It’s totally fair to say that Blizzard jumped the gun by introducing two of Warcraft’s all-time biggest villains in back-to-back patches. Up until Battle for Azeroth, we had only seen glimpses of N’Zoth and Azshara, as the two were ominous figures that we knew would play a role down the line through a carefully crafted, and seriously lengthy storyline.
However, when they finally entered the fray in BfA, what we got was a haphazard story that was clearly thrown together in an effort to play catch-up with an expansion that was very obviously way too far out ahead of itself.
Of course, this is all my opinion, but the real intriguing story that BfA brought forth was the conflict between the Alliance and Horde – not the denizens of Azeroth vs. the Old Gods. Magni and the Champions of Azeroth felt like a side plot in the beginning of the expansion that was strangely elevated to the main plot by the end. If Blizzard was to just dedicate an expansion to one of these conflicts, the story would have ended up more focused. But, when you’re split too thin and the story is trying to balance out two massive plotlines, the waters get muddied on both ends.
If we could go back in time, I would have loved to see Blizzard focus entirely on the Alliance and Horde in BfA. The origins of the expansion were solid, and characters like Jaina, Saurfang, Anduin, and even Talanji and Zekhan were getting serious time in the spotlight – and it was paying off. However, when Azshara was introduced to the game halfway through around June of last year, the narrative of BfA really took a hard left turn and never recovered.
Now, don’t get me wrong, I ended up loving Nazjatar. I would even go as far as saying it was my favorite zone from BfA. However, I can’t help but feel like the zone would have been a lot more “at home” in a different expansion – one that focused entirely on Azshara and her connection to the Black Empire.
And while we’re on the subject of characters that relate strongly to the Black Empire, I can’t help but lump Wrathion onto the roster of “Team Wasted Potential”. Instead of having his grand return to center stage take place at the back-end of the expansion’s story, it would have been so much more satisfying to see Wrathion play a major part in a N’Zoth-focused xpac down the line straight from the beginning in a similar vein to characters like Khadgar in WoD and Illidan in Legion.
Frankly, I would have been totally satisfied and pretty unbothered if Azshara and N’Zoth (and even Wrathion) were placed on the back burner and introduced at a later date – perhaps even after we leave Shadowlands in a few years from now.
When Sylvanas and Saurfang battled outside the gates of Orgrimmar, it felt like Battle for Azeroth was getting a genuinely proper sendoff after a relatively tumultuous run. I can’t say I felt that same sort of emotion or connection to the expansion in Ny’Alotha or in Nazjatar. Towards the back end of BfA, the content felt out of place and not on the same page as the tone of the expansion’s launch or first few months. The noble and humble stories of Kul Tiras and Zandalar were almost instantly dwarfed by Queen Azshara, N’Zoth, and the invasion of the Black Empire.
Regardless of how BfA played out, it would have been great to see Sylvanas’ story wrapped up tightly while otherworldly, omnipotent forces like Azshara and N’zoth continued to loom on the horizon. The rush to tie things up and force storylines where they clearly didn’t need to be was one of the ultimate downfalls of BfA, and I’m sincerely hoping that the overarching story of the game’s upcoming expansion is far more tight-knit and focused. But most importantly, I hope the story to be told in the immediate future learns from the mistakes of its immediate predecessor.
Featured image via Blizzard Entertainment.