March 23, 2017

Warlords of Draenor Part 1: Story, Character and Setting

warlords of draenor world of warcraft blizzard entertainment

Last weekend was pretty intense for World of Warcraft fans (or Blizzard fans in general, really). Syndrome and I purchased a virtual ticket to BlizzCon so we could be among the first to hear about the new WoW expansion. And boy, it did not disappoint. While the trailer for Warlords of Draenor may not have been as epic as trailers from past expansions, the new features have me more excited than I have ever been. That said I do have some concerns (as do most people) and since I don’t want this to become a 50,000 word post, I’ve decided to break down my thoughts into a couple different posts. Since the game doesn’t go anywhere without a story driving it, we’ll start with story, character and setting. And while I loved the idea for the plot initially, once I saw the panel on the Warcraft movie I must admit I became a little more skeptical about it. But please remember that, though I have quite a few concerns about the expansion, I honestly am so excited I’ve hardly been able to contain myself this last week. I’m not bashing or hating on the expansion. I’m just mildly worried about certain aspects.

Plot:

For those who didn’t have the opportunity to view the panels or read up on Warlords’ storyline here’s a quick rundown and a quick warning: IF YOU DON’T WANT TO KNOW HOW PANDARIA ENDS, PLEASE DO NOT CONTINUE.

After the events of Siege of Orgrimmar former Warchief Garrosh escapes while awaiting trial for his crimes. Unable to view his actions as anything short of heroic, he escapes before the trial can take place and decides to venture back in time to create a new “True Horde”. With the help of an unnamed accomplice, he goes back to Draenor before it became the demon destroyed world of Outland.

But why then? What does he hope to accomplish? Considering most of Garrosh’s life has been influenced by his thoughts and feelings regarding his father, it’s really no surprise that he would go back to visit the proud, magnificent warlord he never knew. But it’s more than that. He’s not just traveling back to see his old pappy and exchange stories; his plan is much grander. You see, Garrosh is still obsessed with this “true horde” idea. He’s still furious that other, lesser races are polluting the once glorious Horde and is determined to get an Orcish Horde back in power. So he does what anyone with access to history books and a time traveling friend would do: he goes back to stop the Orcs on Draenor from drinking the blood of Mannoroth and thus being enslaved by the evil demon curse. With that out of the way he can focus on cultivating the Horde that always should have been. With his knowledge of future technology and his thirst for revenge, Garrosh encourages the creation of the Iron Horde: a Horde comprised of the brutal and savage clans that inhabit the mostly unsettled and still wild land of Draenor.

Draenor map warlords of draenor world of warcraft blizzard entertainment
© Blizzard Entertainment

Using this Iron Horde (but not leading it, it would seem) he vows revenge upon those who have wronged him. And that would be us: the heroes and peoples of modern day Azeroth– the Alliance scum he detests and the pathetic fools of his former Horde who betrayed him. Our world is at stake from a threat operating in another time. Our lives are in danger as the warlords from the Horde’s history come to destroy us all.

That, in a nutshell, is where the story starts off.

But, but, paradoxes!!

I know, I know. I watch Doctor Who.

Pretty much everywhere I go I see complaints about the time stream being ruined and the paradox that would be created by Garrosh going back and preventing the Orcs from drinking the blood.  Luckily, the devs considered this. Of course there would be a paradox if Garrosh changed such a monumental event in Warcraft history. That’s why in our timeline he doesn’t.  Garrosh isn’t going back into our history and messing with events. He’s going into an alternate timeline. In order for everything leading up to the present to remain the same (which, the devs stressed, is the case) Garrosh had to go into another timeline to make these changes. He then takes those Warlords from that timeline and creates a portal to bring them into our timeline in the present.

Still a little confusing, I know, and still not perfect. But at least it makes the whole time travel thing a little more believable.

So what are my concerns with the story? Honestly my biggest issue while watching the panels was how much they stressed that time travel is merely a vehicle for this expansion and not a character in and of itself. We don’t have to worry about this or that changing from our actions or the actions of anyone else because it’s an alt timeline so our world is safe. This got me wondering—why time travel then? Why use time travel as a core plot device if you’re not actually willing to use time travel?

Consistently throughout various panels the devs would state that the time travel was merely a tool to get us to Draenor prior to its destruction. The expansion, they said, is not about the time travel. It’s not about paradoxes. It’s about a “savage” world full of badass warlords.

Okay. I guess I can be okay with that.

But then in another panel they mentioned other ways they had considered bringing these old warlords back into the game. They even admitted that at one point they thought about using necromancy and just raising them from the dead.

This set off a little red flag. I wasn’t sure why at the time, but for some reason it just didn’t sit right with me. If the whole point of the time travel was to take us to Draenor, but you considered using necromancy to raise the warlords, then that would suggest that the expansion has little to nothing to do with the world and everything to do with the characters.

Okay. That sounds alright I suppose. Everyone likes a character centric story, right?

But you know what? It still didn’t feel right to me. A few hours later I realized why.

The movie. How could I forget there is a Warcraft movie in the works? Once they announced that the movie was going to center around Orcs vs Humans the plot for Warlords of Draenor started to make sense. Why are they choosing now as a time to delve into the roots of Warcraft and allow new players the chance to meet and get to know characters from the old RTS games?

Because the movie that’s slated to come out the following year is all about those characters.

