Updated Tue, Jul 05, 2011 by Saia
Everyone who plays World of Warcraft knows that Blizzard has a soft spot for the Horde. However, I’ve spoken to several folks at Blizzard who let slip who amongst the founders plays Alliance even though the rest of the company seems to prefer playing as Orcs and Tauren. Even if such knowledge doesn't factor into the game itself, It’s still a nice thing to know.
Playing through the new content though, it’s all about Thrall. Now he’s accepted himself as Go’el, son of Duratan, rather than a thrall enslaved by a human, he’s not really Horde anymore. But that said, the Alliance hasn’t really had much involvement in major storylines for a while.
Yes Anduin got his fifteen minutes in the spotlight during the last Christie Golden novel but that’s not the same as the game. Novels and manga and whatnot are extras - things you shouldn’t need to read unless you want to - but because most of the backstory for Cataclysm was outlined in The Shattering: Prelude to Cataclysm you needed to. Or else, just read one of the various wikis which goes into the character’s biography.
Of late though, WoW’s lore has stopped focusing on the individual sides and instead on their common enemy. Like Arthas before him, Deathwing has - for the most part - united the Horde and the Alliance together to defeat their common foe. This time though it’s even more vital for the sides to lay down their arms and put aside their animosity, at least outside of PvP.
Visit Hyjal and it's all about the combined effort.
The major NPCs of the Alliance like Malfurion also seem to have transcended the petty politics of the two factions. Hyjal, for example, is awash with the Cenarian Circle which has seen the Tauren and Night Elves standing united with a common goal. There’s a particular quest in which you have to go and kill some mobs in Sethria’s Rest and you find yourself armed with several Druid NPCs from both the Horde and the Alliance.
Aside from this, we’ve seen precious little of the Alliance as a focal point in the story of Cataclysm. Varian stands in Stormwind with Glenn Greymane at his side while his people rebuild the ravaged city, Tyrande watches over Darnassus, Velen is off doing whatever it is prophets do in the Exodar, the Council of the Three Hammers is still searching for harmony and High Tinker Mekkatorque is knee-deep in taking his beloved Gnomeragan back. The Alliance is busy with its own stuff but it’s about time they had some place in the game’s lore again.
Deathwing’s Cataclysm is supposed to have shattered Azeroth, to have taken resources from each side and made life that more perilous. Why have the Alliance not made attempts to take back Southshore and parts of Ashenvale? There’s no follow up on those storylines and even the Worgen, with their epic intro, quickly fall by the wayside and you need to roll a Horde character just to witness the conclusion.
This is all we see of the Alliance; Jaina and Tyrande at the ceremony of Go'el and Aggra.
Yes Blizzard favour the Horde, they always have and probably always will. But, while the Alliance might be a tad neglected, they’re not angels either. You just have to watch the Goblin cinematic to see that the humans of Stormwind are capable of doing terrible things if it suits their purpose. The peoples of the Alliance are, in some ways, just as bad as the races of the Horde. No one comes out whiter than white in this story.
As we move deeper into Cataclysm, we need more faction-centric storylines or else Blizzard may as well just get rid of the factions all together. Questing in Hyjal is great, mainly because you are a champion and it doesn’t matter which side you’re on but outside of the new 4.2 content, it’s the same old story. We need more Alliance-specific content, we need more Horde-specific content and we need it soon. The core of WoW is the battle between the two factions and yet it sometimes feels like this has been forgotten in favour of the overarching storyline.