Being Horde

15 Comments

It’s a been around three months since I started raiding hordeside and that’s around enough time for me to consider bringing up my army of alts there. (I am still a gnome at heart ofcourse, and I always poke my raid team about going back to the alliance but hey, that’s not what this post is about.)

I’ve rolled numerous horde alts in the past – often inspired by the Warcraft cinematics I watched. In fact my very first horde toon, an undead warlock, was inspired by the badass murloc-burning guy you see up there. I’m the sort of the player who likes to relate a little bit to my characters – even if they’re only being rolled for something like profession purposes. And so I was quite surprised that when I tried to roll my alts this time around, I found myself somehow unable to play a majority of the horde races. What had changed?

When I ask myself why I can’t seem to stick to a majority of the horde races, I arrive at one simple answer: I can’t relate to many of the races anymore.

Here’s a look at  why this, race by race.

Orcs

Then

This was always a difficult race for me to roll since I started out as a night elf, and there was always a part of me that yelled “they burned my forest down!” But I do have a confession – I did at one point roll an orc way back in the day. Orcs to me had a very compelling story about redemption and a large unsaid part of their story was also about introspection.

Saurfang1

It was about conquering one’s own inner savagery and aggression. It was a really cool story to start out with.

Saurfang2

Now

I cannot roll an orc now. And granted, my view of orcs has been somewhat tainted with the jesusification of Thrall in Cataclysm, and Garrosh’s aggressive nature in Mists. It seems to have turned the original story upside down on its head. For the last two years it hasn’t been about conquering your inner demon – it’s been about unleashing it. It hasn’t been about honour or redemption – it’s been about putting power above all else. Even the most quintessential orc picture which shows an orc lending a shoulder to his troll brother has been somewhat laughable throughout Mists.

Trolls

Then

The big theme for trolls back then was that they had no home. They were looking for a place to belong, having lost most of their homes. As a young troll I started out along with the orcs and it was an interesting story because back then it seemed like the trolls were semi-refugees almost. The Horde was their only hope of family and belonging somewhere and despite the odds, the goal was to make it work. It was interesting because there was a certain amount of uncertainty in the troll’s fate – what would their place be?

Now

Well, the trolls got a starting area that ends on a rather bittersweet note. We retake our home successfully only to watch our dear friend Zuni die. Yeah, not be injured, outright die. What were they thinking. The result now is that I cannot go through that starting area anymore. And the ultimate irony is if I do roll a troll, I actually avoid the Isle and swim my troll butt all the way to Durotar just so Zuni doesn’t die.

zunideath

As for purpose, what is the troll’s purpose now? The horde clearly is family now to them, but their entire purpose seems to have been taking down Garrosh. I haven’t seen any larger themes to go “I can get behind that!”

Undead

Then

The Forsaken have always had a really strong storyline going for them. I can still remember the opening quest in the starting area going something “Oh you woke up just in time – was just about to burn your corpse. Now get going.” They’ve always a dark sense of humour and rightly so – life has not been good to them. The big themes here are revenge against the Lich King and fighting for survival against races who see them as the same ‘scourge scum’. Even me, a decidedly cupcakes and sprockets type of person, can get it.

Now

This one was probably the biggest shock to me. But I don’t just understand what they did with the race – I really don’t. As a forsaken, it makes no sense to me to have my entire identity be defined by revenge against the Lich King – only to have my own leader turn into the next incarnation of it.

sylvanaslich

By all logic, I would expect a revolt of sorts of the race. It just doesn’t make any sense. Why would they seek revenge against Arthas but be perfectly content when Sylvanas does the same thing to other humans? The forsaken are cunning with lots of grey areas sure, but I never put hypocrisy in there. That coupled with the fact that a mere adventurer at level 20 is apparently Sylvanas’ close confidante doesn’t make much sense either.

