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A Warbringer for Every Patch: Plot Twists for Azshara and Sylvanas (Speculation)
2019/04/11 at 1:03 AM
With new information about 8.2 coming soon, the story of
Battle for Azeroth
turns to Queen Azshara, the sunken city of Nazjatar, and the continuing struggle to healing the wounds inflicted upon Azeroth. But early 8.2 interviews indicate that not all may be as straightforward as it appears, with potential
plot twists in store for Azshara
, as well as Sylvanas’ story continuing to chart its own course
following in Garrosh's footsteps
--with eventual deviations.
With patch 8.1 as the culmination of Jaina's current story arc, how might future patches follow a similar narrative, dedicated to the two remaining Warbringers, Azshara and Sylvanas, culminating in a boss encounter? Let’s examine some of the potential twists and the implications of Azshara and Sylvanas surviving these hypothetical encounters.
In the summer of 2018, Blizzard released three 2.5D cinematics titled
, depicting character-defining moments in the lives of Jaina, Sylvanas, and Azshara. Jaina ruminates on the death of her father and raises his sunken ship, Sylvanas remember tragic death at the hands of Arthas while burning down Teldrassil, and Azshara makes a deal with N'Zoth which transforms her doomed people into the Naga.
As Jaina was the
final boss of the Battle of Dazar’alor
and Azshara was confirmed at BlizzCon 2017 to be the final boss of the 8.2 raid, Azshara’s Eternal Palace, it's reasonable to imagine that Sylvanas, the final Warbringer, could be the boss of Patch 8.3. This narrative organization would feature a different faction leader at either end of the expansion, bracketing Azshara’s Old God connection in the center.
Now following , and I'm going to say even less about this raid, it might have occurred to you when Alex was up here earlier talking about the dark threats from the sea plaguing Kul Tiras,... we know a couple dark threats from the sea.... some we have heard a lot from in Legion... you know, some Tidestone related stuff. And before all is said and done in Battle for Azeroth, we'll be facing off against Queen Azshara. Lots more story to tell on that front.
Battle for Azeroth
cinematics leading up to Dazar’alor put the spotlight on Jaina - appearing in nine so far throughout this expansion alone. Some cinematics were flashy moments, such as her bombastic appearance at the Battle of Lordaeron, while others were quieter character studies that brought Jaina’s past from
to life. Many of these cinematics tie in with the
The Pride of Kul Tiras
questline, a special Alliance story in which Jaina reunites with her mother and reclaims the respect of the Kul Tiran people, but after so many cinematics, Jaina’s arc seems played out aside from some lingering uncertainty regarding her recently reanimated brother Derek. It would be interesting to see BFA cinematics pivot to other characters, with 8.2 introducing a slew of Azshara cinematics, and 8.3 refocusing on Sylvanas.
massive outdoor zone culminating in confrontation with Azshara
, sounds like the perfect opportunity to introduce new cinematics centered on the Naga queen, whether flashbacks from her time as the ruler of the Night Elves to more recent machinations - her orchestration of the Kul Tiran fleet heist and Zandalari coup.
Likewise, Sylvanas has been built up as a largely unlikable character in
Battle for Azeroth
since the moment she set fire to Teldrassil, and a patch finally examining her true motives, kept secret for months now, may provide closure to long-time fans upset and confused by her seemingly erratic decisions in
. With Sylvanas’ plan to master death, a phrase she reiterates throughout the expansion, and her dwindling supply of Val’kyr to saving her from her from "hell", her story could take adventurers to a variety of locations both new and old - potentially tying in with the Lich King, the Shadowlands, and more.
