Unpopular Opinion: Alas, poor Warcraft!

alas poor warcraft
Alas, poor Warcraft!

I knew it well, readers, a game of infinite epic, of most excellent experience… It hath borne me on many epic gaming and story hours; and now how abhorred in my imagination it is! My gorge rims at it.

Here hung those epic, meaningful heroes that have been admired I know not how intense. Where be your great union now? Your peace-loving sorceress? Your anti-heroic undead mistress? Your image of a honorable Orcs and Horde, that were wont to set the common fantasy audience in awe? Not one now, to praise on your characterization and lore? The images have fallen. Now get you to Blizzard’s chamber, and tell them, let it be known that their new image of Warcraft is no longer one that I admired, and they can just hump on their new fans that just want to kill off one section; I want no part of it…

Make them happy at that… apologists-fest…

Hello everyone, this is ChrisX. Welcome to yet another Unpopular Opinion section… well, this topic is a little shaky, I’m not sure if I can say this is something unpopular. Still, today, the focus is about a certain franchise.

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Warcraft. Now better known as… World of Warcraft.

This was one of those titles that I loved to hell and back, back in the days. Not only it defined great RTS genre games with nifty features like RPG hero management, it also contained an engaging and great lore and characters, almost all of them would become great additions in Heroes of the Storm and become personal favorites.

But somewhere along the line… it came crashing down altogether. The series changed face. It became something that is just no longer matching with what I considered great. To say it more bluntly… it disgusts me. I can’t even say I like it anymore. Not only the game’s story and characterization became facepalm worthy, the fandom itself has become so asinine that it’s one of the worst video game communities.

So how did it come to this? This is the rise and fall of Warcraft in my heart. Chronicling how I liked Warcraft and how I ended up walking away with disgust… taking the coward’s way out instead of facing all its troubles like a man.

My Early Time With Warcraft

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I was never really that good in RTS games. However, I did encounter this one little game called Warcraft 2, when back in those days, Command and Conquer and Age of Empires were my go-to ‘fun’ RTS. Starcraft was released shortly afterward and as much as I do like its campaign mode… I suck at its main meat: The multiplayer games. Even I couldn’t beat its bots.

But from what I remember of Warcraft 2, the story was pretty simplistic. Alliance versus Horde. The Alliance unambiguously good, The Horde unambiguously evil. For its age, it was actually pretty good and got the point across. We were not quite into moral ambiguity and that was what we needed for the time.

Great Times With Warcraft 3, Top of the Series!

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And eventually Warcraft 3 came. It improved a lot from the previous games, and made it a bit more different than Starcraft, rather than just managing a bunch of armies, you also commanded powerful Heroes to fight at your side. This strikes a good balance that I could enjoy and invested me quite a bit to the games. Still, what struck gold for me was DEFINITELY the story.

Beforehand, we were led to believe that the Alliance was all good, and the Horde, especially the Orcs, was all bad. As it turned out, the Orc used to be a more honorable shamanistic race, until they were tricked by one douchebag orc (Gul’dan) to drink the blood of a demon from the Burning Legion. The Alliance, especially humans, showed its darker side: To make the Orcs pay for their atrocities, they put up concentration camps and treated the Orcs like slaves. Uh yeah, what was that nation again that put up concentration camps on the enemies they conquered?

But it showed that the morality of the supposedly good Alliance has been mudded. Meanwhile, there was an Orc, Thrall, who escaped the slavery of humans and discovered the old heritage and honor of the Orcs. Uniting the remaining Orcs to proclaim their freedom, Thrall taught them the old shamanistic ways, and while some Orcs still had troubles adjusting, a lot of them tried hard, and Thrall was accepted and respected as the new Warchief.

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This is a radically different portrayal compared to other series’ Orcs like in Lord of the Rings or maybe Warhammer. Instead of the ‘token brute warbound enemy race’, Orcs were elevated into a more cultured race that juggles between their battling and shamanistic culture, not just being unintelligent savages. But we’re getting ahead.

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Another great part of the story is that one of the proclaimed heroes from Humans, the young Paladin Arthas Menethil, ended up going the dark path of vengeance and became an evil Death Knight because of that. To this day, I still think that Arthas is one of the best villains in video games because of that.

