Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Stories from a Shattered World: Westfall

For the last couple months, I've been spending a decent amount of time in shattered Azeroth as a young adventurer. I started various alts off and on with my heirlooms safely in my bank and the LFD button out of sight. The idea was to do things a little differently - to look at the land, to experience the change and to hear the stories that it had to offer through quests. Many of these stories are deep, poignant, funny, truly heartfelt and I thought, worth sharing. This is where this series comes from - a highlight into stories from the shattered world.

Westfall has one of the richest stories to offer in my opinion, so this post will be chock full of screenshots. It's a far cry from its former self where the land was dry, deserted and the Defias ruled. Well, Westfall is still dry mind you - even the Shattering can't change some things I suppose - but its situation is now dire and its barrenness is found in spirit. The story here opens with murder...




It doesn't take too long to notice what's happening to Westfall. The land is in ruins and there are few signs that anything but chaos and anarchy prevail. Most of the people here are struggling have a patch of dirt and a warm meal. But perhaps what is most different and saddening from its previous state is the alarming number of homeless who wander its fields. Interrogating them about the murder doesn't give much on the perpetrators but it does reveal something else...


As things progress and more light is shed on the muder, something of interest begins to bubble up to the surface...


... and so we have this shadowy woman who apparently can hold her own and commission murder....


... and those who help us apparently meet an unfortunate end.


Despite the land being gripped by death and terror, there still seems to be kindness in a soul or two. Hope Saldean in Sentinel Hill asks us to offer the homeless outside some Westfall Stew - perhaps the only act of kindness seen towards these folk here. This is worth noting - nothing has come from Stormwind, the guards do nothing but keep the homeless, and there is no sign that Stormwind even cares. The sole act of kindness witnessed here is from one of Westfall's own citizens, sharing what little they have.


Yet life goes on and the shadowy figure's gathering of allies progresses....Glubtok may be an ogre but I'm sure even he's smart enough to pick option two.


One by one, the recruitment wraps up but the plan doesn't come into full force until the Dawning....


Frustration breeds anger...


Anger turns to resentment....


....and resentment demands action...

And the source of all of this hits us when we take a look at our past.


And finally, the climactic return of the Brotherhood


With none other than the kind Hope Saldean as Vanessa VanCleef.


Alright, wow. There is a lot going here. The return of the Defias Brotherhood is really history repeating itself in more ways than one, except this time around, its not so black and white for us. Let us consider what we've seen in our time in Westfall. We have a derelict region, and impoverished citizenry and an indifferent ruler. To add to this, we have Vanessa's personal vandetta against the Alliance and Stormwind, and frankly, who can blame her. Vanessa's reasons for reforming the Brotherhood are fueled by her vendetta and Westfall's sorry state - both of which are not unreasonable and which we, the players, can sympathise with. By the time I was done with Westfall I was surprised noone amongst the people rose up sooner. Given its state, it seemed like about damned time someone rose up for them. The fact that it was the Defias Brotherhood only makes it seem like a cruel trick of fate.

It's hard to dismiss the fact that the only person who offered any comfort and help to the homeless citizens here was Hope Saldean. The Stormwind guards were only there to deny them entry to Sentinel Hill and keep them at bay. While a brand new statue of Wrynn is built in Stormwind, folks here make do with mud pies for meals. 

Let's compare the Defias in Vanilla to what we have now. I have to admit that in my memories of Vanilla, the entire lore behind why Edwin VanCleef formed the Defias, the betrayal of the Masonry, the queen's death and Katrina Prestor's (Onyxia) role in it was told in a vastly different way. It didn't have the coherence and the continuity that the current questline has and infact, some of the story was outside the game. Edwin VanCleef, to me, was just another bad guy. But here, we see Vanessa's reasons for her hatred against the Alliance and suddenly, its not black and white anymore. Suddenly, Varian seems just as good or bad as Vanessa. To me, this is what made the Westfall story so fantastic - its all in the grey area and there's a lot more going on than just good guys versus bad guys. As a story, it feels very very real and that's what really hit home with me.

Westfall is one of the regions I wish I'd seen before heading into heroic Deadmines at 85. Knowing their story, their plight and what seems to be a situation of complex conflict between the Defias and the King really breathes life into the content. Thanks for reading!

2 comments:

  1. The part I like most about this particular line is the flashback scene with the old standard alliance group. Deadmines was so epic as a first dungeon experience. I know a lot of people weren't too excited about Vanessa, but I for one thought it was a cool way to get a new spin on an old favorite. <3

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  2. What wonderful storytelling. I loved the new Westfall quests. I did them a second time on a different alt to pick up on anything I missed.

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