It’s time for World of Warcraft to scale back its cosmic drama

World of Warcraft: Dragon Legion debuts as the least ambitious film in the game’s 18-year history. Most of its screen time is centered on an unfamiliar stone statue, a watchman who flips a large illuminated switch to bring the dragon back.Warcraft celebs like Thrall and Sylvanas don’t show up, and there’s no narrative linking everything to the game’s disaster, and worried, the ongoing storyline. It’s out of touch with most of what’s happened over the past few years. It’s kind of like a reboot, but it also drags down a storyline that’s been hanging in the air for years. World of Warcraft may finally have a way out of its high-stakes storytelling.

Previous extensions tried to provide a way beyond what is reasonable. The Legion had all of Azeroth besieged by demons. Battle for Azeroth is an expansion pack about a faction leader committing genocide in the service of a higher power. Then the stakes in Shadowlands are downright cosmic, playing with life and death and the fate of the world. That’s the problem with Marvel movies: every new story puts the entire universe at risk, and it’s hard to dial down from a person getting off play Warcraft Often just before the first attempt at a global catastrophe in Cataclysm, it’s hard to know who the big bad is and how far we’ll have to go to find the real culprit.

(Image credit: Blizzard)

As World of Warcraft’s fantasy world expanded, so did its systems. Garrison, the personal base of operations added to the Warlords of Draenor expansion, is a compelling idea, but their lack of customization and presence in the world doesn’t match self-expression, which, for many, is Focus on World of Warcraft. Artifact weapons have a similar problem. When everyone is running around with legendary weapons, they’re not that legendary. They should be one of the few things players can never hope they use. Later, in Battle for Azeroth, island expeditions gave you a way to invade and plunder parts of the world that you really had no right to set foot on, all in order to gain more and more power against the gods threat. None of these features are failures, but by trying to keep up with the story, their ambitions overshadow their usefulness, especially as their usefulness fades with the end of the expansion.