The Mists cinematic was released on Thursday afternoon and the reaction to it has been decidedly mixed. Some loved it, some hated it; some liked it for different reasons, some were just a bit meh about it.
When I first saw it I was excited, it was the cinematic that was the first sign that Mists would soon be upon us. This was the start of the pre-expansion events and I want Mists to be released yesterday so I was excited. I watched it and the one thing that stuck with me was Chen’s expression when the Alliance soldier handed the Horde orc a weapon so they could both fight this new threat together. It was a very self satisfied smirk.
I admit to being a little underwhelmed by the whole thing though, it was nothing like I thought it would be, nothing like the picture I had in my head. That’s the problem with expectations, you build them up so not even you can put into words what they are, and then reality never has a hope of matching up and meeting them. I watched it again though trying to keep an open mind, the image of that self satisfied smirk never far from my thoughts.
That’s when I began to see what was different about this cinematic, what made it just as great as any of the others. The other cinematics were what they were, they were flashy and bold, epic and fast moving. This wasn’t, instead it was very subtle. At the beginning the two banners going down together perhaps suggesting that if the Alliance and Horde continue their fight then they will ensure each others mutual destruction. You have their battle wrecking the shrine area in which they are fighting, so destroying the world around them in addition to each other. In an echo of what has always happened with the Alliance/Horde conflict the orc attacked the human first, further showing the aggression of the orc he attacked the pandaren who had broken up the fight first. The pandaren hadn’t attacked him, all he’d done is break up the fight.
There are those that say that this expansion promised war between the Alliance and the Horde, but that in this cinematic they are shown to work together. However, perhaps this cinematic is giving not just a clue as to how the expansion starts, but how it ends as well. The orc was clearly the aggressor but the human didn’t leave him to battle the pandaren alone, he didn’t leave him unarmed. Instead he jumped in the fight to help, he gave the orc a weapon. The Alliance and Horde have worked together to battle threats that would have ended the world, but perhaps their conflict is another end of the world disaster waiting to happen. Pandaren are about balance and with one on each side of the fence they’re certainly not taking sides.
Now this is just a story but many great stories have parallels to real life events. History is a great teacher and we should all learn from the past. Many stories echo these lessons to help us understand them in perhaps a less painful way. After World War 1 the Germans were humiliated, their economy was depressed, the restrictions and sanctions were felt by some German’s to be too harsh. It was on that platform of making Germany great again that Hitler came to power. Now in game the orcs were put in internment camps, humiliated and punished as a race for what their soldiers had done, this included the wives and children who didn’t fight. Thrall led them to freedom where they took a patch of barren land for their own.
In the Garrosh Hellscream short story the child feels that they were treated unfairly, and punished too hard. The mother knows of the evils of what demons blood caused and believes, as Thrall did, that this is what they have to endure. However, this is a generation after those events. They’ll be many who think that the time of penance is over. Garrosh only sees what the orcs suffered and doesn’t see, or refuses to see what they did that caused that suffering. They’ll be many that are with him, many that want the orcs to be great again. His popularity for pushing the Horde agenda is why Thrall left him in charge as warchief. However, by expanding orc territory they are taking it from others and destroying those who get in their way. Like Germany expanded into neighbouring countries in World War 2. They are taking by force and not by diplomacy and trade. After World War 2 ended Germany wasn’t left to suffer as it had been after World War 1. The victors ensured that everyone was fed, rationing in Britain became worse after the war as we were helping to feed Germany. Many allied soldiers were kept on until the mid 1950’s to rebuild in Germany. Perhaps that human handing the orc a weapon, and fighting alongside him shows that that is what the Alliance will do. They will win the war but then they will work with the Horde and treat them as equals. They will help them get what they need, rather than the situation at the moment where both sides want whatever they want and ignore the other factions requirements.
This would of course by the end of the Alliance and Horde conflict. However, by the time the Mists arc is completed this game will be 10 years old and so perhaps that’s time for a change. Everything up to level 90 would of course stay as it is currently and the Alliance and the Horde would remain as separate entities. After that perhaps a space expansion with the Alliance and the Horde working together completely, no separate bases, no separate armies, one united Azeroth fighting the good fight. This would mean that the levelling experience past 90 would be the same for Alliance and Horde, however it would also mean that development time would be for everyone and not split between Alliance and Horde. There could still be arenas and battlegrounds at level 95, or whatever max level is, as everyone needs to sharpen their battle skills. It would be like exercise manoeuvres and so the sting would be taken out of the fight, in terms of lore anyway.
There are other possibilities too like a third faction or a reshuffling of the current ones. Perhaps rather than pick a faction it would be like picking a nation, you can still trade with them through the neutral AH, but you can’t use their resources as you don’t have a work card. Your choice would also have to be permanent, or take a really long quest chain grind to change, or just pay for a faction change. Lot of options there.
Anyway to sum up I liked the cinematic a lot. It was a lot more subtle than previous cinematics and that’s not to everyone’s taste. However, it hints at possibilities we can only speculate at. I can’t wait to see where Mists takes us.