Surprise Cinematic “Old Soldier” Released Yesterday!

Man I was not expecting Blizzard to release this right before I went to bed! This cinematic was stunning, and looks like it uses CGI in the same way that the opening to BFA cinematic does. I loved every minute of it, especially the contrast between the seasoned veteran who’s seen it all, and the hopeful young Troll on the eve of his first battle. As an Alliance main, this video made me care more about the Horde perspective of the war. Blizzard has been telling us to “wait and see”, and that not all has been made clear to us yet. The expansion is not even out yet and there is definitely more story to tell. When Blizzard gives answers like that after the outrage of Teldrassil, and even the Horde is mostly upset about those chains of events, it is frustrating to be told to wait. But this cinematic gave us just enough information so that we know that the burning of Teldrassil will not go unanswered, and maybe Saurfang will be the one who rallies the Horde.

After my last post I was left feeling confused and disappointed about the direction that Warcraft lore may be taking, but after this I think that the burning of Teldrassil was meant to create a negative response. Members of the Horde will be able to start fixing their leadership because, let’s face it, Sylvanas and her Forsaken never really fit in, so why would the Banshee Queen becoming Warchief make that any better? Anyways, I have a lot more to say on the subject of the Horde, and Sylvanas, but I’ll make a separate post for that when the time is right. This was a really well done and unexpected video from Blizzard and, even though I main a Night Elf, I care about all sides of Warcraft lore.

War of the Thorns: Chapter 2

Yesterday part 2 in the three week time-gated pre-patch event went live on the servers, and I along with many other players crowded at the docks of Rut’theran Village just waiting for the moment the new quest would appear. After all the build up and frankly anticlimactic conclusion to the previous week’s questline, I was ready for an epic battle in which I knew would probably result in Teldrassil going up in flames. I was ready for some of the puzzle pieces to start fitting together, and for everyone’s question of who burns Teldrassil? to finally be answered. What we got instead were maybe four or five quests that really don’t do a good job of advancing the story or give us the epic battle that I’m sure many of us were expecting. Now there are things I did like about this week’s quests, but I’ll talk about those a little later.

When I started the first quest and discovered that the Horde have scaled the mountains of Felwood into Darkshore and took the village of Lor’Danel by surprise, I was excited. When I read that first quest I felt a sense of urgency to keep going and see what happens. When I reached the village I was given three quests which involved saving innocent citizens, and killing members of the Horde and taking out their leaders. After that there was a showdown between Sylvanas and Malfurion that left the demigod near death, but Tyrande arrived just in time and they were allowed to flee Kalimdor and seek refuge in Stormwind. It is unclear if Sylvanas is aware that Malfurion is still alive, as she entrusted Saurfang to finish the job for her. That whole thing confused and angered me because it struck me as lazy writing. Tyrande abandoned her people while Darnassus burned, something that seemed out of character for the High Priestess of Elune and leader of Darnassus. If she stayed and fought or went to help her people, that could have expanded the questline, but instead all we got was one last quest in which we attempt to save Darnassian citizens then we are rewarded with a mount for what feels like minimal effort. The whole questline probably takes around 15 minutes, if that, and was not an epic conclusion to the burning of the World Tree like we all wanted.

Defending Lor’Danel

The whole pre-patch thus far feels rushed, and the idea that the catalyst for war between the Horde and Alliance is the new Azerite resource seems forced. If Azerite is the driving force behind Sylvanas wanting to occupy Darnassus, then shouldn’t it be more present in the story? I understand that the expansion is still two weeks away and I really haven’t read what the War Campaign will be like, but Sylvanas’ reasoning for going to war confuses me. She expects the Alliance to submit to her after the burning of Teldrassil which is an, admittedly, terrible and sad outcome of this week’s events. In the Horde questline, she explains that she wants to control Darnassus in order to control the flow of Azerite leaving Kalimdor. While that makes sense to me, the importance of Azerite needs to be shown in game. After what happened in Silithus, I expected our pre-patch event to be there and involve us building up our small Alliance/Horde bases or something like that.

