WoW! Thoughts! — On PATCH 5.4 SPOILERS AND OMGBBQ!!!!1!!!!

Thoughts on how Blizzard's tight plotting for Mists is producing the most emotionally charged raid yet.


Warning: This post contains MASSIVE spoilers for Patch 5.4 so read on at your discretion.

As datamining reveals further information about patch 5.4, we are beginning to learn how not just the conclusion of Mists of Pandaria will occur but also what appears to be the conclusion of Garrosh’s arc.  From all the information being gleaned from the PTR, it’s going to be amazing.

This is one of the few times in my history with WoW that I wish I had rolled Alliance.  Reading or listening to some of the spoilers for the raid (knowing that Nazgrim will be a boss and Gamon will play a role) gets me excited as a Horde player.  I can only wonder how the dedicated Alliance player, who only knows Gamon by reputation and won’t recognize Nazgrim as being the orc from the Battle of Serpent’s Heart cinematic, feels about this patch.  Blizzard may or may not have a Horde bias, but the very nature of this Siege ensures that Horde players will have a greater emotional investment.

As a Horde player, it’s going to be bittersweet to contend with battles like General Nazgrim or Galakras, Zaela’s Drake.  Nazgrim has climbed the ranks with Horde players: as a Sergeant in Wrath of the Lich King, a Legionnaire in Cataclysm, and finally a General in Mists.  Players that battled alongside Nazgrim on the sea floor in Vash’jir were greeted by him with familiarity when assigned to Hellscream’s Fist during the Mists of Pandaria introduction.  Nazgrim has become a Horde fixture, and his fight will need to be epic to justify his demise.  Galakras, on the other hand, is only the drake of a beloved character.  Zaela, Warlord of the Dragonmaw, joined the Horde in the Twilight Highlands during Cataclysm, and can currently be seen pledging her allegiance to Garrosh at the Dranosh’ar blockade.  As a powerful female orc she’s developed a devoted following, and it’s possible that pleas on twitter may have caused her drake to be the adversary while she survives.

Not all the fights involve longstanding Horde characters.  Norushen was a logical raid boss after Malkorok claimed him as spoils for Garrosh in the Dark Heart of Pandaria scenario.  And Malkorok himself was an obvious raid boss, too.  Introduced in Jaina Proudmoore: Tides of War, Malkorok’s fanatical devotion to the Warchief and his heinous actions, like bombing the Razor Hill Inn, were clear indicators that he would contribute to Garrosh’s defense.  And I, for one, will be glad to slay that overgrown grey bastard.

There are a few tragedies that will affect players of both factions, however.  The Sha of Pride is set to wreak destruction upon the Vale of Eternal Blossoms.  In its path lies the Golden Lotus pagoda nestled underneath the twin Mogu statues.  It’s shocking that Blizzard would destroy such an iconic location — those statues have greeted us to every play session for the duration of the expansion!  It’s also tragic that some of the Golden Lotus that have given us task after task at that pagoda have become corrupted by the Sha and will be a raid boss themselves.  While those players who hated how Blizzard used daily quests early in the expansion may find the fight cathartic, it will be sad to see these familiar faces opposing us in combat.

There’s another group of daily quest givers that will be a raid boss, except their presence is more of an unfortunate circumstance than a horrific downfall.  The Klaxxi Paragons will travel to Orgrimmar to aid Garrosh.  After reaching exalted with the Klaxxi, Kil’ruk the Windreaver warns us that they are still loyal to the Old Gods; and when Garrosh claimed Y’shaarj’s dark heart for himself, so too did he claim the fealty of the Klaxxi Paragons.  One by one, we will have to assassinate these characters that we awoke, protected, and fought alongside as we traversed the Dread Wastes.

To Blizzard’s credit, it’s impressive just how many of the raid bosses we will face have been built up throughout Mists of Pandaria.  The plotting for this expansion has been tight.  Blizzard already displayed their narrative mastery in the Valley of the Four Winds and Krasarang Wilds, where each of the NPC’s encountered through those two zones converge in a spectacular final battle.  The Siege of Orgrimmar offers the same feeling but on a larger scale, as characters we’ve met across a continent and throughout several patches now find their fates locked with an assault on a capitol city.  It wasn’t obvious that the Klaxxi paragon would be a raid boss in this expansion finale, but Blizzard has constructed their arc in such a way that it makes complete sense that they would sacrifice themselves to stop us in Orgrimmar.  And they have done so for every major character involved.

Conversely, there are plenty of bosses with no backstory, and  for raiding, not much is needed.  Outside of Deathwing, all the Dragon Soul bosses had no build-up during Cataclysm, and there are bosses like that in this raid, such as the Iron Juggernaut.  While this is acceptable, as a riveting narrative is unrelated to a raid boss’ ultimate purpose of dropping loot, infusing a raid with developed characters adds an emotional charge that makes these fights about more than just earning gear or mounts.  Players might attain the gauntlets they were striving for, but they’ll do so by slaughtering characters they have come to know and appreciate.  Books and tv shows feature chapters or episodes where important characters are killed, but Blizzard is using the interactive nature of raiding to make sure that the player is the one driving the sword into these once-allies and sometimes-friends.   Beloved characters will fall, heroes will rise, and a Warchief will be defeated, all at our hands.  Patch 5.4 is bringing many changes to World of Warcraft, and the most exciting changes to be revealed are the narrative ones.

WoW! Blurbs!

The Midsummer Fire Festival is here!  But Summer only technically started a week ago, so really it should be the Early Summer Fire Festival.

Blizzard’s reporting an increase in authorized login attempts.  No joking here.  Get an authenticator and reset your password!

50% off the Moonkin Hatchling Pet.  No joking here.  Blizzard needs the money to improve security!

Nick Zielenkievicz
Nick Zielenkievicz
Nick Zielenkievicz

Senior Producer

Host of WoW! Talk! and The Tauren & The Goblin. Sometimes known as the Video Games Public Defender. Wants to play more Destiny and Marvel Heroes but WoW is all-consuming. Decent F2P Hearthstone player. Sad that he lost the Wii that had Wrecking Crew on it. Would be happy if the only game ever made was M.U.L.E. Gragtharr on Skywall-US. Garresque on Ravencrest-US.

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