In any rate, Arthas and the Undead Scourge ended up bringing forth the Burning Legion’s leader, Archimonde to Azeroth. Meanwhile, both Thrall and Arthas’ girlfriend, Jaina Proudmoore, took the advice of a mysterious prophet to take their people and retreat to the realm of Kalimdor. A lot of things that happened there, such as Thrall’s ally, the famed Grom Hellscream, ending up being corrupted again, and saving the race by killing a demon that caused the race-wide corruption. And that was after Grom inadvertently pissed off the Night Elves and their demigod Cenarius, which made the Night Elves under Tyrande Whisperwind hostile against them.

But with Archimonde eventually coming to the World Tree to eliminate all life, the prophet revealed that he was Medivh, the first human to bring the Burning Legion to Azeroth… and the key to survival was for races to unite together and face the common foe. And because of putting aside their differences, Archimonde was defeated and banished.

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This is the peak of Warcraft’s story development to me. It is the development from a simple good vs evil story, into developing the ‘evil’ side (Orcish Horde) into something more respectable, and the humans, while falling for vice, still managed to get better, and the multiple races banding together to fight against one common foe that threatens existence, not to wage on the hellish thing called ‘War’.

But if it was on the top… how did it fall? At first, it wasn’t that bad. But… Let’s continue for now.

The Message in Frozen Throne

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The expansion, The Frozen Throne, improved aspects from the first game, and the story overall was still pretty solid. This detailed the aftermath of the battle against Archimonde, and eventually topped with Arthas eventually proclaiming himself to be a pure evil mofo by trampling through everyone that came across him as he merged with the Lich King Ner’zhul, becoming the new one. Along with that he was betrayed by his lieutenant, Sylvanas Windrunner, whose soul he defiled in the previous installment. She later went on to form a splinter group of undeads, called the Forsaken, who are generally the type of ‘Look out for themselves’.

But meanwhile, it also introduced some characters that I think serve as a good message against racism… and they’re humans!

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This selected guy, that is

First there’s Grand Marshall Garithos, who had a prejudice against anything not human, it broke off the Blood Elves and eventually its leader Kael’thas turned towards the Burning Legion to save his people before going off the deep end. As prejudice continued, eventually Sylvanas ordered him killed and her ghouls eat his corpse because he ran out of uses for her. And there was MUCH rejoicing, because seriously, Garithos was an asshole.

And the second one? Before we go on to that, we’ll get to what happened to Thrall and Jaina afterwards. Thrall founded the city of Orgrimmar for new Orcs to settle. Jaina founded a smaller city called Theramore where it’s a neutral zone, mostly for humans, but orcs can pass for free. Trouble then started to brew as there may be some anti-Orc/Horde movements around there. However, Jaina wasn’t the one organizing it. The one organizing it would soon show himself much to her surprise.

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Jaina’s own father Daelin Proudmoore.

And he’s our second message about how racism is bad.

See, Daelin was a veteran in Warcraft 2, he might have seen how bad the Horde ravaged the land. When he came and his daughter explained what she has done, you know, SAVING THE WORLD, with the help of these redeemed orcs and they have been behaving well, Daelin didn’t believe any of that and took over the town, organizing to once again purge the Horde. Just like old times. None of Thrall and Jaina’s explanations and actions would convince him, he’s trapped in the past where the line of good and evil were still clear. Since his existence would endanger peace, Jaina would allow her father to be killed to ensure peace between the two races, and Thrall did the job.

If you ask me, this whole racism thing was never a good thing. If they could put that aside for the common foe, they could have achieved more. Characters like Daelin and Garithos are the type of characters to show that racism is not a good thing, and we have to adapt for the future instead of being stubbornly trapped in the past.

This is important… because eventually… Blizzard would end up going against these messages of development.

Going Slow in World of Warcraft

So let’s continue with where Warcraft went at that point. Since MMORPG was the craze during that time, Blizzard turned Warcraft into an MMORPG, now titled World of Warcraft.

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At first, it was actually okay despite making separations between ‘Alliance’ and ‘Horde’. Despite tensions, it was kept in a smaller scale, and most of the quests and raids were a more adventurous style fighting against actual threats of the world, like some remaining Undead Scourge. Oh and apparently Sylvanas and the Forsaken enlisted to the Horde, and Thrall did a good job to keep her in line.

