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