Friday, June 14, 2013

Metzen for a 5.3 Day

Recently, a fellow Feathermooninite asked what we would do if we had the mythical lore-changing powers of Chris Metzen - Blizzard's Senior Vice President of Story and Franchise Development - for a day and could retroactively rebuild the lore of WarCraft as we saw fit. Since one day is quite a short period of time, it makes sense to me to focus on something that is not only relatively recent and seemingly easy to adjust, but also somewhat controversial: the Alliance storyline in regards to the Darkspear Rebellion in World of Warcraft's Patch 5.3: Escalation. I posted the general gist of this as a comment to Rohan's Alliance vs Horde Storyline Favoritism blog post over on Blessing of Kings, but I figured I would expand on the details here.

The crux of this issue is, essentially, that the 5.3 storyline vastly downplays the Alliance's war preparations and focuses almost exclusively on the Horde's (both Garrosh's Horde and Vol'jin's uprising within the Horde). On the most basic level, this shows up in Orgrimmar where Garrosh's Kor'kron soldiers are cracking down on suspected resistance and marshaling forces and supplies not too far from the city gates, whereas there's no real indication in the open world that the Alliance is assembling a war fleet, constructing siege machinery, or gathering its troops above the normal activity in Stormwind Harbor. There's a scenario and related quest indicating that the Alliance isn't merely sitting around doing nothing, sure, but it gives no real sense that it's truly an Azerothian superpower rivaling the strength of the Horde. Additionally, while changes were made to Vol'jin's dialogue during the 5.3 Public Test to show that the Darkspear Rebellion really does need the Alliance's help if it wants to survive, it does nothing to dispel the perception that the Alliance is nowhere near on par with the Horde until the Horde splinters and turns against itself - and considering that the Horde's self-inflicted implosion also happens to be the major lore reason why the Alliance won the Second War, it feels unbalanced on some level that the Alliance only ever wins because the Horde decides to throw the game.

Getting back to the topic at hand, what I would change for Patch 5.3's storyline would be to add elements that show that the Alliance is not only up to the challenge of taking the Horde head-on, but also actively preparing to take the fight to Orgrimmar. This comes in two parts, the first of which is to add the aforementioned war fleet, siege vehicles, and troop assemblages to Stormwind Harbor to give off the impression that the Alliance war machine has sprung to life and is steaming ahead full-tilt.

The second - not to mention far more substantial and significant - change I would make would be to adjust the story so that the Alliance is no longer working to assist the Darkspear Revolution, but is instead working in its own interests to subvert Garrosh's hold in the Barrens and prepare for the inevitable attack on Orgrimmar. While this would include intentionally not working against Vol'jin in any way, it would also mean that Alliance players would no longer be subservient to him either, which feels much better than questing for the ungrateful jerk after he completely forgets that Alliance adventurers answered his call to arms when he sent Darkspear emissaries directly to Stormwind during the Cataclysm era (Patch 4.1: Rise of the Zandalari) and acts like we're the ones who somehow owe him for that.

Since the question originally asked by my fellow Feathermooninite asked for specifics instead of just complaints, I've spent quite a bit of time thinking about exactly how I would implement the second change, had I the power to do so. My thoughts are as follows, starting with the quest A Little Field Work.

  • A Little Field Work: Move Amber Kearnen and Sully "The Pickle" McLeary towards the southwest and closer to the path between Razor Hill and Orgrimmar.

  • Gathering Intelligence: Upon completing the quest and returning to Amber and Sully, a patrol of Darkspear batriders captures the player, Amber, and Sully, and takes them to where Zen'tabra is found for The Darkspear Rebellion quest.

  • The Darkspear Rebellion: This quest is effectively removed.

  • Vol'jin of the Darkspear: This quest becomes the new The Darkspear Rebellion, and Amber and Sully both accompany the player and Zen'tabra to Vol'jin. Upon completion, a modified version of the infamous "calling Vol'jin's bluff" dialogue plays out between Vol'jin and Amber, but Chen Stormstout steps in when things appear to be going badly and suggests that if the Darkspear and the Alliance can't work together, they should at least try to avoid working against each other. Amber and Vol'jin begrudgingly agree to a pact of nonaggression/noninterference and Chen Stormstout offers to act as a go-between.

  • Arming in Ashenvale: A new quest to make up for the removed part of the chain. Amber Kearnen tells the player to go find the Night Elf in charge in eastern Ashenvale and report recent events. She, Sully, and Chen then depart from Vol'jin's tower.

    In eastern Ashenvale, near the Azshara border, the player finds a small Night Elven camp, mostly made up of a pile of crates, a handful of Sentinels and wisps, an Ancient Protector, Su'ura Swiftarrow, and Tyrande Whisperwind herself. Turning in the quest causes Amber, Sully, and Chen to materialize and act as NPCs for the new hub, as well as unlocking several new quests and dialogues.

    To replace the "calling Vol'jin's bluff" dialogue, Tyrande will instead have a dialogue option that explains the Alliance war plan, which is for Varian to attack by sea with the bulk of Alliances forces and lay siege to Orgrimmar's southern gate to Durotar whilst Tyrande leads a contingent of troops east from Ashenvale into Aszhara in order to seal off Orgrimmar's northern gate. (That would make it the Darkspear Rebellion's responsibility to liberate their strong point in the Valley of Spirits and close off the city's western gate into the Northern Barrens.)

  • Battlefield: Barrens (initial): This quest would now be given by Tyrande Whisperwind with the purpose of stockpiling supplies in preparation for the coming ground assault on Orgrimmar. The methods for obtaining the Kor'kron supplies would be identical to present - killing Kor'kron commanders and laborers; stealing them from Kor'kron bases; scavenging overturned Kor'kron caravans; and escorting Alliance caravans.

  • Battlefield: Barrens (weekly): Given by Su'ura Swiftarrow, this quest would be to further stockpile supplies for the Alliance, but would still yield a Radical Mojo. Supplies, as well as the mojo, could then be traded to Sully, who replaces Ravika, the Darkspear Rebellion Quartermaster, for Alliance players.

  • The Old Seer: The only difference here would be Chen Stormstout's location when starting the quest.

Personally, I think this approach would have been preferable for many Alliance players, not least of all because allowing Alliance players to do things for the Alliance while blatantly avoiding conflict with the Horde playerbase's chosen faction feeds into the ideas of faction loyalty and uneasy cooperation without portraying one entire side as equal to a mere fragment of the other. Additionally, it shows Alliance leaders being proactive and thinking strategically about what it really means to take the fight to Garrosh, rather than being on the back-foot all the time as has been the case throughout Cataclysm and Mists of Pandaria. Finally, many Alliance players have complained about Blizzard's treatment of Tyrande Whisperwind recently, especially in the scenario A Little Patience where she gives the appearance of being too impatient and bloodthirsty to be an effective leader, and I feel like putting her in charge of a significant part of the faction's efforts in Kalimdor would do much to help repair her image and show she is still a capable and trusted figure of the Alliance.

Oh, and also, I'd make it so /hugging Chen Stormstout would cause the player character to become drunk. That'd be canon. =P

No comments:

Post a Comment