I hope you’re ready to have your mind blown, cause it’s the craziest idea I’ve had recently, and it explains everything.
While leveling my new toons, I can’t help but asking myself: how does it really work with the lore?
See for yourself: for example, a Nightborne character could have entered Azeroth only after Elisande’s fall – a rehabilitated Elisande follower or a cured Nightfallen. He or she could only participate in Tomb of Sargeras onslaught and Argus campaign. Your Lightforged Draenei’s experience is even smaller: basically it’s Argus/Antorus where your toon could have participated, and that’s it.
Your Zandalar could have participated in Mists of Pandaria events (on the wrong side), and your Mag’har orc was probably fighting in Draenor – again, if not a Frostwolf, on the wrong side.
How could they repel gnoll attacks in Elwynn woods? How could they be struggling in Stonetalon mountains towards the destruction of the night elf druid enclave? How could they help the Undead working on the blight strain for the Wrathgate disaster? And how could they heal the fires of Hyjal during Cataclysm events? Chasing Anduin during Pandaria events? Placing a final blow upon Archimonde?
The answer is so simple that it’s overwhelming: they did not.
There are two simple things you should understand.
First, your toon could be mentioned as “hero” in the chapter of Warcraft Chronicles if he/she really did took part in the corresponding expansion. Doing dailies, struggling with talent trees and rotations, making its way to the final villain in raids.
Take my mage Micromantica, my first toon on the current account. She started in Cataclysm, and while she surely worked her way healing Hyjal via multiple dailies in the endgame content, she didn’t have a chance to raid. So she wasn’t the one to be present at Al’Akir, Cho’gall or Deathwing defeat (even if she visited the raids later). But! She surely was there in Siege of Orgrimmar, and she witnessed the fall of Garrosh with her own eyes. She was called commander and admiral in Draenor, and she witnessed how Sargeras plunged his sword deep in our planet.
In other words – your character is a hero of a legend that was current for him/her. If you start an alt today, it cannot be a veteran of Wrathgate or Draenor campaign.
Second – how does it work with the lore? As your Highmountain or Dark Iron, or a common Gnome, Worgen or Troll has to play through the old content.
The answer is also simple: this is a retrospective – an illusion, a history book that went live. You do not actually participate in the said events – you’re given a chance to relive the adventures of Azeroth heroes of the past. You get acquainted with the epic battles, making yourself proud of your faction, knowing what this all is about, and how did we get to where we are now.
And that explains how a demon hunter is able to defeat Illidan, or a Pandaren striking down the Lich King, or a Nightborne cracking open the Deathwing’s spine. It is not your journey. It’s a thing of the past.
The concept may resemble Caverns of Time, but with a significant difference. In Caverns of Time you’re actually participating in the events, trying to keep the timelines intact. Remember how you’re transformed into a dwarf, a human or a gnome if you’re Horde and you’re culling Stratholme?
During your leveling, you still can be a Pandaren killing the Lich King. The events… are not real for you. You just relive the memories and the stories of the past.
Understanding this, I’m finally at peace with having my Void Elf in vrykul fortresses, and my Lightforged in Zangarmarsh :) I’m finally at peace with leveling through broken timelines (like you level in Cataclysm events 1-60, then you go back to Outland, etc.). I’m at peace with getting an errand from Varian or Vol’jin. You’re not committing hero acts. You’re actually sitting in the library – and use your imagination, potions, or both to see the events of the past.
All your leveling until current content is nothing but a quality hallucination.
Deal with it! :)