Now that 8 days have passed, let’s talk about some lore, eh?
I really, REALLY, want to talk about the Rejection of the Gift cinematic from Argus, because holy shit, the lore implications.
Here’s what I love, LOVE, love, about 7.3 – it is as much a Legion patch as it is a preparation for the future, a bridge into the future of the game. From multiple view points – spell casters got new animations, new sky-box tech rolled out, we have a system with being able to move the Vindicaar that could potentially shape future mobile bases (warships, perhaps…:)), and then there’s the matter of all those old vanilla dungeons with no loot standards other than random drop greens getting a pile of new, blue drops that use the current loot mechanisms (take a peek)!
In the lore, though, this is quite highly apparent. Nowhere more than the Xe’ra quests leading up to Rejection of the Gift.
Warcraft thematically has always played in broad strokes – black and white, high contrast morality. Things are good or evil, but rarely both, and even when nuance exists, it tends to be smashed into a paste to migrate a character through a face or heel turn. The Light is good, the Void is bad, Demons are bad, fighting demons is good, and the only gray that exists is where player characters live – player factions can go either way, and we’re allowed some nuance and room for interpretation.
However, this changes in a HUGE way on Argus, and particularly in our act 1, with the re-introduction of Alleria and Turalyon, and Xe’ra’s proper debut and prompt destruction by a reasserted Illidan Stormrage.
To break this down better, I want to discuss three themes in depth – character alignments, The Light, and The Void.
The Light is one of the most steady, unwavering Good Things(tm) in Warcraft lore, ever. Paladins harness it, as do Priests – the Army of the Light fights against the Legion and the Void, forces looking to devour us whole, and the Light saves its champions.
Except when it doesn’t.
Think back to the start of Legion. Tirion Fordring, wounded and about to be killed by Krosus – calls out to the Light to save him.
Didn’t go so well, did it?
You could argue that sure, yeah, technically he asked for a final wish way back at Icecrown Citadel, and received it, being able to break free of the ice block from Arthas to strike at Frostmourne – and that is a valid point. However, it serves as one example of how the Light does not honor its champions as much as we might believe – and there is a newer, better example in Turalyon.
Turalyon is one of the founders of the Silver Hand, the very origin point for the Azerothian Paladin. He selflessly has served the Light for millenia, taking to Draenor and ultimately fleeing around the cosmos alongside the Draenei of the Army of Light and his lover, Alleria.
However, the Light has not done as well by Turalyon as it might seem. When his lover Alleria experimented with the Void, just to understand, to know what threats they could face, Xe’ra locked her up in the Xenedar, with no trial and no fanfare – an attitude that no one within the Army batted an eye at, apparently. Turalyon has served Xe’ra unquestioningly – allowing this imprisonment and continuing to serve, dedicating his life and spirit to the cause.
Xe’ra, however, seems to have no such love for Turalyon. When she is reassembled after the Xenedar, she has nothing to say to Turalyon other than to acknowledge that he has brought Illidan to her. She immediately moves on to the object of her desire – bringing Illidan into the Light to serve the destiny she sees in him – a fate Illidan has no desire for. Xe’ra does not take kindly to this, imprisoning him against his will until Illidan eye beams her to death (presumably).
This is a very sharp change in contrast for anything in the WoW lore, particularly something as long-standing as the goodness of the Light. Xe’ra’s actions are not that of a heroic being – they are instead more aligned with a villainous, cowardly personality. Her offer of power, the cleansing of scars, is much more like the behavior of a corrupting personality in Warcraft, your Gul’dans and the like.
With 5 minutes of new lore, the entire identity of the Light has been cast into disarray. That, to me, is exciting – because it sets us up for an expansion with fewer clear-cut heroes and villains, and that allows space for more interesting character development. Which we will return to momentarily, poor Turalyon needs a second to rest.
The Void, as we knew and expected, is present in the patch storylines and even seems to be getting its first real protagonist.
Similarly to the Light, the Void in WoW has been unquestionably evil since the introduction of the concept. It seeks total corruption and domination over Azeroth and all the worlds in the cosmos, and seeks to do this by corrupting Titan creations, bestowing the “gift” of flesh, twisting the world souls of planets, and ultimately loosing untold chaos.
