The 4 cinematics (from WoWHead). Each faction gets the first 2, then a single closing one. About 10 minutes to get through it all…
Effectively ends the War Campaign, which was effectively the entire jumping point for this expansion.
I think the story hit all the beats that were predicted over a year ago. This is as close to Garrosh 2.0 as you can get. Sure, there’s a general disappointment that this story was already told, but all stories have been told by this point. There are a thousand books that detail the Chosen One as a hook and their journey… how many of them actually were good?
In that respect, if the overall goal was to eliminate the faction divide through a common internal enemy, that goal is likely achieved. As to why that was a goal in the first place, given the end state of Legion is a debatable point. It seems more like the plot moved the characters, and that generally aligns with some poor storytelling at the major arc level. So let’s hit a few of the arcs.
- Saurfang was an old vet, tired of war. He came to the conclusion that Honor was more than the Horde deserved, and took his own path. He acted strategically to call out Sylvanas, knowing he would die, but also do something to break her spell on the Horde. His death however, leaves a massive hole in the Horde with only Thrall around to fill it. A strong arc of atonement.
- Zekhan (zappy-boi) is the innocent’s perspective in this (like C3P0 in Star Wars). He’s an agent of exposition, blindly following orders until he realizes there’s more. He’s the trigger for Saurfang’s arc, and comes back into the scenes when a decision needs to be made. He is sadly a plot device.
- Anduin. There is no arc here. Anduin at the end of Legion is the same as Andiun and the end of the War Campaign. He is a plot device for Saurfang’s redemption.
- Tyrande. Somehow made into a god, but apparently an exceedingly weak one. Considering her entire arc is revenge, that she isn’t in line with this makes so very little sense. She’s a loose thread.
- Jaina. A redemption arc, where internal guilt on previous decisions puts her on a path of punishment. Her struggles are external compared to Saurfang, and she therefore pushes many of the Alliance plot points forward. Nearly goes off the deep end, but is pulled back. Strong arc.
- Sylvanas. A brooding female lich king in many respects, where others fear her more than respect her. She wants to control death (came close!), and seems to be playing 7 dimensional chess. Until she somehow tells the Horde that they are nothing, with the most minor of provocation. That’s the trigger point for the Horde to abandon her? Sylvanas was always an ends-justify-the-means character, but when you can’t see the ends, let alone the means, how do people follow along?
- Nathanos. I’m calling it. He’s been replaced by something similar to an old-god and is whispering in Sylvanas’ ear for years. There’s no other way to explain his ability to survive through all this without a scratch. If he isn’t a super being, then he is the most overused plot device after Green Jesus in Cataclysm.
From the burning of Teldrassil, the mood has been negative. Blizz has tried to spin this as a “lot of grey”, but it’s been pretty clear there was no grey here. Sylvanas’ has had zero areas of redemption/questioning. She’s been a hammer throughout, and that makes everything she touches turn into a nail. If this is the end of the War Campaign, then I’m glad that both Saurfang and Jaina were able to be further developed. Killing Saurfang without establishing a logical second Horde leader doesn’t give much wiggle room for the writing team.
At this point it’s crystal clear we’re going into an Old God expansion. External enemies are Blizz’s strength, let’s hope there’s a rebound.
I do want to finish on some positive vibes. The cinematics, art, music, and world building team have raised the bar so very high that it’s worth some recognition. It really does feel like another level, and an ultra-redeeming part of BfA. The world is beautiful, haunting, and worth exploring at nearly every turn. The multiple cinematics have amazing production values, and do an excellent job of presenting the general pathos of this expansion.