Then there’s the storyline itself.
Our goal on Draenor is to kill off the Iron Horde and track down Gul’dan. Yet dotted across Draenor are countless tidbits of story that are much more exciting than the usual “kill the orcs” formulae. Of particular intrigue is Cho’gall, his unusual relationship with the pale orcs, and whispers that some of the Arakkoa know of a mysterious dark force buried deep beneath Draenor. Could that be an Old God?
And then there’s Farahlon, a mysterious island that ultimately becomes Outland’s Netherstorm. We thought we’d be seeing it as part of a patch, but it seems to have been scrapped at some point in development.
WoD was painfully straightforward. Gul’dan is our goal from the start, and Khadgar makes sure we know it. The Burning Legion’s resurrection as a set of end bosses was a surprise to no one who read the quests. With their defeat is the end of it all, and the defeat is the least satisfying win you could imagine: (MAJOR SPOILERS IN THE VIDEO):
Yeah. That’s it. You win, it’s all okay, we’re done. When the cinematic first came out, we all assumed that wouldn’t be the end; that a greater threat would manifest itself on Draenor. Yet nothing will. All is forgiven. Time to pack up and go home.
Ultimately, nothing we did on Draenor mattered to Azeroth. We stopped a threat, sure, but none of the friendships we made on Draenor, none of our allies or enemies, nothing in our garrisons, will follow us home. Unless the next expansion incorporates Draenor in some unique way, we could easily abandon all of it and never look back.
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There’s no telling what’s next at this point, but right now Blizzard has left its players hanging. They keep dropping key pieces of information in interviews, purely because the interviewers are asking the right questions. Yet these bits of information are also occasionally inaccurate. We heard once, before the expansion came out, that Grommash would be the final boss of WoD. According to the recent interview, though, this idea was thrown out sometime during the patch in favor of Archimonde. There’s nothing wrong with developers changing their minds, but there is something highly frustrating with messing with players’ expectations.
The playerbase is reacting, too. Whether its due to the flying scandal, the tedium of garrisons, or something else, subscription numbers are dropping rapidly. Predictable, perhaps, but both the highs and the lows are uncommonly so, even for mid-patch. A three million loss isn’t just explained away by time.
Warlords of Draenor was far too short-lived, and provided too little for the time it did exist. It’s a strange expansion that doesn’t seem to have any consequence in the greater storyline of Azeroth, with strong raids and questing that only last a few weeks, maybe a month at most, before they quickly become overdone and repetitive. And it culminates in an anti-climactic finale that resolves nothing, leaving players hungry to know what is next, and if it’s even worth sticking around for.
Time is a flat circle. Our journey in WoD has brought us right back to where we were when we left Pandaria, and nothing has changed. And unless Blizzard has a big plan for where all this is going, I’m worried that nothing will.
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