World of Warcraft boasts elaborate tales featuring epic heroes and monstrous villains locked in constant war. Its core themes revolve around a cycle of hatred, prejudice between different races, standing together as one in the face of insurmountable odds, and staving off the destruction of one's home.
There's a reason why "For the Alliance" and "For the Horde" are popular phrases among WoW fans. This is a world in which these two massive factions are at odds, and it's common for its characters (and even the players) to stand with their people with deep-rooted nationalism.
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An expansion like Battle for Azeroth sees these factions in their deepest conflict, waging war against one another after the Horde's warchief commits genocide. Other times, the story revolves around some massive foe that need the Alliance and Horde to come together. For example, Shadowlands saw us chase Sylvanas as she opened up a gateway to the afterlife.
We're either trapped in a massive war with one another or having to battle some monstrous foe. And the game's cinematic trailers represent these conflicts quite well. The cinematic for The Burning Crusade revolved around Illidan Stormrage, while Wrath of the Lich King's trailer gave us a taste of Arthas' power.
But Dragonflight's cinematic did not feature anything like this. No empty promises of how some massive villain would change all of Azeroth. No inclination towards how faction wars could divide the world for the 300th time. Instead, we follow Watcher Koranos waking up from a 10,000-year slumber and reigniting the Dragon Isles in celebration of Azeroth's healing.
That's the core of this cinematic: the dragons have returned. We see this gorgeous kingdom liven up with golden light as Alexastraza and other dragons merrily soar through the plains and mountains. There's a particular moment when she dives under an aqueduct and extends her wings as droplets of water splash around her that captures a feeling of freedom, and the return to one's home, which are themes that World of Warcraft desperately needs to channel.
After the Night Elves lost Teldrassil, after Stormwind lost its beloved king, and after Shadowlands showed us how convoluted this world's history truly is, a simple return to high fantasy with positive vibes is exactly what this game needs. Epic villains and deep-rooted conflict will always have a place, but without hope, those themes grow tired.
The darkness found throughout Mordor in The Lord of the Rings is most impactful because it contrasts the warmth of The Shire. We need these moments to offset the drama. Introducing one big villain after the other will make it hard to grasp onto the magic of Azeroth. This is a home that the players and characters need to fight for. Seeing its beauty in full force is a great way to remind us of that.
This isn't to say that Dragonflight won't feature major villains and some faction conflict. But shifting the focus away from those things and turning to a species of creatures finally coming home is exactly what World of Warcraft needs in 2022.