Friday Top 5: In-Game Cinematics

For a return to the Top 5, I wanted to look at the in-game cinematics. To be clear, this list does not include any patch trailers or expansion cinematics. And for today’s list I’m looking at pre-Shadowlands content. Heck, Shadowlands could have a top 5 all their own with how many there are. Moving on to the list.

5. Immortal No More
This one is on the list not out of any enjoyment on my part. I found this to be part of the Mary Sue that we call Thrall after all these years and I’m honestly done with it. It’s why Garrosh’s death didn’t make the list. Players did all the work just to have that moment taken from us. Thrall at this point is no better, but it’s the impact of the scene. The dragons gave up their immortality (which, again, I find silly) for the people of Azeroth. That was huge, no matter how one feels about it.

4. There Must Always Be A Lich King
This video was the culmination of a fantastic story. Arthas succumbing to defeat was the closing chapter, and I don’t think any of us expected to see Bolvar show up and take the mantle. He made for an interesting, lesser version of the Lich King over the years. Being able to watch this cinematic by viewing the statue in Dalaran was a nice little touch as well. My only issue is how “human” Arthas was at the end…given if you read the books he deliberately kills Ner’zhul in his mind to be the one true Lich King.

3. The Hour of Blood Approaches
Going through the Zandalari quests was an enjoyable story. The betrayal of Rastakhan was well told. What came as a complete surprise was the full scope of Zul’s power play. My draw dropped watching this scene as a player you are literally looking at an “ohhhhh no” type of moment.

2. Rejecting The Gift
Say what you want about Illidan’s return and redemption, this was powerful. Part of me actually expected Illidan to have his demon side expunged. This showed not only how powerful Illidan is, but how controlling the Light can be. “I am my scars!”

1. Wrathgate
This one probably does not come as much of a surprise. It had so much going for it at the time. It was a fantastic reward for a lengthy questline. It was really the first of its kind, and held so much lore and storylines. The Forsaken “splinter group,” Saurfang the Younger, Bolvar’s death…I can’t think of any in-game cinematic that came close to what the Wrathgate was and meant.

There you have it, my top five in-game cinematics. For what it’s worth, there were a couple of other’s I strongly considered. “Thorn Removal” where Aysa and Ji went their separate ways was close. It was short but showed so much. Also up there was Maev’s capturing and release of the Demon Hunters. What about you? Which have been your favourites?

Breaking Down The BFA Trailers

After watching the cinematic trailer a few more times, not just in awe, I started to instead pay attention to the details. Here are the things I’ve noticed as a result, as well as some general thoughts:

  • 0:07 is Lordaeron. Apparently not everyone noticed.
  • 0:30 Sylvanas concludes a nice assessment. The Horde and Alliance have worked together but every time the unity is broken.
  • 0:40 Yup. The Alliance is at the front door and not politely knocking. What lead to this?
  • 0:43 Anduin has Shalamayne. But it seems to have an aura more akin to the Light.
  • 0:47 As expected, Genn is the military leader and Anduin’s right hand.
  • 0:50 That helm would look badass and frightening on anyone other than Anduin.
  • 1:05 Most of the dwarven gunners are clearly Engineers. Note the goggles.
  • 1:17 The Tauren almost looks to be dragging a green Garrosh. Obviously it’s not.
  • 1:27 The orc struck with the arrows almost seems to be a nod to the Burning Crusade trailer when the orc in that is revived by a Blood Elf priest.
  • 1:43 Sylvanas’ realization that they’re losing the fight, and subsequent decision is a defining moment. She also really looks human in this moment.
  • 1:47 Just in case there was any doubt how strong she is.
  • 1:56 For the first time in WoW we see Sylvanas use her banshee form, and damn was it awesome.
  • 2:07 That “For The Horde” cry rallied me to their side, let alone her army.  That might be the single greatest moment in any of the cinematics.
  • 2:17 Impressive Troll Shaman. Interesting that he’s wearing a mask. Sure looks a lot like a former Warchief…
  • 2:20 Love the Tauren using his horns to attack. Still surprised we don’t have that as an ability in game.
  • 2:30 A few Draenei on the front lines now means the only two races we haven’t seen are Gnomes and Blood Elves.
  • 2:34 Anduin is getting better as a fighter, but he’s not there yet.
  • 2:55 Seems he even has some of dad’s temper.
  • 3:00 No, that’s not the same Troll. The shaman didn’t have a shield.
  • 3:16 Sylvanas had her rallying moment, now Anduin has his. He recognizes he isn’t his father, but is inspired by the aura of the sword. He knows in his heart…
  • 3:22 He can wield the light and then some. Mists of Pandaria did a great job starting that story. I really do see him as a Paladin by the end of this next expansion. Succeeding where Arthas failed?
  • 3:24 Sylvanas almost had a look that was mildly impressed.
  • 3:43 Okay so maybe Anduin is a God among insects…
  • 3:54 Anduin comes off a bit more like dad. The rallying cry was good, but still not as impressive as Sylvanas’.
  • 3:57 Yep, Sylvanas is definitely amused.

