The zones are beautiful, and many of the zone-specific quest chains are very well done. A lot of the new transmog sets are just gorgeous to look at (the only thing I’m not pleased with so far is the Zandalari questing gear). Heritage armor is fantastic to see happening, and I’m stoked that Blood Elves are one of the first old races to be getting it. I’m pretty enthused by some of the allied races, and not bothered by any of the rest.
Mechanically, I like warfronts so far. I’m not quite as happy with Uldir overall as I was with most of the fights in Legion raids, but it’s not bad and I enjoy my LFR time.
The faction war plot, however, is bad. It’s very bad. It’s difficult to decide where to start with how bad it is and in which ways.
I don’t feel qualified to speak over much about the Alliance’s role in BfA, or about how it feels, because I haven’t played much Alliance-side since 8.0; the leveling experience in Kul Tiras has been lovely, but when it comes to the war content have yet to see many things for myself. What I have seen, however, combined with what others have said about the passivity involved, is kind of painful. As far as I can tell, the only major “win” they’re getting out of this exercise was yanked out from under them and obliterated before the expansion even launched.
The Horde meanwhile has been struck so hard with the villain bat, it has forgotten its name and doesn’t know who the President is. I’ve seen it said a couple times that the Horde at least gets to be “active,” and I suppose that’s true. I also suppose that, in the context of an objective checklist of “good story elements,” being active is an advantage. But I see absolutely no value in being “active” when the actions that are available to be “actively” pursued are hypocritical, pointlessly cruel, counter to the identity that Blizzard insists the Horde possesses, etc, etc, etc.
I’m also not sure it’s a useful form of “active” participation in the story when your only options are:
- Play through this distasteful, unsatisfying plot you have no say in
- Switch factions
- Don’t play at all
The relationship between reality and what Blizzard says is reality is another issue, particularly with regards to the War of Thorns. They insisted that the Burning of Teldrassil wasn’t what we thought it was. They insisted that Sylvanas was not evil. We all know how those things panned out. I wasn’t surprised, but I was bitter and frustrated. I wouldn’t have liked the plot direction either way, but being blatantly lied to just makes it that much less delightful.
And lastly, for now, because this post is inflicted with quite enough negative opinions, the faction war displays a huge fumbling of theme. The game seems to be trying to send the message that war is bad, that hatred is wrong, and that vengeance leads only to suffering. This is great. I agree. But then they paint a big, sloppy “FOR THE [FACTION]” on top of it, and try to hype up the idea of slaughtering the other guy for honor and glory (from a Horde perspective; the Alliance experience seems like it might be more along the lines of: they hype players up for fighting back by creating a situation in which it couldn’t be more right – but then tell you that fighting is bad and you’re a bad person if you do it).
I think Blizzard could write a halfway decent story about how war is bad, and I think they could also write a pretty alright story about standing with your chosen side and feeling purposeful and vindicated in fighting the good fight. But here they seem to be trying to do both of these at once, and they are not pulling it off.