Gul’dan getting away to die another day isn’t what I’d consider us “losing WoD.” Sylvanas and Anduin both got away last expac but nobody is saying we lost Shadowlands.
That being said I’d love for Iridikron to come back with a resurrected Galakrond who just wrecks the dragonflights and we’re left with a cliffhanger leading to 11.0. But like I said, the writers will make whatever stupid story we need to come out once again as masters of the universe.
Then we get to gain 10 more levels in the new expac…
So it turns out you can’t just conjure some deity nobody has ever heard of or was even hinted at having existed 30 years into an ongoing storyline, say “and they are responsible for every single iconic moment in this franchise” and it go over well with players.
No joke they actually would’ve had better reception if they scrapped the Jailer entirely, and his whole role and lines were overtaken by Mueh’zala because he’s actually been present within the lore. Albeit prior to Shadowlands unless you were a geek like me who read the gray tablet items in ZF odds are you had zero idea who the hell this dude even was.
Making Mueh’zala come back as the puppetmaster behind Hakkar and Zul who was rallying the troll spirits throughout time, then having a way to take his army of both living and dead through some Dark Portal type ritual except to the Shadowlands in order to recreate the Troll Empire would probably have been a much better storyline.
Then you could have had Bwonsamdi still doing his whole narrative point which is to be a loa yes, but not one who rules over their subjects. One who sees them as his friends. Could have had him as some random upstart who felt the way the Loa of Old or whatever you want to call them have it all wrong and that their subjects are not meant to be servants, then basically reforming the troll tribes fundamentally to introduce newer loa, as well as a huge cultural shift and later narrative point for trolls should they act on it of whether the trolls were happier at large serving the loa, or spreading their good will of their own volition. Come to think of it, Zul could’ve served this exact purpose like he was trying to do in 4.1 before they dropped that storyline entirely. Rally the troll tribes all back under the Zandalari banner and take over, though at the time we didn’t know it was Old God related.
Hell, the first raid tier alone would’ve been infinitely better received if they scrapped G’huun for Hakkar. If you wanted to cash in on that Zandalari storyline at long fricken last, how the hell did you forget about Hakkar? I actually half think he was added in Shadowlands as a dungeon boss JUST because of the Uldir backlash when veterans were expecting a huge ZG nostalgia trip and it was just some random conjured villain who also was an ancient troll threat that loved blood.
Simpler solution is to just make Denathrius the Wizard of Oz behind the entire plot… I mean HE did already do most of the work via his underlings the Nathrezim… Legion? Nathrezim showing Sargeras the Void world being devoured. Lich King? The Nathrezim were the people who taught races necromancy and delivered the helm and armor to Icecrown and also taunted Arthas into going to the fjord and chasing after Mal’ganis…again, a Dreadlord Nath’rezim.
Denathrius is semi-plausible with a bad retcon, the problem with “The Jailer” Zovaal is one, that title is erroneous as he’s basically a prisoner in the Maw for 90% of Shadowlands, he should be called “The Jailed”, secondly… he doesn’t DO anything, which for a tell don’t show villain is terrible.
When a villain doesn’t DO anything then they have to be connected to the world in other ways, take Denathrius and the Nathrezim retcon… the Nathrezim are Denathrius’ connection even if it is dunking on previous lore. Where is Zovaal’s connection? We don’t see him giving orders to Denathrius and his only other connection is tricking Sylvanas into serving him, and that’s a problem… because THAT plot relies on Sylvanas acting out of character and being stupid.
Rather than make her look a gullible fool, we KNOW she’s afraid of dying and ending up in WoW hell, we also know she’s enough of a narcissist to lie just to save her own skin, shoulda just made her motivation to serve Zovaal and unmake the afterlife simple selfishness.
I actually wanted to rip my hair out when they started in with that crap. “The Nathrezim actually aren’t demons from Nathreza… They’re actually secret Shadowlands spies!” Then to add insult to injury the whole Mal’ganis and Kintessa thing where they change into pretty much every throwaway dungeon boss in Vanilla and when people were like “Yeah okay, no this is going too far with the bit now” it was “Well you don’t know if that was actually them, they’re masters of disguise and deception to fool you!”
Yeah no, you came up with a villain who supposedly masterminded the entire lore of the game including its numerous jumping of multiple sharks from before he was even an idea because Blizzard realized “Oh crap, Sargeras was like, THE villain of the franchise…” I have almost zero issues believing you were going with that here and if players somehow found it “super deep and elaborate” would be beating their chests about being master tier storytellers… when those bosses were created when the current writing team was getting put in timeout for slapping each other over who got to sniff what marker in first grade. The game is actually that old.
If that’s the case, why are you still here. Why are you still paying them money?
If I ever feel a game is not worth playing, I just stop playing and go do something else. For the life of me I can’t figure out why people who hate this game just stay around paying Blizzard so they can complain.
Neither directly nor indirectly does Zovaal actually ever really affect the plot the way we are told he should be affecting it. Indirectly the honor goes to Denathrius who indirectly via the Nathrezim sets up most of the Legion/WotLK plot, two of the biggest story beats due to being huge plot points in the Warcraft original games.
But once you go past Mueh’zala and Denathrius as his “minions” the connection to the rest of the universe falls apart, there’s no real connection we see to Denathrius/Mue’zhala and Zovaal outside of one very telling brief moment in Zovaal’s dying cutscene which hints at Denathrius mildly sympathizing with the defeated Arbiter Zovaal. He gives them no orders visibly on screen, he isn’t really even shown interacting with them or even really seems to know they EXIST.
If anything it feels like Zovaal should be the minion and Denathrius the megamind boss in charge. Which kinda makes sense, if Zovaal feels like he’s pulled from thin air, he was. We have a confession from the staff in a post SL video admitting the plot was changed last minute to go from the Primus being the villain secretly all along to Zovaal being the endgame threat.
Isn’t it “First introduce a character with collection of teases and cameos showing their presence in the world”?
There were hints and whispers of death forces in motion beyond what we could see, but a lot of that could be attributed to Yogg.
Suddenly introducing a new character pulling the strings who we were completely oblivious to (unless there was foreshadowing I missed) is a hard twist to pull off well. It’s not helped by the fact that we know a fair number of death spirits and have various mystics who are supposedly knowledgeable about the Shadowlands who never mentioned him.
But the true error (in my humble opinion) was making Sylvanas an eternal mystery box they kept shaking instead of ever having her stop and do an exposition dump.
The Helm of Domination is the anchor of the backstory: where it came from, why the demons knew to go looking for it, how they acquired it, what they had to give to get it, what it had been used for (recapping known lore) and what are the consequences of losing it now. Regardless of his own goals and motives (which even after its over we still don’t fully understand), it’s from the story of the helm that the Jailor gains context in our ongoing saga.
Sylvanas breaking the helm when even Bolvar believed she was claiming it only emphasized how little we understood about anything. It was framed as a surprise plot twist and opportunity to shock us, when, in my opinion, it should have been the tragic culmination of finally fully understanding her motives and what she was unleashing, bridging the foreshadowing of the past with challenge that now lay in front of us.