Not to mention that at times, a certain gold gem did pop up that stayed strong even today.

The scenario continued like that throughout the Burning Crusade, and eventually, Wrath of the Lich King proved to be one epic scenario where both factions united and teamed up against Arthas himself, taking down the Lich King for good. It was pretty much the climax of everything Warcraft has developed into.

But after this… what waited was Hell.

Warcraft Hell begins

So afterwards, Blizzard seemed to have an idea to renew the Faction Wars between the Alliance and the Horde, since they already had two boneheaded aggressive warmonger from both sides: Varian Wrynn for the Alliance and Garrosh Hellscream for the Horde. Signs of this have been spotted since Wrath of the Lich King, but came into more forefront in Cataclysm. What used to be in a moderate amount started to take over the whole narrative. It started innocuously enough: Deathwing proceeded to cause a world-changing cataclysm that the face of Azeroth got rearranged.

Little did I realize that this was the death knell of the Warcraft I knew and loved.

Sylvanas the Bitch vs Greymane the Asshole

So as Cataclysm rolled in, let’s see what happened to Sylvanas. Before this expansion, she was always the one person who was quite rightfully pissed and obsessed about vengeance, because Arthas robbed her from clean death and cursed her to live as an undead, so she’s pretty antiheroic on her own but her sympathy was shown cleanly. Once Arthas bit the dust, Blizzard then did away with her sympathetic angles by making her do atrocities that made the players wince about supporting her, and made her likened to be the next Lich King of sorts in terms of atrocities, without even chance to show a good side that wouldn’t get overshadowed by her atrocities.

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Comics like this kind of showcase the derailment on Sylvanas’ character. Or maybe that’s just the start…

Well, good job in derailing a character that used to be compelling and having their sympathy angle more visible, Blizzard! But, you know, this brought up even bigger problems to me.

One of Sylvanas’ first new atrocities is to send out a plague to the walled city of Gilneas. Which was walled because the leader of Gilneas, Genn Greymane, who has been around since the Second War, said so because he didn’t want to spare troops against the Horde before or even against the Scourge. The plague claimed the life of Genn’s son, and it was the thing that flipped Greymane off and caused him to join forces with the Alliance. It might look fine… except Greymane himself is getting too consumed with vengeance for his son that if opportunity presents itself, he’d screw off opportunities for the Alliance or similar things to just strike back at Sylvanas. This is later seen in Legion when the Alliance suffered a massive loss, Greymane still took some men to just strike down at Sylvanas because a chance presented itself.

So let’s repeat. This is a guy who was isolationist on his own choice, gave middle finger to his other kinsmen and only moved his ass because something personal happened, imagine an older, yet self-indulging vengeance-crazed guy that in other series would be derided. Yet he’s presented as RIGHT?! Sure, he might not have known what Sylvanas was like in the past (not that horrible before Arthas did things to her, she was there during the Second War, and Greymane was just isolating himself in Gilneas). But this isn’t the kind of guy I would consider having the high ground, yet the game likes to present himself having such moral high ground by making Sylvanas just do evil things after evil things with mostly selfish reasons.

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No, you will never have my support unless you get off the vengeance boat.

But wait, there’s more.

Garrosh, the one-dimensional villain by demand, and the death of Jaina Proudmoore’s character

At this time, seeing how there were more incentives for war and the damage caused by Deathwing means that someone needed to keep Azeroth’s nature in balance, Thrall decided to step down as a Warchief and became a World Shaman to fix the world. His mistake? He chose Garrosh as his successor. At first, it kind of worked. Garrosh might be an ass, but he was growing, showing some honor and improving as a Warchief. Unfortunately people kind of hated Garrosh so much they didn’t buy the change.

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So Blizzard said ‘Screw it, you want Garrosh as super duper big bad villain? Fine, Garrosh is now your super duper big bad villain!’

So they dialed Garrosh’s negative qualities up to eleven in Mists of Pandaria, and it culminated to him sending out a mana bomb that wiped out… Theramore. From existence.

At that point, Jaina, the voice of peace between two factions, transformed into a racist war hawk that hated the Horde, just like her father, thinking that her father’s racism attitude was righteous all along.

