“Can’t I?”

The WoW community has been in a roiling boil for almost a week now over the pre-patch events transpiring in the lead-up to Battle for Azeroth. Specifically, there is a sense of incredulity surrounding the actions of Sylvanas. I recommend watching the Warbringer video below, but I will also include a little transcript:

Sylvanas: Secure the beach. Prepare to invade the tree.
Delaryn: (cough) Why? (cough) Why? You’ve already won. Only innocents remain in the tree.
Sylvanas: This is war.
Delaryn: No. This… is hatred… rage. Windrunner, you were… defender of your people. Do you not remember?
Sylvanas: I remember… a fool.
–Flashback of fighting, dying to Arthas, then being reborn–
Sylvanas: Life is pain. Hope fails. Now you understand.
–Tears fall from Delaryn, Sylvanas smiles–
Sylvanas: Ah, don’t grieve… you’ll soon join your loved ones.
Delaryn: I grieve for you. You’ve made life your enemy. And that is a war you’ll never win. You can kill us… but you cannot kill hope.
–Sylvanas glances at the tree, then back at Delaryn–
Sylvanas: Can’t I?
–Sylvanas turns Delaryn’s head towards the tree, and then looks at her commanders–
Sylvanas: Burn it. Burn it!

First, let me just say it: this cinematic animated short is amazing in isolation. Delaryn’s wounded coughing sounded a bit amateurish, but the dialog was tight, the imagery engaging, and it summarized Sylvanas’ entire character arc in less than four minutes.

Second, this is Sylvanas. “She would have had a more strategic plan!” Would she? I’m open for a longer debate on the subject, but to me, Sylvanas’ naked nihilism has been on display from the very beginning. Hell, I remember rolling a Forsaken character back in TBC and wondering how many expansions we would go before the Forsaken broke off and became a third faction. The casual sociopathy in plague deployment, and the understanding that the race only expanded by desecrating the dead always made it feel like the Horde accepted the Forsaken only grudgingly, out of existential considerations. The Forsaken were a part of the Horde, but stood apart.

That said, I sympathize with most of the outrage.

If you are a Horde player entertaining the fantasy of being part of an honorable band of misfits just trying to survive, Blizzard has been throwing you under the bus lately. I was not actively playing through the entire Garrosh arc, but the summaries are reading pretty similar already.

That’s not even getting into the problems that the Taurens and other Horde races/classes should be having with A) burning Teldrassil to the ground, B) being tasked with killing Malfurion (a druid leader to both factions), or C) working with a Warchief whose motto is “Life is pain, hope fails.” Sylvanas might get a pass during Legion, but if there is not widespread in-game, in-character outrage from at least the druid and shaman corners, then the Blizzard criticism is 100% warranted.

[Edit: Ah, Saurfang, you beautiful bastard. Well played, Blizzard.]

On the Alliance side, when turning in the post-fall quest to Anduin, he says:

You have shown courage and heart, champion. On this, one of the Alliance’s darkest days. My whole life, I have prayed for peace in this world. But that dream can never be realized so long as Sylvanas Windrunner leads the Horde. She expects this atrocity to crush our spirits. Shatter our unity. But this I vow… the Alliance will endure… and the Bashee Queen’s insidious reign will be ended.

So, regardless of whether Sylvanas retreads exactly the same path as Garrosh or veers into a more interesting direction, I think there is enough foreshadowing here to suggest, at a minimum, she will not remain the Warchief by the end of the expansion. Which is a rather high turnover rate for even the most diehard Horde fan to endure.

We’ll see how it plays out in the coming months and patches.

Let me just say though, oof, that Alliance quest inside the burning Darnassus was rough. And brilliant. It took my 10+ years of completing quests in WoW and used it to twist the knife in a way that not Arthas or Sargeras ever could. We can kill Old Gods… but how many civilians can we save from the flames?

Twenty-five. I saved twenty-five. Out of nine hundred and eighty-two.

Posted on August 3, 2018, in WoW and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 9 Comments.

  1. Damn, these quests sound like fun. I am not subbed right now. I wonder if I should re-sub in order not to miss out on the pre-launch event. And apparently there are free legendaries and all kinds of bugs to explore. Unsure…


    • The quests have been time-gated all to hell for people currently playing, but if they persist beyond the pre-patch event, it should be a touch more impactful. But yeah, I definitely recommend it at some point if you have an Alliance character. The Darnassus quest is the first of its kind, as far as I’m aware.


    • The pre patch events are no longer available the day after the expansion launches I believe.


  2. Anduin’s spiel kinda bugged me. He laid it all at Sylvanas’s feet.

    It was Garrosh!
    It was Sylvanas!

    Maybe, just maybe, it was the Horde. If Blizz wants to highlight Alliance vs Horde, go all in.


  3. Jeff and I listened to the latest book in the wow series…”Before the Storm”. It takes place between the expansion (legion and bfa) and holy crap it just puts the whole forsaken race in a wildly new light for me. And also gave me some crazy insight into the dark lady.
    Well worth the read IMO.


  4. The quest/cinematic, the fanbase reaction, and the Saurfang reassessment were all interesting, although the whole thing has a bit of a strange psychological-experiment vibe to it. I’m not sure quite how I feel about stoking real-life antipathy between players of the two factions as a marketing campaign.

    The thing with Sylvanas, of course, is that she has a better claim than, say, Garrosh, to being made who she is by external circumstances. And she did have a better plan. Her original plan was to occupy the city to interfere with Alliance azerite logistics (obviously we shouldn’t be too pedantic on this) and also to gain a city full of hostages to stop Anduin from making a move. Ruthless but logical, certainly by the standards of Blizzard writing. Instead of following through, her interaction with Delaryn causes her to recall old trauma, snap, and impulsively burn the tree. It is the kind of thing heavily damaged people are liable to do. It’s not stretching the truth too far to say that it was Arthas who burned Teldrassil.

    So the Horde is left with a brilliant but volatile warchief who sometimes just does things like this. Is the trade-off worth it in-universe? Probably, fan outcry aside.


  5. My main problem is that people discuss this like it was a movie, not a game. Things unfold front of the eyes of the “player”, but not by his actions. Even if every horde player would refuse to do the questline, the tree would still burn.

    The fate of Azeroth, the fate of Sylvanas and Anduin and Saurfang are all decided somewhere by a bored, underpaid storywriter (hopefully not as bad as Jessica Price, but who knows). You are just here to see it.

    You are not a player, just a piece in someone else’s hand. And you’re paying $15/month for this “privilege”.


    • People are paying $15 to ride the rides, feel the sense of character progression, and (optionally) challenge themselves on difficult group content. The story is a bonus that ties everything together and provides implicit motivation and anticipation of what might be coming up next.


  1. Pingback: You are not a player. Just a piece in someone else’s game – Greedy Goblin

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