HERE BE SPOILERS. TREAD CAREFULLY.
Well, we have now seen the full scenario leading to Battle for Azeroth, and my predominant emotion is disappointment, on several levels.
On one level, I am still annoyed that Blizz gave us a cartoon rendering of the burning of Teldrassil, but thought Sauerfang’s struggle with late-onset personal angst deserved a full cinematic. To me, it trivialized the tree burning and elevated the whole Horde story far beyond what it deserves.
But on another level, and even more than the rendering of the story, is the shallowness of the story itself. Now, before I go on, let me point out a couple of things up front. One, as I have said before, I am not any kind of WoW lore academic — in fact, I generally am not even very interested in it. Which means there may be nuances to the BFA lead-in of which I am not aware. The other thing is, I get that this is a computer game that includes all manner of unbelievable aspects, so to hold Blizz to any kind of “reality” standard is pretty dicey. Doing so leads us into personal thresholds of where each of us draws the line at fantasy mechanics.
Still, even in a computer game, there are some things that strain credulity. Here is my take on the story so far:
- The Horde and Alliance finally come back from a shared victory over the extra-planetary Legion threat, a victory made possible only by cooperation and a realization of our shared interests in our continued existence. So do we enter an era of better relations with each other?
- No, as soon as we get back, the Horde discovers Azerite and its potential and immediately decides they must have it only for themselves, because — ?? The Alliance helped them survive the Legion, so it is time to wipe us off the face of Azeroth? Anyway, they suddenly move from cooperative mode to greed-and-slaughter mode.
- Even though there is apparently Azerite all over Azeroth (Sargeras caused it to be spilled all over the world when he stabbed his Big Gigantic Sword into the planet), for some reason the Horde has been driven mad by their lust for it and must invade Darkshore and Teldrassil to steal what they can find there.
- Anduin and his lieutenants are so grossly incompetent that they don’t notice the Horde invading Darkshore until it is far too late. (Hello? Have the Alliance never heard of outposts? Sensors? Informants? Early warning systems? Border patrols?)
- In addition to lusting for Azerite, the Horde decides to follow the twisted Sylvanas. Seriously, were they all brain-damaged from fighting the Legion?
- Sylvanas — apparently on a whim because she felt dissed by a night elf — decides to order Teldrassil torched. (And her Horde minions are perfectly willing to carry out this obviously-illegal order.) Putting aside the needless brutality of this act and the heinous roasting of innocents, this was a monumentally stupid action. If the reason for the Horde invasion was to corner the market on Azerite, then an act of genocide that would unite the Alliance and make them fight to the death is decidedly counter to that end.
- Meanwhile, the Orc leader Varok Saurfang — who has a habit of butchering the Alliance and then agonizing over the morality of his actions — has one of his periodic attacks of conscience. Rather than standing up to Sylvanas, he creeps around moaning about how maybe it’s time for him to retire, then decides no maybe he should keep fighting. Sort of. Without armor. One gets the feeling that when he is finally led off to prison it is the best possible outcome for him — he gets to opt out of the burgeoning war but still live and continue to talk about “honor”.
- Speaking of angst-ridden weaklings, King Anduin continues to do his Neville Chamberlain imitation, trying to appease the Horde as they loot and pillage his kingdom and burn Night Elf children. You almost expect him to plaintively plead, “Can’t we all just get along? Come on, guys, be nice.”
- Anduin finally orders the sacking of Lordaeron, but then he inexplicably tries to reason with Sylvanas (!), the Horde leader who is clearly so deranged that even her own lieutenants are uncomfortable with her. Yes, Anduin is so deluded that he thinks he can have a logical argument with a lunatic. And of course, he gabs with her so long that she eventually escapes.
The Alliance, I think, has good reason to oust Anduin and replace him with someone — anyone, actually — with a real backbone. The grounds would be that he failed to protect his kingdom from a pretty blatant and open invasion, he failed to defend what was arguably the most important cultural icon of Teldrassil, and he failed to contain Sylvanas even when he had her cornered. He has used that “I’m not ready for this” excuse too long now, and I am pretty sick of his constant whining about it. Get over it, dude, you are the king so act like it and do your damn job, or go back to being a priest.
To me, it looks like Blizz is setting up a story that will ultimately turn out to be wishy-washy pap. Already they are downplaying the inexcusable burning of Teldrassil, and it looks to me like they are starting down the cop-out “both sides are to blame” route.
And if anyone is interested in a palace coup, I could get behind that.