All in all it’s fair to say this trailer sets the stage clearly for what the expansion is going to be about. The only thing missing is the sea and islands but they’re merely going to be a backdrop for the theatre of war the two factions will emark on once again. Now let’s look at the feature trailer:

  • 0:03 Under the tranquility of a Moonwell Jaina references her father. Once upon a time the two were on opposite sides of peace and treatment of others (specifically the orcs).
  • 0:18 Teldrassil is on fire. Not just a little bit either.  What in the Maelstrom lead to that happening? Odds are this is what leads the Alliance to Lordaeron.
  • 0:25 “We’ve made kindling from our suffering.” Similar to the assessment of Sylvanas in the cinematic but much more blunt and painful.
  • 0:31 “Waiting for a single spark.” Well, the burning tree does a pretty good job of that. Clearly that story will be the main catalyst for the expansion’s activities.
  • 0:38 The Alliance gets Kul Tiras. The port looks gorgeous. It feels so much more alive than Stormwind for example.
  • 0:43 Our first “new beast” sighting. Looks like some sort of foliage demon. Head also reminds me of the Power Generator Hood.
  • 0:46 That pile of gold…you know he’s a Dungeon Boss for certain.
  • 0:48 Holy crap! Quillboar!
  • 0:52 What are those? Trolls?
  • 0:55 Quest boss or Dungeon boss? Either way, she reminds me of the witch with Snow White’s apple. Just torturing a player instead.
  • 0:57 “I. AM. GROOT.” Don’t laugh, even my 7 year old thought it.
  • 1:03 This was our first confirmation of separate leveling zones.
  • 1:15 I feel like people are going to be screaming for a Brontomount.
  • 1:24 Snake people. Makes sense. We’re running low on options for humanoid animals. Personally, fear the idea of Skunkfolk.
  • 1:26 Oooh, Old God style tendrils. Including some with an eyeball. I like it.
  • 1:29 I said it during the last two expansions…thank heavens Blizzard did away with the five level expansions.
  • 1:31 I have always loved the aesthetics of the Troll Dungeons.
  • 1:34 The mantid and qiraji were cross-bred by the trolls?
  • 1:37 This reminds me a lot of Howling Fjorde and Grizzly Hills. Nothing wrong with that.
  • 1:38 More pirates. Same dungeon as before maybe? It would be great if it recaptured the feel of classic Deadmines. Well, aside from not actually being in a mine.
  • 1:41 These are the 3-player island scenarios that were talked about. I’m really intrigued by the potential of them.
  • 1:46 Wrath players remember the Wyrms. Making them undead terrifies me.
  • 1:49 Warfronts. Apparently Warcraft 3 in nature. Not my cup of tea but folks will be happy.
  • 1:56 It’s Jaina! Oh damn. She looks like all she’s done since she left Dalaran is hit the bottle.
  • 2:00 There’s the Allied Races. First the Alliance (Dark Iron Dwarves, Lightborn Draenei, and Void Elves) and then the Horde (Highmountain Tauren, Zandalari Trolls, and Nighborne)
  • 2:08 Final emphasis on the theme of the expansion.
  • 2:15 And we end with the reveal of the expansion’s name.

I always enjoy the reveal trailers. They tend to preview a great deal and then once we’re in the content it’s fun to remember those details when we first saw them. Of course, we also see things that don’t always make the final cut. It will be interesting to see all of these things when the time comes.

The two trailers together did a fantastic job of setting the stage for Battle For Azeroth. I still wonder most about the connection between Teldrassil and Undercity. I mean, there’s an obvious explanation for it, but I would rather see it confirmed and played out rather than cast suspicions. Plus doing so still wouldn’t get to the heart of what she does to trigger it.

An Arthas What If

I came across this video today, courtesy of YouTuber Hellscream. Can’t say as I had seen any previous videos (or even heard of him) before, but the title definitely caught my attention. While I would love to see how some of the further plot points would play out as a result of this version, I still very much enjoyed it and the idea.