Tauren

Then

Reverence of nature – and strength in war is what I always associated with the tauren. I have had a deep respect for this race ever since my baby druid first saw them in Moonglade. They owe the orcs for saving them from the marauding centaurs and will be there to repay their debt. There is much honour and courage in this race – very much the same kind of honour that binds the entire horde together. And their respect for nature only made their courage more noble to me. If it weren’t for the male scratch animations, I probably would’ve kept most of the tauren I rolled, because they are so cool.

Now

Grief is the first word that springs to mind for me, then followed by inaction. And that’s the disappointing part of the change that’s happened ingame for the race. The honour and courage from the past just hasn’t shown itself to me in the game which leaves a sort of void waiting to be filled. Rather than finding strength, it almost as though that Baine was simply waiting for someone to lead his people in the Horde. His silence continues to the end.

Goblins

There is no then and now for these guys, but I do have a reason for not being able to roll them anymore. The phased starting zone – I can’t go through with it anymore. I just never make it to the end nowadays – I’m just tired. And so if I do want an alt that has a shot in hell of being levelled, not being a goblin increases its odds greatly.

Pandaren

Another race with no then and now, and I have rolled one Pandaren but it’s taken me an entire year to warm up to them. Despite the awesome story, the thought that every single one of them has the same face with different fur just doesn’t do it for me. That and the fact that I have no idea why the Pandaren would join the Horde under Garrosh. The first time I did the quest, Garrosh was condescending and insulting to Ji Firepaw and the player. Why would someone offer to fight for a leader like that?

hellscream-jerk

Blood Elves

The race that I am finally left with at the end of the day. It’s the perhaps the only race from way back for me where I can truly say that I am starting at the “beginning”. I do enjoy the quests at the beginning – despite having done them a zillion times. And while the super thin waist and perfectly painted nails can get old, it is really nice to be able to just start at the beginning sometimes.

Their overall theme hasn’t changed too much in my eyes. Their alliance has always been tenuous with the Horde and in Mists there seemed to be the fleeting possibility of defection before the Sunreaver eviction of Dalaran quickly extinguished it. Lor’themar has seen some attention, and by and large the race still makes a bit of sense. The addition of recent storylines with the Sunreavers hasn’t done much to change their original theme which was some kind of redemption and finding a place in Azeroth for themselves.

Final Thoughts

Perhaps all of this is intended in the sense that the Horde no longer has a cohesive identity and going through the entire civil strife with Hellscream is intended to set the stage for the Horde forging a new identity.

If that is the case, I would hope that the writers take a page from the original creation of the stories. I hope they include larger themes as they did with the races before Cataclysm – redemption, revenge, belonging, honour. They are much more compelling to keep one’s character cohesive throughout the many stories and expansions – they give a sense of identity.

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15 thoughts on “Being Horde

  1. I’d just like to leave this here…

    Even Blizzard doesn’t like Gnomes enough to add them to any Cinematic…

    Blue Post: The Gnome race didn’t exist when the original WoW cinematic was being worked on, which is why they didn’t appear in it. There hasn’t been a good opportunity to showcase gnomes in a cinematic since then.

    That’s it for now… <3

    • I saw that post.

      I thought the original quote was something like there wasn’t a story warranting them in the cinematic or something. And so I’ll echo what one of the WoWInsider staff responded with: “then write them into the story dammit!” :)

  2. I’d argue that, given the realities of telling a story in an MMORPG (sheeyit is gonna take for-freaking-ever unless it becomes a point Blizzard specifically wants to develop), it’s too soon to see how the Forsaken will play out. Right now, everything has been and will be (until the next expac) dominated by the events in Orgrimmar. In reality, crap like this doesn’t happen just in one place, it spreads. But it’s an MMORPG, and development work/costs need to be kept manageable and disruption needs to be kept to a minimum – hence why Westfall is still on fire, why Dalaran is frozen in time, etc. To update these areas would both require effort and (in the case of Dal, at least) mess up online play.

