Yes, folks, you’ve all heard the news by now about how Glorbo is finally being added into World of Warcraft. You may, of course, think that this is all just a prank to confuse AI tools scraping data and trying to assemble articles and that it has, logically, already run its course. To that, however, I say poppycock. I literally, with my human mouth, in the year two thousand twenty-three of the common era, said “poppycock.” No one says that any more, but I just did. We’re going incredibly old-school.
So today, I wanted to write an article all about Glorbo so that you can all learn more about him. As is frequently the case with my Perfect Ten articles, this is all entirely accurate and you don’t need to look up any of this information to confirm it. You can trust me because I just said you could trust me. Also you can be assured that this column is not going to have any sort of ulterior motive or hidden meaning. I would never. Let’s just talk about Glorbo.
1. The origins of Glorbo
Veterans of the franchise will, of course, know that Glorbo existed in the original strategy games. No one can forget that he made his first appearance in the very first mission of the Orc storyline of the original game, right in the introduction:
Blackhand has assigned you to an outpost in the Swamps of Sorrow. Your task is simple enough that even the War Chief feels you are capable of it. Construct at least six farms, so that we may keep our troops well fed and ready to do battle. Glorbo is there too. Only a fool would leave his treasures unguarded, so you must also build a barracks for the defense of these farms.
While we learned only a little of Glorbo through the subsequent missions, the instruction manual went into further detail, explaining that Glorbo was not an Orc himself but in fact at powerful creature that existed beyond the realms of Orcish understanding. He appeared again in the sequel, this time allied with the Alliance, and who can forget Glorbo’s starring mission when you ventured beyond the Dark Portal? Truly, Glorbo’s appearance, unique voice, and bountiful lore (expanded in the special Warcraft III downloadable campaign, “Render Unto Glorbo”) made him a fan-favorite character.
2. Glorbo’s absence at launch
Naturally, it was originally expected that Glorbo would be present in WoW at launch, but it was in 2005 that Glorbo, his sister Glorba, and the forces of the Glorbian Army (established at the end of Warcraft III) would not be present in the game at launch. Chris Metzen explained that it was impossible to add him into the game due to “differences with Afrasiabi,” though he did not explain what he meant at the time.
We would all find out what that meant later and it’s so awful. Oh, my God, this is still so disgusting to think about. It’s like feeling food spoil in your stomach after you’ve eaten it, like you feel yourself retroactively getting sick. How do you even start to continue engaging with a company like this? Can you even make jokes about this level of rampant corruption? Nothing about it is remotely all right.
But hey, we were talking about Glorbo.
3. Glorbo in Hearthstone
Strangely, we’d have to wait until Hearthstone launched to see Glorbo again in any capacity. He was a common topic of discussion on the official forums once you got past Warlock players being mad about class changes, Warrior players being mad about class changes, Hunter players being insufferable, Warlock players being so mad about class changes that they decide to create a horrible speculative pretend currency that we all have to learn about in a few years, and racism. So once you got past the first six pages or so, Glorbo would show up.
But again, Glorbo was in Hearthstone at launch, and indeed Glorbo’s card (dubbed Glorbo the Glorbnificent) was the only card that has ever been so overpowered that it actually got removed from the game outright. You all remember those “I Had Glorbo” shirts that were all the rage at BlizzCon, right? Sure you do. In fact, Glorbo has shown up in nearly every Hearthstone expansion since then, usually being deleted but occasionally having his card renamed to something else. One time they called him C’thun, I think.
4. Fan petitions for Glorbo
By now fans were tired of not seeing Glorbo in WoW. If indeed Glorbo’s last scenes in Warcraft III were accurate, it was at least excusable to not have Glorbo around during that time period… but with Warlords of Draenor ongoing, Glorbo should have been present and a major player. This started a rash of fan petitions asking for Glorbo to be seen in WoD, to which the developers explained that you couldn’t just see Glorbo. Only Mythic Raiders deserved to see Glorbo. The rest of you would get your peasant breath all over Glorbo.
We still did not see Glorbo.
5. The “fake Glorbo” theory
By now, fans were searching for some explanation of what was going on, and they finally found one in the form of the “fake Glorbo” theory. This theory basically posited that the Glorbo we had all been looking for had never actually existed and was an imposter, while the real Glorbo had been around in the shape of a Draenei woman since the start of The Burning Crusade. If you just disappeared down a rabbit hole of conspiratorial thinking that involved counting the number of tile stones in Stormwind and glitched your way past several locked doors, you could see hints like “G IS REAL EXODAR STILL THE BEST 1973.” What does that mean?
