Blizzard’s Storytelling: Bad or Just Unfair?


A lot of times I joking will post stuff from the WoW Forums, or poke fun at the BioWare forums.  I know that really it’s just a festering pool of every inane complaint where the smallest slight is trumped up like a national tragedy, and every idea demands the weight of the cure of cancer, but sometimes… just sometimes…  stuff like THIS pops up.  And it really, REALLY, gets under my skin.

GOOD storytelling isn’t always FAIR storytelling.  Everyone wants their faction to be the heroes and to win the war and come out on top.  There is a reason that Warcraft: Orcs and Humans and Warcraft II had TWO separate endings.  In Warcraft 3, the factions united to drive out the greater threat of the Burning Legion.  In WoW, a game built on continuity to the point where the slightest changed is burned in effigy among the chants of “Retcon! Retcon!” that the former option is impossible, and the latter has been done to death in every expansion.

Now you are probably grumbling at this point and saying “Oh Vry, so you think the Alliance should just lie down and take it?” Not at all, I will happily go on the record saying that the Alliance seriously should have had more victories, especially in the Eastern Kingdoms.  Honestly a quest line in the barely touched Dustwallow Marsh where the Alliance forged a path into the Southern Barrens by breaking through Horde strongholds would have been nice, since the Horde was busy dealing with the Grimtotem threat in the region to begin with.

FAIR storytelling is what people seem to want.  That special kind of story, where everyone wins, Everything blow is matched for an equal blow, and every loss is always met with an equal gain so that nothing is ever really lost.  I’ve played that game.  It was called SWTOR.  Seriously, go play through both factions stories and you’ll see.  Both Factions “win” Correllia.  Taris and Balmorra are lost and then retaken. And the only reason the Imperial’s are losing (or so we’re told, we never really see much losing going on from the Imp side) is because the Sith keep shooting themselves in the foot with stupid internal power struggles.

Speaking of stupid internal power struggles…  Loremaster Cho points something out that I think is very telling of where this story is going.  The Horde is tearing itself apart from the inside,  every race only concerned with themselves: The Blood Elves feel used and have decided to act on their own,  Sylvanus and her Forsaken have always acted in their own interests, the Goblins are naturally out to make a buck because that’s how goblins are, and even Baine enters the Battlefield Barrens story hesitate to join Vol’jin in open revolt because he must think of the Tauren before the rest of the Horde.  Only Vol’jin and his Darkspears seem to be working for the betterment of the Horde supposedly.  I say that because it’s unclear how much of this revolt is taking back the Horde from Garrosh, and how much is just straight up revenge for his treatment of the Trolls.

The Alliance on the other hand, is uniting together.  Bridges are being built, issues being resolved, and treaties made.  There is something happening with the Alliance.  It’s not just “Yea, we’re IN the Alliance, but we aren’t THE Alliance” anymore.  And while we haven’t seen the payday on this yet, I have no doubt that Blizz is laying the groundworks for SOMETHING with the Alliance.  Heck, the Garrosh storyline took 4 whole expansions to play out in totality.

What Blizzard is doing is GOOD storytelling.  They’re laying the foundations and foreshadowing events, they are establishing characters and their relationships, and the events that unfold make sense in the greater narrative.  I’m not going to say that Blizzard’s storytelling is PERFECT, and hardly what I would call FAIR, but it is most definitely GOOD.  There’s lots of hiccups here or there, or plot lines that vanish for months/years before resolving that drive me nuts.  But I always remember that storytelling in an MMO is very different from how you tell a story in a single player game, and definitely different from how you tell a story in a book.  Compared to some MMOs I’ve played, they’ve definitely got a good story going.  Compared to others, it’s still a bit lack luster but fits for the style of game they’re making.

Personally, I’d rather have a good story than a fair one.  But maybe that’s why I don’t pour out my frustration and bile onto the forums. (Besides, I have a blog for that)

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