There is something unique that seems to happen in internet fandom with expectations. No matter how well set they are, someone will always, inevitably, find a way to be disappointed.
Such was the cycle on Twitter this morning as Antorus was full-cleared on Normal difficulty, triggering the unlock of the Antorus Finale cinematic.
Now, we’ve known the rough shape of this cinematic for a while. We knew that…okay, hold on.
Spoilers are forthcoming….
We knew that Illidan was going to stay behind, using the Seat of the Pantheon as the jail for the Dark Titan, Sargeras, holding himself there as well as his warden for all time. The original Pantheon alongside him, all fully involved in this jailing. We also knew, thanks to a mix of datamining and spoiler text on Blizzcon T-shirts (yep, but on the plus side, I own that shirt, and it is comfy) that Sargeras wasn’t going to take that lying down and would get all stabby-stabby on Azeroth.
So the cinematic didn’t really bear any surprises, save for the visuals, the dialogue, and the full nature of the event alluded to through all of that datamined and intern-firing spoilers.
In that lens, I could fathom a bit of disappointment. We all knew the general shape of events, and hey – we got them. Sargeras was dragged to the Pantheon, he got all stabby-stabby, and his sword is now buried in Azeroth like a meat-thermometer in a Thanksgiving turkey.
Yes, there is still much that is actually unknown about the setup that leads to those events – probably a Mythic-only phase, if one had to guess. Sargeras seems to be dry-humping Azeroth while being shrouded in clouds – why he is doing that, how he got there, etc, is all kind of unknown. And yes, for a character that has been the big bad of Warcraft for a long time, seeing him tucked away neatly in a prison without much in the way of player action is disappointing to me as well.
But, I think what I’ve seen is a broader scale disappointment. The sentiment that knowing about Battle for Azeroth first meant the cinematic could NEVER have been interesting, because we know where it leads.
This, to me, is a bit silly. I want to refute this point very specifically in two ways.
1. Knowing the next expansion ruins this cinematic!
Does it though? With the most recent expansions being the exception (WoD and Legion) we haven’t even been playing the last tier raid when we find out the next expansion. Would one argue that Cataclysm’s ending was ruined by knowing we were heading to Pandaria after? Or the cinematic with Arthas’ reunion with his father, knowing that the world was going to be Cataclysm’ed after that? I find this argument silly on its face. Knowing that we’re eventually going to battle each other in a faction war, and oh yeah also collect this Azerite stuff, does tell us where we are ultimately headed next, but there is more to be done. Which brings me to the underlying idea I think the people saying this are actually getting to, which is…
2. This cinematic is the end of Legion and so it’s not conclusive enough!
Ah ha, now this is a point I can work with. The history of the game has had one constant that we can stand behind…until now. The end raid cinematic has been, traditionally, the de facto end of the expansion. In story terms, nothing happens in Wrath after Arthas rolls over, having resolved his daddy issues. Once Deathwing dies, we just wait until NPCs magically stumble onto Pandaria. After Vol’jin is nominated to Warchief to replace the maniacal Garrosh Hellscream, we wait patiently for the Iron Horde to mess shit up. After Archimonde pitches a home run…err, tosses AU Gul’dan to our Azeroth, we just wait for the Legion to show up.
In the past, the in-game story content has traditionally ended with that last cinematic. Once that cutscene plays, that’s a wrap on the expansion and we wait patiently, for ever-increasingly longer periods of time, for the next thing, which is then the marker line for the next expansion.
That assumption is a sound one, based on the history of the game, but not at all sound given what we know about Legion already.
-There is a 7.3.5 with Silithus story content intended to tell more of these events.
-We’ve been told there is more story to come, and that smaller patches and the like can roll out.
-Hypothetically, something has to happen between now and Battle for Azeroth that explains…a lot. We have a Teldrassil burning, Lordaeron sieging, Allied Race recruiting x6, and someone had better tell me a story about that lion helmet that Anduin is wearing around, because I want to KNOW.
Now, sure, we can end up being disappointed if 7.3.5 is the last patch of Legion and only ties up Silithus. My suspicion is that we will get more past that point, or, since damn near nothing has been datamined from 7.3.5 save for the Silithus map and some voiceover that ties up Legion stuff, that 7.3.5 itself will be a major patch with large chunks of story and content that will serve to keep us sated and on a narrative journey that ultimately leads us to Battle for Azeroth. Blizzard could drop the ball here and not do that, of course, but I don’t think they will. As I’ve said before, Blizzard needs to stick the landing of Legion as being a well fleshed-out, content-heavy expansion that keeps rolling right until 8.0.
Do I think Antorus will be the longest raid tier in Legion? Yes. I expect it will easily go at least 23 or more weeks. However, in the new world carved out by Legion design and implementation, it’s not going to be the end-expansion drought we expect or are used to. We might be in Antorus a while, but I highly doubt that it’ll be the year and change we’ve been getting lately, and even if it were, I also am confident that we will get new things in that gap that help to provide more activities for us than we traditionally have in that gap. End-droughts only feel barren because nothing comes along to fill them out, but with new story content very likely en route, it is hard for me to feel disappointment – yet.
Now, if none of this comes true and 7.3.5 is just a battleground modelled after a devastated Silithus, I’ll be bummed out and I will join in the wailing and gnashing of teeth, but until I see 7.3.5, all I can say is this.
Cool ending, and also, Sargeras, stop humping planets.