World of Warcraft’s voice actor roundup, R. Lee Ermey tribute, and Horde identity crisis

    
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World of Warcraft: Battle for Azeroth has elicited a lot of praise from the community for its superb voice acting. Blizzard Watch put together a roundup of some of the key characters and their human counterparts, just in case you were wondering who was doing that voice.

And as players explore this new expansion, they’ve been uncovering all sorts of Easter eggs and sly references. Catch that Calvin and Hobbes or Winnie the Pooh nod, did you? Well how about the in-game tribute to the late R. Lee Ermey, who appears as a sergeant in the Alliance’s 7th Legion.

Blizzard recently sat down for an interview that covered the identity crisis that is hitting Horde players really hard right now. “Battle for Azeroth is absolutely an opportunity to look at both sides [honorable and evil] that have made up the Horde storylines throughout the years and pull them together,” said Narrative Producers Steve Danuser. “And maybe give a chance for the Horde to look inward and maybe become something new, something stronger than it ever was before.”

For those watching Matt Groening’s (The Simpsons) new Netflix fantasy series, Disenchanted, might have noticed a small nod to World of Warcraft. See if you can spot it below:

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Schlag Sweetleaf

…might have noticed a small nod to World of Warcraft. See if you can spot it below:

disenchantment teldrassil.png
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anarres

That Blizzard quote is such a non-answer.

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Bruno Brito

“Battle for Azeroth is absolutely an opportunity to look at both sides [honorable and evil] that have made up the Horde storylines throughout the years and pull them together,” said Narrative Producers Steve Danuser. “And maybe give a chance for the Horde to look inward and maybe become something new, something stronger than it ever was before.”

So, what, the fourth Horde or something? The interesting thing about the Horde is that we’re always in some kind of change. We were savages, then we were demonspawn, then we became shamanistic settlers, then we became xenofobic warmongers and then we became civil rebels, and now we are back to warmongering with biological weapons.

It’s not us who need to see who we are. Is Blizzard who needs to decide what the Horde is. Either we are a conquering force, or we are trying to find our place in the world. There is no in-between. You don’t go to war when you’re establishe, you go to war when you need something or want something.

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Aiun Tanks

Yeah. I sure am looking forward to Blizzard deciding for my character whether they’re cool with whatever the Horde’s ethical direction happens to be. Fuck agency, right?

The big problem here is that you never really get agency ANYWAY, but the story’s generally written in such a way that ludo-narrative dissonance is low enough that it didn’t give you too bad a case of verisimilitude whiplash.

Now? That’s out the window, and all the smoke has faded and the mirrors are broken.

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Arcanum Zero

World of Warcraft: Battle for Azeroth has elicited a lot of praise from the community for its superb voice acting.

This is just more evidence that I am a creature of a bygone era — I’ve been watching videos of some of the early content in the expansion, and my biggest impression has been that the NPCs never shut up.

Banter is hard to write, and… well, I’ll just leave it at that. Banter is hard to write.

I do like that the player’s character now shows up in a lot of the cutscenes. That was one of my few complaints about Legion. It doesn’t keep the ‘storyline’ from still feeling like, “Look how important you are, rubbing elbows with all of our Mary Sues! Now sit quietly over there while we play house.”

“And maybe give a chance for the Horde to look inward and maybe become something new, something stronger than it ever was before.”

Wow, this quote. Who are they even talking about? Sylvanas? Saurfang? Or do they really expect the players to collectively sigh and say, “You’re right, Blizzard, we never /really/ understood what it meant to be Horde. Thank you for showing us the way.”

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Sorenthaz

Also if it means that once again they’re going to cop out and protect Sylvanas with some BS rhetoric… there’s just no way they can keep doing that to her character when she’s going to progressively grow more villainous as she already has been.

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Arcanum Zero

Personally, my money is on Blizzard satisfying their false sense of balance by killing off Sylvannas and Jaina in BfA. Kul Tiras has ‘Jaina finally faces the (just) music for Warcraft III’ written all over it, and Sylvannas’ reunion with Alleria is likewise hovering just off stage.

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Arcanum Zero

Oh, never mind, apparently Blizzard wasted the Windrunner reunion on a free comic book. Sigh.

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John Mynard

The Windrunner’s final reunion will likely result in only one sister being left alive.

Sylvanas isn’t going to live out this expansion, at least not as the entity we’ve known her as and Valeera, she’s probably going to become a raid boss at some point.

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rosieposie

Blizzard is really trying so hard to jump on the latest gravy train of pop culture in pushing strong female characters, but their track record writing them is seriously abysmal. It seems as if they are destined to end up either insane, evil (or both) or dead. I suppose there’s still a chance for Jaina, but do I trust Blizzard to actually do her character justice instead of turning her into just another plot device to push this ‘faction conflict’? Hell no.

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Weilan

Identity crysis? That’s cute.

Here’s what’s gonna happen: The Alliance will help the Horde kill Sylvanas and both will be back to making mongrel babies together.

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Arcanum Zero

This is a pretty common refrain, but I think it’s far more likely that Blizzard carefully avoids doing this specifically because they are afraid of being seen as recycling. There’s bad writing and then there’s just not having a plan. I can’t believe the latter is the case.

