While it does have its problems, I find Legion to be a very good expansion. It has breathtaking environments, fun dungeon encounters, a great max level questing system- I could go on for a while. But in the light of this week’s biggest reason for discussion within the WoW community, today I’ll be focusing on one my biggest issues (so far) with this expansion: faction lore.
As a lore junkie, I find faction intrigue to be the very heart of the game, and I love interacting with faction and racial leaders. Anduin Wrynn, now King of the Human race and leader of the Alliance, plays an important part in the Broken Shore in what I find to be a welcomed questline with a very satisfying culmination (warning: spoilers). Anduin’s whole arc has been one of my favorites since MoP. His character development (keyword) has been a joy to watch, and I take my hat off to the cinematics team once again because their work has been superb throughout the entire expansion. It makes me happy the Alliance got some closure after Varian’s death and inherent changes in their faction’s leadership.
However, many people seem to be missing the point of the issue some players have been trying to call attention to, blaming the (little) extra AP Alliance players received, or the simple fact that the Horde didn’t get a questline in 7.2 too, as the reasons of our discontent. Those are definitely not the problems.
Personally I don’t really care about who gets how much AP and how many cinematics. I’d just like guidance on how the Horde’s faring after so many recent events. To be honest, it’s getting quite difficult for me to stress this even more with so much misunderstanding going around.
Let’s look at it this way: no matter what faction we’re in, we players have come across various Alliance figures in the Broken Isles.
- We fought alongside Tyrande and Malfurion in Val’Sharah, then in the Nightmare raid and Suramar’s campaign;
- Velen appears in the Legionfall campaign (as well as in the 7.2 trailer) and is an important part of everyone’s class hall campaign finale;
- Genn is a major element in Anduin‘s and Stormheim’s questlines;
- The dwarven Council and Mekkatorque are really the only absences I can point out, but even the Magni comic and a delightful feature in the Broken Shore manage to balance it out ‘somewhat’… even though I hope we get to see more of them in the future, especially considering how rarely Dwarves and Gnomes get any love.
On the other hand, where are the Horde racial leaders in this colossal campaign against the Legion? This faction has indeed been collecting dust since the pre-Legion event, while there’ve been countless opportunities to include its figures ingame in a similar fashion to Alliance characters. For example:
- Why didn’t we find Baine in Highmountain making contact with his kin? As far as I remember, he’s had absolutely no considerable development since early Cata with the exception of “War Crimes”;
- Why wasn’t Lor’themar in the Broken Shore event and the Suramar campaign? Why was Liadrin leading the Blood Elves there instead of him while the Night Elves had Tyrande?
- Where is Gallywix, now that he’s finally got his own sweet model, complaining that the Legion is ruining his investments or trying to make any other profit he can from the apocalypse… you know, just being Gallywix?
- Why didn’t Bwonsamdi play any role in Vol’jin‘s death and why didn’t regeneration help him there? Why wasn’t Thrall present at his funeral?
- Why haven’t we seen Sylvanas again since Stormheim? What impact has the ToV raid and Helya’s death had on her plans? Did she get to keep any sort of pact and what exactly?
- Are the rest of the Horde leaders aware of her personal quest and what are they questioning about it? How are they coping with her leadership, since they didn’t even want her as Warchief (and considering Lor’themar even despises her and has pointed to her as a problem they needed to worry about- back in MoP)?
- Why are the Orcs and Trolls still left without established leaders?? Are they really Saurfang and Rokhan? Where are they??
If you count with Anduin and the new questline, that makes 5 Alliance major figures we’ve encountered so far… against 1, ONE, Horde figure, whose arc was left somberly unconcluded. Blue posts justify the addition of the compass questline as a means to “solidify” Alliance leadership, but in the meanwhile the entire leadership of the Horde is a mess thanks to a cluster felk of bizarre lore decisions in the past few expansions, with so many questions that seriously need answers.
On another note, I honestly will never get why some people argue that MoP and WoD were Horde oriented expansions, especially the latter. Just because WoD featured so many Orcs, it doesn’t make it “Horde oriented”. Remember, the Iron Horde was NOT our Horde, but a bunch of classic characters from a different timeline. That’s pretty much the same as saying Legion is Alliance oriented because of all the Night Elf culture we’ve encountered so far, Court of Farondis and Nightborne included- even though they’re “not the same people” as those of the Alliance. If anything, Durotan and the Frostwolves were WoD’s Horde lore, to which Yrel and the Draenei were the Alliance counterpart (there were also tons of Draenei and Sargerei in WoD).
While MoP did revolve a lot around Garrosh and the struggles of the Horde to live under his regime, there was also a very important Alliance weight- Anduin’s development, Jaina’s twist, only to mention a couple. The Krasarang campaign was a fantastic example of what ingame faction lore should be; the factions interacted with each other throughout the story, there was intrigue within and between them, and storytelling was quite balanced for both sides.
Unlike Varian, Vol’jin didn’t get an ending fit of a classic character. He did absolutely nothing as Warchief, had an anticlimatic death, and Horde players didn’t even get an ingame memorial or shrine to honor him, like the Alliance did for Varian. We were also left without an established leader for yet another race, while Anduin has been highly developed and polished in the last couple of expansions.
No matter how cool and emotional they are, cinematics don’t make up for the craters that have been left in the Horde after the questionable decisions that were the removal of Thrall, Garrosh and now Vol’jin, as well as the general absence of Horde leaders in the course of this expansion. As a Horde player, I’ve interacted with more Alliance figures in Legion than my own faction’s (again, that was one), which makes me feel like I’m playing a neutral character more than anything else. And in the fight against the Legion, an universal threat, our faction matters too.
Fortunately, we have received a response from community manager Aerythlea, who took a moment to emphasize in the EU forums that Horde story concerns have been included in player feedback (along with the AP differences). For this reason I’ve decided to stay cautiously optimistic, and I’ll be crossing my fingers for more story development and answers to a good part of my questions, as well as future efforts from the WoW team to produce storyline of equal quality for both factions.