Spoiler warning! Patch 8.2.5 cinematics show the end of the War Campaign
Let’s just lay it out on the table: if you don’t want spoilers for patch 8.2.5, the War Campaign, or the big cinematics that bring the story to its conclusion than this post is one you should not read. This post is literally nothing but spoilers for patch 8.2.5 and the War Campaign, so if you do not want to be spoiled for this live content patch, do not read this post, because that’s what it is going to do.
I’m serious here. If you keep reading, you will be spoiled.
At this point consider yourselves as warned as you can possibly be, so let’s look at the cinematics and the story they tell.
The first cinematic is one that uses the in-game models, and it’s a bit of a doozy — it shows the meeting between Anduin Wrynn and Varok Saurfang.
A meeting of minds
This cinematic is essentially the coda to the various War Campaign quests that have been about the Horde and Alliance essentially coming to some sort of detente. It presents a meeting between Anduin and Saurfang, one where each talks about the atrocities and regrets their side holds and what kind of future they’re fighting for. Saurfang ends up feeling the more accurate in his litany of Horde misdeeds, while Anduin trots out Arthas and Daelin Proudmoore for his side of the discussion. In the end, both sides agree that Azeroth is their home and the thing they’re fighting for, and agree to set off for Orgrimmar and the final confrontation.
It’s an interesting set up cinematic, but I can’t help but notice the complete lack of big Night Elf figures like Tyrande, Malfurion, or even Genn Greymane at this summit. It’s strange for an expansion that started with the destruction of Darnassus to so thoroughly ignore the people who endured that destruction. Still, this cinematic leads into the next, and that’s the big one we need to discuss.
This one, to be precise.
Might is right
The fight to retake Orgrimmar goes from a potential clash of armies with the allied Horde rebels and Alliance forces facing off against those loyal to their Warchief (whatever their reasons are) and instead becomes one where Saurfang challenges Sylvanas to Mak’gora, the honor combat that determines who is right through one-on-one fighting. Saurfang goes into this fight using both Thrall’s axe and Anduin’s sword, the one he inherited from his father, Varian — but ultimately Sylvanas loses this fight not by force of arms. She handily whittles down Saurfang with a pair of daggers while sneering at him, mocking him and claiming that his death will destroy the hopes of those who followed him.
Saurfang’s counterattack and counter-argument hinge on Sylvanas’ inability to kill hope. He mentioned how she failed to kill it at Teldrassil, failed to get the living to kill each other at Lordaeron, and has failed to grasp the true nature and strength of the Horde. This leads to him scoring a hit that wounds Sylvanas’ face and causes her to lose control of her temper, shouting that the Horde is nothing before the assembled forces and essentially losing their loyalty in the process.
She then kills Saurfang with a blast of magic unlike anything yet seen from her, declares that she sees them all as toy soldiers in tin plate who have no idea what’s coming, and departs the field of battle. Saurfang is taken into Orgrimmar for the honorable funeral his death has earned him, as even the Forsaken at the city’s gates accept that Sylvanas has abandoned them after her outburst.
The fall of a champion
Alliance players and Horde rebels see a further funeral scene for Saurfang rendered in-game, while Horde loyalists who stayed on Sylvanas’ side go to Windrunner Spire for a last conversation with Sylvanas. Nathanos Blightcaller is there, and he finally verbally calls Sylvanas “my love” before departing to do her will.
Sylvanas takes the loyal champion for a brief walk up Windrunner Spire, discussing how her bargain with Azshara will still work out in her favor — how the Horde and Alliance will unite to battle Azshara’s master and will end up dying in great numbers, which suits Sylvanas and her overall goals. “Nothing lasts” she declares, before saying that they’ll see her again soon and understand better when they do, after even the Old God and its minions have served Death.
Where does this leave us?
So what’s the overall tally? What has actually come out of all of this?
Saurfang gets his heroic death at long last. Honestly, it feels like it would have been more cruel for Sylvanas not to kill him, here. I’m glad for him that he gets to go out as he would have wanted to and more importantly doesn’t get stuck as Warchief cleaning up this mess.
We have a kind of peace: the Horde and Alliance are done fighting each other and can unite to battle N’Zoth. But it leaves a lot unsettled. We have no idea what the Night Elves’ reaction to this will be, of if the Horde has canonically moved out of their lands. Can, and more importantly, will they resettle and if they do, will they be willing to live as neighbors with the Horde after all that has happened? Can the events at Teldrassil simply be pushed at Sylvanas’ feet, or is this a ticking time bomb waiting to destabilize the Alliance at exactly the wrong time? And with Saurfang dead, what becomes of the Horde? Who leads it? To what end?
Meanwhile, Sylvanas is still out there, with a cadre of forces loyal to her, an unknown but vast new power that not even Jaina or Thalyssra recognize — or even sense even while watching her use it to one-shot Saurfang — and a plan that seems to involve letting everyone else get killed fighting N’Zoth and then… what? Reanimating their dead? Or something worse?
We’ll find out in 8.3, I suppose. It definitely feels like we’ll get Ny’alotha and/or the Black Empire in 8.3 now, with the continuation of Sylvanas’ story coming in the next expansion. Time will tell.
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