gain his trust. There's one step in particular which has you using a quest item to control geists and make them collect blight crystals. For some reason the geists move really slowly and you need to maintain control throughout the whole process for it to count - nothing like getting close to finishing a gather just as your disguise fails, and after you reapply it you have to start all over again.
The rest of the sub-quests are also mostly pet- or vehicle-related and while I don't remember my disguise ever failing while piloting a vehicle, I'm not entirely sure that it's actually impossible. Either way these quests featured more annoyance than fun for me as well. I particularly disliked the one where you have to AoE down some trolls using an exploding abomination. It wasn't entirely un-fun whenever it worked, but it wasn't unusual for me to be caught by respawning trolls in-between aboms, being forced to kill lots of them manually without getting any quest credit. Lame.
And then you finally get to the end of it all and get rewarded with one of Arthas's "joke" appearances, mocking you from on high but otherwise being amazingly unthreatening for the big bad of a whole expansion. Just fantastic.
I've been meaning to take my night elf priest through the Zul'Drak quests for a while now, but the mere thought of slogging through the painful latter half of this quest chain again has been putting me off so far. Blizzard has made a lot of great and fun quests in this expansion, but the Drakuru chain is not one of them in my opinion. They certainly tried, but in my eyes at least they missed the mark with this one.