Kul Tirans will be playable in an upcoming content patch. They’re already maligned for their limited customization options. Personally, I want to make the case for allowing a Kul Tiran character to come in various body types instead of just the stockier models that have been used in the promotions and are currently available on the PTR.
The Kul Tirans should have the option for at least two body sizes: the average human model, and the larger human model.
I’m going to address two points in particular: The gameplay argument, which deals with character visibility, and a lore argument, which will detail how the Kul Tirans have been represented throughout Battle for Azeroth by the characters we’ve encountered.
Character Silhouttes Hardly Matter
It’s been argued that the silhouette of a player character was an impactful way of identifying which characters were on which faction when a player was engaging in PvP combat. Since this is typically done with a fair level of drawn-back camera distance to allow a player to see more of the terrain and the players around them, silhouettes had to be more identifiable so that a player could reasonably account for the gameplay choices they’d have to make-- particularly when racial abilities came into play.
Warriors and Priests may not want to use their Fear-inducing abilities when engaging with Undead players because of their poweful racial, while engaging Orcs and Trolls might mean saving your defensive abilities for their damage-boosting Racials. Knowing which race an enemy character was used to have a greater impact on gameplay, but this is no longer the case.
Both the Horde and the Alliance, with the advent of Allied Races, share races that have the exact same sillhouettes without much to distinguish them apart. These are the Dwarves and their Dark Iron counterparts for the Alliance, and the orcs and their Mag’har Orc counterparts for the Horde. If either of these races are wearing armor that covers them from head to to, you probably couldn’t tell the difference between them. For dwarf PCs, the main distinguishing features are their skin colors, their eyes, and the flame effects on the beards and hair of the Dark Iron dwarves, but in any armor that covers the entirety of their body and head, these identifying markers are obscured. The dwarve silhouette alone does not communicate whether or not you’re seeing a regular dwarf or a Dark Iron dwarf, and the same goes for the Orcs and Mag’har orcs. The only thing that would allow a player to know what they’re fighting before they see their racials go off would be to identify a class that one has, which the other doesn’t. An Orc Priest is a giveaway that they are a Mag’har Orc, while an Orc Death Knight means they’re not.
Tauren and Highmountain Tauren are functionally identical save for the fact that both of them have an aspect of their character that is easy to identify and prominent, no matter what kind of armor they’re wearing-- horns and antlers. Though, this is a half measure. The difference between horns and antlers is only pronounced enough on the male characters for it to be reliably identified at the distance a player usually has their camera zoomed out.
Objectively speaking, if you put a Dark Iron dwarf next to a regular one, you’re probably going to notice the difference. That in mind, those differences become imperceptible depending on whether the dwarf is sporting armor that covers those identifiers, or the player has their camera zoomed out so far that the visible ones are all but imperceptible. The argument that character silhouettes offer any kind of gameplay telegraph is too flimsy to be used to prop up any game-play driven reason the Kul Tirans could not be expressed as the regular human model.
Kul Tirans as Presented in the Story
Despite the fact that the stocky Kul Tiran is the one we see on most of the promotional material for the playable race, a player in the game has no reason to suspect that this is what most Kul Tirans look like. For the most part, Kul Tirans prominent to the story of Battle for Azeroth and are seen populating Kul Tiras are not usually seen with a stocky build. In fact, the only time the stockier Kul Tirans are reliably more represented than another body type is the thin male Kul Tiran.
If you were to make a list of the most prominent Kul Tiran characters a player encounters from entering Boralus and then questing through Tiragarde Sound, Stormsong Valley, and Drustvar, a player finds that most of the central characters and many of the nation’s quest givers are humans of the standard build and that the stockier ones are far less prevalent.
