Gaming Philosophy and Warlords of Draenor

Or: Staying in Pandaria and Avoiding Queuecraft

It’s been a few days – less than a week – since Warlords of Draenor’s launch across all servers, and I suppose I feel validated in my decision to hold off – at least, initially, until Christmastime – by the severe lag and server issues that are plaguing American and European realms.

I’m not exactly averse to ever getting Warlords of Draenor. WoW is still a game I love and it’s provided me with some wonderful memories. But I still can’t shake the hesitancy, the feeling that this isn’t what we should be focusing on that has plagued me since Blizzcon ’13. The graphics are pretty. The dynamics of the game look engaging. But the story feels inherently flawed, just as much as it felt flawed when it was announced.

That’s why I’m reluctant. I’ve always had apprehensions when expansions have been announced – Cataclysm in particular I initially thought would be horrible – but those thoughts are usually abated by the beta’s trickle of information.

Draenor still feels wrong to me. I don’t know if that’s intentional or if I’m in a minority here. It feels like a distraction. It feels inexplicable, like the only way to distract from the military and economic issues that would inevitably follow the wars of the past few years is to throw our characters into a universe where they have to work with an army entirely separate to the one in Azeroth’s, because we’re cut off from our homeworld entirely.

It intensely aggravates me. It reeks even more of Blizzard’s consistent avoidance of consequences. I can still tell that, when the threat of the Iron Horde is over, we are probably going to re-open the portal, head home, and forget it all happened. The contained issue of a Draenor that we were never meant to encounter is solved by the fact that we will cut it off from our own reality once we’re done with it.

That’s why I have found it so hard to invest in the story of Warlords of Draenor, as pretty as Shadowmoon Valley and Talador and Tanaan Jungle are, and as cool and innovative as the bosses may be. It’s not our story.

I… want to know what happens after Mists of Pandaria. I want to help out with the rebuilding, to see the effects we’ve had on the ecosystem of the Valley of Four Winds. To show Orgrimmar being slowly turned back into the multicultural hub of the Horde it was meant to be. The ramifications of changing the orcish position of Warchief into a trollish one. The political effects of Dalaran’s shift from neutral to Alliance – and possibly now back to  neutral. Whether Theramore will be rebuilt, whether the Mana Bomb affected the wildlife like it did in Terokkar Forest.

These are not stories that will be told. They are never told. Blizzard cannot maintain coherence between the old worlds of expansions past and the modern changes of the new worlds. We see them go back to old continents once or twice per expansion – 4.1, 5.3, the occasional quest chain – if we are lucky. Blizzard is great at a contained story – but at tying their stories together, they have so far fallen short. I don’t want to make a blanket statement that they won’t succeed in Warlords. But I cannot build the optimism. So I’ll wait until the verdicts on 6.0’s story come in.

Otherwise, I’m now at university. My time for World of Warcraft usually stretches to maybe 1 hour per day. I’m holding off on Warlords of Draenor – for better or worse – until Christmas, l have the time and resources to play and enjoy Warlords of Draenor, if I do buy it. I hope that I’ll be proven wrong when I do eventually join in. And that the servers will look a bit better. Until then, I’ll be doing whatever takes my fancy in-game and wishing the best of luck to those trying to access Draenor.

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