    I do want to say I recall NPCs here and there (Forsaken alchemists who joined the Argent Crusade, probably) saying something to the equivalent of “Well, I just couldn’t go with it anymore.” Alas, I can’t recall names.

    When it comes to the current status quo with the Forsaken, I ponder a few things myself:

    A.) How much of their story is about morals, and how much is it about doing what is necessary to ensure their continued existence? Many people seem to react with their gut – it’s WRONG to raise the dead, it’s not like they could say yes or no! Subquestion here: once you’ve been effed over so thoroughly as the Forsaken, what weight do morals have?

    B.) So let’s say that a Forsaken doesn’t like the way Sylvanas is going. What, exactly, is the alternative for said Forsaken if he or she wishes to keep day-to-day life as “normal” as possible, i.e., not go join another faction? Nobody likes them. An awful lot of people want them dead-dead. Sylvanas may be going evil/crazy/whathaveyou, but she’s still got enough power to protect them – who else could or even WOULD?

    I don’t think they have a whole lot of choices there.

    C.) Since Cata, new Forsaken players have been raised by val’kyr. Not everybody responds well to this (as seen in the starting zone quests where some NPCs fight back or deny their new unlife), but for those who do accept it, perhaps it is because they are, in fact, allowed free will after being raised? This can’t be said of those originally reanimated by Lich King, who had to be freed.

    D.) Kind of related: could the Forsaken be OK with what Sylvanas is doing because 1.) obviously, they’ve been brought back from death themselves so it’s not exactly a mortal insult now and/or 2.) what she is doing is not EXACTLY the same thing as the Lich King (see free will, above), and/or 3.) they recognize as well that they NEED those new Forsaken (safety in numbers)?

    I’ve always felt like the Forsaken would make the best villains (WRATHGATE), but that’s simply not feasible any more because they are player characters. WoW has a tendency of picking big enemies from without, as well – even the Sha, supposedly intelligent manifestations of our own negative emotions, are something “other” than ourselves. Hell, now instead of plain old Sha, we got Mr. Old God Sha Thing Y’shaarghleblargh! Man, how I would have LOVED to see the Forsaken get clever with using Sha …

  3. I 100% agree with your assessment of pandaren faces and the goblin starting zone.

    I love me some goblins, but knowing that I’d have to get through the zone again acts as a real deterrent (you think you’ve been through it a lot? If I count my deleted alts, the number is ENORMOUUSSSSS). I actually started my warlock as an orc and racechanged her later. Even when I *do* get through the starting zone (Electrika, for example), it takes me a lot longer than it used to because I’VE DONE IT SO MANY TIMES BEFORE I WANT OFF THE ISLAND HELP MEEEEEE.

    Though I’ve only made it through the Pandaren questline into a faction three times, that same “GET ME OFF THE ISLAND HALP HALP HALP” feeling is already beginning.

    (As far as joining the Horde goes, yeah, the experience sucks – I think that the player character/Ji wind up joining the Horde anyway because once you walk in that gate, you are STUCK, man.)

  4. Oh, and “That coupled with the fact that a mere adventurer at level 20 is apparently Sylvanas’ close confidante doesn’t make much sense either.”

    As I recall, it’s not like she tells you any real top secret crap.

    Maybeeeeeeee …

    1.) She has, in some corner of her soul, some guilt over raising people with val’kyr, or
    2.) She sees value in cultivating this adventurer – a little chat now, future value later, or
    3.) She is bored as hell, or
    4.) What, you want her to hang around and talk to some orcs?

    • I’ll keep my reply short lol. We disagree on the Forsaken.

      I get the timeline thing and updating zones. But they brought it on themselves by choosing to deliberately disrupt and phase stuff out instead of keeping a linear timeline and updating mob location for questing convenience. So too much dev time to redo those zones only goes so far. There are different ways to tell the story – they went with this one knowing the consequences, and now they get to deal with the result.

