There’s the first of a number of digital comics available to download via the Blizzard Website this morning, a preview of which popped onto my radar yesterday. These are meant as back story for Battle for Azeroth, which is already a disappointment, but more on that in a moment. Having now read the whole thing, amazingly it passes the Bechdel Test (whether a work of fiction features at least two women who talk to each other about something other than a man.) Sadly, however, Jaina’s motivations for going to fight demons and ‘depending on no-one’ are not nearly as well drawn or reinforced as I’d hoped would be the case, after this character has existed in lore since the game was launched. However, the character of her mother is interesting, and amazingly there’s curiosity where this could be going.
Except, of course, none of this history is going to appear in game.
My opinion on how Blizzard uses stand alone fiction outside the game to ‘augment’ their game-play remains as it has for years: this is wrong. You don’t go and watch a movie and then get told to read three tie -in novels to let that film actually make sense. If this story telling is important enough to include as extra material, why isn’t it playable in Azeroth? Sadly, I can only make my own assumptions about this, and conclude that Blizzard has no idea how to make female characters believable. Having read the fate of the only notable female character created in Warlords, done presumably so that an Allied Race of upright orcs can be shoehorned into current content, it makes me very sad indeed.
But hang on, what about Sylvanas?
This was the moment I knew there was no more interest in lore or storytelling in Battle for Azeroth. Watching other people (for whatever reason) passionately declaring their love/obsession with their factions is, and always has been, something that makes me uncomfortable. That discomfort only intensified as the Company used it to sell themselves: that Azeroth Choppers thing was the watershed. I know better than to profess opinions on Social media after people literally rip them to pieces. For some, there is no attacking their almost sacred beliefs.
Sylvanas has never been an interesting character for me, and always felt like a token figurehead, shoved in to give the girls someone to identify with. BfA has done nothing to change that opinion, and it is better now to leave the lore discussions to those whose passion has not been diminished by what I feel is lacking. If comics like this, with stories that I’d find interesting to see realised in-game are to be relegated to the ‘additional materials’ section of the Expansion output, there’s genuine sadness and disappointment at that decision.
What I wouldn’t give for a game that tells these kinds of stories.
[P.S.: I have a REAL issue with shoehorning Kalecgos in as Jaina’s ‘love interest’ with that throwaway middle panel, but that’s an argument for another day…]