Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Welcome To the Future

[Author's Note: If you have a Tinfoil Hat, I'd strongly suggest you put it on before you read this Post. The Management thanks you for your understanding.]

I finally managed on Saturday night to watch the Warlords Cinematic for the first time.

I'd seen a fair deal of commentary on it beforehand, which is a first (because normally I'd have watched it 'live' with everyone else) and I was aware of a number of dissenting voices after the Première. Some complained that there was no relevance for Alliance players, others that there simply wasn't a hook for either faction. The fact this is a single and pivotal moment in Warcraft history wasn't lost on me however. Like Arthas and Sindragosa, or Deathwing and Azeroth, this is a moment when the storyline rises and falls into the path of the viewer, and there are inevitable conclusions to be drawn as a result.

Okay, strap yourselves in people, HERE WE GO.

I watched the whole thing once, then again in as high a quality as my intermittent French Internet would allow, and two things immediately jumped out at me when the Cinematic ended. No, I didn't notice the ‘Orcfest’ or think the whole thing was a deliberately skewed presentation for the Horde players in the audience. The points that that grabbed me immediately?

That would firstly be this title card:

and secondly, this Special Guest Villain.

These are Interesting Times we are heading into, and I'm not talking about the new character models or the change to item stats. For the first time in ten years we're in Alternate Universe territory, remember? Look, there’s even a CM who'll turn up here and remind you of the fact in case you've forgotten:

MULTIVERSE. Hands up if you're still confused? ^^

Yes, it's okay. I get that this is another timeline we've ventured into, and that's why Outland can exist at the same time. The question however I now want to ask as a result of this key change in our location is simple:

How long do we intend to remain in this Alternate Universe, exactly?

Part of me thinks, looking at the nature of the Cinematic, that this isn't necessarily a one Expansion deal I've just signed up for in the now established Multiverse.

Coming around *again*

Hollywood loves a reboot: just look at Stargate (above) as an example of that, or Superman, or Spiderman… in fact, backing a completely new and original idea is often the risk that major studios aren't prepared to take because they can’t be sure that concept will ever make back the money invested to begin with. Warcraft’s history is vast and rich, but a great deal of it had already taken place when the original game was conceived, and we've spent the last ten years referencing the key moments in that past, and being conveniently dropped into their narratives via the Caverns of Time instances. When you think about it, these key markers in Azeroth's History have been the best part of the whole process for many people: the Legion, The Battle for Hyjal, the Well of Eternity...

Which is where the first pointer, our Title Card, now comes in.

Thirty Five years is a VERY specific frame of reference. They could have simply titled it ‘Draenor’ or ‘The Past’ but no, we get a very deliberate marker, and I feel this is significant for several reasons. First off, it sets the player in a hugely momentous point in Warcraft history. Forget the ‘DocBrown’ explanations that have become popular, this is Warcraft plonking players at a crossroads: because the Orcs don’t drink Mannoroth’s blood, a whole slew of significant events then could also simply fail to take place in the Alternate Universe we now find ourselves drawn to because of Garrosh's intervention. Let's be clear here: I'm not talking about the past we've left, but the present we now find ourselves in WITHIN THIS MULTIVERSE. A Multiverse where, it must be said, a large number of the Burning Legion's major players may well still live and could be sent out in the NEXT expansion for players to kill YET AGAIN. After all, we all know that death is 'only a setback.'

I dunno about you, but that could be a great way of reinventing our basic plotline for a second turn of the wheel.

Blizzard could very easily be setting us up for a reboot of the Warcraft Universe from this point forward. I think a lot of that will depend on what the Warcraft movie's got hidden up its ample sleeves in a year and a bit's time.

There's reports floating around the internet of a trailer that never saw the light of day outside the San Diego Comic Con, of a trailer that pits Orcs against Humans in a manner that will be eerily reminiscent to those who understand the early Lore of the Warcraft games that came before the MMO. There's a mention in the trailer description of fathers and sons too, which is of course what we ALSO see front and centre in the Warlords Cinematic. There have been those who have questioned Duncan Jones' pedigree in producing this movie considering the two major motion pictures he has under his belt: 'Moon' and 'Source Code', which BOTH ironically have a lot to do with bending and warping the fabric of time. Without spoiling ether for anyone who's not seen Jones' previous outings, this is a man who is very adept at making the process of 'linear time' work to his advantage in a dramatic setting. Part of me now wonders whether this entire setup isn't part of a bigger picture, that perhaps the events we know that make up the movie aren't as cut and dried in Lore terms as maybe they might be... and that maybe Jones' appointment is deliberate. If you want someone to help you re-write your timeline, this guy has bags of experience. Oh, and before you remind me he's only directing, go check the movie's IMDB credits. Go on ^^

And then, on top of all this, there's this year's Blizzcon to consider as a way to link the present and the future together.

