Battle For Azeroth is an expansion for Blizzard Entertainment’s World of Warcraft. It has a controversial story. Some people liked it some didn’t. I am gonna try to based on what I think were the problems with it suggest an alternative story for the expansion. This is technically the third draft of this as one I told in discord to a friend and the other I wrote down on twitter a bit later. So let’s jump right in shall we?
Note: This post focuses on the story of the expansion. Some mechanics are mentioned but they are not the main focus.
Number 1: Azerite.
At the start of the expansion we have these big azerite war machines then we go meet Magni and he goes “CHAMPYOOOON, AZEROTH HAS WOOOOONS. YA GOTTA ‘EAL ER! AZERITE BAD!”. Everyone knows using Azerite is killing the planet (unless the Champion forgot to tell them which I don’t buy) so why do they continue using it? The Goblins are understandable, they do anything for money. The Forsaken? They made blight, it isn’t too far fetched. But everyone else? I don’t buy that. We see in 8.1 that the Alliance is using Azerite for their weapons still. Why? Well, the other side has it, yes but they should also realize that killing the planet isn’t a good course of action.
We spend almost the entire expansion going around trying to stop others from using Azerite but we don’t complain when the Horde & Alliance do it? And Magni doesn’t go to scream at them to stop either? Or any of the druids or shamans? I don’t buy it.
Number 2: The Masterplan of Sylvanas Windrunner.
Sylvanas is an interesting character, a leader who does everything in her power to ensure her survival. She raises new undead, expands into Gilneas, and then she tries to capture Eyir the leader of the Valajar Val’kyr to raise more Forsaken ad infinitum. When that fails she turns to fight a full-scale war against the Alliance to claim Azerite. Her shift towards playing offensively I think makes sense given her failure to ensure a future using the Val’kyr.
Throughout BfA Sylvanas has this masterplan that we know nothing about but are constantly teased about from Blizzard. I think this plan is the problem, not because it exists but because we don’t get any hint towards what it is. When Sylvanas turns around and goes “You are all nothing!” it comes a bit out of nowhere. For 8.2 when we go to Nazjatar we know nothing of why we are there we just follow Nathanos and then he disappears, the explanation for this is found not in 8.2 but during the N’zoth fight in 8.3 at the end of Ny’alotha. Sylvanas has made some sort of deal with Azshara. 8.3 released in January 2020, 8.2.5 where Sylvanas says “You are all nothing!” released in September 2019, and 8.2 came out in June 2019. But Sylvanas’s masterplan was not revealed in 8.3, it was revealed at Blizzcon 2019. Sylvanas is feeding souls to the Maw. That’s why she burnt Teldrassil. We didn’t march on Teldrassil to kill Malfurion and secure peace by occupying the city, we did it to kill them all and at the moment when she speaks to the dying Delaryn, Sylvanas acts like that wasn’t her plan all along. A clever ruse! … which was never in any way hinted at to players. Sylvanas is too good at wearing her mask until she suddenly isn’t in 8.2.5. We lack build-up to the twist and we don’t get much of a hint to what is happening. If Blizzard wanted Sylvanas to be the villain they failed because the reasoning we get for everything is sort of reasonable. You may disagree with her actions but they make sense when you look at the reasoning we were given all expansion.
I could have missed or forgotten some detail of what has happened over the expansion though so if there was some bigger hint towards just send me a tweet or something.
There are two major changes I would make:
We should not know what Azerite is doing to the planet, we may speculate since we first found it around Silithus but we shouldn’t know. Magni should go try to figure it out at the start of the expansion and return later on.
Sylvanas needs more activity. We don’t see her in much in any patch. From what I can remember she shows up at the start of BfA, when you finish the 8.0 Horde War Campaign, at Rastakhan’s funeral, during the hunt for Saurfang, and at the end of the War Campaign in the Mak’gorah. We spent more time with Nathanos and he doesn’t reveal anything. We should see Sylvanas around more, organizing operations with dark rangers that we just get small hints regarding, speaking to Nathanos before campaign briefings, etc. She needs more of a presence so we can get more of a hint that she has a secret plan that might not be in favor of the Horde.
Also, the Exodar exists off the coast of Kalimdor, destroying Teldrassil does not offer as much of an advantage as implied.
Going patch by patch. I will try to explain how these changes affect the story. If I don’t bring something up you can assume that it is unchanged.
The Horde marches on Teldrassil intending to force the Alliance to relinquish their hold on Silithus. We cut through Night Elves and plant Horde banners along the coast of Darkshore, as long as Teldrassil stands the Alliance will keep their grip on Silithus, we must send them a message. The Horde rules over Kalimdor. “Burn it.” Sylvanas orders. Saurfang reluctantly follows the order burning the tree and countless civilians.
