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4-01-2012 @ 6:38PM
In Cata more than ever before, playing an Alliance character makes one feel like they're casting rocks into a hurricane. You never really feel like you're making a difference as an Alliance player - at most it feels like you're slowing or stopping the rot. And the victories you do get are either pyrrhic or else mirrored for the Horde.I think the biggest problem is that the Alliance frankly hasn't had a big, triumphant win (in the sense of a victory that makes one want to fling their hands up in the air and shout 'For the Alliance) since Warcraft II. Really. Warcraft II.Think about it. Warcraft III and TFT were all about stomping on the Alliance's face, with the sole bright point being the victory at Hyjal...but that's more a victory for the world as a whole, for the combined Alliance/Horde/night elf forces over the Legion, not something for the Alliance as a faction.This trend continues in WoW. In vanilla wow the biggest in-game event was the opening of Ahn'Qiraj, but that was bi-factional and Saurfang was the guy who got the Big Damn Speech when the gates opened....In BC, the Alliance and the Horde were each given two major story lines - the Horde had the reunification with the mag'har and the plight of the blood elves, while the Alliance had the story of recovering the lost expedition and the return of the draenei to their lost world.Both of the Horde storylines came to a definitive conclusion - Garrosh was empowered by the news of his father's legacy, while the traitor Kael'thas was deposed and the Sunwell was reignited, providing a new beginning for the elves. Both of these storyliens also had ramifications in Wrath.On the other hand, neither of the Alliance's stories came to a definitive conclusion - finding and questing with Danath was a major win, but Khadgar did almost nothing besides act as A'dal's spokesman, and Kurdran did nothing at all. Turalyon and Alleria (largely considered the most important of the five heroes) were teased at through their son, but never found. The draenei, meanwhile, showed almost no storyline at all in regards to their lost cousins - the Aldor, the Kurenai, the Ashtongue, there was no resolution, or even much acknowledgement between them and those on the Exodar....Moving on to Wrath, which a lot of players point to as the Alliance-flavored of the expansions. The expansion started out with a major, major piece of Alliance lore, the Knights of the Silver Hand, getting ripped out wholesale and presented as a neutral anti-Scourge group friendly to both factions, without so much as a hint of antipathy for the Horde. Dalaran, a former Alliance city-state, likewise went neutral and invited the Horde (including the Forsaken who had quests to kill their citizens in vanilla) into their streets.Some players scoff at the importance of this, but this kind of act (and that of the defenders of Hyjal in Cata) drastically undercuts the Alliance as a faction. By tearing out these major, major themes, it makes the Alliance feel less flavorful, because the Horde gets to enjoy their own factional themes, and the Alliance's as well. To be fair, some of it goes the other way (Earthen Ring, for example) but the importance of the effective loss of these themes just can't be understated.But moreover, look at Alliance questing in Wrath (I largely ignored questing in BC because so much of it was mirrored). What does the Alliance gain in Wrath? Okay, they get Muradin Bronzebeard back, that's one. But what else? The humans, gnomes and dwarves learn their origins...but what meaning does that have for them? What effects do we see from these revelations?Despite the Alliance 'flavor' of the expansion, the major story between the factions was Horde-driven - Garrosh's story progressed and the Wrathgate and Battle for the Undercity revealed the depths of depravity to which some of the Forsaken had sunk, firing on their own allies and turning on Sylvanas to serve the Burning Legion. The resulting Horde story? The Horde truimphantly returns to Undercity, bulldozes the apothecarium traitors and the Legion forces and kills Varimathras. The Alliance story? The Alliance attacks Undercity through the sewers in an attempt to retake the place, kills Putress, Varian has his big "what have they done" moment...then Alliance players all get kicked out of the place because Jaina flinches. Net result? Horde story progresses, Saurfang gets facetime with the pathos over his lost son, while the Alliance have nothing to show for it aside from a lost faction leader (and a fairly major character) and the somber ending note of "we'll see what war brings."This is followed up with the Broken Front story, where Alliance players learn about how the Horde rushed an Alliance army engaged with the Scourge from behind, resulting in both armies getting wiped out. Then they have to go through the ordeal of mercy-killing Alliance soldiers (while Horde players get to mercy-kill...Alliance soldiers)....And finally we come to Cataclysm. Cataclysm, where Gilneas ends with your character being evacuated in the face of a Horde invasion, Westfall ends with Sentinel Hill on fire from the Defias, Redridge ends with the deaths of Bravo Company, Darkshore ends with the night elves' major character getting tricked by the bad guys, Stonetalon makes you watch a school get nuked, Andorhal ends in retreat, Swamp of Sorrows ends with no change...and the major character of the expansion is the guy formerly in charge of your enemy faction. And you're expected to like him.Here's what it all comes to-Allaince questing rarely, if ever, makes you feel empowered. I know a lot of Horde players hate the things you end up doing in some zones (Hillsbrad, Stonetalon) but those zones make you feel powerful. You're walking all over the bad guys. In Alliance questing, this just never pulls together. Zones with an overarching story end with ignominous retreats or pyrrhic victories, and the few wins players do get (Wetlands, early Darkshore) are largely against non-player factions. Never the Horde itself.Meanwhile the Alliance's overall story spins its wheels, going nowhere at top speed. Faction leaders seem to do nothing, your major characters are takeoffs of pop culture (John J. Keeshan and Horatio Lane) or downright silly (Flintlocke...oh god Flintlocke), and most importantly Cataclysm never gives you reason to make you feel like you've accomplished anything - at most you've held the line.
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