Battle for Azeroth
(Image from the WoW Trading Card Game, whose body is buried in Hearthstone’s back yard)
It’s a bit more than a week since the big reveal at Blizzcon – Warcraft: Battle for Azeroth will be a thing. The theme to this expansion will be that of faction warfare between the Horde and Alliance. I, on the other hand, just call it The Jaina Expansion.
(Image from Blizzcon 2017 key art. Cosplay by Taylor Swift)
The theme of this one is that for some reason, the Horde has decided, after working with us for some time to save Azeroth from countless nasty things, that the time has come to wipe us out. Word has it that Sylvanas has a thing for Stormwind, which is why she turns around and burns down Teldrassil. You’d expect Silvermoon’s finest Ranger to have better aim than that, but there ya go.
(By the way, it’s been officially confirmed that Sylvanas shot first.)
As a result, the Alliance strikes back at Lorderon. I won’t spoil it for you, but who won this one has also been officially confirmed.
(I’m not a member of the undead night elf fetish club, but the way, but the vice actor for Sylvanas has one of the most interesting voices in the genre. I could listen to her read the phone book.)
Aw, hell, I can’t get away from giving it away a little … the upshot is that Alliance ends up with exactly one base in Kalimdor – the Exodar – and Horde with one in the Eastern Kingdoms – Silvermoon. Sorry, haters, but it’s kinda fundamental to discussing what we know, ya know?
(Image from Ulduar announcement cinematic. I always liked big-nose Jaina the best.)
First things first. We don’t know yet how much this affects contended areas like Gadgetstan or Booty Bay, but I seriously doubt it will affect them at all. They were contested before, they still are now. Fine. That also means that I suspect that little outposts, such as what’s left of Theramore and Revantusk Village, will remain largely unchanged, though security might get beefed up. I doubt there’s a good lore-related reason for this, but in terms of game mechanics, I imagine it would be a lot more work than they have time for, unless release date is sometime in 2020.
They already have enough to do. The losses of two major capital cities is going to likely re-arrange the political geography of much of the two continents.
Teldrassil’s loss will likely lead to the loss of Darkshore and Ashenvale. Which is a shame since it seems that all that Horde does with woods is cut them down. Don’t get me started.
Lorderon’s loss will likely lead to re-integration of the two Plaguelands (already partially integrated, but maybe they’ll remain contested), Hillsbrad, Alterac, Silverpine, and Tirisfal. It is also likely that Gilneas will be fully restored, and I suspect that this will become the new capital city of the Worgen and Night Elves, since the Night Elves hosted the Worgen up to now. I have no idea where the Forsaken will end up hosting, but I suspect they might be pushed into the Ghostlands (somewhat appropriate), thought that might involve Blizz having to rework a BC zone, which they seem very reluctant to do (which is probably also why the Exodar and Silvermoon are left alone in this expansion).
(Image from BfA announcement cinematic. Is it just me or has she been working out?)
As always with these expansions, there must be land to … expand into. This time around, it’s Kul Tiras – Jaina’s homeland – and Zandilar – home to nasty trollses. As you can imagine, the former has me more interested than the latter, but there are a few things that the announcement cinematic revealed about both.
We know a few things with regards to Kul Tiras. (1) It’s Jaina’s homeland. (2) It’s nautical. (3) Jaina’s dad is dead (Jaina sorta let that happen). (4) Jaina’s mom is still alive, and they have probably had “one of those talks”. (“Jaina, have we learned not to let ravening Orcs have their way with our parents now?” “:: sigh :: Yes, mother.”) I really hope they don’t go for the all too predictable trope of “Jaina’s mom is mad with loss and will be a raid boss” or something like that.
Speaking of expanding, Stromgarde Keep is coming back, being rebuild, just in time to be repeatedly attacked by the Horde. This seems odd since I could swear we were kicking the bums outta our turf, but maybe Hillsbrad turns into a pocket of resistance or something? Hard to say, but the fact remains that without a foothold, it makes zero sense to see Horde attacking someplace that is so far within the heartland. I mean, sure, there’s a pirate cove nearby (not gonna be touched, I can pretty much guarantee), so Southshore is the next closest point of entry. (I wonder if there is a corresponding Alliance stronghold in the middle of Kalimdor?)
And this brings up the main gist of this expansion – the two factions fighting. There will be a lot of focus on PvP-like activities, but there’s good news for us care bears. All the PvP-like activity is against (apparently) NPCs. So they might be flying the flag of the enemy, but they’re really just innocent bots that take pleasure in being slaughtered by the thousands by us god-like players.
(Image from Blizz’s old fan art site, no attribution provide by them, sadly.)
And that brings me to what I don’t like about all this. We’ve spent a couple of expansions now being told that we are the greatest thing since sliced bread by every friendly NPC that we meet. In Draenor we were elevated to military commanders, up to Admiral / General in the end. In Legion we were given command of our entire order. Set aside for the moment the massive danger there is in granting one supreme authority in both the military and religious spheres (that’s as close as I can come to describe what we are to our orders). The real issue here is that we keep getting more and more preposterously powerful amongst our peers.
And now – we’re foot soldiers in a number of PvP skirmishes? What a downer.
The whole theme of this thing, really, comes across as some seriously weak tea. Even the reason is weak. Why would Sylvanas suddenly want to go after Stormwind? And why would she then go after Teldrassil instead? Seems kind of random. The Alliance’s motivations seem more obvious – looks like they’re retaliating for this random violence on their shores. But Sylvanas has never, even once, come across as being a randomly violent entity? Did we get it wrong all along? Is Sylvanas the Dreadlord instead of Jaina?
The more I look at the set up – and I concede that “set up” may be entirely too accurate – the less engaged I feel. Many on the interwebz have called this a “filler” expansion done by “the B team”, and there are times when I have no ammunition with which to refute that. This seems to be rather drab and uninspired (even the logo is washed out).
I dunno, what do you think?
(Image from naptime (sometime in 2012))
Yeah, I’ll probably play, and hopefully rejoice in the restoration of our lands after all this time. On the other hand, visiting Kalimdor is likely to be heartbreaking.