Lore Questline Splits: A Bliss or a Curse?

The Story So Far…

Ever since Vanilla, if you wanted to experience the whole mass of Warcraft lore, you had to play at least two characters: Alliance and Horde. You’ve missed all lore for the Alliance/Horde-specific zones, and often a half of what was contested.

In further expansions, the split of two factions remained to less extent, but it was there. There were general questlines leading to the big bad, but zones here and there still offered unique lore and unique stories, as players bonded with new factions, or factions they brought with them to the new continent.

Legion was the first expansion when lore suddenly scattered like a torn pearl necklace. Even if Order Hall campaigns took 10-15% at most of the overall experience, you were obliged to travel 12 paths to see everything – and without an option to switch your main to another story once you’ve seen it all in your home.

BfA took it back to Alliance/Horde paradigm, and two characters would again suffice. At the same time, it was an unprecedented lore division: up until Nazjatar you traveled a completely different path and dealt with your own lore characters – it’s been almost like Vanilla, where we united only to beat the Old God in the end!

And now we have Shadowlands. I would say that this is probably the golden middle of the approaches – no division at all – or division up to eleven pendulum.

Shadowlands and Their Four Covenants

You are supposed to have at least four characters, yes – but you could also swap factions, for example, if you’re bored during the expansion lull, you could hop all Covenants in a couple of weeks (I wonder if you would see the other campaign after swap by the way? I think yes, as Renown is reset upon swap). There is a major storyline before players scatter into four holes, so they know what’s going on everywhere. So you’re not stripped of seeing all stories even if you play just one character! Previously, it’s been pre-defined by the character you’ve played: if you’re a night elf druid, sorry! There will be no Mankrik’s wife, Garrosh’ story in Nagrand, Taunka, Dragonmaw in Twilight Highlands, Frostfire Rodge, Zandalar or anything apart from Val’sharah grove for you.

And most importantly, the way you will follow in Shadowlands would come from your own choice – that is, player’s action! You’re able to pick whether it’s blue grass, sky temples, a pile of shit or ruined castles you want to align with – no matter if you’re a mechagnome or an orc. Lorewise, this also provides a non-competitive mix of all sorts of characters, so important after the Fourth War. Gameplay encourages that: if you’re Fae, you’re so welcome to untangle through Tirna Scithe shortcuts, if you’re aligned with Venthyr, gargoyles in Halls of Atonement are your best friends. Baseline: if you play for the other side, you’re welcome. Everyone contributes to the main course of events.

This lore pro-active choice also plays a very important role for altoholics like myself. Once you reach level cap, you follow a completely different path in further lore. Even with my 22 toons, the amount of times I do every campaign is no more than 5-6, and that is A LOT less than you did in BfA. First toon sees the story first, all the awe and wonder. Toons 2-4 (5) swoosh through the now-well-known path, skipping everything that could be skipped, and final toon reads the quests again and sees all the cutscenes to memorize the experience in stone. With my experience of repetitive replays of the same questline on so many alts, I can’t even manage to get bored, as: hello, you’re already the final toon in this covenant to be there? That’s refreshing.

And obviously, it’s even more fun to those who don’t have many alts. If you have up to four, you don’t even get any repetition!

What Would I Like to See in the Next Expansions?

I think the paradigm of different factions and splitting lore works great. Whenever we go to the next planet or continent, I would very much like to see the same approach: as we get a glimpse of the major lore to decide what we want. Then we scatter to 3-4 factions to see their stories before we go for the big bad!

The keypoints that I would like to see here:

  • Pro-activity. Not your faction/class/race alignment defines your new faction, but only your choice.
  • An option to swap a faction in a blink of an eye – and see stories of all if you have wish/time to do that.
  • An option to collect at least basic cosmetics for every faction. Think raid set recolors: you would get the basic version of sets/weapons/mounts if Exalted everywhere, but the prettiest, shiniest stuff comes from alignment – even if it’s the same model with extra shine/jewels.
  • Finally, drop the unique borrowed powers and make it cosmetic. You could name a hunter’s arrow ability a Touch of Venthyr or Kyresthia’s Spear, animate it differently, but make it act in the same manner, and provide the same damage/healing/mitigation output. That will really make factions important by lore and your character’s preferences, not what Icy Veins told you to pick.

I vote with my both hands and feet for further lore splits!

6 thoughts on “Lore Questline Splits: A Bliss or a Curse?

  1. In Legion I committed to myself to run the fight from the Alliance and Horde perspective. I obviously am my horde character first, saw everything from up on the ridge and our battle and defeat behind us. Then I ran my boosted Alliance character through. Saw the fight, and the king being killed, the scene where it is portrayed that the horde walked away. And that got me very angry. That was not how it happened, that was wrong. And that was the last time I ever tried experiencing the story from both sides. They control the narrative, and I will not let myself become angry about character development in a game that’s supposed to make us feel good about playing our side.

    I recall the line from who framed roger rabbit. I’m not bad, I’m just drawn that way. And it kind of gets old being made out to be the bad guy, or on team evil.

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  2. I can answer your speculation about what happens when you swap covenants in regards to quests and covenant armor.

    I swapped my Horde shaman from Kyrian to Necrolord. I had completed the campaign then decided to switch. As you know, there is a little bit of overlap in quests between Bastion and Maldraxxus. That doesn’t matter. You will do the entire quest line as if you never did them before. Also, any covenant gear that you have equipped/upgraded stays with you. My shaman is still wearing a lot of his Selfless Forgelite mail from the campaign… https://worldofwarcraft.com/en-us/character/us/nazgrel/lohattal

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    • Thanks, that’s what I thought. I swapped covenants for a couple of toons, but it was before I did any campaign.

      Yes, obviously the gear will not get changed, but could you still tmog earned Bastion appearances over new pieces and does it stay in your collection?

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      • You’re unable to use the mog appearances. However, I haven’t tried turning off the mogs on the equipped pieces, I’ll equip all the Kyrian armor and unmog the pieces and see what comes up. I’ll let you know how that goes.

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        • I tested and have an answer for you. If you remove the transmog appearance from a piece of covenant gear, it reverts to its original appearance. So while I cannot mog a new piece of gear to look like a Kyrian piece of gear, the Kyrian gear will still look like Kyrian gear.

          Here’s my Tauren Shaman in full Kyrian gear while being a Necrolord.

          He had completed the final chapter of the Kyrian campaign before changing covenants so has a full Kyrian set (I just yesterday got him through the end of the Necrolord campain). Obviously the Kyrian set bonus for the Phial won’t work as a Necrolord. However, I’m not sure if the 8 piece set bonus will work, since it’s not specifically tied to a Kyrian ability. I’m working towards getting the Necrolord gear upgraded so that I can make use of the Fleshcrafting bonus.

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