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Discussion > WoWDec 18, 2023 8:00 am CT

How does long-form storytelling impact your gameplay?

One of the things of the past few World of Warcraft expansions is how the story has stretched and grown while it was being told. From Warlords to Legion and carrying on through Battle for Azeroth, Shadowlands and finally Dragonflight, there have been plot threads entering and being resolved and new ones created at a pace I find quite dizzying. In recent years we’ve seen destruction of and finally the creation of a new home for the Night Elves, as well as the destruction of Undercity and Calia Menethil’s return to Lordaeron as a unique form of undead, just to name two major story arcs.

I sometimes wonder what the game will look like lore-wise when the Worldstone Saga, which starts with the upcoming War Within expansion, is done. Will there even be a Horde or Alliance? But at the same time, I’m also a touch impatient lately with just how long it can take to resolve these storylines. Because MMO storytelling (and videogame storytelling in general) has a different pace than movies or novels, we can sometimes spend literally years inhabiting a character that’s caught up in events that may not be resolved for years. If you’re invested in a game’s story, waiting through multiple expansions just to find out how it’s resolved can be a uniquely torturous experience.

Heck, I still don’t think we know what happened to Calia’s husband and child, and we may never. Anduin’s character arc from Legion onwards has been told across three expansions, then took Dragonflight off, and will be continued in The War Within. And it may well continue in the next two expansions after that, making it a story told over the course of a decade or more.

It can be really engrossing to play through these stories that take years to tell, but it can also be somewhat maddening to always feel like you’re waiting and waiting to find out what happens next. So I turn to you, the readers at home — how do you feel about the unique long-form storytelling that MMOs like World of Warcraft often provide? Do you want game storytelling to get even more expansive, or would you be okay with a bit of a shift to smaller, self-contained stories that begin and end in one expansion?

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