Oh Blizzard, I see what you did there. *Wink* Now don’t get me wrong: as someone who has never played the original Warcraft games I’m stoked to get to see these “founding fathers” of the WoW universe. Delving into the world’s history, while simultaneously telling a new story, has me incredibly intrigued. But it’s the motivations that have me worried. No wonder the time travel is kind of meh: they just needed a way to bring these old characters back to our attention so we would know who the Warcraft movie is about.

Huh.

Characters:

Since this expansion is essentially a crash course in old Warcraft warlords, they are obviously the story’s main focus. Another aspect of the plot that the devs often brought up was the fact that Thrall will be meeting his family for the first time. As such he will have some “family issues” to attend to.

Sigh. Thrall. Warlords. Orcs. Lots of Orcs. You know what this sounds like to me? Another Horde expansion.

Yay…

I really hate to be that person. Really, I do. I love the Alliance, I love playing the Alliance, and for the most part I don’t have any issues with it. I also like Thrall as a character quite a bit. So it’s not that I hate the Horde, because I don’t.

BUT. I do take issue with the fact that they are always the ones to have the real meat of the story.

Last expansion I had no issue with it. It was fascinating to watch the civil war break out within the Horde. That said, I did think perhaps the Alliance might take the helm as far as the overall plot was concerned for the next expansion.

But no. Not at all. Chris Metzen tried to get us excited about who we are (the “Captain America of Azeroth”) and what we’re doing (taking the fight to the Iron Horde and going on the offensive for once). He tried to tell us that the Draenei will finally have their moment (finally!) as well as a new, awesome racial leader based on Joan of Arc.

hero draenei warlords of draenor world of warcraft blizzard entertainment
© Blizzard Entertainment (No boob plate!)

And yet the story, the driving force behind the expansion, is entirely about the Horde.

Sure, sure, the Draenei are going back to their homeland as it was before the demons destroyed it. And yes, they have quite a lot at stake. But considering the famous members of the cast are all Orcs and the important relationships to be explored are between Thrall and his family’s clan…

I’ll say this. It’s too early to get angry about anything so to those who are, please consider calming down a bit. Yes, it looks like the story will be entirely about Orcs with Draenei thrown in to make us happy. And yes, I’m a little concerned about that. But who knows, they could have a really interesting, really deep story. The Draenei are one of my favorite races in WoW and I’ve always wanted to learn more about them. Perhaps this is their moment. Perhaps it isn’t. But as none of us can know for sure there is no point getting upset over a story we have had yet to experience.

I’m excited. I’m excited for the story, I’m excited to learn about these old warlords, and I’m excited to see more of the Draenei culture. So I’m going to stay optimistic. Maybe it will suck in the end, who knows, but for now it looks intriguing and that is good enough for me.

talador warlords of draenor world of warcraft blizzard entertainment
© Blizzard Entertainment

Setting:

If you’ve seen any screenshots of Draenor then it pretty much goes without saying that the world is simply marvelous. Nagrand, Zangarmarsh and Terrokar Forest were already beautiful zones so it comes as no surprise that Draenor prior to its destruction would be gorgeous as well.

shattrath was a coastal city talador warlords of draenor world of warcraft blizzard entertainment
© Blizzard Entertainment Shattrath City Concept Art

The zone in which Shattrath is located (Talador) is gorgeous. Shadowmoon Valley is nothing short of stunning. And an untouched Nagrand? I can’t wait to see that! If for no other reason Alliance should be happy to know that Black Temple is their faction city. I mean c’mon, Black Temple?!? That’s only one of the most aesthetically pleasing raids in existence as far as I’m concerned.

We’re looking at a world in which the desolate wasteland of Hellfire Penninsula is a freaking jungle!

Hell yes, bring it! I am so excited to explore every inch of Draenor. While a lot of people are calling it a lazy design a la Cataclysm (though honestly I liked the destruction to Azeroth—it filled me with more sadness than almost any character in the entire series), it is so far from that. They are completely redesigning these zones and they are magnificent.

shadowmoon valley warlords of draenor world of warcraft blizzard entertainment
© Blizzard Entertainment

I LOVE Draenor, I’m eager to experience the story, I’m keen to meet Thrall’s family and I’m excited to see the Draenei (and possibly Alliance) finally have their moment. While I do have my concerns as far as story, characters and the setting go I’m really genuinely enthusiastic. I cannot wait to see where the story is going and how the Horde is going to cope with this new threat just as they are trying to rebuild.

All of us here at +10 to Fire Resist are eagerly anticipating the arrival of Warlords of Draenor. But with this excitement comes some apprehension as well. Over the next few days and weeks we’ll be covering other aspects of the new expansion from garrisons to raid and level changes, from the new character models to the lack of a new class or race. Some of these things we could not be happier about, while other things have us more worried than anything.

It’s going to take awhile but we invite you to stick with us as we explore this new expansion. There’s a lot to digest and a lot of hype surrounding it all. Only by waiting for the hype to dissipate can we get a clearer perspective of what these various aspects mean for the game we love so much. At the end of the day are these changes the innovation we’ve been seeking, or potentially damaging blunders? Only time will tell for certain, but we have our predictions in the meantime.

Part 2

Part 3

————————————————————————————————————

 

Raeyn
About Raeyn 91 Articles
Founder of +10 to Fire Resist | Streamer | Happiest when it's storming.⛈ Feel free to email me at Raeyn@plus10tofireresist.com and follow me on Twitter! @JustRaeyn
Contact: Twitter
Google+
%d bloggers like this: