Sometimes, they just don't learn. Some things are like watching a cheap horror movie where everyone repeats the exact same mistakes that got everyone else killed in the previous movie. No, you can't keep your loved one around now that s/he's a zombie, they'll just break loose and eat everybody. No, the bathroom is not the safest place to run from a slasher killer, there's only one way in or out, you'll die in that bathtub. But do they learn? No. They seem like they learn, but they have the memory span of a goldfish, and they constantly repeat the same hackneyed plot scripts with a fresh coat of paint on them.
WoW's story telling is quickly devolving to that level. In the wake of the NDA on the MoP press release, and a shockingly quick turnaround to Beta, there's been a lot of information getting put out. I already spoke about the Siege of Orgrimmar, what it represents, what its flaws are, and what Blizzard should avoid to really fuck things up.
If the raid devolves into "Help Thrall defeat Garrosh!" for Alliance players, then it would be, as I said earlier, the death knell for the Alliance as a interesting faction, they'd be nothing more than foils to help propel Green Jesus to greater glory. It's an incredibly demoralizing prospect.This was something that Blizzard seemed to have picked up upon during the massive discontent at the direction of the story during patch 4.2. Dave Kosak wrote a blog post attempting to address the discontent, writing most of it off as a byproduct of good storytelling *snicker* There was one thing that made me thing that they had at least an inkling of the actual root of the problem.
If you’re a die-hard Alliance player, I can understand if you feel left out of Thrall’s story arc. Thrall feels like “their guy,” and Thrall’s journey over the last couple of years may not feel like “your” story, even if his mistakes are about to send the whole world into a potential death spiral. Fair enough. Stick with Thrall as he fulfills his destiny at the end of Cataclysm, and I promise we’ll catch up with other characters -- from both factions -- as we pick up the pieces in the aftermath.
So, just tough it out until the end of Cata, and then the focus will be off of Thrall, and onto other characters. Ok, you're asking for a mulligan. Make use of it.
Back to this week, and the flood of information showing that Garrosh was being deposed, and rampant speculation as to who would take the reigns of the Horde. The usual cries for a basic campfire were thrown around, and a lot of people thought that Vol'jin would be a good choice given the foreshadowing from the Troll starting zones where Vol'jin swore that the last thing Garrosh would feel would be Vol'jin's arrow piercing his heart. Others mentioned Overlord Saurfang, Garrosh's mentor in Northrend, who swore to kill Garrosh himself if he began to lead the Horde back down the dark paths that led to their downfall on Draenor. That speculation ended very quickly when Machinima Realm released a video of an interview with J. Allen Brack, WoW producer, who explicitly stated that players are fighting to restore Thrall as the Warchief.
There's another, someone less high profile source that has also been putting out information. At Blizzcon 2010, someone caught Alex Afrasiabi and Chris Metzen in a continuity error on the lore panel for the upcoming Cataclysm expansion. This led to an alteration on the Beta, and ultimately live servers, an that person became a wow celebrity, with his own avatar in game. He's known as the Red Shirt Guy, after the shirt he wore when he caught Blizzard at their own convention. Among the perks he received was a personal interview with Chris Metzen on the path of lore in the upcoming expansion. Now that the Beta has opened up, he's been open about some of the things Metzen told him about. He asked about who gets to kill Garrosh in Mists, and Metzen's quote was "Garrosh's been a bad boy, and Thrall's gonna have to give him a spanking."
*Sigh* Really? This whole expansion, this whole story arc that's been brewing since Burning Crusade is going to culminate in Thrall, again. People didn't like it in Cataclysm, when he was ostensibly, neutral. How bad are you going to have to warp the story to make the Alliance feed into the idea of replacing Garrosh with Thrall and being ok with it? Everything involving the Horde or Alliance directly in the past two expansions is being thrown away for the greater glory of Go'el, just like Staghelm's narrative was chucked aside to puff that orc up a bit more. Cairne's death, Vol'jin's animosity, Saurfang's guilt, Ashenvale, Turajo, King Wrynn's return and rehabilitation, the destruction of Theramore, the Siege of Orgrimmar, the entire war between the Horde and Alliance, none of it matters as anything more than a plot device to allow Thrall to be painted as the messianic bringer of peace in addition to the World Shaman, Aspect of Earth, and the Once and Future Warchief.
Enough is enough. Most of the core of the story is already locked in. WoW is on rails that they can't leave at this point. But the Siege of Orgrimmar is still the final content patch of the expansion, it's at least 18 months away, and there's still time to fix the crescendo of this flawed song. Here's how:
There's several arcs that need to be wrapped up. I mentioned several of them. In order to establish the final raid, both factions have to have a reason for participating. Contrary to Blizzard's thinking, the Alliance actually doesn't need any more motivation to invade, they just need to do so. The content patches leading up to the Siege should feature the Alliance turning the tide and beginning the march towards Orgrimmar. Do not have them just show up overnight. Scenarios will be a powerful tool here, because they will allow the developers to play create additional content in certain zones that they would otherwise no longer attempt to overhaul again.
There needs to be at least three points on the road to Orgrimmar. First is the turning point. The Alliance needs to decisively defeat the Horde, and get them on the run. This could take place on Pandaria. Once the tide has been turned, the pursuit needs to be shown. With the destruction of Theramore, the Alliance two real roads to Orgrimmar, either from the North through Ashenvale, or from the South from Feralas. I prefer the second option, Feralas is closer to Pandaria, and Shandris Feathermoon's sentinel army has been begging for a real use. Show the might of the Alliance on the march, traveling across Feralas, towards thousand needles, where they will cross into the barrens. Horde resistance in this scenario should be guerrilla, tricking the Ogres of Dire Maul into attacking the Alliance flanks, blowing up the roads, and setting up traps. Once the army is established to be on the move, then the next stop is Orgrimmar, pretty easy.
Getting the Horde players to be willing to depose Garrosh is more difficult, especially trying to do so in a manner that doesn't just cut off the hanging plot lines. There needs to be something that Garrosh does that makes Horde players hate him. The answer, in my opinion, lies with his relationship with Varok Saurfang. After taking time to properly mourn the death of his son, Varok returns from Northrend to witness the destruction of Theramore, and as with the lion's share of the Horde military, he travels to fight over Pandaria. As he serves, and sees what Garrosh has created. After the Alliance routes them on Pandaria, Saurfang realizes how close Garrosh has become to the orcs like Orgrim, Blackhand, and Grom, who led the orcs to the brink of extinction, and decides to live up to the promise he made to both Garrosh and himself. He confronts Garrosh, who challenges him to Mak'gora. This mirrors the challenge laid down to Garrosh from Cairne during the Shattering. Garrosh defeats Saurfang, the student surpassing his master, and kills him, much to the outrage of the soldiers present. Saurfang was an old soldier who had served the Horde faithfully his whole life.
Seeing another dedicated elder of the Horde struck down by Garrosh in a duel resonates with Vol'jin and Baine Bloodhoof, who had watched Cairne die in the same manner, fighting for a last chance to keep the Horde away from the monstrosity that it has become. As the full fury of the Alliance reaches the walls of the Horde's capitol, Baine and Vol'jin decide that the time has come for their words to become actions, rather than merely speaking their discontent in shadowed halls, they rise up against the Warchief. In Orgrimmar, the heart of Garrosh's power, Baine and Vol'jin's rebellion is savagely persecuted, and with their backs against the wall, facing both the relentless shelling of the Alliance and the implacable blades of the Kor'kron, they resort to desperate measures. Baine throws open the main gates of Orgrimmar, allowing wrath of the Alliance to flood into the city, creating chaos. Garrosh and his Kor'Kron loyalists find themselves suddenly fighting street to street against two enemies, and the end of his reign is suddenly far closer than he could have ever imagined.
That's how I would like to see it done. It empowers the Alliance, and allows the Horde to reclaim a piece of what it once was while still evolving, rather than devolving into the complacent entity that it was under Thrall. I could flesh this scenario out for days, involving every race in both factions, but I just wanted to get the bare bones out there.
I mentioned that it wasn't too late to change the ending here. Here's how. Blizzard reads the forums. They know when you're angry about something. You lit the forums on fire when you were unhappy, and they responded. You didn't like Garrosh, so they're letting you kill him. Express your displeasure. There's already a thread on the official forums where people are expressing their irritation at this development, and Daxxari is actively asking people if they would rather see someone else as Warchief. Go post in that thread, make other threads discussing potential alterations that you'd like to see made. When those threads cap out, make new ones. Don't let it rest. Keep the fire alive.