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Warcraft Retrospective 29: Interlude: The Value of Mystery

Let’s catch a break from the fast-paced storytelling of Reign of Chaos, take a step back, and look at the big picture.

This story is not particularly novel or groundbreaking, not even by video game standards. If we judged games solely by the quality of writing and depth of characterization, I could easily name some games even from the same year that beat this game fair and square. Where Warcraft 3 excelled was presentation, and that was made this story and these characters so memorable and evocative.

Warcraft Retrospective 28: All In

Previously on Warcraft 3: Reign of Chaos…

Bravely bold Tyrande rode forth from Ashenvale.
She was not afraid to die, o brave Tyrande!
She was not at all afraid of the humans and the orcs,
Brave, brave, brave, brave Tyrande!

Warcraft Retrospective 27: Beneath the Stars of Ever-Eve

And so we get to the final campaign of Reign of Chaos: the night elf one. And… oh boy, it’s going to be awkward for me to talk about it.

It’s no secret that I like night elves. This website is, after all, named after a night elf roleplay character of mine. It’s furthermore no secret that I like elves as a fantasy concept. It might, however, surprise people who know me as the Argent Dawn realm forum’s resident elf-lover that I’m really not that fond of the elf concept in general, except for two races in all of fantasy that I know of.

Warcraft Retrospective 25: Go West (Life is Savage There)

The Invasion of Kalimdor

While in Lordaeron, mortals tremble and despair as doom has come to this world, Thrall and his orcs and recently-joined Darkspear trolls continue to sail west to Kalimdor, blissfully unaware of the fate of the land they left — for now.

Warcraft Retrospective 24: Paint This Continent Black

Last time, we saw Arthas lead the Scourge to the outskirts of Silvermoon, where he plans to raise Kel’Thuzad at the high elves’ sacred font of power, Comic Sans the Sunwell. Meanwhile, this was playing in the background.

The undead theme is an interesting departure from the others. Unlike the noble and triumphant human theme or the rousing and warlike orc theme, this one isn’t energetic. It’s eerie, haunting, and foreboding. Something foul is in the air, creeping on you and sapping your resolve — and the growls of the walking dead and the clanging of unholy mechanical contraptions will be the last sounds you hear before your life, too, is drained away.

Warcraft Retrospective 23: Darth Arthas

Undead campaign

Last time, we stopped at the shocking twist of an undead-looking Arthas returning to Lordaeron and killing his father, cementing his fall to darkness. And please hear me out: this might be an unpopular opinion, but while the human campaign was a compelling story, I don’t think its epilogue, specifically, was executed that well.

Sure, by the end of the campaign, Arthas fell to extreme “ends justify the means” thinking, but he still committed all these atrocities in the name of saving the people of Lordaeron from the Scourge — because he thought he was the only one willing to what it took. Everyone, and everything, was expendable in the name of victory over the undead, and sickness was to be purged. He was a Scarlet Crusader before there was a Scarlet Crusade. A well-intentioned extremist. He was Redcloak, having gone too far to save his people to stop now.

At the end of the campaign, he was not Darth Vader.

Actually, speaking of Darth Vader, there’s a similar problem with his story in the prequels.

Warcraft Retrospective 22: To Atrocity and Beyond

Before I continue, I should, once again, praise the music in Warcraft 3. The human theme perfectly captures how the Alliance sees itself: as a bastion of order, majesty and valor. Even if — as we know, and are about to see once again — it doesn’t always quite live up to these ideals.