Seeing How the Other Half Lives

With Blizzard recently announcing the inclusion of Dranei shamans and Blood Elf paladins, the gulf between the Alliance and the Horde is now even greater. In a game balance sense, there is more parity between them, but I foresee an even deeper fracture between players. Faction loyalty is pretty rampant as it is, as I recently observed.

I wanted to explore the Horde content, so I made a shaman. How many people do the opposite, explore the Horde content so they can make a shaman?

I’ve heard a great deal from Horde players who not only identify strongly with their faction, but take it a step further and actively dislike Alliance players, frequently accusing them of immaturity and n00bhood.

I’ve played my shaman (Stibbins of Eitrigg) for about 11 levels now, and I’ve seen no essential difference between the players of either side. A single person’s subjective opinion is not enough to make an accurate assumption, but I can at least be relatively sure that the Horde players of Eitrigg are nice folks.

Aside from that, one aspect ofthe Horde immediately comes through, even in the first few levels: the Horde are the underdogs. They’ve been battered around and enslaved and taken advantage of and misunderstood for centuries, and that permeates the content.

Stibbins is an Orc. I chose that race because they seem to be the baseline for the Horde, much as the humans are for the Alliance.

The Alliance starting areas are universally verdant; even the gnome and dwarf area, Dun Morogh, is snow-covered. There’s life everywhere around you, idyllic and serene.

Durator, the starting area for Orcs, is desolate and barren, with cacti and scrub bushes making up the majority of the vegetation. This speaks to some of the lore surrounding the Orcs, banished to the outer reaches of the continents by encroaching human civilization.

The tone of Orc quests speaks to this, as well – the player is constantly proving himself to his superiors, completing one quest after another to slightly increase his social standing. There are often calls to fill in the missing spots in the ranks of the Horde defenses, as recent wars and conflicts have reduced the underdog Horde numbers.

But because I’m playing a shaman, I have unique quests available only to members of my class – most of these quests involve traveling to a remote location, imbibing a magical drink, and communing with previously invisible spirits. These might be the most interesting class quests in the game, as the player is exposed to the mystical underpinnings of the elemental world – you really get a sense that the Horde is connected intimately with nature, more so than most of the Alliance races.

I’m starting to understand why the Horde is so loved by its players – there is something intensely gratifying in being the misunderstood outcasts. The Orcs are not simply trying to make their own way in Azeroth; one gets the sense that they are also on a universal quest for repentance.

Next time, we’ll check in on Stibbins as he climbs his way to 20.

1 Comment so far

  1. sean bonner (unregistered) on July 29th, 2006 @ 3:05 pm

    It’s interesting how this theme repeats itself here on this blog, and how different the experiences can be, while still being much the same. Check out Shannon’s post from a few months ago:

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