The Old Gods

| Wednesday, August 8, 2012
In your day to day life, how much are you affected by the Old Gods?  Okay, badly-phrased question.  But let's face it, how much importance do we give to the Old Gods in WoW?  Oh sure, the lore nerds can tell us of the various nefarious schemes and their parasitic nature which corrupts everything, but who listens to them?  My point is that they too often seem to be behind the scenes, despite being present at all times.  It's strange to me.

In vanilla it was the Old Gods who had corrupted Deathwing and through him, the black dragonflight.  They were central to a raid and a few instances as well as several zones, ranging from the low-level Alliance in Redridge Mountains to the near-60 Searing Gorge and Burning Steppes.  Through Ragnaros, they controlled the Dark Iron dwarves, which were key to a level 50-60 instance and led directly into the raid against Ragnaros himself.  Most directly, there were the Ahn'Qiraj raids, the larger of which had us directly fighting the Old God C'thun.  Despite this, do we think of vanilla as being the Old God-themed time?

Burning Crusade was of course about the Burning Legion.  Even then, there was a brief, easy-to-miss sighting of something which seemed much like an Old God being summoned in Shadowmoon Valley.  Later, in the Arcatraz, we find an imprisoned minion of the Old God.  They're everywhere.  The Netherdrakes are descended from the Black Dragonflight, being from black eggs exposed to the nether, and are trying to forge their own identity, free of the corruption of Deathwing.

In the Wrath of the Lich King the Lich King took center stage.  And yet, his Vrykul minions were themselves victims of the Old Gods who turned away from their gods as they felt the Curse of Flesh had been inflicted by them, leaving them open to the accept the Lich King as their Death God.  As a human, Arthas came from the effects of the Curse of Flesh on the Vrykul.  Grizzly Hills and Storm Peaks were heavily based on the corruption of the Old Gods, leading into a pair of instances, which themselves led into a raid.  Dragonblight dealt with the Black Dragonflight, leading to the Sartharion raid, as well as the Old Kingdom instance where, rather than the Scourge being the main threat, it is the Twilight Cultists and the Faceless Ones who feature prominently.

Given this context, the complaint about Cataclysm that all this Deathwing and cultist stuff came out of nowhere is absurd.  We've been dealing with the Old Olds and Black Dragonflight all this time, both directly and indirectly.  If there is a complaint to be made, it is that we've had too much exposure, like a recurring background villain suddenly becoming the primary enemy.  Maybe that is the problem, that the entire expansion is so purely devoted to the Old Gods, Deathwing, and their elemental minions.  The Scourge gets some minor notes in the Plaguelands, mostly reinforcing the notion that it has been defeated and we're in the mop-up stages.  I don't remember anything outside of the Blasted Lands that dealt with the Burning Legion.

Previously the expansions had a variety of foes.  They even interacted.  We saw the Legion and Illidan in conflict as well as the Scourge and Yogg Saron going so far as to have a Scourge leader directly mention undeath as releasing one from the Curse of Flesh, which combined with the obsessive use of saronite (blood of Yogg Saron), leads to all sorts of interesting questions.

The Cataclysm is unique in its complete focus on one side and one event.  Vash'jir is about the Naga, minions of an Old God.  Mount Hyjal is about the elementals and cultists, also minions of the Old Gods.  Uldum almost has variety, bringing in a new race and culture, but that too is ultimately about us finding an ally, who is fighting minions of Deathwing and the elements.  Stonecore is also us fighting elementals and cultists to fix the damage caused by the Cataclysm.  And finally there are the Twilight Highlands, dominated by the Twilight Cultists, with a dash of Horde-Alliance conflict.

I don't think this singular focus is good for the game.  It reduces complexity, reducing the amount of interesting lore discussion and debate to be had.  Is the Scourge a greater threat to us than the Legion?  Is it even a potential ally?  What is our fate in the battle between the Old Gods and Legion?  Will we be wiped out if the Titans show up?  This last one is, for now, no, though we came pretty close.  Contrast that with the current battle, in which the Old Gods control Deathwing, the Twilight Cult, and the elementals.  It even seems as if the old conflict between Deathwing and the Old Gods has been pushed aside, as if he forgot that they tried to steal the Dragon Soul.  Now they're all best friends in blowing up the world.

Now Deathwing is defeated, the elements are all fixed, and happiness and sunshine forever!  There are no equivalent questions to what will happen to Bolvar, whether he can truly control the Scourge and avoid corruption.  No questions about what will happen if we keep killing Old Gods, given that the Titans thought destroying them would threaten the world.  Instead we have the dragons becoming mortal and declaring it the age of portals, saying that we're the protectors now, except by all indications, we always were.


Anonymous said...

I think that WoW is setting things up for some epic battle to WoW, and begin their new project Titan. That's just speculation though.

flosch said...

Last week, my doorbell rang. When I opened it, a very well-behaving couple in conservative business attire told me that they would like to talk with me about the Old Gods. I took their magazine to get rid of them faster and told them I, sadly, was Catholic, and my religion didn't allow me to conduct black rituals and have wild sacrificial sex, especially out of wedlock.

Good thing I was polite about that, I think they killed my neighbor's dog and set his house on fire when he told them Jesus would send them to hell personally after death.

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