World of Warcraft's newest cinematic is a narrative disaster, and players hate it


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World of Warcraft's newest cinematic is a narrative disaster, and players hate it​

Sylvanas's controversial story has received a new twist after months of waiting.

Slyvanas Windrunner is the most controversial character in World of Warcraft's history. The Banshee queen has been the main antagonist in two expansions of Warcraft's pantheons of wizards and warriors. She rose to the position of warchief of Horde in Legion. It's clear why so many players dislike her. Sylvanas is so muddled and unclear in her motives that it feels contrived and inconsistent. While Sylvanas says one thing and does the opposite the next, Blizzard assures skeptical players that everything is in line with a master plan.

However, after World of Warcraft's most recent major cinematic, it seems that our worst fears have been confirmed: Sylvanas is just plain sucks.

World of Warcraft: Shadowlands received last week its first major update since November's launch. The patch was called Chains of Domination and featured a new 10-boss raid. This culminated in Sylvanas' final showdown. For players who have fought for years to uncover the evil plans of the Banshee Queen, this battle promised answers. The cinematic that followed her fight seemed to have mostly pissed off everyone, rather than catharsis.

The official YouTube video of this cinematic has received over 10,000 downvotes and 4,000 upvotes. Meanwhile, the WoW subreddit hosts a lot of threads mocking the film and World of Warcraft’s obsession with the character widely considered to be one of the worst. This post is about Sylvanas ruining the story. The main thread for the cinematic, however, has almost 3,624 comments. Most of these comments say, "Now, I know why Illidan dipped after the end of Legion... He wanted to be galaxies from this shit."

To see the reason players are upset, you can watch the above cutscene. The gist is that Sylvanas has spent three years doing unimaginable evil because she believed that you needed to crack eggs to make an egg omelette. She then loses her conviction for no apparent reason. The Jailer, an enigmatic archvillain from Shadowlands, then stubbornly refuses to kill the only people who are capable of stopping him even though they are at his mercy. Even though Sylvanas has just shot an arrow at him, he decides that he will give his soul back to her before disappearing through a portal into an unknown location. This will likely remain a mystery until the next major update. After much waiting, hoping for answers, Blizzard pulled another Dragon Ball Z and asked us to tune in next week. It is easy to see why this has upset more than just a few players.



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Sylvanas is the problem​

It's just one more riddle after another, and it begins to feel like Blizzard has stopped telling a compelling story.
Although Sylvanas has been an important figure in Warcraft 3 since then, her controversial status began during the Battle for Azeroth expansion. Sylvanas was quickly promoted to war chief of Horde and provoked all-out war against the Alliance. She then committed a horrible war crime, burning Teldrassil, a Night Elf city, to the roots, killing countless innocents.

People, particularly Horde players, were mad. They were forced into an arbitrarily created situation in which they had no agency, as the game doesn't allow them to swap factions or resign (without having to pay money and effectively remaking their characters). It seemed like Sylvanas wanted to set fire to the city in a film released just before Battle for Azeroth was launched. It felt more like a rustling feather moment than a true story. Sylvanas was not a follower of the rules but it felt like this moment was trying too hard to be edgy.

Worse, Blizzard's Battle for Azeroth storytelling approach was haphazard. Instead of a single linear story that players could follow it was broken up into spin-off books and out-of-game promotional cinematics. Questlines could only be experienced if both Alliance and Horde characters were present. It was difficult to get the whole picture without serious effort.

The contrived writing made critical plot moments feel weak. Long-time players enjoy laughing about instances when in-game bosses shout "Enough!" Battle for Azeroth relied heavily upon cliches to remove tension from scenes, such as when a player dies in battle and then makes their escape.

One of the last cinematics for Battle for Azeroth saw the Alliance's combined might march on Orgrimmar in an attempt to confront Sylvanas (alongside some Horde defectors). Finally, it felt like Sylvanas would win in a bloody final showdown. However, Sylvanas becomes too upset during a duel against her traitorous ex general and attacks the Horde before everyone. This is a great way for dummies to instill loyalty just before a major battle.