The following is a list of quest giving NPCs in Boralus, Tiragarde Sound, Stormsong Valley, and Drustvar. I’ve included characters that are the objectives of quests targeting them for their deaths, but I mostly stuck with quest-giving characters. I excluded some quest-giving characters if they were one-off characters. The list covers the main storylines through these regions and should be a faithful account of the names and faces a player is going to encounter. I’ll notate the ones that the heaviest influence in the story with an anchor (). I’m going to exclude Lady Ashvane and Harlan Sweete because aspects of their art assets are unique to them, and Taelia because she’s not a native Kul Tiran. I’ll also exclude numerous NPCs, though it’s important to note that there are many generic NPCs of both, and their presence does help inform who the Kul Tirans are and reinforce the player’s impressions of what they look like.
The entire observable Proudmoore family (even Derek’s corpse and flashbacks of Daelin).
Flynn Fairwind (we see him a lot in Boralus, too, but much of the player’s adventure with him takes place in this zone).
Lord Aldrius Norwington
Lady Elena Norwington
Fernn the Turncoat
Squire Augustus III
Wayne the Ancestral
Lord Arthur Waycrest (before transformation)
Lady Meredith Waycrest (before transformation)
Marshal Everit Reade
Constable Henry Framer
Thaddeus “Gramps” Rifthold
Auntie Amanda Hale
Bonus Round – Kul Tirans in the Horde War Campaign
Tidesage Zelling, Captain Amalia Stone and Marshal M. Valentine, central Kul Tirans making an appearance in the Horde War Campaign, end up dead. In life, however, they had the appearance of the average human model.
There are a lot of the names on that list that you might read and not remember right away, but you problem remember the most prominent ones—Lucille Waycrest and Brother Pike, for example. However, the purpose of the list wasn’t just to demonstrate what the most prominent Kul Tiran characters look like, but to demonstrate the parity between the number of average-sized Kul Tirans you encounter as compared to the larger builds, and whether or not having only the option to play as the bigger, stockier human model is a faithful representation of what the Kul Tiran “fantasy” really is—and based on the numbers, it simply isn’t the case. If Blizzard wanted to sell the Kul Tiran “fantasy”, they hardly any effort in doing so through the characters we interacted with. The larger humans are a minority in Kul Tiras, full stop, and if there are this many more Kul Tirans that have an average human build, I don’t see an objective reason to keep that choice out of the players’ hands as well. The Kul Tiran people are clearly a very diverse group, ideologically and physiologically, and that should be represented in player choice as well.
The arguments for character silhouettes and story relevance ring hollow based on Blizzard’s own treatment of those very aspects.
In PvP, character silhouettes matter far less than Blizzard may insist that they do.
In the world, they’ve demonstrated that the Kul Tirans by and large look no different than the men and women of Stromwind, Lordaeron, and Stromgarde. Not only that, but the leaders and heirs of most of their houses (Lord and Brennan Stormsong, Lord, Lady, and Lucille Waycrest, Katherine and Jaina Proudmoore) do not look like the playable Kul Tiran.
These concessions in blurred silhouettes and less prominent representation have already been made by Blizzard, and to insist on restricting the Kul Tirans to one body type wouldn’t be anything less than doubling down on something they’ve made hardly any effort to reinforce in their gameplay philosophies with the other races or in how they’ve told the story of the nation of Kul Tiras.
Players should have the option to create Kul Tiran characters if the average human build if that’s the kind they want to make. The game does nothing to suggest it shouldn’t be possible.
If you feel I excluded a prominent Kul Tiran from the list, or have given the Anchor of Noteworthiness to someone who doesn’t really deserve it, or didn’t give it to someone who did, let me know.
It’s not preferential treatment if that race has been shown in the game to have those body types.
There isn’t any other race in the game where the majority of the NPC members of that race have a different body visual than a player could have as a customization option.
The only race that has a variety of body types at all are Humans through various NPCs (which are relatively rare) and trolls (whose body types typically reflect their subspecies. Player Character trolls are thin because Jungle Trolls are thin, and Forest Trolls are much bulkier. Forest Trolls are also not a playable race).