Looking For Group

I had the chance today to sit down and watch the WoW documentary Blizzard unveiled last weekend.  I didn’t look up what it entailed, so I went in blind.  Now normally when I see a “geek” related documentary, it tends to come off as doing a terrible job of playing to the stereotypes.  It tends to come off as folks literally coming out of their (parents) basement to step in front of the camera.  LFG doesn’t do that at all.  Given that it’s Blizzard, you do go into it with high expectations.  But that doesn’t mean my traditional reservations weren’t there.

The documentary opens at the cinematic release for Warlords of Draenor and then goes into a basic biography of the game, starting with the formation of Blizzard nearly 25 years ago.  There’s such a vast array of people interviewed, from developers to players, analysts, celebrities, etc.  I think the only prominent name from WoW that I don’t recall seeing was Ghostcrawler.  Collectively, though, there is a fantastic narration of how the game has gone from dreams to reality.  I also love that they flat out give credit to predecessors Ultima Online and Everquest, and it isn’t just a passing comment.

You learn so much about the game, from day one to now.  Nuggets of information, such as Metzen only plays Human Paladins, or Molten Core was done in a week (?!?!).  Also, the Gates of Ahn’Qiraj.  This was one of my favourite parts of the documentary, though I thought they might touch on the player who held the server ransom, essentially.  They didn’t acknowledge it, but they did admit what a server/tech nightmare that it was.  They also made it clear that was a one time only deal.  So for those of us who didn’t get to participate, it sounds like we’re truly out of luck when it comes to experiencing anything like that.

What Looking For Group does best is convey pride.  From the opening comments about being a geek, to the fans, to the Blizzard team talking at various points at how impressive certain things are (not even just in their own department), there is a fantastic level of “this is who we are and why this is awesome.”  Obviously that’s the point, since they’re not going to downplay their own product.  And sure, LFG is clearly tailored to the fans of the game rather than a casual person wondering about it, but that doesn’t take away from the fact it wasn’t done properly.  If you have an hour to spare, you should definitely watch the video above.

Warlords: The Grand Reveal

In a rare move today, Blizzard held a mini-event, the sole purpose of which was the cinematic and release date for the next expansion in WoW.  As always, I got goosebumps as soon as it started.  I really got goosebumps at the end when I saw the construction of the Dark Portal.  That was just one of those jaw-dropping moments in the grand scheme of things, which is good because the developers have made it clear the Dark Portal plays prominently in the expansion more so than it did during The Burning Crusade.

The release date is a little earlier than I expected.  I know their original suggestion was sometime in December and so that’s not a huge stretch.  Still, based on the latest numbers (which showed another 800,000 subscribers lost) Blizzard no doubt at least wanted to get players talking about the next expansion’s release date.  I don’t normally put stock in subscription numbers, but it seems strange for Blizzard to have a day like this that isn’t BlizzCon.  It says to me they might recognize numbers are still strong, but almost half of what they were at peak.  So get the community talking even more than just the beta, and perhaps some of those lost numbers will be reconsidering their November gaming plans.

November 13th and the cinematic weren’t all we were shown this morning, though they were arguably the most important.  I enjoyed the first episode of Lords of War, and have long thought a WoW animated series would do well.  The dark tone definitely makes it hard for a television sell, so making it a digital series works well.  It makes me hopeful they’ll do more than just this series.Without going into things fully about what we saw and heard, I’ll share just a couple thoughts:

    I’m not a hardcore PvP’er, but I love the idea of Ashran!  Being able to loot half of someone’s currency just screams cheshire grin.  It almost makes me regret selling all my Owned! loot cards.  UBRS.  Dead Leeroy being hilarious and all, I’m excited about the chance to try out the new dungeon before the expansion launches.”Death Knight like start zone.”  I better have the option to skip this after the first go.  To this day I like the Death Knight class, but going through that great zone more than 3-4 times is like onion juice poured on my eyes.Garrisons.  This feature I really don’t want much to do with. I haven’t followed much about the beta information thus far, but I will be disappointed if it turns out to be a “must do” in order to play and enjoy the expansion.

As of late, I’ve been pretty quiet around here, mostly due to being busy.  I’ve been playing WoW sparsely, but enjoying it enough.  My thoughts have wandered plentifully towards Warlords.  I wouldn’t have had Pandaria if not for the kindness of others.  At no point did I really look forward to the contents.  This time has been different, but by not tapping into the beta information I haven’t had anything to enhance my excitement further.  Until today.  What I saw, for the most part I very much liked.  Most importantly, with my son going to school in September I will have a couple of months for any further preparations for the game, should I desire to be there on launch day.