As we get ready for the launch of Battle for Azeroth, Blizzard has released the much-anticipated ‘Warbringers’ series of animatics (a term both interesting and applicable). While we wait to get our toes wet along the shores of Zandalar, let’s indulge a bit in the evolution of this pre-launch story.
Say what you want about the Alliance, the growth and development of Lady Jaina Proudmoore is complex and compelling. A young girl who sided with Thrall in wanting to find a peace between the Alliance and the Horde while her father pushed to fight back the invaders. The woman she is now is a product of a life of guilt and betrayal, and loss. She has lived with the guilt of the death of her father (and her role in it), the betrayal of her first love, Arthas, and the loss of Theramore at the hands of Garrosh Hellscream. I think it’s safe to say that the Jaina we will encounter in Battle for Azeroth will be a woman who has come to realize the frivolity of peace.
I’m a bit of a lore nerd – I’m a sucker for a good story and for great characters. Say what you want about Jaina, say what you want about the Alliance, but Jaina IS an interesting and well-developed character who has a wonderfully horrible story and an obvious score to settle. Taliesin and Evitel have done some really great ‘deep dive’ videos on these animatics. Here’s Richard’s take on Warbringers: Pt. 1.
The video is also a testament to the talented voice acting of Laura Bailey – on whom I have a serious ‘girl crush’. If you want to see a little peek at her sense of humor in an entirely different setting, here she is (with her hubby Travis Willingham aka Turalyon) during an episode of Critical Role.
Sylvanas Windrunner has had a cult following since Warcraft 3. Her undead existence as we have come to know it began when Arthas ripped her soul from her High Elf body and twisted it to become the first (and only) High Elf banshee. She has become a creature of undeath, raised more than once since her human death, with a fanatical desire to protect and maintain her ‘people’. This second release of the ‘Warbringers’ series damn near broke the internets. With #Sylvanas and #NotMyWarchief trending worldwide on the day this animatic released, this particular twist / not twist has created some really interesting discussion. And it’s a worthwhile discussion. World of Warcraft fandom was thrilled to see the leader of the Forsaken become the Warchief after the death of Vol’jin but many were skeptical of how she’d fare when the Legion no longer was our prime focus. And, even within the Horde, the vote is still split.
For an interesting perspective on this episode of ‘Warbringers’, Pyromancer provides a really interesting discussion – surprisingly neutral – about the implications of Sylvanas, the Burning of Teldrassil, and the upcoming Battle for Azeroth.
Again, lore-nerd, story-nerd, character-nerd — and English teacher — the one thing that really resonates with me is the idea of ‘storytelling’. It’s easy to see ‘Garrosh 2.0’ here – but I believe that Blizzard is smarter than that. Any story, either in text, in film, or even in video games (and yes, I have used games in the classroom), that can elicit any kind of emotional response from the audience is a good story. The fact that I – as a proud member of the Horde – am having a hard time following the demands of my Warchief but yet am still devout in my allegiance to my faction – (I’m having a serious Macbeth moment here – don’t judge me) – is a remarkable by-product of a good story – and good writing – that has its audience invested in not only their leader but also in their faction. What more could you want going into an expansion that is being sold as a ‘faction war’? In my humble opinion, it’s kinda pretty brilliant.
And really, are Jaina and Sylvanas really that different? Hope / No Hope / Hope is Dead. Perhaps we’re looking at this conflict all wrong. Perhaps, as Ion said, Azeroth really is full of ‘moral grey’….
Fast on the release of the Burning of Teldrassil and the Sylvanas animatic, Blizzard quietly released this beauty seemingly in the middle of the night. This cinematic is beautiful, both with its art and with its ability to remind many of us what “For the Horde” means. Saurfang’s struggles echo what so many in the community are also trying to navigate in the wake of the burning of the world tree. And Zappi Boi! How great is it to see a troll and a shaman take front and center stage standing toe to toe with one of the greatest generals the Horde has ever known? Bravo, Blizzard, Bravo!
Last, and certainly not least, is the character that’s been teased since we all had to follow Farondis around Azsuna on the Broken Isles. The High Elf queen who ‘sold’ her allegiance to the Legion (for power) and then to the old god, N’Zoth (for power), will be returning as a confirmed raid boss in Battle for Azeroth. But it seems we’ll have to wait a bit longer for her animatic.
We are less than a week away from the release of Battle for Azeroth and Blizzard have done a purposeful and intentional job of setting up our push into new lands, to forge new alliances and discover what else awaits us on new and distant shores. Are you ready? I know I am!