Cataclysm is pretty revolutionary for lore because, for the first time in 15 years of Warcraft story, we’re starting with a fresh beginning (sort of).
It started mid-Wrath, technically, but up until then WoW was essentially overlapping the previous storyline from the original RTS games. Even as we moved forward in the timeline of the events in Warcraft, we were dealing with a very familiar set of characters, heroes, and villains; ones that the world had know for, in some cases, thousands of years.
A lot has happened in BC and Wrath, and the comics and books that have supplemented those stories. Many big names have died or found their peace in one way or another. As they recede from the limelight, naturally we ponder who / what will step up in their place as time moves on. The possibilities are endless: there’s a huge pool to choose from, but where do we start?
Here’s my take.
People: They have names for a reason!
It’s been argued whether Cataclysm is an affective time-jump or not. It’s hard to gauge exactly how much time HAS passed over the course of the Warcraft games in relation to the story. For instance, 5 1/2 years of wow have essentially been 2 years of Azeroth. The time jumps between Warcraft to Warcraft III and their expansions have been sporatic… It’s generally accepted, though, that a time jump is unlikely: Cataclysm is just going to catch the world up to what has technically been happening all along.
The biggest indication of time passed, though, has come with some data-mining that produced an updated model of Anduin Wrynn, King Varian’s 10 year old son. Going by the model, he looks to be at least 17. While we can’t confirm his age, we can speculate that he should be about 14-15…then again he’s always been awkwardly ripped for a 10-year-old.
We can probably expect Anduin to start making some sort of impact on the world and politics of Stormwind. Exactly how, though, can go in two major directions. A pacifist at heart, he may actually oppose his father’s anti-horde crusade. Even at 10 he seemed to question some of his father’s decisions and ideals. On the other hand, he’s reaching that age where he will begin to understand the cruel injustices of the world (of warcraft, oh!) and with dear Garrosh leading the Horde and Sylvanas effectively becoming the new Bitch King, it’s hard to sympathize with the New-New-Horde.
We’re hoping not to have another Arthas on our hands, but it’s not impossible that Anduin will become an important part of Warcraft story in the future, starting in Cataclysm.
Another young presence I expect to make a show in WoW:C is Med’an. He’s a comic book personality that has gotten no mention in the game of yet, but he’s pretty damn important considering he’s the new Guardian of Tirisfal. Yeah, you heard right: a role he actively chose to inherit from psycho baby-daddy Medivh of Karazahn fame. On top of that, he’s allegedly the Mother Fukkin’ Chosen One ™, being the first [?] person to have 3 ethnic backgrounds: human, orc, and dreanei (the latter two came from famous mother Garona..and yes, it -is- weird) and able to effectively wield three different schools of magic: arcane, the Light, and Shamanism. What this means is that Med’an can probably destroy the world with his pinky, but the fact that Warcraft’s biggest Mary Sue who’s the most powerful mortal creature on Azeroth has yet to make it into the game boggles my mind.
His job is to protect Azeroth (no surprise there), so where the hell has he been? We don’t know. But with Deathwing making an unwanted and devastating return, I expect he should at least make an appearance to cast a few fireballs.
Classes: Step aside, Pallies, it’s Totem Time.
Somewhere in the nether vortex of QQing in the Shaman preview thread, someone had made a very interesting observation/comment along the lines of themes and OP classes. Warriors were central in Vanilla WoW, where the story was, basically, bloodthirsty war. Warlocks were stars in BC, a world full of demons and darkness. Pallies & Death-knights have dominated Wrath, where the classes have played an integral part of the story. Mages haven’t done too badly, either.
So where does that leave us with Wrath? Shaman and Druids.
It’s a very strong trend and there’s a lot to support this both mechanically and tale-wise. The very core of Azeroth is being shaken. Elementals are running rampant. Everybody’s favorite Shaman Thrall is abandoning his post as leader of the Horde in order to understand and deal with this new conundrum.
Shaman, incidentally, were also the first class to be previewed, and as a blue had stated in regards to the very late Pally release, some classes had simply been further along than others (perhaps this is suggesting Shaman had been worked on for a longer span of time, but this is very speculative).
I feel confident that Shaman are going to step up to be the discipline to rock the world (see what I did there?) for Cata.
Druids game-play wise are in a good place, but have been rather low-key as far as their role in the story. This will change in Cataclysm as their main focus, the Emerald Nightmare, will have been defeated by the start of it (Read: Stormrage). Now they’ll be faced with a new problem: with mount Hyjal being opened up to the public, so to speak, their original world tree Nordrassil is in danger. It’s up to the Druids to step up and protect what they hold dear to them. Additionally, the new race/class combination allotting for more options to play Druids and Shaman may also add to the importance they will play.
While Shamanism and Druidism are very different in many ways, they both hail from the same basic source: the raw and awesome power of nature. And with the big bad Deathwing being the herald and commander of the very Earth itself, it would make sense that the two classes most keenly entwined with it would be central to his (hopeful) demise.
Races: Did somebody say HOLYCOW?
The Blood Elven plight was central to BC along with the introduction of the Draenei in all their misguided glory. Dragons, Dwarves, and the Forsaken stole the show in Wrath. Our draconian comrades will continue to become more involved and will certainly be pivotal to Deathwing’s defeat, but we’ll be finding a lot more Tauren involvement now. Political upheaval is imminent among the Blood Hoof: Carne’s alleged disappearance, creepy Magatha and her followers of a darker path, the plight of the Druids, the allegiance of the Taunka, and the uncertain future of the Horde all make for a turmoil ridden emergence of the Tauren from an otherwise quiet and unassuming position.
While the Trolls and Gnomes are taking back part of their homelands, a much overdue homage to under-appreciated races, it still remains to be seen how much more involved they will be come Cataclysm. I’m predicting not too much, not initially anyway.
Oh, yeah, then there’s them Goblins and Worgen I keep hearing these rumors about. Despite being the shiny new playable races, however, again I’m not convinced they will play as large a role in the story as the Blood Elves and Drahayhay did for their expansions. Where the Elves and Dreanei were directly involved with the story of Burning Crusade, Worgen and Goblins are not. They are simply a side-affect of the Cataclysm so their importance is minimal. I could be wrong, though.