Narrative Hints Introduced in Warbringers
wasn't just a series of animated pretty pictures; the cinematic introduced core storytelling elements, regularly referenced throughout Jaina’s story in
Battle for Azeroth
. The Lord Admiral’s Pendant is first seen in the parting shot in the comic “Reunion,” which leads in seamlessly into
, showing Jaina carries the pendant through the docks of Theramore, giving it to the symbolic ferryman of death as payment. Upon making peace with the death of her father and Kul Tiran heritage, Jaina proudly wears the pendant throughout the Battle for Lordaeron and early Kul Tiras story, until her mother rips it off her neck and exiles her from Boralus. The pendant's significant is clear, but its origins remain a secret, until the Jaina Visions cinematic reveals it was her fathers - the Lord Admiral's pendant, both a sign of his office and her last connection to him. Once reunited with her mother, Jaina reclaims and uses the Lord Admiral’s Pendant to return the lost Kul Tiran fleet to Boralus, saving her people.
Another major theme introduced in
is “Daughter of the Sea,” a Kul Tiran folk song portraying Daelin as a heroic father and Jaina a backstabbing child. She sings it while traveling to her father’s sunken ship, determined in the last verse to take back control of
story. We then see lines repeated as insults by Kul Tiran citizens, verses sung in Jaina’s dreams, a musical fragment included in the
Proudmoore Music Box
, and even a few ominous lines repeated during her encounter in the Battle of Dazar'alor.
Jaina’s current arc concludes with the unification of Kul Tiras, promotion to Lord Admiral, Alliance victory in Dazar’alor, and return of her brother from the dead. Seeing how tightly
intertwined with Jaina’s story, it’s a fair guess that elements from the other two cinematics will appear in-game for Azshara and Sylvanas.
For Azshara, the unfinished business from her cinematic involves restoring the Black Empire to its former glory and solving the mystery of who has the upper hand—the Queen or the Old God. Her cinematic is full of allusions to Old God whispers, notably the “circle of stars” prophesy, through trippy camerawork with shifting perspectives and numerous circular forms, evoking eyeballs. One of the Island Expedition quests,
, evokes the cinematography of Azshara listening to the gasping fish as the walls crash down, the POV shifting between her eyes and that of the dying fish.
Like Jaina's cinematic, Azshara's also features a piece of jewelry--a crown. When it floats away in the water, Azshara's eyes open and she begins to plot in earnest to survive and rule. In Patch 8.1.5, we'll encounter another crown relic--the Tempest Caller. If this piece of jewelry plays a similar role to Jaina’s pendant, we’ll be seeing a lot more of it in the future.
For Sylvanas, we’d expect to see her narrative further explore the parallels to Arthas. The cinematic drives home she’s transformed into that which she hated, contrasting her death at the hands of Arthas outside Silvermoon to Delaryn’s death and Teldrassil’s destruction. The parallels between the two leaders were numerous in the early part of
Battle for Azeroth
, which we summarized in
Sylvanas' Motivation and Parallels to Arthas in the BFA Pre-Patch
Learning more about Sylvanas’ mysterious plan behind Teldrassil, what’s next for Delaryn (a raised ranger in Patch 8.1), and her actual involvement with Wrathgate would be fascinating. Similar to Jaina, Sylvanas has a lot of intricate story development in
and cinematics would be a good way to bring newer players up to speed with the bond with her sisters, life as Ranger-General of Silvermoon, regaining her independence from Arthas, establishing Undercity, and her visions of hell from "
Edge of Night
Throughout the years, WoW has moved away from the concept of the finality of death for end bosses, prolonging their story beyond one patch.
brought back Illidan and Kil'jaeden, the legacy of the Lich King continues beyond
, Garrosh survived
Mists of Pandaria
, and Gul'dan from
escaped through the portal to our timeline. It makes sense; with the rich narrative potential behind each villain, they’re too good to only keep around for one patch.
So far in
Battle for Azeroth
, we’ve battled Jaina at the end of Dazar’alor, and she escaped with her life. Now wouldn’t it be interesting if both Azshara and Sylvanas survived their encounters too? Sylvanas surviving and winning her encounter could lead to her conquering the reign of death, or since Ion said that Sylvanas “won’t have a trial like Garrosh,” she could set a trap, similar to the Lordaeron Blight, with the hopes of raising her former enemies and removing all opposition.