      Point is that even after the Siege is done, these are the introductions and themes we will have to live with in the starting zones for a while. There are no plans to redo these.

      I’m not really arguing for morality but more believability as far as Forsaken story goes. I don’t believe that it is completely natural for the forsaken to turn around and say “he was evil but she’s ok”. I get the free will difference and that’s a good point, but it’s not enough of a distinction for me. Sylvanas isn’t exactly giving them a choice in the matter of being raised or not – something she was bitter about for her own fate. And as are many of the original forsaken. Hard to see how they’d turn around and put the same curse on everyone else gleefully when they hate it so much. Not believable in my book.

      As for being friends with Sylvanas being buddy buddy at level 20 – yeah, I think she does have better things to do. She’s not like the rest of the leaders who cares about her people in that sense. She is cold and manipulative – and so yes, suddenly taking me aside and feeling the need to explain while nice is…. not terribly believable. Heck none of the other faction leaders do it. Not Chin, not Tyrande…. certainly not Gallywix or Hellscream. Infact, hanging around and talking to orcs as you put it, makes a lot more sense since for Sylvanas she’s clearly in hot water with them at that point.

      On a side note, I really did enjoy the Forsaken all the way through Wrath and the Wrathgate events. So much grey area and so much awesome. They struck the right balance there. Now, not so much anymore.

      • I failed at keeping that short :D oh well!

        But I wanted to add about the Pandaren – I guess you’re right about being stuck right after you walk through that gate. That’s hilarious XD

        • Heck, you might even be stuck after you choose which faction you want to join on the Isle. While I feel fairly certain you could walk out of Org if you wanted, would you be able to walk into Stormwind without getting killed? Talk to the King? Actually, what happens if you dump the quest? o_O

      • I enjoy what I see as a still-gray area. /grin

        “I’m not really arguing for morality but more believability as far as Forsaken story goes. I don’t believe that it is completely natural for the forsaken to turn around and say ‘he was evil but she’s ok’.”

        And yet, it seems that believability and morality are tied together here … if the Forsaken story is to be more believable, they must act in a less hypocritical way. That they don’t behave in a way that seems “true” to their past is what makes the story unbelievable to you.

        Perhaps I’m just super-cynical about people, but to me, it’s entirely believable. I tend to think that the majority of folks WILL take the course of least resistance, which generally is trying to “get by” and not much more. So if I discard the dev time argument here, the fact that nothing is happening (meaning she’s “ok” to rank and file Forsaken) STILL makes sense to me, because finding somebody to replace her is going to be a huge pain in the ass and no Forsaken dude selling mushrooms would want to take on that kind of effort.

        It also makes sense to me because I think Blizzard is banking on the wellspring of reverence that Forsaken had for Sylvanas in the past. She’s withdrawing from that account now most likely, and yes, it will eventually run dry – my guess is when she can’t protect the Forsaken from the world or herself. Forsaken still get something from her, even if she’s gone batshit. What she’s doing isn’t bad enough to offset the benefits the Forsaken as a whole receive.

        Lastly, it makes sense to me because they tried to kill all the breathers and Scourge alike at the Wrathgate, and failed. If they’re looking for practical options to improve their safety and removing opponents from the battlefield isn’t one of ‘em, they’re going to have to bolster their own numbers somehow. There aren’t exactly a whole lot of techniques for doing that …

        ………………………

        “Sylvanas isn’t exactly giving them a choice in the matter of being raised or not – something she was bitter about for her own fate. And as are many of the original forsaken. Hard to see how they’d turn around and put the same curse on everyone else gleefully when they hate it so much. Not believable in my book.”

        She wouldn’t be the first revolutionary to turn dictator, though, you have to admit.

        Maybe one could argue that Sylvanas is, in essence, sacrificing her ideals for “her people,” the Forsaken.

        While Sylvanas does represent the Forsaken, I find that I draw a line between what she does and saying that all Forsaken would gleefully turn around and do the same. Maybe it’s an American “don’t judge ME by my President” thing!

