WoW! Thoughts! — On the Patch 5.4 Trailer

Thoughts on the introduction to the final chapter of Mists of Pandaria.


Blizzard released the trailer for patch 5.4 last week and it is amazing.  If anything, it’s an exciting short movie (the latest in a series from Blizzard, if you count the equally amazing Burdens Of Shaohao) that suffers from having to sell players on the new raid.  My favorite part is when Garrosh impales Taran Zhu, and then proceeds to monologue about Orgrimmar like a cross between a moustache-twirling villain and a used car salesman.  “The armies of the world will come for me, and within my fortress, they will play with all the wonderful toys I’ve amassed in my new Orgrimmar raid!!!”  But that necessary diversion aside, the trailer is another example of Blizzard’s great cinematic work.

What’s most impressive about the trailer is that we get Taran Zhu vs. Garrosh in a one-on-one showdown.  And while Taran Zhu uses his arrogance and haughtiness to his advantage (how great is his name-checking Grom just to piss Garrosh off?), that alone is not enough to stand against Garrosh’s martial prowess.  My first thought when Garrosh catches the Shado-Pan leader on his axe and begins ranting about Orgrimmar was, “Blizzard wouldn’t kill Taran Zhu in a trailer, would they???”  And to Blizzard’s credit, I couldn’t be sure about that answer.  Several characters have been killed in books (Cairne, Magni, Rhonin), but this would be the first such major death to occur in a trailer.

One the one hand, it’s disappointing for players to get to know these characters in game, only to have their stories resolved in other media.  On the other hand, at least Blizzard is showing us the death and the changes to the world.  The most we saw of the Cataclysm were the quick clips in the cinematic.  All the real action was in The Shattering.  As was the destruction wrought from the Cataclysm, the destruction of the Vale isn’t just a major change to the appearance of Pandaria; it affects the gameplay and lore in the region as well.

Players had been hoping that the impacted Vale would be a phased experience.  The Vale of Eternal Blossoms is one of Blizzard’s more beautiful zones (probably intentionally, given what they knew they would do to it…), and as much as the Golden Lotus dailies may have worn out their welcome, it is a gorgeous zone to fly over.  That will all change as landmarks like the twin mogu statues and the Golden Pagoda will be destroyed.  The twin mogu statues have been representative of Mists of Pandaria since before its launch, as they have been the image on the login screen.  Also, the quests that lead into the zone depict a warm and inviting Vale welcoming players and Pandaren refugees.  Blizzard has since confirmed that the Vale will remain in a state of destruction going forward, and the introductory quests will be altered to reflect the new condition.  While I’m curious about these new quests, it’s a shame that the Vale as it is now is going to be lost forever.

The Vale of Eternal Blossoms was the treasured seat of Pandaria’s power.  The waters of the Vale provided a magical energy not unlike the Well of Eternity or the Sunwell.  The water flowed into the Valley of the Four Winds, and the result is the giant vegetables to be found around Halfhill.  Although the Valley won’t be affected (in game) by the changes to the Vale, one would think that without a source, the waters would stop flowing to the farmlands.  The Pandaren treasured the Vale enough that they created the Golden Lotus, an order dedicated to protecting it, and simply gaining access to the Vale required convincing one of the Celestials that we were worthy.

Ironically, Garrosh would never have a chance to discover Y’sharrj’s dark heart and destroy the Vale if not for the efforts of Prince Andiun Wrynn.  If Anduin doesn’t support Sunwalker Dezco during the conference with Xuen, the Horde would not gain access to the Vale and the Garrosh loses the opportunity to mine for the heart.  While Anduin was right that Dezco and the Horde players allied with him were earnest in their reasons for exploring the Vale and deserving of Xuen’s respect, those characters established Garrosh’s foothold in the sacred place.  Even Taran Zhu was correct when the Horde Goblins began strip mining the region.  He chastised Sunwalker Dezco and attempted to evict the Horde outright, but stopped only because Dezco insisted that Garrosh’s actions were not condoned by the Horde.  If Taran Zhu had disregarded the Tauren’s pleas and excised the Horde from the Vale outright, he might have prevented the tragic outcome.  Then again, by that point Garrosh already had his operations established and it may have been too late.

Taran Zhu’s exchange with Sunwalker Dezco, and his continued mistrust of all outsiders a running theme throughout Mists, highlights one of the best parts of the patch 5.4 trailer.  After belting Garrosh down for a moment, Zhu proclaims, “I have fought beside the Tauren, Trolls, and others.  You are nothing like them!”  In that moment, we see that Taran Zhu has overcome his xenophobia enough to accept what Sunwalker Dezco insisted earlier — that Garrosh and his army were not representative of everyone flying under the Horde banner.  It’s a nice moment of recognition that after all we had done as players, including cleansing Zhu himself of the Sha of Hatred in Shado-Pan Monastery, that we had finally earned this stubborn character’s acceptance.

And then Blizzard immediately kills him.


Taran’s fate at the end of the trailer is unclear.  Stabbed by Garrosh, he is last seen wounded on the ground, stubbornly insisting that the Warchief will answer for his crimes just before the Vale explodes with Sha energies.   Fans were so concerned about the fate of Taran Zhu that Dave Kosak had to tweet a definitive answer about what happened.

Overall, the patch 5.4 trailer does a great job of cementing just how power-hungry Garrosh is.  Throwing Y’sharrj’s heart into the waters of the Vale is a chaotic evil act.  Garrosh only does it because he believes that such power should not be denied or restricted.  Destroying the Vale doesn’t further Garrosh’s agenda, it’s a side effect of his attempt at re-energizing the Heart for his own purposes.  While we’ve seen some of the coming raid bosses introduced already (Nazgrim, the Dark Shaman, Malkorok), Garrosh’s speech gives the impression that he’s been collecting other weapons that we haven’t known about, and sets up the newer bosses in an effective manner (The Iron Juggernaut or Thok the Bloodthirsty, for example.).  Whether it’s to avenge or to aid Taran Zhu, I look forward to fighting Garrosh in the coming patch and preserving Orgrimmar for the Horde.

It’s just a shame that the Vale of Eternal Blossoms could not be preserved for the Pandaren.

WoW! Blurbs!

The beta for the launcher is now available!  Blizzard isn’t just destroying the mogu statues in the Vale, they’re destroying them as the login screen as well!

Remember, Patch 5.4 launches next week!  Unless it launches September 10th!  Does Germany use a different calendar?

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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