Blizzard continues the onslaught of hype for World of Warcraft’s newest expansion, Battle for Azeroth, which is slated for release on August 14. The decision to use the unique hand drawn art style video for promotion has been great for the company so far, case in point, the Warbringers: Jaina feature which shows the Ice Mage in a whole new light as she prepares the Alliance for the inevitable war against the Horde. The newest Warbringers short showcases one of the most popular, if not the most popular character in Warcraft history, The Banshee Queen Sylvanas Windrunner. The current Warchief of the Horde shows her darker side, and not everyone is happy about it.
Sylvanas Windrunner leads the Horde to victory, but a chance encounter causes her to make a decision that will forever change the course of history on Azeroth. pic.twitter.com/GgpzRwNN6O
— World of Warcraft (@Warcraft) July 31, 2018
Currently in WOW, there is a pre-expansion campaign going on called War of the Thorns, in which the players complete quests in regards to a series of events that lead to the major war in Battle for Azeroth. On the Horde side of the event, Sylvanas leads the Horde army to Teldrassil, the World Tree of the Night Elves, and the source of their livelihood. The Warbringer feature starts out with Sylvanas and her army marching toward the Teldrassil, having already defeated the Night Elf force. One of the Elf Rangers, barely alive, begs Sylvanas not to destroy the tree, as it houses thousands of Elf woman and children. Sylvanas, in a moment of hesitation, reminisces about when she was still a High Elf as she struggled to save the Elves from Arthas (then Champion of the Lich King), who led the Undead Scourge on a rampage across Azeroth. It was in this battle that Sylvanas lost her life to Arthas, but she suffered a fate worse than death as Arthas brought her back as the undead Banshee Queen we know today.
The flashback ends with Sylvanas stating that “Life is pain, hope fails.” And with that, Sylvanas orders the World Tree burned to the ground. The Ranger looks on as the fire consumes the sacred tree, and all the inhabitants inside it. Sylvanas has been the go to character for fans of the series, Horde or Alliance, and she’s the one that most people see when Blizzard speaks about or promotes WOW. Whether Blizzard intended to or not, her recent actions in the story have created a massive outcry of anger and sadness, and they’re all directed at Sylvanas. The fans who have supported her all of these years are now split, and to honest, their is no way to defend her. Sylvanas may have done some things that were frowned upon in the past, but committing genocide to an entire race is something we never expected to see her do. Even Horde players are now a little uncomfortable with Sylvanas at helm, as it makes everyone in the faction appear to be a villain.
While we may learn the reason as to why Sylvanas burned the World Tree in Battle for Azeroth, it’s unlikely that anyone will forgive her. This event points to the Horde as the evil aggressors, and the Alliance as the moral defenders of justice. The balance has changed, and unfavorably against the Horde. This may also lead to an untimely end for Sylvanas, as her actions are undoubtedly non-redeemable. In short, the fan base is in panic mode and until the story is resolved, and will stay that way for a long time.
In the real world, the storyboard writers at Blizzard have received various forms of harassment, and unfortunately death threats, from people who took exception to the Sylvanas short. In response to this, many threads have appeared in the World of Warcraft subbreddit, asking people to stop harassing the employees over a short. Regardless of what takes place in the story of a video game, it is never acceptable to intimidate or scare the employees who put their blood, sweat, and tears into the project.
Even though Battle for Azeroth is more than a week away, the wounds of battle, physical and emotional, are being felt around the world, in Azeroth and real life.
You can watch the Warbringers: Sylvanas feature here: