I think it’s about time to revisit Warlords of Draenor in terms of how I feel about it (and how others around me feel about it) after having quite a bit of time to think about it.
A few caveats before I begin. I have not gone out and read every single resource there is about Warlords of Draenor. I’ve listened to one podcast, checked MMO-Champion every once in a while, and followed a few tweets from people I follow. I expect that there is lots of specific information out there that might argue against what I am about to say. I expect, for instance, that there is a lot of specific information about Yrel, the explanation of the time mechanics, or how garrisons will work that I’m not curious enough about to go find out. This is an opinion based on my perspective, based on information that I think is pushed out there hard enough for me to know. It is a point of view. I think it is a useful point of view, but if you demand that your opinions be from people so slavishly devoted to the game that they go out and learn every nugget of information available, stop reading in one sentence. We can still be friends.
That being said, if you do find a piece of information that’s wrong here, I would like to know. My twitter handle is Saxsymage and you can contact me in other ways using information in the About page.
So let’s start.
If the opinions of my raid group are at all representative, Blizzard is in serious trouble. One of the things that reenergizes us about a new expansion is the idea that we’re fighting something new. Patches are eagerly anticipated because they represent an opportunity to introduce a new angle and a new enemy.
Warlords of Draenor does not provide that. At the time of release, we will have been fighting Garrosh’s orc army for two patches. Patch 5.3, when we began fighting Garrosh in earnest, was released on May 21, 2013. As of today, January 21, 2014, we have been fighting orcs for eight months. I think it’s fair to expect that when Warlords of Draenor hits, we will have been fighting orcs for well over a year.
Warlords of Draenor gives us, as an enemy, orcs. Orcs, orcs, and more orcs. Maybe there will be a Gronn in there somewhere, but the whole expansion promises only orcs as the primary enemy. That one of these orcs may well be Garrosh again is just a double whammy.
I’m tired of orcs. My raid team is tired of orcs. If we are at all representative of the people out there, Blizzard will have a serious problem two months or so after Warlords of Draenor hits, after all the new features have been explored and enjoyed, and as people realize that there’s nothing but orcs on the horizon from here on out. I don’t care how interesting you think orcs are as an enemy (I think they’re among the dullest, personally)—the same enemy for so long is bound to get dull.
As a result, it seems almost shocking how far backwards Blizzard bent to give us the same enemy. What follows is my best understanding of the timeline. It differs from some other versions because I don’t think those other versions make sense.
So here goes.
There are two versions of Draenor, and one version of Azeroth. We’ll call the two versions of Draenor “Draenor A” and “Draenor B”. On “Draenor A” the orcs drink from the blood of Mannoroth or however that goes, and Medivh opens the dark portal, bringing the orcs to Azeroth. The events as we know them proceed.
After his defeat in Siege of Orgrimmar, Garrosh somehow escapes thanks to an unknown benefactor who I’ll call “A.W.” He creates a portal to Draenor that travels through time and space to forty years ago, before the orcs drank that nasty blood. After uniting the various Orcish warlords, he brings them back through yet another portal that traverses from that Draenor to our Azeroth.
Now, that Draenor is Draenor B. It has to be a different version of Draenor because otherwise Garrosh would never have been on Azeroth in the first place. On Draenor B, the orcs don’t drink the blood and therefore don’t travel through the Dark Portal that we know of. It throws off the history of Draenor A that led to everything that went on in Azeroth in the first place.
Let me just recap. Garrosh Hellscream, imprisoned for his crimes, somehow manages to acquire awesome technology and magic that allows him to travel through space, time, and continuity, in order to unite Orcish warlords to attack Azeroth through yet another portal through space, time and continuity.
At this point I’d like to marvel at the new abilities Garrosh Hellscream has acquired while imprisoned. If Garrosh could travel through time, space and continuity like that, why didn’t he use those powers in Siege of Orgrimmar to kick the butts of Jana and her raid teammates? Why did he settle for the less impressive powers of the dark heart of an Old God?
From that we have to move back to A.W., Garrosh’s mysterious benefactor. Presumably Garrosh did not have A.W. as an ally in Siege of Orgrimmar, or A.W. would have likely been a raid boss. Maybe A.W. wanted to see if Garrosh would succeed. But let’s consider A.W. for a second.
Or instead, let’s consider portals. Medivh opened the Dark Portal. He was, by all accounts, the most powerful mage on Azeroth at that time—only he could have done it. Medivh’s portal was one of space; it linked Draenor and Azeroth concurrently, without any worry about continuity or time.
A.W.’s portal is much more powerful than that. It spans not only the same space as Medivh’s, but also time and continuity. Suffice it to say that whoever A.W. is, he (or she) is much more powerful than Medivh was.
Who could that be? Who on Azeroth is that powerful? I can’t think of a single being that’s anywhere close to even Medivh’s level of power. No, I take that back—there’s one. And I would be the first to perform metaphorical cartwheels if it turned out to be her. (And if you read this blog, you’ll know who I’m talking about.)
If it turns out that way, great. I have just been informed by soetzufit via twitter that it is not the case, that it will be someone new, someone we haven’t seen before. So, to begin with we have the problem of a being much more powerful than Medivh or any raid boss in the history of World of Warcraft suddenly springing into existence at this exact time for the purpose of opening a portal for Garrosh, after which he or she will retreat to the background, presumably to plan more mischief.
I have a problem with this. It seems stupid.
But the portal aside, let’s for a moment consider Garrosh’s task on Draenor, because it is very much a doozy. Uniting the Orcish Warlords is no small task (otherwise, there would have been simply one of them, and not seven or eight or however many there actually are). The next comparison will undoubtedly smack of racism, and I apologize for that, but it’s a racism created by Tolkein and perpetuated by many fantasy books and fantasy games, of which World of Warcraft is one. We skirt around it all the time but I don’t feel it’s necessary now.
Garrosh uniting the Orcish Warlords is a task akin to Malcolm X being sent back in time to pre-colonial Africa to unite the various African tribes against a foe they’ve never seen before.
That’s a damned tall order.
As far as I can tell, that aspect of the setup for Warlords of Draenor would require at least as much skill (but different skills) as the portal itself. The thought that Garrosh would be up to it is, frankly, nuts.
But also, as far as I can tell, all of that is swept under the rug. We assume that’s what happens because that’s the whole premise for the expansion, and the expansion would fall apart without it. I present it here to demonstrate how ludicrous it is, and how ludicrous Blizzard is willing to tolerate in order to keep as an enemy the same things it had for the 15 or so months preceding the release of the expansion.
As a side note: what if you’re one of the 8% or so players whose primary character is an orc. As an orc wouldn’t it be absolutely reasonable to support Garrosh? What if you’re a troll who supports Vol’jin? Wouldn’t it be reasonable to mistrust every single orc? Are orcs going to be tossed out of the Horde? Blizzard’s created a huge problem by making the enemies of the expansion a faction that one playable race very justifiably could sympathize with and want to join.
There are, of course, other things I could talk about, but I think this post is long enough. Garrisons look great, the player models look great, but on the other hand these are things that have been requested for quite a while. The player models were embarrassing as of Wrath (which is why Blizzard was trying to update them in Wrath, but abandoned it because it was too large a project). Player housing has been available in online roleplaying games for two decades now (I coded it on one of the MUDs I used to play). These are catch-up things.
It’s not looking good.