This post is a wall fo text… I’m sorry
The new Blizzard cinematic is out and it’s making the rounds around the MMO community at the speed of light. Some love it, some are disappointed, everyone seems to agree that it’s at least beautifully done and quite a few people have commented on failing to kill engineers. I also posted a tin foil hat moment yesterday on Twitter about this expansion maybe leading to a future World of Warcraft 2 and I want to expand on that today. So grab your tinfoil hats, we’re going for a ride.
Once upon a time, there were Orcs and (some) Humans
I’ve been a fan boy of the Warcraft universe since the very first game when it seemed the game boiled down to Orcs fighting humans. However, if you paid attention to the game text between missions you would glimpsed a rather elaborate story about how a mad wizard summoned the invaders and how demons were somehow involved with the Orcs. At the time, me and my friends were arguing about the connections between the events, about which ending was cannon and a lot of other things.
Then, Warcraft 2 came along and my mind was blown. The story was vastly expanded and the foundations of a lot of the current WoW lore were laid down. Most of the events that would happen in Warcraft 2 and its expansion are still the foundation of everything that followed up to this day. The burning legion, the orc clans, Gul’dan, Orgrim Doomhammer, Outland and so many other lore elements originated in this game that it’s crazy. In many ways, Warcraft 2 is the lore foundation of the Warcraft universe.
Sadly though, fans of the first hour like me that still play WoW are getting fewer every year and I find it a bit sad that so many WoW players are unaware of all the reasons why stuff is happening. WoW does a decent job of going over relevant events to the current plot but still, many people are missing out I feel.
Enter the Metzen!
Whether you like him or not, Chris Metzen is at the core of the Warcraft lore. You might think that he’s antiquated or that he lost his touch, you can’t argue that he’s behind the lore of three separate, extremely successful, franchises. And like me, he’s often publicly lamented the fact that so much of the WoW fanbase is unaware of the old lore of the first two games and now, even Warcraft 3. He’s also said that it’s been a continuing headache for Blizzard writers, himself included, to write story in a way that both moves the plot forward while explaining to newer players the events that led to what’s currently happening.
This is the main reason why we have the Caverns of time, the flashbacks of Arthas in Northrend and so many other instances of sending the players back in time through various devices. I wouldn’t even be surprised if the reason behind the infinite dragon flight was to have a tool to justify all that time-travel.
And it’s also one of the main reasons behind Warlords of Draenor. They could have done a lot of things with Garrosh but they chose to go back to the beginning because, as Metzen stated, they wanted to show players how it all began without having to make them play Warcraft 1.
Also and I believe that’s very important Metzen wants to bring back the horde closer to its roots as a “savage” faction. I remember hearing him around Wotlk time saying that the felt they (Blizzard) went a bit too far with the noble savage idea and that the Horde had lost its edge as a result and I know some of the older RTS players (myself included) agreed with him. There was something fun about being part of the invading horde of barbarians who liked nothing more than loot and pillage.
Seeds of the future
Another important point I want to address before truly delving into tin-foil hat territory is how Blizzard is always writing the Warcraft lore in a way to set-up the next few games. Since Warcraft 2, you can see how certain missions/quests/events are in fact way of setting up the next few games of expansion. Warcraft 3, The frozen Throne set up events and elements up to Wrath of the Lich King for example, one game and two expansions… up to five years. Burning crusade and Wotlk started to prepare us for Garrosh and the infinite dragonflight for example that are now core elements of WoD. Vanilla and Burning crusade are full of elements referring to Deathwing who would make its appearance in Cataclysm. The list goes on and on…
I’m not saying everything is planned to precision but the core elements of the story are definitively set-up a long time in advance. If you look carefully, I think it’s possible to be able to guess as to where the story will lead us next.
So what are the current story elements that still feel like it needs resolution and have been hinted at?
- The infinite dragonflight and its goals (likely tied to old ones)
- The Garrosh story arc
- The fate of Thrall… he has kids now…
- The old ones and the titans
- The burning legion
- The new Lich king (this one feels like a game device though but you never know)
- A second Azeroth? (WoD)
There’s likely more but I think that at the moment this is what we’re looking at.
Where we’re headed
Of the elements above I take away three main things. First, the Old ones, the titans and the burning legion are up to their old shenanigans as always and I don’t expect much significant progress to be made in WoD on this front or at all, ever. These are cosmic forces and unless we want to close the books on WoW forever there’s likely not going to be a final resolution… but then again we’ve been fighting the old gods for so long now that you never know…
However, of greater interest is this recurring theme of the next generation starting to make its way. Anduin, Garrosh and Thrall’s kids feel like they’re slowly being set-up to be part of the next big chapter of the story. However what that next thing is hard to say at the moment since we don’t have any clues…
Oh wait… we do… time travel shenanigans and a second Azeroth… and it would involve the Infinite dragonflight which by extension means… the old ones, which bring us the titans… omg, we can link nearly everything up there now.
A new Azeroth sounds so much like something that a new generation of heroes could mess with don’t you think? And not just them! How about we bring in the old ones who, having failed on first Azeroth want to try a second time on the new one? Who else would like a new place to invade? Burning legion, yeah it sounds like something it would love. And just for fun we can even throw in the new Lich King so we have some undeads over there.
And you know what else would be great on a new Azeroth, Blizzard could set-up the horde the way it wants to, they could also show all this lore to a new generation. Why have us play the old Warcraft 1 when we could be part of invading or defending that new Azeroth.
Finally do we have an example where resetting the timeline of a beloved franchise worked well? Well, Star Trek did it and according to most it was an awesome success.
To WoW2 or not?
I think a new Azeroth is not that far-fetched of an idea but WoW2, now we’re in real tin-foil hat territory.
My reasoning here though is much more down to earth. Simply put, WoW is old, very old. 10 years is a very long time for any game. We know it and Blizzard has acknowledged it. So even if they wanted to plan content for the next 5 years, they might not get 5 more years. They can make WoD as awesome as they want, it still won’t prevent an aging game to slowly head toward its end.
Thing is Blizzard loves money (who can blame them?) and I don’t think they want to let go if a few millions subscribers without doing anything. If they have any business sense (and they seem like they do), they are currently searching for ways to offer a new product to said players.
Now, you might recall a certain Titan project that is an MMO that was supposed to be about a new IP. But last year they scrapped what they had and wanted to reassess the direction of game, maybe it might not even be an MMO. What it does though would be opening a new slot for a next-gen MMO…
In fact it’s pretty simple. Blizzard needs a new game to retain the WoW players. WoW 2 sounds like such a good answer to that problem and look, the lore is even moving in that direction.
Funny how tinfoil hats work no?