This move is questioned by other horde leaders to which Sylvanas simply responds. “If we had let them keep their tree, they would destroy us when they got the chance.”, “And what now? They will not let this go, they will come for us!”, “Let them. The Undercity stands ready.”
The Alliance eventually gathers their forces and retaliates by attacking the Undercity. Sylvanas raises both friend and foe alike to fight against the attacking forces with the plan to quickly fall back and lure in the Alliance leaders. One variable remains unaccounted for though, Jaina Proudmoore appears before her plan is set in motion so Sylvanas sends the horde to fight them off whilst preparations finish within the throne room. No forsaken are among those holding the line. Eventually, the Horde forces fall back and disappear. The Alliance follows to the throne room where the regular cinematic plays. Sylvanas’s plan has failed in Undercity, she lacks the forces to fight the destructive war she wants. The Horde needs allies they can pit against the Alliance.
The Alliance on the other hand needs allies to stand against the Horde. Realizing they only Survived because Jaina appeared Anduin asks for her aid in the war.
The Horde and Alliance prepare for war. With no Magni around to hand over a Heart of Azeroth and tell them how bad Azerite is they are both going full steam ahead with azerite weapon production but they lack a navy leading them to set upon recruiting the Kul’Tirans & Zandalari. The Ashvane foundry seems to have contacted something within the depths as recognizable Naga weapons have been infused with Azerite in their foundry.
The Horde War Campaign remains almost the same but we are told from the get-go that the horde is looking for a powerful weapon to use against the Alliance to break them, a weapon last seen on the Kul’Tiran crown ship during the 2nd war. Our goal is to find it and bring it to the Warchief. To help with this we have the San’layn who have some skills required to ‘extract’ the information we need. So we go on our trip, torturing, killing, and raising people who can help us find this mythical weapon. Eventually, we find the location in the middle of the sea, we go down there and finally we realize that the weapon is “Derek Proudmoore.” when we return to the surface there is an exchange of nervous questions regarding how exactly he is a weapon and we discover our San’layn friends are dead due to Alliance meddling to which Nathanos remarks “They served their purpose.” and then we return to Orgrimmar with the body and present it to Sylvanas. “With this, we have all we need to win this war.” She congratulates us and then sends us away so she can speak in private with her champion, Mr. Blightcaller.
Both factions amp up their azerite weapon programs. Instead of a Heart of Azeroth, we have an Azerite Arsenal, and expanding that is our main focus. let’s just assume it works the same as the HoA. There will be none of the Champions of Azeroth WQs yet.
The drums of war are in full action, the Alliance has recruited the Kul’Tirans and they now seek to stop the Horde from gaining the help of the Zandalari. The Horde Champion on order by the Banshee Queen travels to Tol Dagor to free Lady Ashvane. She is freed and Sylvanas picks her up we get to hear bits of the conversation between them “My spies tell me you have been in contact with her”, “Perhaps, what is it to you, Banshee?”
The Battle for Dazar’alor ends in a conclusive Alliance victory and the Zandalari join the Horde. Sylvanas doesn’t seem troubled by the loss of the Zandalari navy though instead telling us to focus on the war ahead and tells Nathanos that all will still go according to plan.
The Alliance pats themselves on the back. Their Azerite weaponry production is going well, they are set to win the war.
The Zandalari still mourning their lost King join the Horde. The War continues and thought it seems the Horde will lose Nathanos reassures everyone to trust in Sylvanas’s plan and keep fighting. “Once our weapon is ready the Alliance will fall. Trust in the Warchief’s plan.” “And when will we get to know this plan?” “When it’s ready.” From the implications of Blightcaller’s statements Baine and Zelling take it upon themselves to free Derek Proudmoore from his prison before it is too late.
Derek is returned and Baine is eventually imprisoned.
The Horde needs to even out the battlefield. The Alliance has the Kul’Tiran navy and it needs to be wiped out. The Horde set sail with the remainder of their fleet towards dangerous waters. The Alliance chases after and they both end up in Nazjatar. Nathanos disappears in the crash and Horde & Alliance leaders are left to ask why they were led here. All around Nazjatar the Naga are digging up Azerite and bringing it to The Eternal Palace, no matter why they were brought here the Naga can’t be allowed to hold such power.
This is where Magni steps in. After months of deliberation and research, he reveals something that will shift the war: Azerite is the blood of Azeroth and we don’t have much time before she will die. Both sides are forced to shut down their production of Azerite weaponry, except Sylvanas doesn’t. There is still a group within the horde digging up and using Azerite. Champions of Azeroth WQs start here. Whilst we shut down other factions abuse of Azerite Sylvanas simply continues digging, she must be stopped but one question remains why would she continue digging?