However, the Void is shown in a softer light thus far in-game. Alleria is our main avatar for this transformative perspective, as she has been dabbling in the Void – the event that serves as our first tipping point in perception of the Light also serves to demonstrate that the Void is not inherently evil. Alleria is a hero, a good person who has begun using that power in aid of Azeroth and her champions. We will see next week how that continues to shape up, as there are a lot of question marks here that seemingly belong to cinematics of some form, but it does seem like we’ll be seeing more void stories, particularly as it concerns Alleria, and alongside the introduction of a new character in Locus-Walker and the new 5 player dungeon’s Void theming.
Of course, my speculation is that we’re in for an expansion full of such stories after Legion, and the content thus far has only amplified that.
Now, let’s dive into what I really like about this patch – the abundant ways in which characters have been introduced and shaped into new forms.
Illidan Stormrage – is back to what made him endearing as a character, playing a chaotic tweener role that serves to make him more badass and relatable. Burning Crusade Illidan was a tweener bad guy, doing edgy shit in service of bad goals, and Legion Illidan is a tweener good guy, doing edgy shit in service of good goals. (C’mon, if you yelled “I AM MY SCARS” at a Hot Topic anytime before like 2012, it would get over pretty well!) If we are about to see him off to jail up the Dark Titan, it’s good to get proper Illidan back first. Also, I like that he’s been something of an unrepentant dick in the cinematics – Illidan smirk is high up on my favorite memes list.
Velen – the Draenei have needed better development than they’ve had for most of the game, and the contrast of the calm, measured Velen serves well against the tempered relentlessness of our yellow-eyed Draenei friends on Argus. Where the others are really mad at Illidan for smashing their wind-chime, Velen clearly is going through a tough moment by reliving his past on Argus and forging ahead without certainty of his path.
Alleria – the exile of Alleria within the Army of Light has been interesting to observe. She is allowed among them with Xe’ra’s destruction, but even then, no one really invites her into the fold. Even her lover, Turalyon, seems distant and somewhat standoffish, but this serves to escalate the tension as a microcosm of the themes of Void and Light. Alleria has a lot of character development left, from a proper Windrunner reunion, to a return to Azeroth, and then there’s this whole Void business…
Make no mistake, Alleria is key to where we are headed, both in concluding Legion and in the future of the game, whatever is hidden behind the Veil of Shadows (yeah, I did that!)
Turalyon – oh dear, sweet Turalyon, he too represents the future of the story right alongside his love. Turalyon is currently going through quite a lot, but the story is just beginning. Within hours of our landing on Argus, the man witnessed a sharp diversion towards villainy from his leader, and then watched her destroyed before his eyes.
I see two different Turalyons in that cinematic – an emboldened, Light-bearer, the High Exarch, furious with Illidan for the murder of his leader. I also see a frightened Turalyon – a man in crisis. Turalyon’s belief in the Light was unfathomable, and the Light as he sees it, in Xe’ra – cast him aside for an elven-demon hybrid who is known as The Betrayer. Turalyon has spent millenia fighting for Xe’ra, believing that she is a paragon of virtue, a literal Light in the darkness of Fel and Void. Now she is dead, killed in a moment where her virtue seemed to have left her in favor of selfish acquisition of power. Turalyon is in a crisis of conscience – he has dedicated his life to the Light, and allowed Xe’ra in particular to jail the mother of his child for dabbling in the Void, but Alleria is a good-hearted person and Xe’ra, in her last moments, was shown to be an insufferable, power-seeking being. If the goodness of the Light was, perhaps, a lie, then what does that mean to Turalyon, the man who has based his entire being on said lie? How will he react going forward, particularly if the Void consumes Azeroth and/or his wife? There are a lot of interesting directions that story could go – and I don’t think we’ll be waiting for 22 years to see that story brought to life.
Also, if you notice in the cinematic, his eyes change from Light-bearing gold to brown upon Xe’ra’s death…which could represent any number of different things, all of which will be worth exploring.
Overall, I have really enjoyed the lore so far on Argus, and I look forward to seeing what happens inside the Seat of the Triumvirate and especially with Alleria and Locus-Walker.