Azshara living is potentially even more interesting. She was described as
’s version of Gul’dan at BlizzCon 2017, and while that could be interpreted to mean she was the mid-point boss like Gul’dan, it could also mean she’ll occupy a unique place in the narrative, spanning several patches before her actual demise. Gul’dan first appeared in AU
Warlords of Draenor
, as a warlord who rose to power, absorbing the fragmented remains of the Iron Horde and creating the Fel Horde in Hellfire Citadel. After the defeat of Archimonde, Gul’dan escapes through the portal into Azeroth, kicking off the first half of
through stealing Illidan’s body, resurrecting the Burning Legion, capturing Suramar, and killing Varian. We only put an end to Gul'dan at the end of Nighthold, several years after his character was re-introduced.
Azshara's Plot Twist
Ever since Azshara was introduced in Warbringers, there’s been underlying tension regarding her deal with N’Zoth - are they working with or against one another, and who exactly has the upper hand? Betrayal seems inevitable, as both seem to consider themselves beholden to no one. We already know there's some kind of plot twist in store with Azshara, thanks to the
buffed: Is there anything you can tell us about Azshara's role in the conflict between the Horde and the Alliance? Are we going to join forces again to fight the greater evil that threatens Azeroth?
Ion: Mhh, we will see. Azshara definitely has a plan. One example are the increasing numbers of Naga that appear on the coasts of Zandalar and Kul Tiras. The role of Azshara and her Naga will definitely play a major role in the conflict between the Horde and the Alliance. Players will experience the impacts of Azshara‘s plans during the story quests of Patch 8.2. There will definitely be some unexpected events and twists for the players.
And we'd already been speculating on potential twists even before this interview. One of our earlier articles supposed that with Circle of Stars nearing completion, N’Zoth may turn on Azshara; the
Crucible of Storms
introduction has the unwitting player bring relics to N’Zoth, only to head back into the Crucible in order to retrieve them, and ultimately use their magic against the minions of the Old Gods themselves... but not everything adds up. N'Zoth's lieutenants cite us failing our trial when we wipe, and claim our worthiness when we succeed in defeating them, which would seem backwards in any other situation. In
The Price of Power: Relics Within the Crucible of Storms
, examines how our eagerness to harness these magical relics may in fact all be a part of N'Zoth's plan. One of the relics, the Tempest Crown, remains unaccounted for and bears striking visual similarities to both the Blade of the Black Empire and Crown of Domination, not to mention a potential reference to the Il'gynoth quote “The veil wanes. His crown will open the way.”
In our follow-up article,
N'Zoth Wants Us to Win
, we explore the idea further that N’Zoth is actively testing our strength in Crucible of Storms, deciding whether we're powerful enough to face Azshara, similar to the
mini-raid Trial of Valor in which we passed Odyn’s trial in order to face Helya on his behalf. With N'Zoth's obvious talent for subversion, Azshara may be as much of an unwitting pawn as we are, and should he decide she's is no longer useful, or even a threat to his plans to awaken the Black Empire, her ambition and lust for power could be her undoing. Azshara may be a powerful Queen, but the King is the most important piece in the game of Chess.
Theorizing on all of the Warbringers serving as major patch bosses, we speculated what would happen if Azshara
her fight... which would be a plot twist in of itself! In writing up our
Lore of Queen Azshara
article, we were repeatedly struck by the adamant language Blizzard uses to emphasize how powerful she is, and along with Blizzard’s tendency not to kill off major characters in their first appearance, it would be odd for this powerful sorceress to both enter and exit the story within the span of a single patch.
One potential outcome is that Azshara flat-out wins the battle against us in the upcoming raid. The faction conflict is not yet over, still bitterly divided, so it's unlikely we'd present a strong unified force against Azshara the way we have against other threats in the past. If we lose, the Circle of Stars could be completed, her victory could usher the return of the Black Empire, and she'd likely gain control over a significant part of Azeroth. Azshara's victory would also be devastating to Magni's goal of healing Azeroth, also a big part of the 8.2 narrative. Should the Black Empire be resurrected, claiming the remains of a dying Azeroth, we could find ourselves in the Shadowlands, as many Old God whispers suggest - setting up a Sylvanas-themed patch in which she confronts her fear of death and acute frustration her
plans are now thwarted.