        ………………………

        “As for being friends with Sylvanas being buddy buddy at level 20 – yeah, I think she does have better things to do. She’s not like the rest of the leaders who cares about her people in that sense. She is cold and manipulative – and so yes, suddenly taking me aside and feeling the need to explain while nice is…. not terribly believable.”

        But but, what about point #2: “She sees value in cultivating this adventurer – a little chat now, future value later” …?

        Other than that, I got nothin’. Can I please invoke “the writers got lazy” excuse?

        ………………………

        “Heck none of the other faction leaders do it. Not Chin, not Tyrande…. certainly not Gallywix or Hellscream.”

        Would a goblin WANT to talk to Gallywix after he double crossed them and tried to sell them into slavery? :P

        I know, it’s not the point. Couldn’t help sticking that in there, though.

        ………………………

        “Infact, hanging around and talking to orcs as you put it, makes a lot more sense since for Sylvanas she’s clearly in hot water with them at that point.”

        While yes, it would make sense for her to hang around and talk to orcs, it doesn’t make sense for her to hang around and talk to orcs who can’t do a dang thing about her situation, which are the ones who get left behind there/in Undercity/etc.. I thought Garrosh teleported back to Orgrimmar at the end of that scene?

        • Garrosh ports out but he does leave a dude in charge to see that she is “well-guarded” or whatever. Kromush I think? So while its not the pinhead Warchief, he is someone.

          I see you cynical point lol – the people trying to get by and the path of least resistance.

          Here’s my distinction with morality and believability with the Forsaken, because I really don’t think they’re tied. I have an example too!

          Plague-bombing: totally not moral, but completely believable on the Forsaken tactics. This is their fantastic grey area.

          Raising dead: immoral but also not believable because they were raised and they hated it so … they’re going to go around raising others…? Not buying. :D

          You do have a good point about it from the military point of view – about them either wiping out the living or bolstering their forces. But it still feels so…forced.

          Sometimes fantasy needs to not deal with nitty gritties to keep it fantastical. Nobody wonders why Pandaren on opposite factions can suddenly no longer speak XD, Or why blood elves are supposed to be a minority and yet we see so many of them, Or how Frodo managed his pee breaks and showers on the way to Mount Doom. If the forsaken kept it the same and continued holding onto Lordaeron and her territories I doubt people would be like “NO WAIT, I COUNTED AND THEY DON’T HAVE ENOUGH ARMIES!”

          I regretted putting Gallywix in right after I wrote the comment lol. You know what I meant! :P Oh Baine… think of Baine! :D

          • Omg I just reread your post about believability and morality and well… ignore that part in my comment lol. It doesn’t change much >.< Yeah I think in this case, it's a question of perception and what it unbelievable is totally believable to another player – in this case you :D So yeah, that's totally valid.

            *embarassed cough*

  5. I have to agree the Goblin starting zone is painful. I rolled a Goblin just to get their pet and promptly deleted it after.
    I just can’t seem to get “into” the whole Horde thing. They have much better quests/stories, most of my active player friends are Horde, I have a few BE Priests/DKs rolling around but don’t play them much.
    Tried a Forsaken (great story line but I can’t stand looking at them), tried a Tauren (lasted up to level 5), the Troll story line was quite good but the “one good face” option is sad so my Troll Druid has been stuck at level 85 forever.
    I don’t get into the whole Horde vs Alliance thing because I like both factions, I just don’t have anything for my Horde characters to do once they reach level cap.

    • I’m really hoping that new character models will breathe some new life into the races. Some races I can’t roll – like dwarf, never successfully rolled one – but others I wonder if its just the same tired faces we’ve seen over the last 8 years.

      Prime example are trolls – that “one good face” as you pointed out lol. If I make two troll alts they almost inevitably end up looking the same which gets boring fast. >.<

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