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WoWApr 25, 2018 3:00 pm CT

Updated Battle for Azeroth scenarios delve into Alliance and Horde motivations

One of the things we say a lot is “in beta, everything is subject to change” and that’s because this happens every beta. Quests get revised, quests get removed, new quest text gets added, and entire zones get redesigned from their original state. This is clear in the most recent game files for the new Alliance and Horde introductory scenarios in Battle for Azeroth. A lot of the text has been substantially reworked and revised, changing the focus and giving more depth to certain character’s portrayals. If we look at the text on Wowhead we can see a lot of the changes.

It almost goes without saying but I’ve learned over the course of the years to say it anyway — this post is all story spoilers for the upcoming expansion. With the next scenarios in a testing phase they’ve moved from datamined to implemented, which means they’re in a more finished state — and there are definitely changes to pay attention to.

Before we begin, you might want to read up on the original versions of the opening scenarios to fully understand what’s changed. But if you just want to know the current state of these introductory scenarios, read on.

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Jaina confronts her past in the Alliance scenario

The Alliance scenario and the quests that follow off of it have been changed to emphasize Jaina’s role in Kul Tiras. Her culpability in the death of her father has not gone unnoticed and apparently will not go unpunished: Jaina’s own mother declares she’s dead to her. Smaller changes (such as edits to Taelia’s opening dialogue to the player) seem to have been made with concision in mind, whereas others hint at the future roles for several of these characters.

Another big change is that Jaina is the one who proposes going back to Kul Tiras instead of agitating for war with the Zandalari — previously, Anduin told her to do it. Considering how reviled she is there — there’s even a folk song in Kul Tiras about how she let Daelin die called “Daughter of the Sea” — it’s better that it was Jaina’s idea and it gives the decision to do it more impact.

The changes to Taelia’s dialogue when you arrive in Boralus and the part where Flynn helps save the Alliance emissary — that would be you — from the Ashvanes both to set up the dungeon and give us a sense of what’s going on in Kul Tiras more elegantly than before. All in all, the changes are improvements that set up the storyline, and we definitely see a thaw in Katherine Proudmoore’s opinion of her daughter by the end of the new quests introduced to follow the scenario. The newest revisions all seem to make Jaina more the captain of her own fate rather than being on a mission from someone else.

It’s also cool to see Taelia because of the potential she’s going to have in the future. Spoiler warnings have already been given, but I’m going to refrain from spilling the beans on Taelia until after this paragraph, so you’ve been warned again and can turn away before reading further. The next paragraph will have spoilers for Taelia’s origins.

Okay? Still here? Taelia is the daughter of Bolvar Fordragon. So it’s good to see her role beefed up here with the introduction of the quest The Old Knight which details how she ended up in Kul Tiras.

The Horde stage an escape in the Horde scenario

The Horde scenario seems changed in a lot of small ways that overall tighten it up. Much of the text is different and there are places where a cinematics will eventually fillsin the gaps, but the basic gist of the story hasn’t changed. The intro scenario sees a hand-picked group of Horde agents — including you — infiltrate Stormwind, rescue Zul and Princess Talanji, confront a bitter Saurfang who is washing his hands of Sylvanas’ Horde, and run for their lives from a Jaina Proudmoore who is apparently a powerful enough spellcaster that she can casually disregard Thalyssra herself.

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Yes, that Thalyssra. The First Arcanist of the Nightborne, the people who’ve lived under a magic bubble literally eating and drinking magic for 10,o00 years, and Jaina basically doesn’t even care — and has no reason to. It’s fairly clear that in this scenario Jaina would likely have killed the entire Horde group, including Nathanos Blightcaller, if not for Zul setting half of Stormwind on fire as a distraction.

But overall, the story hasn’t changed: it’s just dialogue fixes. We get to see more of it, though — Horde players get to witness the power of the loa Rezan that comes to Princess Talanji’s call as well as the Zandalari fleet destroying the Alliance ship in pursuit of the your escape from Stormwind. One thing that is revealed during all this is that Zul the Prophet is a fascinating character and I’m looking forward to seeing more of him in Battle for Azeroth, if just for the way he manages to divert Jaina when he realizes he can’t beat her.

But what follows is new: you arrive in Zuldazar and have an audience with Rastakhan, who reveals a great deal of subtlety and cleverness, naming you Speaker for the Horde and giving you an embassy. It seems Rastakhan isn’t blind to Zul’s ambitions after all.

Sylvanas makes a calculated attack on Teldrassil

We also have new cutscenes that give quite a bit of detail on the Alliance attack on Lordaeron. It’s definitely a response to Sylvanas’ attack on Teldrassil, and we get to witness the battle unfold: the Horde’s use of an Azerite war machine and the Blight on their own soldiers, with Sylvanas raising Horde dead to keep fighting. We also get to see Anduin and Saurfang have a tense confrontation that ends with Saurfang led away into the captivity we see him at in the intro Horde scenario, taken to the Stockades as a prisoner of war.

It’s clear that Sylvanas intends to fight this war as a scorched earth campaign — no weapon is too foul for her to use and no tactic will be disregarded if it leads to victory. Neither Anduin nor Jaina seem capable of catching up to Sylvanas after she detonates a huge Blight bomb that knocks them both down — and we see Anduin touching the Blight, which I don’t think is a good idea at all.

The Teldrassil scenes we have are far from complete but it seems clear that Sylvanas used the Azerite in Silithus as a distraction to lure the majority of the Night Elven forces south so that she could attack Darnassus with impunity. We see Malfurion and Shandris Feathermoon — and let me just say, it’s about time we see Shandris again — because Sylvanas made sure to wait to attack until Tyrande was in Stormwind meeting with Anduin. Wise of her.

One of the quests, The Light of Elune, certainly seems to indicate that the Horde are rounding up and murdering Night Elf civilians as they march through Ashenvale.

By the location of the bodies, I think the town was taken by surprise. The guards were poisoned where they stood. Rogues.
Then, they rounded up the civilians in the center of the city and… it is such a horrific thought.

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I guess if Sylvanas is willing to kill and reanimate her own troops we shouldn’t be surprised at these tactics, but it’s still somewhat shocking. The quests end before we see the actual burning of the World Tree, cutting off as the player arrives in Darnassus and alerts Shandris to the Horde marching through Ashenvale and Darkshore. We still don’t know how the tree ends up burned, but the presence of the Teldrassil Hippogryph as a reward mount indicates that at least some of the people got out before it happened.

Both the Horde and Alliance scenes definitely seem to indicate that the Horde takes advantage of the Alliance being out of position to hit Teldrassil, ultimately successfully, only for the Alliance to capitalize on Sylvanas’ distraction to take Lordaeron and capture Saurfang. This would seem to make sense considering both the Horde and Alliance are seeking allies in Battle for Azeroth — these two pre-expansion events definitely indicate that each side is pretty evenly matched and neither is going to win this war as things stand.

There’s a lot more detail if you’re okay with spoiling yourself over on Wowhead.

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