Yep this is yet another post about the Panda cinematic but I also want to touch on my feelings about the lack of a “big Bad”. I know Blizzard have taken quite a bit of flack over that decision, but I feel its the right one for a number of reasons. When we curl up with a murder story, we don’t know the villain from page 1, perhaps by the half way mark we have a good idea who did it but it’s rarely spelt out until the last few pages. In many regards WoW functions in the same fashion as a book, it’s a never ending story, each patch a chapter which unfolds as we play it.
Knowing the destination from the start removes some of the fun from the journey as well making little sense from a literal perspective. Why in Wrath for example did we waste time and lives fighting Old Gods and taking part in a tournament of all things when we could have just knocked on the door of Icecrown Citadel. Perhaps we weren’t strong enough to take him then but we never tried, we just got derailed by the plot.
I’d like to think that Pandaria is an expansion of storytelling, an expansion where the focus is more on why people do things we class as “evil” rather than pulling out the old generic excuse that something external corrupted our heroes. I hesitated in quoting Hannah Arendt here but her comment about the “banality of evil” is I believe relevant here at least a topic of debate. The Horde and the Alliance have been at war so long, with each other and against outside forces that some of those negative emotions are bound to have seeped in. Mass murder, torture and burning villages have the bread and butter of our “heroes” and so surely the line has been repeatedly crossed. Do we know what’s worth fighting for any more or has that all been lost in the bloodshed which has become a way of life.
Then we also have the Sha to contend with, manifestations of negative emotions, they stalk Pandaria taking strength from the anger and hatred we brought with us. From the Temple of the Jade Serpent we know that they can amplify our feelings, bringing us to the point of destruction and thus Pandaria could be very dangerous for some of our Heroes. It will be an interesting path to walk. Is it as exciting as knowing that the huge dragon, demon or guy with a very big sword who just committed some atrocity in the opening cinematic will eventually die to our swords, perhaps not but as a study into human nature it could potentially be far more interesting as we witness the twists and turns of the plot.
Now when I watched the cinematic two thoughts twisted through my brain, the first, wonderfully covered by Apple Cider was the lack of any female characters and the second was a sense of deja vu. Some feeling of familiarity that took me a while to chase back to it’s source. When I was a little girl I loved reading stories of adventure and one of my favourites was “The Lost World“, I suppose I secretly hoped that somewhere hidden from sight, dinosaurs still roamed the earth just waiting for us to discover them.
He had the face and beard which I associate with an Assyrian bull; the former florid, the latter so black as almost to have a suspicion of blue, spade-shaped and rippling down over his chest. The hair was peculiar, plastered down in front in a long, curving wisp over his massive forehead. The eyes were blue-gray under great black tufts, very clear, very critical, and very masterful. A huge spread of shoulders and a chest like a barrel were the other parts of him which appeared above the table, save for two enormous hands covered with long black hair. This and a bellowing, roaring, rumbling voice made up my first impression of the notorious Professor Challenger (from the Lost World).
Both Admiral Taylor and General Nazgrim fit that mould, where men and orcs are manly, tough and happy to run around bare chested. I’ll also admit to a slightly dubious thought involving impalement and Admiral Taylor’s very large pole but I’m going to blame that on this. In many regards I like the fact that Blizzard have stayed consistent, reusing familiar characters (Nazgrim has been with us since Northrend and Taylor at least since Vashj’ir). These are NPCs we’ve already fought along side and whilst I would have loved to see a female Pandarian beat them to a pulp, I think that’s a good start to what has the potential to be a wonderful adventure complete with monsters and amazing scenary.