The Burning World Tree
Darnassus Burning

However, even though I main an Alliance character, it still bothers me the way that Sylvanas is depicted in these events. She is seemingly being written as a villain for no reason, when in fact she has done many good things for the Forsaken and is shown to care about their plight. Personally, I think she has some reason for her actions that is being hidden from us or she is being manipulated somehow by the Old Gods. Above all, I don’t want another Garrosh situation as that has been done before and would be lazy writing. I hope her’s is a story of redemption.

Even with my disappointment, there are things I did like about the events this week. If you were playing Horde, you got to see firsthand the Sylvanas Warbringers video, which was inserted into the final quest instead of a stand-alone video like the Jaina one. I have been fascinated by Sylvanas and her story since Warcraft 3, and seeing Blizzard tell her story in the Warbringers animated art style was great. We finally found out that the Elf kneeling next to Sylvanas is Captain Delaryn Summermoon, the Alliance questgiver from last week. Afterwards, I watched a fantastic video by Taliesin and Evitel Do Games that broke down the meaning of the video, and they talked about the reception of the pre-patch as well.

I also liked the final quest from the Alliance side, where players only have 2:30 minutes to evacuate 982 people from Darnassus. The futility of the quest is what makes it. It encompasses how Alliance players are supposed to feel when they figure out that they’ve lost. As a person who both mains a Night Elf and enjoys Night Elf lore, I felt sad. It was sad to see a city that always seemed so permanent and unchanging fall. It evoked the right emotions and I am not sure if we will be able to go back to Teldrassil and, if we do, I am not sure that it will be the same. After the burning and the questline was complete, and I got my glorious Hippogryph mount, I tried to take a portal to Darnassus only to wind up being ported to Darkshore instead. If you talk to a flightmaster, you will find that there are no flight points to Teldrassil anymore. This is a turning point, and I am waiting for next week when we storm Undercity and give the Horde a taste of their own medicine.

All in all, I was very disappointed by the events this week. I was hoping for some epic conclusion to the battle for Darnassus, and players did not get that. Horde players seem to have mixed feelings, many denouncing the actions of Sylvanas and others still fighting for her. The whole thing seems lackluster and is causing confusion among the players. Honestly, so far this pre-patch makes me scared for the quality of Battle For Azeroth and I hope that it is not a reflection of how rushed it feels right now. All I have to say is, I’m glad that the Kirin Tor Tavern Crawl was on the same day as patch day, because us players sure needed it!

War of the Thorns: Chapter 1

Part one of the multi-phased pre-patch to Battle for Azeroth was released yesterday, and it along with the first Warbringers video got me even more excited for BFA! While the questline itself was short, the story leading up to the burning of Teldrassil was intense. Aside from just the questline, completing it unlocked world quests in Darkshore in order to help players catch up in gear level.

Astranaar after being sacked by the Horde
Wall of Wisps at the entrance to Darkshore
Battle at the Wildbend River
Darnassian soldiers getting ready to join the war effort

As you can see, the situation does not look good for the Night Elves. The Alliance was taken completely by surprise with a diversion set up by Sylvanas, who had her gaze set on the World Tree the whole time. Sylvanas’ plan all along was to make the Alliance think that Silithus was important, and then turn her armies towards Ashenvale and marching straight into Darkshore instead. If the Horde controls Darnassus, then they control the shipments of Azerite being sent to the Eastern Kingdoms. Playing through the questline as a member of the Alliance, I was anxious to learn more about what might happen to Teldrassil. The burning of Teldrassil was announced at Blizzcon 2017 as a prelude to BFA, along with the siege of Undercity, but just how will Teldrassil fall?

Coming back and questing through Ashenvale and Darkshore made me reminiscent of a much simpler time for my Night Elf Hunter. I realized that Teldrassil and Darnassus might be changed forever in a week or two, and it might never go back to the nostalgic starting area that it has always been. As such, I revisited old questing areas and points of interest in Teldrassil after a long time away.

Darnassus in the rain
Shadowglen Selfie!
Visiting Shadowglen
Looking out from Rut’theran Village
Fishing on Lake Al’Ameth
Visiting the Oracle Glade
Darnassus from above
Visiting Dolanaar
Everybody’s favorite jerk

Going back and visiting Teldrassil made me realize just how amazing Azeroth was to me back then, and how it continues to amaze me today. I am anxious to see where the story takes us next week during Chapter 2, but I can relax a little knowing that I have made some great memories here.