Even if Azshara wins the battle, there's still potential for strife between her and N'Zoth. She could defeat us, but up subdued by
, now pursuing her own agenda after years of imprisonment inside the Blade of the Black Empire. Azshara could even take Xal'atath's place
the Blade of the Black Empire, as we know Sylvanas equips it at some point in the near future. When asked at BlizzCon about the similarities between Garrosh and Sylvanas, Blizzard replied that
Garrosh was an amateur
. It's a loose association, but Garrosh used the weapon Xal'atoh, so Sylvanas ending up with the similarly-named weapon Xal'atath could bear some similarities--plus she has a powerful force trapped inside her own Black Empire weapon.
At the start of the Xal'atath questline in Patch 8.1.5, players make a choice to accept or cleanse the gift of N'Zoth after accidentally bringing him the three Relics of Power. It will be interesting to see the payoff for this choice on the Azshara encounter - perhaps if she's victorious, she'll grant the followers of the Old Gods mercy, or if she's defeated, the agents of the Old God will continue carrying out her mission.
Of course the other scenario is that Azshara loses her battle, but isn't killed. In this case, there's a strong indication that she could be turned against N'Zoth; we already know there's plenty of friction between the two, and there's some question of why she's coming to Zandalar and Kul Tiras in the first place. Players being tested by N'Zoth to defeat Azshara, only to turn around and work with her in order to oppose the Old God would certainly fit the definition of a plot twist, and could even tie into the idea of player choice that Blizzard has slowly been adding to the game - perhaps players would have another opportunity to take the Gift of N'Zoth, siding with him, or reject it and join Azshara in disposing of the Old God. While it's unlikely, as they're a massive departure from traditional races, players have asked about Naga being a playable race for years, so the opportunity to form some kind of alliance with them is fun to think about, if nothing else.
Avoiding the Trial
Sylvanas, the third Warbringer, is on a quest to master death... but attrition is catching up as only three of her original nine Val'kyr are left. In a recent
, Blizzard revealed that there
be more parallels to the Garrosh story, but it won't contain the same kind of trial, Sylvanas isn't the type of character to find herself in chains.
Hazzikostas is aware of the parallels to Garrosh’s story, and he says that the Horde is too.
“There are a couple of references here and there,” he says. “There are more coming. Members of the Horde leadership will remember going down dark paths before.”
He also notes that Garrosh’s motives were different; they were an attempt to restore a lost vision of the Horde at the expense of everything else. Sylvanas’ goals are still unclear, but Hazzikostas notes, “There will not be a trial where she is in chains. Sylvanas is not a character who would find herself in that situation ... ever.
Sylvanas, presented with a hellish vision of the Shadowlands after committing suicide at Icecrown Citadel, came back to Azeroth with a renewed purpose - immortality in the state of undeath, and the continuing survival of the Forsaken. She's managed to cheat death several times thanks to her Val'kyr, who pledged loyalty to her in return for freedom from the Lich King, but with the death of Brynja to Tyrande at the
Battle for Darkshore
, Sylvanas is running out of Val'kyr to resurrect her. Therefore, her plans to avoid dying may see a renewed urgency should any more Val'kyr fall.
With the ability to raise Undead of all races, regardless of free will, the parallels to the Lich King are increasing. Sylvanas even has raised Delaryn, the young Night Elf determined to save her homeland, in a ghastly scene reminiscent of Sylvanas own death and revival at the hands of Arthas during the fall of Silvermoon. Her acquisition of the Blade of the Black Empire continues these similarities - will this be Sylvanas' Frostmourne? There's a strong indication that we could end up in the Shadowlands this expansion; it's been referenced many times by Old Gods, the current Lich King, Vol'jin, and Bwonsamdi himself are inhabitants of that land of the dead. Could that be a part of our eventual confrontation with Sylvanas? Could she try to pull a Lich King, intending to kill the heroes of Azeroth in order to raise us as unwilling champions bound to her service?
