Yesterday we talked about similarities between World of Warcraft and other fantasy franchises. Commenting on that post, Baluki noted that "Warcraft is also somewhat unique in mixing some sci-fi elements into its fantasy universe." But not everyone thinks that's a good thing: back around the time that Burning Crusade previews were coming out, the draenei and the naaru caused quite a bit of stir among lore fans who felt that "space pallies" and "interdimensional ships" like Tempest Keep were going too far.
One poster to the forums linked to this screenshot and said, "When did this turn into a friggin space game... Draenei, Exodar... hell this battleground feels more like UT Facing Worlds map than an RPG..."
Drysc replied: "I believe you may be creating your own idea of what Warcraft is and has been, while it's been anything but a traditional medieval fantasy setting. The lore and history is full of interstellar travel and themes one may consider 'sci-fi'. There are warp gates that link various worlds together, planets blowing up, space traveling demons who enslave entire planets, inter dimensional ships, time travel, etc.
"You say '[this] feels more like UT Facing Worlds map than an RPG... ', when RPG simply stands for Roleplaying Game. Warcraft has and always will be beyond a singular tolkienesque world, and I think those who know and understand the lore and history are more apt to recognize and accept how the story is progressing as 'clearly Warcraft'."
What do you think? Are the "sci-fi" elements minimal enough that WoW still doesn't count as "science fiction" or even "science fantasy?" Or do World of Warcraft and The Burning Crusade launch the lore off the Tolkienenque fantasy homeworld and into the anomalous nebulae of Stargate, Alien, or even Transformers?
Personally, I think WoW gets the balance right -- I'm happy to see some creative mixing of different themes that breaks the traditional fantasy molds. I'd like to see more sci-fi elements in future expansions too, though I doubt that's likely. WTB more WoW Lightsabers!