I have been talking a fair amount about Blizzard and their (frustrating) practices lately, and for today, I feel like discussing something that Blizzard does well – the lore. If you haven’t read the short story Hellscream, please go read it now, because spoilers abound!
As previously mentioned, spoilers relating to ‘the spirit of Kairozdormu’ leaked out, and then sure enough, Garrosh killed the dragon at the end of the first act of Hellscream. This was a necessary disappointment. As Kairoz (and others) have pointed out, he is capable of producing a Horde not just from the Draenor he brought Garrosh to, but all Draenors in all timelines. Kairoz (and by proxy, the Infinite Dragonflight) now rank with the Burning Legion as one of the greatest threats to Azeroth, simply by virtue of their access to infinite resources. The Legion has an army consisting of demons amassed from conquering endless worlds, but the Infinite Dragons can amass their army from worlds spread across endless timelines. Kairoz even admits as much to Garrosh, promising to “cultivate an infinite number of Hordes.”
Instead of accepting this plan, Garrosh, chafing against Kairoz’ manipulations, kills the dragon. He is content to attack Azeroth with just the Horde he can assemble on Draenor. But more importantly, it seems that Blizzard realized just how powerful a villain they had created, and they needed to stop it. The Iron Horde exists as the immediate threat to Azeroth and our heroes. Leaving an Infinite Dragonflight with unrestricted access to all timelines is too powerful and too pressing a threat. How can we spend an expansion working to build an army to defeat the Iron Horde, when we have to prepare for whatever alternate-Horde invasion follows them, and then the invasion following that one? Kairoz was suddenly the largest threat before the players, bigger than Grommash, who is set to be the final boss of Warlords (He’s featured on the box!) and that threat needed to be removed.
It is sad to see that Kairoz was a glorified plot device. He was introduced in Patch 5.4 on the Timeless Isle simply to set up his role at the end of War Crimes as the person who leads Garrosh to alt-Draenor. The only problem is that travel to alt-Draenor required a significant amount of power. At least Blizzard had Kairoz acknowledge what he was capable of; the only thing sadder than a powerful villain cut down early is a powerful villain who is misused. Deathwing’s role as an oversized flamethrower in Cataclysm was disappointing to anyone expecting the cunning manipulations of Lord Daval Prestor. Blizzard had a very specific purpose for Kairoz, and upon completing that purpose, he needed to be removed from the story because the power he needed for his purpose was narratively imbalanced.
Kairoz’ demise is disappointing. Warlords of Draenor should be a sizable expansion (or not?), and one would think that Blizzard would have room for a time-travel based nostalgia raid, especially with the 10 year anniversary of WoW and the 20 year anniversary of Warcraft upon us. Yet that was not in the cards. Hopefully, the story Blizzard is choosing to tell will be more compelling than the one they dismissed.
As mentioned, Kairoz’ ghost still has a part to play in Warlords. There is also speculation, based on how he openly baited Garrosh early in the passage, and then deliberately turned his back on the enraged orc, that the dragon knew what he was doing. Perhaps his plan was to die, or perhaps we will find his spirit still inhabiting a living body. It seems Kairoz’ story is not quite over, and encountering him should allow us to tidy up his character arc. It will be interesting to see how that goes.
The other interesting note to take from Hellscream happens at the end. Garrosh takes Grommash to the Stones of Prophecy and shows him the future from our timeline, where Grom drinks the blood and leads the orcs to defeat on Azeroth. Garrosh’s actions during this part have major implications for the rest of Warlords.
First, Garrosh kills an Elder who is able to see the full vision. While it appears early that drinking the blood leads to ruin, the Elder watches as Grom is able to endure the burden and then kill Mannoroth to free the orcs, resulting in their participation in the armies of Azeroth. The Elder sees that Grom is supposed to drink the blood because the orcs are supposed to bring the Horde to Azeroth so that they can test the Alliance and together make a formidable force to fight the Legion.
Second, Garrosh interrupts the vision for Grommash just as Thrall enters the story and leads the orcs to salvation. Garrosh has set up Grommash to regard Thrall as a villain, which guarantees future conflict. Garrosh is not depicted as a simple warmonger. He is actually looking to use Grom’s hatred for Thrall as motivation to lead. Garrosh convinces Grom that building the Iron Horde and attacking Azeroth is in their best interest, and while he will be misguided, it will make Thrall’s attempts to reason with him that much more difficult. This will be challenging for Thrall since he and Grom were so close in our past. The Grommash-Thrall relationship is full of potential strife, and I am excited to see how that plays out over the expansion.
Overall, Hellscream does a great job of setting up Warlords of Draenor, especially in conjunction with War Crimes, Gul’dan and the Stranger, and the cinematic. Although there are some disappointing choices made, the possibilities for the story at this point are intriguing, and can only add to the excitement for the November 13th release date.
Blizzard cancelled Titan. I love all the disappointment over the loss of a game we knew so little about. And while I personally don’t believe it, I love the theory that Titan became Destiny. http://www.polygon.com/2014/9/23/6833953/blizzard-cancels-titan-next-gen-mmo-pc
The Blizzcon digital goodies have been announced. They should give away snippets of Titan source code. http://wow.joystiq.com/2014/09/23/blizzcon-2014-in-game-goodies-sneak-peek/
For anyone who was staring at their battle.net launcher Monday evening, they may have noticed the patch 6.0.2 preload began. Then it suddenly stopped, because the file size was too big. Then Blizzard restarted it on Tuesday. The new player models will be here quite soon… http://us.battle.net/wow/en/forum/topic/14579837851?page=2#25
Blizzard announced the required system specs for Warlords of Draenor. That’s much different than the specs for Titan, which is now just imagination and faded dreams. http://us.battle.net/wow/en/forum/topic/14580888055