Tobold's Blog
Monday, June 06, 2016
Warcraft lore

I wasn't really planning to see the Warcraft movie anyway, but from what I hear the early reviews are pretty abysmal. The film currently has an average Metacritic score of 31! Well, it was still the top grossing film this weekend in several European countries, and we'll see how it does in the USA next weekend (You can't launch a movie next weekend in Europe, because the European soccer championship starts). But I wouldn't be surprised if it wasn't as much of a success as the Lord of the Rings or The Hobbit. Because after spending hundreds of dollars and thousands of hours on World of Warcraft for over a decade, the Warcraft lore still makes no sense to me.

Much of that of course has to do with the natural limitations of a MMORPG. The world of Warcraft has several million player heroes, but comparatively few non-player peasants and other ordinary people. Most players care more about their own heroic rise from level 1 to the top than about the story of the NPCs. And in your daily activities on Azeroth, you do a lot of mundane quests like killing 10 wolves, while being only very rarely involved in an event from the larger Warcraft lore. It just doesn't feel like a living world, and many players just ignore the lore, because it isn't actually needed for anything.

The whole time-traveling thing doesn't make the lore any more accessible either. Frequently it appears as if the devs wanted to have certain features in an expansion, and so the lore was written to fit those features. I definitely had that impression when they announced the next expansion, Legion, which is all about trying to repeat the success of the Burning Crusade. And while the lore frequently talks of war between Alliance and Horde, the system of World of Warcraft doesn't really allow for large scale battles, and so that war remains largely hypothetical.

Apart from the convoluted story, the lore of Warcraft is often not very unique. A lot of features of World of Warcraft are deliberately generic, the same elves, humans, orcs, warriors, and mages that most fantasy role-playing games have. The original Azeroth also had a lot of generic landscapes, snowy mountains, steppes full of wild animals, green rolling hills, and generic forests, although the landscapes got more fantastic in the expansions. What makes for an accessible MMORPG that anybody can instantly understand makes for a rather boring background for a movie.

You should just go and see it. It's an average movie, or an above-average fantasy movie.
In any case if you survived Avatar, you'll have no trouble dealing with WoW, since it features as much special effects and a lot less stereotyped characters.....

"I did not ask for that!" (signed) Thrall.
Warcraft lore is a pile of convoluted uninspired retreads of fantasy tropes. I never got some people's fascination with it.
I plan on waiting for the movie to get to DVD before I watch it. Of course, I do that with every movie. I just watched the latest Star Wars movie! Heh.

Anyway, the "Lore" in World of Warcraft goes belly up the minute you first reach max level back before even the first expansion. Before then you might see an Orc in the forest and be all "OMG! TEH HORDE!!!" and send out the alert on the defense channel or something. Gotta keep these filthy barbarians away from our women and water supply!

But as you approach max level, you realize that the Alliance and Horde share all the end game instances. If the child King doesn't even care enough about these crucial resources of the Alliance to put even the tiniest effort into protecting them from these barbarians, why should I care if they're in the forest? Or attacking Goldshire? Or attacking anything else, for that matter.

Ever since, they've just been sticking dagger after dagger into the "lore" to the point that it's clear that the Alliance and the Horde haven't been at war with each other for ages. Yet the "lore" persists.
If you haven't played the RTS games or read the novels/comics, then don't go to the theater with expectations that you'll completely understand the underlying lore. Just take it as it is being thrown at you and have fun (hopefully). World of Warcraft events happen years after what the movie will show.

Having played WoW for ~8 years but having no other knowledge of the franchise, I cannot honestly tell you who Medivh is or why he is so important to the lore.
Did you never do Black Morass? You see Medivh opening the portal for the orcs.
From what I understand, in order to appreciate the movie, you have to be familiar with Warcraft moreso than World of Warcraft. This is about Orcs and Humans, not the events that transpired during WoW.
So I finally saw the movie and enjoyed it very much. Just go see it and don't let the professional film critics deter you. I really don't know what they expect from it, it's action fantasy popcorn cinema. Nothing more nothing less and it kicks ass.

Warcraft has a 27% film critic score on rottentomatoes but a 83% audience score. Just go see and enjoy it :-)
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