Some people are already speculating that we could have announcement for the NEXT Expansion before the last one is out, which would be largely ironic considering the six months we lost along the way this year. However, what many people will be failing to consider is the importance of linking together current playable content with the Movie release: if I know Blizzard as well as I believe I do, somebody somewhere already has a plan for this. After all, as has been established on many occasions:

Just remember to substitute the word 'Blizzard' for 'Russians' in that clip and you're up to speed.

I've been making this point since it was clear we had a Movie to go with the Game: Blizzard will want a way to link the two together, and how would that be possible if the Movie's going to reference some key points in the game's past we can't visit because they already took place?

That's not a problem if EVERYONE reboots along the way, now is it?

The NEXT Expansion is now the thing I'm really interested about, because I've had this concept sold to me for a year now, pretty much non-stop. I've grasped the past, but this isn't something I as yet want to embrace, because I'm not an Orc. However, I'd put a lot of money on the fact this is deliberate planning on Blizzard's part, because the NEXT Expansion could well focus on Humans, thus meaning we have both sides of our Warcraft Movie's twin protagonists fresh in the memory. Throw in the possibility of some MAJOR Demon Showdowns (TM) into the mix and I can see a way to get Orcs v Humans to fight each other, and then turn to attack a common enemy: the Burning Legion. You'll notice there is NO real indicator of exactly what we'll get in turns of plot in this Movie as yet, and no concrete evidence of what viewers can expect in terms of actual battles. It's all deliberate speculation for a very good reason. A good marketing department won't show their hand until everything is ready.

This is not the Reboot you are looking for ^^

Those of you who are wondering why Grommash is the end boss of the Expansion? You defeated the son, now you'll defeat the father, but to what end? The Legion is already knocking at Draenor's door, and even if Mannoroth has not corrupted the Orcs, his shadowy mates are very much aware of where this planet lies and what potential it offers as a result. The scope for adventure in 'alternate universes' is huge, as in the possibilities for movie tie-ins. How this all fits together? We don't know as yet, but I'll GUARANTEE it will, because this won't just be about getting bums of seats in cinemas. This will be a way of getting new watchers of the Movie to sub to the Game, and that will mean giving viewers a world to play in that is reflected in the plot of the 'adventure' they go see.

That means our World of Warcraft could be about to undergo quite the radical shift of emphasis.


dobablo said...

More huge stonking tinfoil hattery driven from the Chilton interview.

"Players may not go to Farahlon during this expansion, it depends on if the content is relevant to the expansion."

Emphasis on my key words. Implies that Farahlon is relevant to the next expansion, and if the next expansion is still connected to AU Draenor...

gnomecore said...

All the WoW major story is leading us to an epic fight with Burning Legion. Most likely it will not be a defensive operation (we already had some, what's the reason to add one more), but an onlsaught to Sargeras' residence (a brand new world!). It will also mean the end of Warcraft and the last expansion as there cannot be anything more epic.

Even in Pandaria, Wrathion makes hints about possible Legion invasion (when he shows us how planet is bombed from Twisting Nether). Fighting the Iron Horde perfectly fits his idea of uniting Azeroth in front of a common enemy. Orgrimmar was the first rehearsal (Varian still promised to crush the Horde even if they barely don't wipe the occasional jam stain from the table). Wrathion helped Garrosh to escape through time and space ("War Crimes" book) to create one more powerful enemy - that would be a second rehearsal, this time it's not sandbox of homeland, but invading the other world, building bases and working together again. In the end of all, united forces of Azeroth will be prepared to face the Legion.

Creating a hole to revive the gone Legion's commanders and introduce them into the modern Azeroth doesn't make much sense. Mannoroth was slain even before the expansion started. What is missing are Archimonde and few Nathrezim leaders, but Sargeras could easily procede without them, with Kil'jaeden in command. Not a big loss.

So I see this expansion as a Wrathion's sandbox in the flow of major story. The point is, that old Draenor is connected right into the modern Azeroth, not an old one - so no old Azeroth (and thus medivhs, arthases, malfurions, illidans) exists. And thus no games will be played at 35 years-old Azeroth. With the movie, we get a background to remember the old times.