This interview reads like they are instead trying to integrate Sylvannas’ (and Gul’dan’s, and Blackhand’s, and Doomhammer’s, and Hellscream’s) vision of the Horde back into the current Horde. Which is fine — in order to be infinitely sustainable, Warcraft needs two factions that are both morally grey. The problem is that the Alliance has no comparable dark history to draw on.

So if they want to avoid the Horde becoming ‘the evil faction,’ they are going to have to spend this entire expansion dragging the Alliance through the mud and fel and void. Wedging 25 years of plot development into three patches is going to feel forced, and no one is going to be satisfied by the result.

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Bruno Brito

Maybe. I think they’re trying to make Sylvanas something like a new Doomhammer, but she’s more like Gul’dan. If Blizzard was going for something like DH or Hellscream ( Grom ), they failed.

Saurfang is more akin to them both than Sylvanas. Maybe they’re trying to relive the old days of the Horde with Gul’dan and Blackhand on one side, and the honor on the other, but this entire debacle feels extremely cheap to me. We already saw this once, i don’t see any reason why the Horde would be so inept to allow it again.

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Arcanum Zero

It doesn’t surprise me at all to see most of the Horde fall in line behind the Forsaken: the orcs, the blood elves, the nightborne, the goblins, the Zandalari — this is completely in character for all of them. The Siege of Teldrassil is bad writing because it ignores player agency and desire, not because it’s in any way inconsistent with the lore (you could argue it mischaracterizes Sylvannas; I think that’s a complicated question).

Gul’dan and Blackhand represent the last time the Horde was a military success without the aid of the Alliance. Doomhammer lost the Second War, Hellscream’s conquest of the night elven lands was interrupted, and Thrall and Vol’jin have essentially been cooperating with the Alliance ever since.

Thrall was not wrong about why the Horde needed Garrosh. He was just wrong about Garrosh. Sylvanas finishing the job in Northern Kalimdor is a powerful touchstone for generations of Horde, and the only Horde who give a damn about the loss of Lordaeron are the Forsaken.

Make no mistake — Horde players might be angry, but in-universe, this war has been an enormous success for Sylvannas with everyone but the tauren and Darkspear.

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Rolan Storm

A bit to add: for the first time in a long time it feels that Horde stands completely separately. Last few expansions Horde was cooperating with Alliance to avert one disaster or the other. But they are not one and the same, they are separate. Enemies or competitors (well, now it is cleared) – they are.

I think Sylvanas’ actions is actually right plot move. Regardless of outcry. Why people even think that immortal undead could be nice at any point or even tolerable for that matter? They are what they are.

digitalheadbutt
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digitalheadbutt

I like the trajectory of the story and so far BFA has been really fun.

Forsaken have the racial ability to cannibalize, no one should be comfortable with that :D We used to be the creepy faction that even other horde races looked upon with distrust. Now we in charge and folks see why that was mistrust was well founded.

My opinion is that people are too precious about the storylines. They have rarely ever made sense and we as players have never had any real agency. WoW is the gaming equivalent of a soap opera, I wish folks enjoy it for what it is not what it never was. If I want a rich narrative I wil go read a book or play Witcher 3.

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rosieposie

I agree, but for me the big problem and the source of my discontent was my own foolishness in trusting Blizzard when they said that going forward they wanted to give us more nuanced and mature stories. They are clearly incapable of doing so (that, or they since decided that there’s more profit in appealing to the lowest common denominator), and I should never again forget this.

digitalheadbutt
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digitalheadbutt

That’s fair, they do tend to try and sell their new expansions as some kind of narrative leap but it rarely is. I think Wrath was the last time they did something really interesting. Since then they have been struggling but even then they have been pretty fun. The only expansion I didn’t play was WoD. I am not a fan of time travel :D

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John Mynard

Here’s something that is getting missed. Ogrimaar, Stormwind, Silvermoon, Thunderbluff and everywhere in between, should be ghost towns, populated by very few hollow-eyed, shell-shocked adults with no hope and gangs of semi-feral children. Every species on the planet should be considered an endangered species. because, for all intents and purposes, Azeroth has been undergoing an apocalypse almost constantly for the last 30ish years in linear time that has seen monumental losses on all sides.

If we assume that, at the end of the Third War, the Kingdom of Stormwind represented 75% of humanity and had a population of maybe 500,000 within its borders, then over the course of the following 30 years the armies of Stormwind have suffered 400,000 KIA(a high estimate), then that leaves 100,000 spread across a fairly significant geographic area, almost all of whom aren’t fit to fight because they are weak or whatever. The Horde is probably worse off, having maybe 50,000 orcs left alive period. And these are the most populous races. Figure 3/4 the human situation for the Dwarves. But the rest of the Alliance races are in bad shape. You’ve got probably 10,000 werewolves and Gnomes barely hanging on. Probably similar numbers of Pandaren. But the Elves, oh god, the Elves. Following the Burning of Teldrassil, in which only 900 Night Elves AND Gilneans were saved canonically, there are likely only a few thousand left.