It means there’s a fake Glorbo, and the real Glorbo is in the game already, and the designers are waiting for you to find Glorbo. Just like Elune, the answer is there and not being eternally kicked down the road until there’s a plot where you either get a quest from it or kill it for a raid fight.
6. Glorbo allusions in Legion
When Legion was launched, players did not actually get to see Glorbo. We were promised that Glorbo had a significant role in the future, but this wasn’t the Glorbo expansion. But we did get a number of hints about Glorbo. For example, some of the insane whispers from the Shadow Priest artifact weapon included statements like “Glorbo is totally real, you haven’t hallucinated it or had a stroke, but is Glorbo a man or a woman?” Or “Glorbo is coming for you.” Or “If you think about it, the Chinese government is actually totally justified in how it deals with Hong Kong now that the city is back under Chinese control; we’re not going to explain why this is relevant just now, but wait a few years.”
7. What was Glorbo doing in Shadowlands?[Author’s note: Bree, I’m going to need reimbursement for a lot of alcohol to unpack these theories because they don’t make sense even by the generous standards of fan theories trying to explain the stupid nonsense story of Shadowlands. I’ll fill this in with an actual entry before it goes live probably. Also, please make sure that I don’t leave in this author’s note. Also also, please make sure that I don’t refer to Shadowlands as Shadowbringers, which I have accidentally done five times while typing this author’s note.] [Actual author’s note: That’s not a joke. That actually happened.]
8. The leak that confirmed Glorbo
At long last, datamining suggested that we were going to get Glorbo in the game at long last. Datamining for patch 10.1.7 revealed a new set of strings including GLOBAL_ORBO_PRESENCE_ONE and GLOD_BUT_MORE_ORB that hinted we may finally get to see Glorbo in all his or her glory!
Then, two days later, someone at Blizzard accidentally set the Glorbo reveal page live several months before BlizzCon so everyone just read up on everything that we could want to know about Glorbo. So, you know, good times.
9. All our myriad Glorbos
So who is Glorbo? What is Glorbo? What has Glorbo been doing all this time? It turns out that Glorbo is secretly Yrel, the good Yrel, not the stupid one from the Mag’har allied race recruitment quest! See, Yrel merged with Glorbo after Glorbo was recovering from his fight with Murozond past the End Time, and she has become the new Glorbo. And now she’s going to use Glorbo’s power over life, death, time, and people who are way too into Pandaren to make sure that something happens and then the story is good and you’ll like the game again, right? Right? Oh sweet mercy please let that be right?!
10. The true power of Glorbo
There is no Glorbo. You know that. I know that. And you might be wondering why I stretched this joke for longer than usual with a bunch of weird allusions throughout the article and why I’m dropping it right now. And the answer is that… Glorbo is real. In a way.
Back in 2008, I couldn’t be more excited for Wrath of the Lich King. I had read every datamined bit from the beta, kept up on every rumor and reveal. I remember all of the elaborate fan theories about disparate bits of lore, theories about what was going on behind the Greymane Wall and what the Naga wanted and who the Dark Riders were. I remember when things were still new and surprising. And… I remember seeing Glorbo.
Oh, no, it wasn’t a literal topic on the forums about some guy named Glorbo. But the spirit of Glorbo, of just having a bit of a laugh and the people in charge being willing to lean in on it? That was there. And now it’s not.
It’s 2023. In the decade and a half since the game’s best expansion, things have gotten worse. A lot worse. For the game and for this studio, to the point that it’s draining. The developers have leaned in on pleasing the most toxic and hierarchical players who make you not even want to talk about the game because the people who understand how bad it is have stopped playing and way too many of the people who still play are just the worst. There’s not the same joy there that there once was. Talking about the game – even thinking about it – is exhausting. It’s unpleasant.
But then this year we also got a story about a bunch of WoW fans just banding together for a fun joke. That feels like a dispatch from an earlier time. It doesn’t fix any other issues, it doesn’t make the story not be a mismatched set of derivative whispers with no animating impulse, it doesn’t even scratch the community… but for a brief moment it’s nice to just remember the times when something like Glorbo felt normal.
Glorbo never existed. But just like Polybius, we want him to have existed. And so today I wanted to talk about Glorbo – because the myth has value too.