It could also go the other way, perhaps Sylvanas finds herself sent to the Shadowlands and we work with her in order to escape back to Azeroth. Sylvanas's goal is to master death, and Horde players already owe a large debt to the closest thing matching that description - Bwonsamdi, the loa of Death. We also know from
Jailor of the Damned
that the Frozen Throne is apparently a gateway between Azeroth and the Shadowlands, which could indicate some new story for Bolvar Fordragon (and his daughter, Taelia!). Neither of them like Sylvanas very much either, both opposed to Sylvanas' ambition and disruption of the balance between life and death, so this could be a part of eventual confrontation as one or the other try to oppose whatever plan she puts in motion.
New Factions and Alliance Division
With a Sylvanas-centric plot, we'd hope to see payoff to the
choice of allegiance between Saurfang and Sylvanas
that Horde players made earlier in
Battle for Azeroth
, and possibly even a new type of Undead forged in the Light like
. While we used it as an
April Fools joke
, there's a strong case to be made that a new type of Undead could fit into the roster of playable races, represented by Derek Proudmoore and Calia Menethil; it would set up a nice parallel between Sylvanas' ability to raise the dead as Forsaken while her rival faction leader Anduin assists in bringing undead to the Light.
As the Horde leadership is divides further, we could also see a breakdown of the current factions, with fringe groups of Undead and Night Elves both. Should Patch 8.3 center on Sylvanas, the question of how to handle her controversial leadership would rise to the forefront. Perhaps we may even start to see similar dissent between Alliance leadership, hinted as a future plot point in the
Alliance don’t have that same division in their ranks just yet, and there isn’t that same natural point of choice.
Patch 8.1, which focused on Jaina, saw the Horde leadership grow divided. Should the Sylvanas patch mirror Jaina's patch, the Alliance would then start to see internal conflict. We've previously gotten a minor divide in the Battle for Darkshore--Anduin focused on the military campaign in Dazar'alor, while Tyrande and Genn went to fight Darkshore. Should Anduin continue putting off assistance to Darkshore, the Night Elves and Worgen could further splinter--with the loss of Genn hitting Anduin hard. The Gnomes, lacking a leader with Mekkatorque in a coma, may also be restless, while Alleria, always a wildcard, could finally cross a line with her whispers, wrecking the delicate balance of peace.
Plus, should Sylvanas' story take us to the Lich King, Taelia Fordragon may play a large role in the story, as her father, Bolvar, ascended the throne after Arthas. The Il'gynoth whisper "The boy-king serves at the master's table. Three lies will he offer you," implies Anduin will unwittingly play into the Old Gods' plan, and as we've seen so far in
Battle for Azeroth
, he is an inexperienced leader whose naivete about the Battle of Lordaeron nearly got all the Alliance leaders killed.
Rise of Azshara
info dump is imminent, bound to bring more twists and turns to the
Battle for Azeroth
. Should the remaining Warbringers occupy similar roles as Jaina in future patches, we could get a welcome respite or a new twist on the current framing of the faction conflict, leading us to explore new lands and allegiances.
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Also, i feel like everyone forgot about Azerite's healing powers..I feel like this should come into play soon. Sure things can be used as a weapon but the healing can also be used as a weapon. Maybe Sylvanas will use Azerite to create more Forsaken or turn them all back to human. Perhaps this is why she doesnt mind killing everyone and raising them as undead because later she will give them back life through Azerites healing powers. Like turn the world undead to resist the void but then turn them back to the light or human to resist death.
i doubt it, in before the storm, sylvanas talks about how it is better to be undead than be alive.
In the end of the raid, Sylvanas saves Azshara :D
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