Sylvanas realizes she has lost support from the Horde. The Alliance and the Horde kiss and make up and Sylvanas then appears as Shadowlands' chief antagonist. She has allied herself to Warcraft's Satanic version, the Jailer, who is exiled (and still rules over) The Maw, a hellish and terrifying hellscape. It turns out that Sylvanas was trying to start an apocalyptic conflict with the Alliance by burning Teldrassil. She's not only murdered millions, but has also condemned them to everlasting damnation in order to be part of her Great Schemes. Although this sounds great, the way she drip-feeds revelations to players is a huge loss for their weight.

It is again frustrating that there is so little detail. We still aren't sure what's happening or why. Shadowlands has been out for almost eight months. Sylvanas's few appearances in cutscenes are all that we have. They only give us cryptic clues, like the Jailer and her desire to end the cycle of death and life. Sylvanas believes that no mortal can have any control over what happens to them. They die, then they go to the afterlife, where they are likely to be killed. Sylvanas, The Jailer and others see it as unfair and want the government to stop it.

But how do they replace it? What will they replace it? Shadowlands is plagued by a lack of information that allows players to care about the events as they happen. It's just one more cliffhanger after another, and it makes it seem like Blizzard is slowing down because they don't have a compelling story to tell.

Did Blizzard intend to redeem Sylvanas or have her switch sides in a critical moment? It was.
Shadowland's main campaign sees Sylvanas, The Jailer and the other Azeroth heroes captured by Sylvanas. They then attempt to enslave them for their own ends. One attempt fails, and Anduin, the human king of Azeroth is made into a mindless slave that The Jailer uses for starting to collect what amounts to Marvel's Infinity Stones. It's evident that Sylvanas feels bad about the fact that she enslaved Anduin against her will during a cutscene. The Lich King enslaved Sylvanas back in Warcraft 3 and killed her. Fun fact: The Jailer was the one who created artifacts that corrupted Lich King. These same artifacts were used by him to kill Sylvanas. This is something she also knows and doesn't seem to be bothered by, for some unknown reason.

It's strange, at the same time. You know, you did genocide and started wars across continents that almost killed the planet. But making Anduin do your chores seems to be what is giving you second thoughts. It's easy to see why players became anxious about where the story was going. Did Blizzard plan to redeem Sylvanas or have her switch sides in a critical moment? They were.



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Sylvanas fate​

Players were able to see a film that showed the Jailer's final plans after they beat the Sanctum of Domination raid earlier in the week. Players basically gave him the Infinity Stones that he needed to complete the next step towards making everything. The Jailer, now a terrifying skeleton monster, binds key characters such as Bolvar, Jaina and Thrall in chains that enslave their minds, much like Anduin. He's practically unstoppable at this point.

Here is where some of the worst writing in Blizzard comes together in an explosive combination. Just short of victory, the Jailer can't help but gloat and talk about how he intends to change all reality to his benefit. Sylvanas turns her gaze to Anduin, and she has her expected change of heart. But has already become an all-powerful god. Evidently, she realizes that genocide and aiding Satan are not such a good idea. She knocks out a weak arrow and fires it at the Jailer's forehead.

But that's exactly her behavior. It's been this way for the entire time. Are you sure she is not stupid?

I am quickly approaching the point in my life where I don't care about the universe or the people living there.
Sylvanas's arrow does nothing. The Jailer is now basically God, and Sylvanas can be seen in the back of class selling a spitball to him. We're supposed clap. This should be the moment where everyone dies. The Jailer decides to be kind to Slyvanas and restores her soul--effectively turning her back into a living creature--but no. No. I am willing to wager that he will be all surprised when we do because he didn't consider us a threat. Even though I have killed intergalactic demon generals and dragon gods at this point, it's not a threat to me. It seems that Sylvanas is humanity's restored hero, and it is now time for her redemption arc. This has been something players have long feared.

It's difficult to express how disappointing this whole twist’ is unless you have been following WoW's story closely over the past few expansions. I feel like these characters are not reasoning people. They are just vessels to dispense cool one-liners, while the plot moves inexplicably forward towards the next macguffin. We will never know the answers to the many plotlines left hanging with each new cutscene.

World of Warcraft's pathetic trend of drip-feeding its story through a series of short cinematics has been a constant since Battle for Azeroth. These films never feel meaningful and don't make it seem like they are connected. I am quickly reaching a point in my life where I don't care about the universe or the people living there. This makes me wonder why I continue to play. It seems that I am not the only one who isn't feeling the effects of the latest WoW cinematic.