The announcement for World of Warcraft: The War Within is still fresh for all of us, and there is no doubt many are still thinking about the cinematic that debuted at BlizzCon.
Many of those thoughts likely coming from an unexpected place – because the trailer shied away from the usual ultra-hype builder that one may expect from a new expansion unveiling (seriously, just remember what the Dragonflight trailer delivered us) to show something a little more grounded, but still altogether awesome.
If you perhaps have not imbibed this media, perhaps take a squiz at the video below – where our good friend Anduin Wrynn is idly twisting a sword in the sand, before being visited by a similarly great mate of times past:
You see, rather than blasting epic music and conjuring images of intensely cool moments happening in a fantasy landscape we instead watch an interaction between two weary souls. In Thrall, we see a figure that has confronted their past and grown from it – whereas Anduin has somewhat freshly experienced a personal darkness that still lingers within him.
The motion capture of Anduin’s face is intensely tough to watch. His ragged exterior is worn down, uncared for and tranquil (to a point) — before erupting into a personal fury and sadness, twisting his features into a mask of despair. It is no wonder that some viewers found it difficult to process, either by way of misunderstanding or simply being distant to such feelings.
Then there are the dorks who think that such elements have no place in a video game.
17/ Let’s address the dismissive comments first. Some say, “It’s just a game,” but let’s dive deeper. These narratives go beyond the screen, resonating with players on emotional levels. Dismissing them overlooks the power of storytelling. pic.twitter.com/TqSkrZGCeh
— 𝕺𝖓𝖞𝖝𝖎𝖈𝖈𝖆🥀 (@onyxicca) November 7, 2023
Personal growth is a pillar of excellent storytelling, and the newly unveiled Worldsoul Saga aims to deliver such a thing. Across many online platforms, commenters discussed the very different strategy used by Blizzard to introduce The War Within, but perhaps the most robust and brilliant explanation came in the form of many posts from Onyxicca on X, providing a granular breakdown on all of the very human mechanisms on display in Anduin’s actions.
From examining how traumatic experiences can alter our brain chemistry to understanding how our instinctive fight-or-flight response may prioritise survival over our long-term well-being, her breakdown conveys the message more effectively than I could ever articulate. Moreover, it presents the sobering realization that these experiences still remain a challenge to discuss openly with our loved ones.
It is a stunning look into the intricacies of mental health, focused through a lens of familiar interactive media – and while you may need to expand the comments a few times to get across the whole discussion, it is fantastically worthwhile.
Beyond such amazing dissertations like the above, there are also smaller notes that are doing the rounds and revealing just how many layers have gone into making this story feel believable – such as the below example from yeslikeagirlz that points out a similar detail that I noticed; where the most impactful words that Thrall could muster for Anduin in his show of support are some of the most incredibly heartfelt ones that he needed to hear.
Thrall could have said anything to snap Anduin back, but all he said was "I trust you".— yeslikeagirl (Broccoliz) (@yeslikeagirlz) November 3, 2023
So often we are expected to be perfect, and are impossibly hard on ourselves when we fail.
I know exactly why that line made him melt - bravo to the writer. pic.twitter.com/Tspn2iYhQh
It is heart-warming to see that the vast majority of reactions to such a piece of media is one of discussion and support, rather than a crass disappointment that the trailer ‘needed more fireballs and explosions’ to be interesting.
The Warcraft story is ideally one that has had a lot of growth afforded to it, alongside an audience that has similarly grown. The literal ‘World’ of Warcraft has plenty of room for stories of all kinds, whether they are soaring on the back of a dragon or skittering through the dark landscape of a twisted god – sometimes the enemies we are facing come from within. Almost as if we may personally experience a ‘war’ within, if you catch my drift.
So kudos to the commenters who ‘get it’, and a genuine note of appreciation for taking the time to pontificate some heavy thoughts. While I may be a long-time Warcraft fan, I am also a huge supporter of understanding the wiles of our human condition – and anything that can help us connect to each other is always welcome.
How do you feel about the themes shown in the the cinematic for The War Within? Does it ring true to the complicated nature of people? Let us know in the comments or on social media.