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I might even hate this character iteration more than BlazBlue’s Terumi.

So TWO birds in one stone, Blizzard! You not only killed what made Jaina great in the first place, you went so far to justify that asshole Daelin’s words! “Racism is bad” How are we gonna buy that with your anti-racism champion going RACIST!? Come ON, Blizzard!! It was also bad too because by that point, Varian was shown to be VASTLY improving as a leader, dialing down his boneheaded attitude about war, while still acknowledging the Horde being a threat, he became a much wiser figure and actually one of the few good things that came from this bullshit shenanigans.

So, eventually the expansion ended kind of similarly with ‘uniting for a common foe’… EXCEPT THE COMMON FOE HAS A LOT MORE IN COMMON WITH THE HORDE! As in, the bad guys there were a part of the Horde under Garrosh. This kind of has a message that ‘Alliance is always innocent and good and being the victim here, Horde is bad because they produced such a bastard like Garrosh (and Sylvanas).’ That… that just doesn’t work, Blizzard. That feels more like painting the Horde as the ‘bad’ faction. Hell, with Sylvanas continuing to become more like a cackling villain… I’m not sure if I’m looking at the same Horde.

The ‘Cultured Orc’ Revision in Warlords of Draenor

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This only exacerbated in the next expansion Warlords of Draenor. Garrosh traveled to an alternate Draenor to escape his prison time where he made the Old Horde not accept the demon blood pact, turning it into the Iron Horde. This might look innocuous enough, but one little detail completely ruined it: They gave hints that despite their ‘shamanistic’ nature, the Orcs were by default more attuned to war and bloodshed, meaning that going to war and conquering things were ‘in their blood’. This is just like a spit to the ‘Cultured Orc’ thing that Blizzard has built up in Warcraft 3. What the hell is this, does this mean that someone in the story team think that the idea that Orcs and the Horde can be more ‘cultured’ and ‘honorable’ is a bad idea and the team want them to be a clearer cut evil!? So the Orcs were made to be more like Warcraft 2 Orc… That’s just frickin’ great.

Legion: Where it was clear that I’m in hell

This kind of continued in the next expansion Legion… where eventually, tragedies happened. Varian ended up getting killed; Vol’jin, the replacement of Garrosh, who was much more reasonable, got killed and for some plans… made Sylvanas the next Warchief. And what did she do? Just more atrocities for her own faction, not even the Horde overall. And this is where Greymane not giving a shit about the condition of both sides, goes off to screw with Sylvanas. No, you’re not getting a higher moral ground here, Greymane.

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I don’t give a fuck. You don’t give a fuck about the Alliance, just your vengeance more. No sympathy for you.

But then, there’s something worse!

Khadgar, a veteran of the Second War, who has also worked his ass off to protect Azeroth, decided to make Dalaran a neutral zone for both Alliance and Horde, because that’s what was needed to fight off the Burning Legion. And what did Jaina, the current leader of Kirin Tor, say about that? Garrosh is dead since Warlords of Draenor, right? According to the supplemental stories, she did calm down a bit about the Horde hating before… And suddenly, at that moment of Khadgar’s decision, she threw a hissy fit and left in anger because how DARE the Horde was allowed to contaminate HER Dalaran, even if they may be needed to fight off the SAME FUCKING SAME BURNING LEGION YOU STAVED OFF BY PUTTING AWAY YOUR DIFFERENCE AND ANIMOSITY!? Blizzard, you just fucking assassinated one of the best characters in Warcraft, and turned her into an unlikable bigot, just like her father. ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING ME, BLIZZARD!?

(Fortunately there is no picture to showcase this. I don’t think I could even take it by this point!)

And the problem will continue further with the Battle of Azeroth, where Sylvanas made herself a striking target for all that is good by burning Teldrassil, the World Tree of the Night Elves, burning it for reasons that are most likely selfish. Blizzard, please, you should have never given incentives to make the bigots justified! What happened to the honorable Horde you built up in the past?

