Ever since I first heard of this alternate reality of Warlords at the Blizzcon I've been thinking of making this post and I even had that title in my head. It was the perfect title and explains exactly where warcraft is heading. It is heading to the crisis on the infinite azeroths.
The creation of an alternate reality is a slippery slope, one I believe the writers of warcraft are not capable of pulling off. For those unfamiliar with the slippery slope term I will explain what I mean in reference to the story in game as short and sweet as possible.
The creation of an alternate reality opens the door to create some fantastic story telling. So many "what if" scenarios to work off of and the experience of playing in them in game can be fun and exciting. What if the lich king had managed to get us as his servants? In reality he did, or almost did, because one human took forever to realize he had every man for himself and could get out of that ice block at any time. We never beat him, we died. If the lich king had stacked haste and his revive worked faster we would have all been his lieutenants, just as he had planned. So many what ifs, so many chances for alternate realities.
Now that blizzard has opened that door we can experience everything again as if things occurred in a different way. And that is the slippery slope when you allow alternate reality. You keep opening more and more realities and sooner or later things are out of hand. But as long as you do not connect those realities you will most likely be okay, from a story telling stand point at least. Oops, blizzard already screwed that one up. Their first every dabble into alternate realities has us in our own reality intermingling with the alternate reality. Ouch, a story telling boo boo if there ever was one for even a skilled writer to handle.
This is a story in story telling, one that has been gone down before many times by many different intellectual properties but the one that stands out to me, as a comic book geek, was instantly DC Comics Crisis on the Infinite Earths. I thought of it the second it was revealed that we would be fighting against people from an alternate reality.
Crisis was a 12 issues mini series published in 1985 and in my opinion remains probably one of the best story lines in the history of comic books not only for being well written, but being thought provoking and handling a very touchy situation, story wise, extremely well.
See, DC had created many different realities to enable story telling. When they reset the world, to what is referred to as the silver age, they had all the older characters exist on "earth 2" while the new silver age of characters would proudly live on "earth 1". There became many more "earths" as the years went on to enable story telling. Earth X, Earth Prime, Earth P, you name it, there were dozens of them.
Every time one of the writers would come up with an idea that they thought would be interesting and pitch it Julie would say something along the lines of "that would not work with continuity" and the idea was either scraped or buffed up and a new alternate reality was created where they could do it.
All was fine and dandy in story telling land as long as those worlds stayed in their own place. We didn't need a dozen people running around in tights dressed as superman did we? Then some years back, way back and way before the crisis mini series came out, in green lantern # 40 (1965) the golden age green lantern met the silver age green lantern and something was set in motion that eventually require the crisis on the infinite earths to be written years later.
Rule # 1 when handling alternate realities, do not let them intermingle, it just messes things up. It is worse than the wibby wobbly timey whimey stuff. At least timeline stuff people have a prayer of understanding. But trying to explain that lois lane is only married to superman on earth 2 and lana lang is married to him on another earth and he is single on earth one but on yet another earth everyone knows his secret identity is just down right confusing. How can all be true at the same time? Alternate realities is how.
As long as each remains in its own place however it is manageable. In the end DC had done too many golden age meets silver age stories and it was starting to get confusing. Only a true comic book geek remembers comic book trivia but even dedicated comic book geeks would have issues with remembering which superman married who, which superman was known, when each appeared, which one was the big blue boy scout and which would just as darkly kill someone. Then when they all merged together it got confusing, was it my superman doing that or was it the other one?
So DC comics decided to fix everything by creating the crisis on the infinite earths. To make a long story short, too late I know, the idea of the series was to take all those alternate realities and merge them together. It made for a lot of destruction and death of some major characters but the idea was to set things in a new single world with no alternate realities because it started to become too much to handle.
There would be one merged world with one history It would make it a lot easier for new readers to catch up and understand instead of asking them to learn the 14 different versions of superman. This was all needed because of what green lantern # 40 started by intermingling to realities, earth 1 and earth 2 if you will.
Now back to warcraft and the coming crisis on the infinite azeroths.
Blizzard did not just create a different reality, which they could have easily done with the caverns of time, they created an entire expansion on it. For them to make that work there were two options, make this our new reality because the past was changed, or pull the alternate reality card. They pulled the alternate reality card.
Like I said, if it were an instance in the caverns of time it would have been fine. The whole "that wasn't real" thing can work in an instance. As the central focus of an expansion we need to interact with that alternate reality. In effect they did, in one expansion, what it took DC comics 20 years to do, completely screw up their world by intermingling between 2 realities. Warlords is warcrafts green lantern # 40, the beginning of what will be the end when it comes to alternate realities.
A slippery slope. New realities will come and go, or could come and go. Who is warchief in this reality, did deathwing win in that reality, did the titan abandon us in the other one, did the legion win and we are all minions of theirs now fighting for our freedom.
Sooner or later they will open the doors to there being multiples of the same character out there with different histories all thanks to alternate realities. We could have the Jania with the eye path that killed everyone in org after her city was destroyed. She teleported pieces of garrosh all throughout the world one small bit at a time just so she could hear him scream. Or the Jaina that did not work with Thrall and the alliance all but laid waste to the invaders known as orcs and anyone who sided with them. Or the Jaina that fell in love with Thrall and married him and turned on the alliance and used her powers to collapse the mountain that is ironforge on all the alliance leaders when they were there for a summit. Or how about the Jaina that just sits there and cries all emo like all day every day, we know that one right? Or maybe there is the Jaina that never made it out when her city was attacked and her blue dragon boyfriend went medieval on the horde?
All of these make for great stories, but all of them should not intermingle with our time line and our history. Warlords would make for an interesting raid, but it is a scary proposition for an expansion because I can see it ending up exactly where DC ended up in 1985. Blizzard eventually realizing they made a mess of things and coming to the conclusion that combining all realities to set things back in order is the only real answer to "alternate realities gone wild".
So as new realities unfold with warlords and from there on every time we make a decision that impacts the world a new reality is made where that decision was made differently and we will continue to intermingle with it instead of making it a "what if" in the caverns of time like it should be and the day will come when blizzard too will realize that rule # 1 of alternate realities is do not let them intermingle and they will need to combine all the worlds into one single world with one single history so it will start making sense again for those people that just can not follow it.
That expansion will fittingly be called, Crisis on the Infinite Azeroths.
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