Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Warlords of Draenor: Lore

As Mists of Pandaria progressed, and the Alliance complaints about "Horde favoritism" got louder, I bet there were some Blizzard developers looking on with dismay. Unlike the rest of us, they knew that the upcoming expansion--with production already in full swing--was Horde-centric, dialed up to 11.

After the WoD reveal, I think that even the most die-hard Horde supporters have to concede that the Alliance has a point about faction focus in the storyline. Still, hopefully there will be some interesting elements about the Draenei and some paladins running around smiting orcs.

As for the expansion topic itself, eh, it seems okay. Instead of time travel, it's probably easier to think of it as a "Mirror Universe" version of Draenor.

The one thing I am a bit concerned about is that Blizzard seems to be focusing on their core properties a little too much lately. Hearthstone is Warcraft-skinned. Heroes of the Storm uses the Warcraft/Starcraft/Diablo universes.  Now WoD hearkens back to the original Warcraft games. Admittedly, it does come after Mists of Pandaria, which ventured into a new direction.

Nostalgia is all well and good, but sometimes you need to look forward, not backward.

 I would like to see Blizzard come up with a new Intellectual Property. Their three universes all date from the 1990s. Perhaps Titan would have been a new IP, but that's been sent back to the drawing board.


  1. It's funny, I was thinking the exact same thing yesterday about Blizzard needing a new IP.

    That and I agree that the expansions lately have really had a Horde focus but they keep saying that there is more to this expansion than we know...though I doubt it will be anything close to what people would like to see. I mean even among the Horde half the races are virtually ignored (Goblin, Undead, Blood Elf...)

  2. The Alliance as written is boring. Very standard fantasy tropes and very reactive. Even Jaina's storyline last expansion was entirely reactive.

    Sylvanas is expanding her empire, the Worgen are hiding, licking their wounds.

    The orcs just threw out their leader and need a new one. Between Jaina, Varian, and Anduin, they've conceded center stage to the Horde. Jaina just reacted to Garrosh's insanity, then the Blood Elves.

    The trolls are now thrust into the spotlight after helping led the Siege of Orgrimmar. The gnomes came along for the ride with a bunch of gadgets (though I admit the trash pull where the gnomes come to save the day made me grin like a madman).

    The Blood Elves have surged in the Thunder King patch, whereas the Dwarves finally got a little play with Moira in SoO and a scenario.

    Goblins have been pretty quiet, riding on Garrosh's coattails, and the Night Elves seem to be stuck in a never-ending war in Ashenvale that is constantly forgotten.

    Tauren got some love in Cata from a lore perspective, whereas the Draenei have been completely ignored.

    And the faction Pandaren were largely sidelined by everyone in favour of Lorewalker Cho and Taran Zhu.

    Given all of that, no wonder Blizzard is having difficulty coming up with decent Alliance-centric storylines. Humans, Gnomes, Dwarves, Elves, Draenei are all goody-goody hero archetype fantasy races, whereas Tauren, Orcs, Undead, Trolls, and Blood Elves are anti-heroes and dynamic. There's a power struggle and tension, with competing agendas between the races which makes for interesting story, whereas the Alliance is largely a singular unit with a singular purpose that only exists as a foil to the Horde.

    It's easy to write interesting storylines for a faction as varied and fascinating as the Horde. Notsomuch for the Alliance. Blizzard needs to either fix this, or get better writers. Until then, just be thankful they remembered the Draenei at all.

  3. I would like to see something like Warcraft 4, the new-gen RTS game. But it seems the whole WoW thing has killed off the series.

  4. So you want Blizzard to rip off another established IP and make it their own?

    I don't know if it's Chris saying no, but every new IP I hear of as rumor, stays rumor. Blizzard games excel on implementation, rarely on story other than at a high level. I don't see why they won't try a solid game base with a new IP. They are one of a handful of devs who poop gold.

  5. I've been complaining about Alliance "lore" since TBC when I realized that the Draenei existed mostly to tell the Blood Elf story. The Orcs had some good content in the expansion, which continued in each expansion and built on itself. No other race can say that. The closest is the Forsaken, who can be argued to be stepping carefully after the fiascoes in Wrath and Cata, but I think it would shock everyone if Sylvannis isn't the focus of things to come.

    The Alliance is a canvas for the story of the Orcish peoples, that's it. We are background materiel and a foil for the story that Blizzard wants to tell:

    TBC: The mystic and mago-technical Draenei against the BE redemption story and Orcs rediscovering home.

    Wrath: The Forsaken take the first steps toward becoming a new Scourge but more importantly we see the conflict between leadership styles in the calm, rational Thrall vs the borderline psychotic Varian.

    Cata: The Forsaken hit a roadblock but make it clear that they are going to continue. Varian is still the nut, but he's a vain nut who ignores reality to build statues to himself while Garrosh becomes the active lunatic who is conquering the world. Yes, zone balance was required but the story could have been handled much better.

    MoP: Varian is now the Wise King to make the contrast with Garrosh better and the elevation of Vol'Jin (with Thrall's venerable counsel) much more logical.

    Next up? The new leader of the Azeroth Orcs and the story of the Iron Horde - but trust us! The Alliance will finally do things, just like we've been promising since Wrath.

    From an RP perspective the most interesting thing will be the Orc reaction. Fighting against Garrosh in MoP was fairly automatic, he had started "vanishing" anyone who disagreed with him. But why resist the Iron Horde? It's what the Horde would have been if not for the Blood.

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  7. All right. I figured my comment was a good basis for a blog post, and lo, here is one that I wroteL http://talarian.blogspot.com/2013/11/wow-fiction-has-horde-bias.html

  8. I love the focus on lore and the history of the game. The one thing Blizz has always done well in WoW is the story. What they have not done well and what needs updating is the questing and the "grind" faze of the game. I would be more than happy to revisit old zones if they work hard enough to improve the way that questing and especially dailies feel(like work).