The end of the world… of Warcraft

By this point, it’s clear that Blizzard’s vision about how Warcraft should go has violated many of my goodwill on them. Gone are the graying moralities of both factions. Gone are the iconic ‘cultured Orc’ that they cultivated in the past. And gone are the images of some of the best characterizations they had: Jaina as the well-adjusted, pacifist that understands the bigger picture, Sylvanas as… well… not ‘Lich King ver. 2’. Gone are the days where bigots were always wrong. And this is what we got now… short-sighted Jaina, ‘Lich King ver. 2’ Sylvanas, bigots being made to be justified, Orcs were less cultured and more brutish…

In fact, I’m starting to believe that what Blizzard caters to are mostly Alliance apologists, those who will continue to whitewash whatever bad things Alliance could cook up and still expect the Horde to be worse. And the vision of Warcraft is starting to show more like that; they may create a bad ‘splinter faction’ in the Alliance, but in the meantime, they won’t bother to fix the Horde or at least give nuances to Sylvanas, therefore making the apologists look more justified.

The message is now getting like ‘Racism is okay, if your enemy has been this unapologetically bad’. I don’t know, but doesn’t that make you as bad as those enemies? You may end up actually giving them victory that they managed to drag you to their level…

I remember that back in the days, when Cataclysm gave Thrall a giant share of prominence, they whined “Horde bias!”, and now I think they got what they want: Make Horde look really really bad and the Alliance bad stuffs whitewashed so they always have the high ground, when you can’t top Sylvanas’ depravity.

Honestly, I can’t take this anymore. I’m done.

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This is where the series lies in my mind. It’s also empty, Blizzard turned it into a walking zombie, a shadow of its former self.

Summary

To sum it up, here are the reasons why Warcraft is dead to me:

  1. They became obsessed with maintaining faction wars at cost of characterization, when they should have treasured the past moment of ‘uniting against the common foe’ that they had at the end of Warcraft 3. They should have ended there. And in process, they just seemed to make the Alliance to be the ‘good guy’ faction, making you feel bad or horrible for picking the Horde.
  2. They claim to make Sylvanas a conflicted character, yet they never show it, instead they make her do things that are so horrific that no normal moral person could ever agree with them.
  3. They destroyed Jaina’s character and replaced her with an irritating anti-Horde person that would rather throw her arms up than facing the same common foe that she took part in staving off in the past with this Horde: The Burning Legion. At this point, I would seriously prefer that she’s revealed to be a Dreadlord. That’s much better than this whiny git that couldn’t see the bigger picture!
  4. Combining points 2 and 3, those points serve as a way to push on how the bigots of the Alliance were right: Daelin was proven right that none of the Horde could be good. Greymane was always proven right that Sylvanas is pure evil, so they can go along by making bigoted characters exist in the Alliance, but they’ll be made better ‘because at least it’s not Sylvanas-level evil’, and unlike the bigot on the other side: Garrosh (and honestly? Despite knowing that Garrosh was a terrible bigot, even I could still pull more sympathy cards for him than both of those!), all of them are never going to be brought to justice and karma. Racism shouldn’t be proven right.
  5. They were slowly destroying the image of cultured, honorable Orcs by slowly regressing them to be more barbaric like the ‘mindless brute’ Orcs in other media. Why did they even build up such changes when in the end, they’re going to discard it…?
  6. They’d rather cater to one group instead of trying their best to be fair. Oh, sure. I know the phrase “You can’t please everyone”, but a little fairness on just two sides won’t hurt, right?

The best Blizzard could maintain was just up until Wrath of the Lich King, and after that, Cataclysm destroyed the old Warcraft, and replaced it with this new style that I cannot agree with. Warcraft is dead to me.

When I look at the series right now, it isn’t the series that made me proud to have been a part. It’s a series full of messages that rub me off the wrong way, destroying what made them great in the first place and looking at it makes me want to rip my head off and scream in pure agony.

Now I’m not saying that if you still want to like Warcraft, you’re totally wrong. This is just my opinion overall. An unpopular one, but still my own. If this kind of Warcraft go along with your style, go on and enjoy it. But just don’t expect me to like it anymore. It’s no more than a rotting, nauseating corpse of what was once a great series in my eyes. While there are some characters I still liked from the series, I’d mostly take them from the times before the decay began. At least Heroes of the Storm would provide me a safe haven, right–GODDAMMIT, BLIZZARD, YOU HAD ONE JOB!

Uuugh… This is ChrisX signing out. (sigh) What a way to go for what was once a great story…

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