Do you remember all the fuss around Warlords of Draenor? Of course you do. That ill-advised narrative shift back to Warcraft’s alternate past, in order to cash in on the Movie that ended up being a massive critical and commercial success without the need to even use it’s virtual namesake as advertising, became the ultimate testament to how it’s impossible to muck up this formula. However, that forced the Company to not only write a set of virtual rules (Chronicles Volume 1-3) but stick to them. Suddenly, we had new canon, established as lore.
Then, loads of people decided quite publicly they didn’t like this enforced set of changes and wanted to go back to basics.
Since the Warcraft Classic announcement at Blizzcon last year, the silence on this project has been deafening. With Call of Duty’s new PC content scheduled for October (and stuck in my Battle Net Launcher whether I like it or not) one assumes there’s not only yet more stuff that can a) be used as crossover marketing and b) will deflect interest away from Classic’s lack of development… except, perhaps I’m looking at this entire experience all wrong.
This move to shove Activision games into Blizzard’s launcher, by the way, is GENIUS. It is creating a Steam-type gaming ‘portal’ on your PC (Mac users see above) which will distract you from everything else. There’s a separate post (at the weekend) on how the WoW Token might now be a little more important long-term than the Company’s currently attempting to pretend won’t be the case, but we’re not talking about other classic titles here. We’re talking the only Classic that matters. How does the original version of WoW even have a significance when laid beside the sumptuous graphics of Battle for Azeroth?
Well, DUH. The whole of BfA’s has already been tailored, presented and will be marketed as a massive advert for the Classic ‘experience.’
All those people complaining about Red v Blue‘s return should have been the first warning sign. Re-opening old wounds, carefully-placed spoilers plus the way plot is being driven has one aim, and one aim alone: to recreate the feeling of the old Orcs v Humans battles. We are being returned to a state of nostalgia that existed before Warcraft was created, and the only thing anybody knew about Azeroth was it was a massive battleground. All the subtleties and changes in plot that happened after that are irrelevant. We are meant to be living and breathing an experience akin to Classic, without all the five minute buffs and shonky graphics.
Everything in Battle for Azeroth will seem horribly familiar FOR A REASON.
That joke that time is a flat circle? NOT A JOKE. However, my prediction for what comes AFTER Battle for Azeroth is more damning. ActiBlizz will offer a ‘modern’ Warcraft which bears little or no resemblance to Classic, in order to ensure people want to play both, and do so. Having matched up the similarities, we’ll move in a completely different direction. How far different is already being demonstrated with Allied Races and (it appears) a desire by the storytellers to ride completely roughshod over existing plotlines. Normally when a writing team don’t care about the past in order to get to their destination, it’s a fair assumption to make that what matters isn’t history. What you’re heading for is massive change.
Two distinct versions of Azeroth need to exist by the time BfA is done.
Personally, I have a lot of personal thoughts about what happens next in my journey, but am not yet ready to share them. What we’re given in terms of pre-Expansion events will determine my path going forward, but for now I’m quite happy to sit and watch as ActiBlizz attempts to balance the obvious demands of building a massive esports empire against appeasing those of us who don’t give a flying fuck about the concept. Many of us are funding this change, yet won’t stay around too long if there’s not a suitable balance between the game-play and the prize money.
The next six months are going to be very interesting indeed.