Whether you like it or not, Warcraft’s selection of characters and personalities have always garnered the love and admiration of those who willingly exposed themselves to the series. The last part of the last sentence means just that; a lot of people could care less about World of Warcraft’s lore and how arguably absurd it has become through the years. With Warlords of Draenor in the horizon, we can expect, as it has been revealed, the return of many beloved characters in the series such as Gromm Hellscream, father of that orc-bastard Garrosh, and many others during the old Draenor era. This is by no means a discussion on the how’s and what’s of the lore, but simply the viewpoint of a filthy commoner who enjoys the world of Azeroth at the shallowest level.
Yes, an exaggeration, but it’s getting quite close to that. WoW’s general storyline has seen the rise and fall of many-a-character, and, admittedly, many, if not all, the reasons for anything always makes sense. Characters, such as Arthas Menethil a.k.a. The Lich King, Illidan Stormrage a.k.a. The Betrayer, or Kael’Thas Sunstrider a.k.a. Sexually-deviant Blood Elf, have become such icons that most can barely imagine the word Warcraft without thinking of these people first. Sadly, these icons are, for the lack of a fancier, smarty-pants term, dead. Now, the series goes on with its ups and downs, people disliking changes and quitting in nerd-rage fashion due to the loneliness of losing one’s icon. It doesn’t matter if it makes sense in the story, or if a characters has lived out its fictional life or fame, but why? Just, why?
I don’t dare argue over the details of each piece of lore I may inadvertently tackle because I have not read all of the Warcraft-related books, nor have I played the earlier Warcraft games to such an extent that I can say I’m an expert on the matter. But the biggest attraction most fans had or still have is the role any character of our choice will have in one of the big dogs of MMOs. But as each patch and expansion goes on, the characters I once held dear to my heart, for both-regular fan reasons and NSFW ones, drop like flies and I find myself continuously in a stranger environment than the last.
Illidan Stormrage had to die at some point, yes, but surely he deserved something better than the early retirement he got from the Black Temple. I mean, seriously, one of the biggest names in Warcraft and you kill him off that early? Head off into Wrath of the Lich King and the titular antagonist meets his end in the most proper send-offs that anyone can think off coupled with a very long, drawn out, but climactic wait just to engage him. How awesome was it when you first entered the Frozen Throne to do battle with perhaps the most popular villain in all of WoW’s history and ending in his death (as well as your own)?
Was it truly necessary, in all those points in time, to remove such memorable personalities and badass characters that early or that unexpectedly? Sometimes, they die without much fanfare, like Kael’thas’ plopping down to the ground as he rambled incessantly, Cairne Bloodhoof’s unwanted death at the hands of Garrosh, or Rhonin’s disintegration as he saved Jaina. That guy sent me fireworks when I hit level 80! Blizzard should have at least given him a proper in-game funeral or something to which I could send flowers to. Deaths in WoW happen so quickly that there isn’t time to make sense of it until you realize that you’ve been returning quests to a dead NPC whose only purpose was to remain in-game for leveling.
As a creative writer, I understand the nuances of fleshing out a story, and perhaps the many writers Blizzard has had in deciding the fates and outcomes of every single character felt right for them, but that doesn’t stand to be a very good argument. They can still be wrong, as all humans can be. If you still think that some writers are infallible in their decision making in crafting a tale, does anybody here remember Twilight? Yeah, I went there.We delve further and further into the fate of Azeroth, but we do so more and more without the presence of characters we hold dear in our hearts anymore. I’m sure I’m not alone in my menial musings like “I’m pretty sure Rhonin would wipe the floor with Garrosh if he were still alive” or “the world could have used Tirion Fordring in the Cataclysm”. Yes, I’m aware of Tirion still being alive, but where was he!?
Should Have Ended There
As much as I still love WoW and it’s lore (albeit decreasing lore love), I felt that the series ended as the Lich King fell. Again, its presentation was perfect and was built up quite nicely that the climax is rarely crafted as great. However, that’s just it; Arthas was dead and no other villain will ever replace the hatred I had for the Lich King since Warcraft III. No amount of Deathwing or Garrosh could ever replace the epicness that was lost two expansions back. This is but the ramblings of a fan, but also the ramblings of a writer. When you find that ultimate villain, you either end it there and then, or you continue to make a world without it, yet at a much more minuscule scale of awesome. The same could be said of Illidan’s entourage as they will forever be the best group of superpowered anti-heroes this side of Azeroth. A story’s appeal only lasts as long as it’s familiarity and WoW has pretty much passed that point long ago. Granted, WoW is still healthy and still churns out a decent plot with every content patch, but it really will not be the same.
While it isn’t all gloom and doom in WoW, we shouldn’t forget that WoW has spawned many of its own notable personalities past the original Warcraft games. Saurfang is probably the best example for this as he has gained such a status that would rival Chuck Norris himself. Originating from when Ahn’Qiraj was first released, Saurfang gained the respect and love of many WoW players all over the world, spawning an innumerable number of myths surrounding the battle-hardened orc. Bolvar Fordragon is another awesome character that has been hailed almost as much as Saurfang on the Alliance side, becoming the Jailer of the damned and churning many jokes about him stealing other lore characters’ thunder in their respective stories. We mustn’t also forget about Gamon. It’s Gamon. Enough said.
While it’s great that the characters that received such fame are continued by Blizzard in future content to be just as badass as they’re made out to be, it’ll still take much more to replace those that are true icons to make the game feel less alien as possible. Perhaps this was felt much more when Mists of Pandaria was released, throwing players in a strange land that no one knew anything of. The Horde and Alliance that made it to Pandaria were also caharacters that merely survived the decade of WoW’s MMO history, and I’m sure many will agree with me that it just did not feel the same. This is in no way a criticism of MoP as a game, but a criticism of it as an environment. It hasn’t the feel of how WoW is and how it is known to be by the mainstream population, despite all the information as to why. Oh, I’m sure many of us get that Pandaria is but an isolated continent that separated itself from the rest of Azeroth during the Sundering, but no, just no. With all the characters we used to know dying out one by one and as we are tossed into newer and stranger lands, it becomes a fear that we may end up with a WoW that we no longer know.
What Awaits us?
There are a lot of hints currently in WoW of the direction that some characters may take in Warlords of Draenor, like Jaina Proudmoore’s acquisition of the Thunder Kings power via her staff that players use on Lei Shen after dispatching him at the Kirin Tor Offensive exalted-only quest. With her change of heart and new hatred for all things Horde (though arguably reconciled in War Crimes), I can’t help but think of a Zeus-like Jaina shooting thunderbolts out of her arse and puking blizzards at us in a future raid. If that does happen, will it spell doom for our frosty mistress? What of Lor’Themar Theron? Will he be making a giant Animus Golem in the form of a shapely male Blood Elf that smashes us with its purse in another or the same raid?
If Blizzard does decide on these things, it only makes the thought of continuing on with the story alone much more bleak. The lore’s familiarity is what draws a lot of people and taking them away too fast and in too much of a quantity makes that quality to be less and less desired. Before we know it, we’ll be fighting a time-travelling Hogger who gained the power of the four dragonflights and attempts to enslave the entirety of Azeroth through gaining access of the Helm of Domination, all the while making-out with a completely smitten Sylvannas Windrunner. Is Blizzard going to kill both of them off too!? There is no Elwynn Forest without Hogger!