As those of you who follow my twitter feed already know, I was fortunate enough to obtain a battered hilt drop in a random ICC-5 the other day. I debated whether to use it or sell it - the lowest buyout amongst the others on the Hyjal AH was sitting at 10K gold - but decided that there's nothing else I could do with the gold that would be more interesting than completing this relatively exclusive questline.
The story thus far...
Once you obtain the weapon's hilt, you can embark on an epic quest to reconstruct the High Elf blade. The reforged weapon must be purified in the reborn Sunwell, which means a trip to the old island of Quel'Danis, like most player have never seen it before.
Present Day Quel'Danis
Introduced with the Sunwell raid in patch 2.4 at the tail end of the Burning Crusade, the story unfolding on the island pits an alliance of Blood Elves and Draenei against the demons of the Burning Legion. Even after players permanently unlock the major quest hubs, portals and fel invaders remain to be battled on a daily basis. The Sunwell itself is occupied by the game's most challenging level 70 raid, which proved nigh unbeatable for many guilds that had cleared the other raid content. All of this is still in the game today for players who want to take a trip down memory lane.
This is now
Time, however, is advancing in Azeroth. Even though the old content remains, the lore says that the Blood Elves have finally pacified the island, and are rebuilding their civilization around the new Sunwell. And so, when I teleported over to Quel'Danis to continue the Quel'Delar quest, I was surprised to see a very different picture.
A more idyllic isle of the future
Gone were the demons and portals. In their place were craftsmen, rebuilding the remainder of the city. Eventually, I was granted access to the Sunwell itself, a location previously restricted to the very end of the high-difficulty raid. Inside, you find the leaders of the Blood Elves, including Lady Liadrin. Liadrin is head of the Blood Elf Paladins (and participant in a lore conversation in Shattrath City that continues on infinite loop to this day) teaching pilgrims about the new source of their power. All of this was accomplished through Wrath's phasing quest mechanic, and had reverted to its original state when I competed the quest, claiming my new weapon.
The future of Azeroth?
Though technically anyone can see this storyline with enough luck or gold, I was a bit surprised to see this much effort put into a storyline that many players will not see (if for no other reason than because people with access to raid gear can get better weapons and therefore might be better served selling the hilt if they obtain it). Then again, perhaps players will see, in 4-6 months or whenever the Cataclysm finally arrives.
Visiting an old stomping ground and seeing what has become of it over the last few years really was a unique experience compared to anything that typically happens in MMORPG's these days. If this is what it is going to be like to see the entire world when Cataclysm arrives, Blizzard's decision to invest in their quest revamp may pay off very well indeed.
[Quel'Delar, Lens of the Mind], the cool-looking reward for my efforts