We still have to deal with The Eternal Palace, at the end of the raid we are met with Azshara in a room filled with Azerite. She is trying to break the Old God free using all the Azerite she has managed to gather and with us coming to Nazjatar with boatloads of Azerite weaponry she has enough. We go through the fight and in the end, the chains start cracking and the Eternal Palace starts breaking beneath our feet before we can see what is gonna happen we are yanked away through a portal and arrive safely outside. It is uncertain whether or not Azshara succeeded in freeing N’zoth and the area is too dangerous to search right now. We must turn our attention to saving Azeroth instead.
Somewhere around here we head off to save Baine from his imprisonment, he tells us that Sylvanas has something darker in sight, he doesn’t know what but he doesn’t trust her to do something for the greater good now.
The rebels gather, Saurfang, Thrall, Baine, Rokhan, Lor’themar, as well as Jaina, Shaw, and Anduin. Sylvanas continues to abuse Azerite and they are forced to put their differences aside for a moment to stop her. If you have sided with Sylvanas you of course report this to her. Both sides begin to gather their forces.
Magni starts sending you around the world to clean up the Azerite messes. Every location is more broken than the last, the world is running out of time. You must assemble for a final assault to stop Sylvanas from digging up more Azerite.
The combined forces of the alliance and horde are stationed in Mulgore, readying themselves for the final battle. It seems like a Siege on Orgrimmar is inevitable but Sylvanas already knows of their plans and she still has a force to be reckoned with.
There is still much to be done in saving Azeroth and with the Azerite Arsenals shut down the Champions of Azeroth need a new weapon introducing the [Heart of Azeroth], a legendary necklace. We assemble it from artifacts from across Azeroth and then empower it using the Azerite Arsenal we had spent the time filling up. With this [Heart of Azeroth] we can return the strength to Azeroth. Think of this as more of the end of legion Pantheon Legendaries
There are no new reports regarding what happened to Azshara but The Eternal Palace seems to have fallen to pieces. Ashvane’s plans seem to have ended up in Sylvanas’s hands and the Foundry has been completely abandoned after her death. The weapons appear outside Orgrimmar though according to scouts. There is little time to investigate further though as another scout reports that the Banshee’s forces are moving towards Mulgore. All must band together to defend the land and push back the attackers.
As a Sylvanas loyalist you are at this point instructed to just go along with the rebels for now and to subtly interfere with their work until you are reunited.
The final Battle For Azeroth has begun.
Mulgore stands at the brink of an attack from the Banshee Loyalists. The Champions of Azeroth must band together to fight them off. Yada yada yada. It’s a raid starting from Mulgore and pushing back through the forces. Eventually, we reach Sylvanas’s final war machine and we fight that. The raid ends with almost the same situation as the original war campaign ended except not in front of the gates of Orgrimmar and with a few casualties. Saurfang goes bye-bye and Sylvanas escapes.
The Alliance and Horde are left with the knowledge that Sylvanas for some reason wields this new form of magic they can’t determine the origin of and she was for some reason trying to ensure as many people died as possible in the war. The search for Sylvanas begins.
I tried to fit in more set up for Sylvanas’s masterplan to be revealed. Sylvanas is causing more casualties than necessary, she has something going on between herself and Azshara, she doesn’t seem to care about the world dying, etc. We don’t know the negative effects of Azerite which allows both factions to use it without questioning it until we get the big reveal and the work as Champions of Azeroth begins.
We also don’t deal with N’zoth in a single patch instead opting for setting him up as a great future threat that we don’t know what will happen with.
This isn’t perfect and that is partially on me for miss-remembering events and trying to make it still fit into the story going into Shadowlands.
The main issue I think you will notice is that Sylvanas is looking a lot like Garrosh perhaps more so than in the existing BfA story. I think Blizzard kinda wrote themselves into a corner here, Sylvanas being the big bad becomes too close to Garrosh’s story and I don’t know if there is much of a way around that to create the narrative going into Shadowlands that Blizzard has. She needs to have a falling out with the Horde so she drops her mask, she needs to send many souls to the Maw as possible to gain her power. Even if Garrosh’s motivations were different their actions end up being too similar. One solution to this might have been to never make Sylvanas Warchief and instead having her continue operate as she used to but a bit more actively to the players.
Thanks for reading, I would love to hear your feedback and thoughts. I know this probably isn’t everyone’s ideal story but I do hope you can at least find some elements interesting. I also have no idea what happens in Shadowlands, I have tried to stay blind to the story. Shadows Rising was great.
If I do something like this again I will probably complain about gameplay mechanics.
Written 28 Sep 2020 by Grim