Few characters in World of Warcraft are as iconic as Sylvanas Windrunner, whose saga begun all the way back in Warcraft III. At the hands of Arthas Menethil, otherwise known as The Lich King, Sylvanas is slain and raised into undeath as a banshee, eventually overthrowing Arthas and taking over the kingdom of Lordaeron, self-styling as The Banshee Queen of The Forsaken.
WARNING: There are spoilers for World of Warcraft in this article.
For the past 17 years, Sylvanas has been integral to the World of Warcraft storyline, weaving her dark machinations mysteriously in the background. Sylvanas kept players guessing, “is she evil?” given that she often had a less-than-ethical approach to the Horde’s problems.
Players in Warcraft fight it out as part of the two famous factions, the Alliance and the Horde, and Sylvanas forever seemed like a bit of a wildcard. In Cataclysm, Sylvanas sparked outrage by resurrecting fallen Alliance soldiers into undead Forsaken minions. In Legion, Sylvanas was seen cutting back-channel deals with evil entities like Helya. And her hatred reached fever pitch in Battle for Azeroth, as she committed genocide against the night elves, burning their homeland of Teldrassil into ash.
Players have spent literally years wondering whether Sylvanas was just a repeat of the Garrosh Hellscream plot from Mists of Pandaria. Blizzard assured players that it was all part of some “grand scheme” and that Sylvanas had some sort of master plan. Alas, despite everything she’s done, Sylvanas does an inexplicable 180 in the latest expansion, unraveling any credibility Blizzard’s writing team had left.
I just don’t care anymore
Despite killing thousands of innocents to contribute to The Jailer’s mysterious (and, as of yet unknown) intentions, at the end of the raid in the latest update, Sylvanas seems to get a change of heart, attacking The Jailer. She seems to realize that The Jailer is just using her as a tool, which was blindingly obvious from the outset in and of itself. Then, despite being supremely evil and often shown to be needlessly vengeful. The dude is literally called The Jailer. Regardless, he gives Sylvanas back her soul as “thanks” for helping him, apparently making her mortal again, while allowing the leaders of the Horde and the Alliance to escape.
Source: Blizzard How I felt watching this cutscene, learning Sylvanas has no conviction, and no plan whatsoever and is just a garden variety psychopath.
More and more of Warcraft’s story slips out of the game and into books, requiring further reading in a desperate attempt to make any sense of what has transpired, hunting down a shred of consistency from these characters. Fool me once, shame on you, as the saying goes. I feel like Blizzard has fooled me about twenty times at this point, though, and I’m done.
Warcraft’s decline is FFXIV’s gain
Source: Square Enix
Iconic figures like Jeff Kaplan and Mike Morhaime have departed the company, along with many, many others. Blizzard was an outlier for its special culture, which Activision seems to have chipped away gradually as time went on.
At its height, World of Warcraft enjoyed over 15 million active subscribers, which has since dwindled to around 3 million according to some third-party trackers. The long content drought between the launch of WoW: Shadowlands and this recent update saw a mass exodus of players jumping into Square Enix’s Final Fantasy 14: Realm Reborn, too, myself included. Big-name influencers like Asmongold on Twitch also made the leap to FFXIV, causing the game’s servers to become overloaded with the influx of new players.
Source: Square Enix
As Sylvanas herself states repeatedly throughout this expansion: nothing lasts, and that could ironically signal WoW’s final death knell.