Reading this post on WoW.com got me thinking about the whole idea of Alliance vs Horde in WoW, and how important it actually is, lore-wise. It’s amazing how much the significance varies as you progress through the game and how the events taking place dictate how far we are from all killing each other.
Prior to World of Warcraft, the RPG games were based mainly around the Orcs vs Humans and the Second and Third Wars. When you start out in WoW however, all you really know is that the war is being fought in far-off lands and you need to help out your people by dealing with the problems closer to home. For example, the Defias Brotherhood, who have partially taken control of the Human lands due in the absence of the army, or the cultists stirring up trouble in Durotar. You spend a lot of time clearing out mines and caves, gathering food, running errands for citizens and delivering messages.
As you progress, you gradually experience more of the world and you interact with other factions and races. You begin to realise that the war has affected all walks of life, from cities being empty of soldiers to deserted buildings and a lack of supplies. You also start to get into small skirmishes with the opposition – for example, while progressing through Ashenvale (which is very war-orientated in places) you might come across Warsong Gulch and taste real battle, or you might experience a Crossroads raid.
Moving up through the levels, you may mingle with the other side in neutral locations like Booty Bay or Gadgetzan, letting you peacefully meet for what is perhaps the first time. However, while these areas might be relatively unaffected by war, many other areas are affected, and this is evident in, for example, the Arathi Highlands, where the two sides are fighting for control of Arathi Basin and its resources.
By the time you reach what will be the end of your adventures in Azeroth for the time being, the game revolves around fighting either the Horde or the Alliance much more. There are distractions, such as the Scourge or the troubles brewing with regard to Ahn’Qiraj and the Silithid, but you can see from places like Alterac Valley (essentially an all-out battlefield) or even the world PvP (the Plaguelands, Silithus, Southshore, and others) that the world is at war, pact or no pact.
When you move into Outland to combat the threat of the Burning Legion, the tension remains to an extent but there is a grim acceptance that defeating the common enemy is more important than killing each other. Many of the towns are inhabited by neutral factions who will accept both Alliance and Horde, and there is little in the way of battles, except for the odd world PvP clash in an area like Hellfire Peninsula or Terokkar Forest (all of which seem to be very minor and almost silly) or the small fights in the Eye of the Storm.
Later on in Outland the tension has dissipated even more, and in Shattrath City you’re not only sharing a city with the opposition but you’re possibly even sharing a sub-faction with them – the Aldor or the Scryers. These two groups become almost more important than the ones you’re bound into by your race as you enter Shadowmoon Valley or Netherstorm to fight the greatest of the Legion’s servants. Indeed, once Illidan and his lieutenants have been defeated and the Horde and Alliance return to Quel’Danas to defend against Kil’jaeden’s invasion, there is almost complete coalition.
When you come to Northrend to fight the Scourge, the coalition remains… temporarily. Unfortunately for the war effort against the Scourge, the two factions again grow apart almost as soon as you step foot on the continent with each side believing they no longer need the other to succeed. Battlegrounds erupt at the Strand of the Ancients and the Isle of Conquest as the two sides compete for resources and artifacts, and there are full scale attacks at the fort on the Wintergrasp plateau.
It only gets worse once Varian Wrynn, restored to his throne as the Human King and effective leader of the Alliance begins to clash with the Horde. He hates Thrall purely for being an Orc, and while Thrall doesn’t take the bait and fight back, Garrosh certainly does. This hot-tempered Orc wants nothing more than to fully ignite the war with the Alliance one again, and it takes the combined efforts of Jaina Proudmoore and Thrall – the two peacemakers – to keep them back.
The Wrathgate sequence of events pushes things to the brink, when a group of Forsaken stage a coup in the Undercity and take it over before proceeding to attack the Alliance and Horde forces assaulting the Lich King at the Wrath Gate. While this has nothing to do with the majority of the Forsaken or the Horde at all, Highlord Fordragon (one of Varian’s Wrynn’s friends and most trusted colleagues) is killed in the attack and Varian holds the Horde personally responsible, effectively declaring all out war.
This takes its toll during the siege and invasion of Ulduar, where the proposition of a joint expedition is rejected on both sides and each faction enters by themselves, weakening their positions. By the time the Argent Tournament is unveiled, the only things preventing the two groups from ignoring the Lich King and going to war then and there – and there are already ambushes and assaults out on the plains of Icecrown – are the neutral forces dedicated to the war against the Scourge, namely the Argent Crusade and the Knights of the Ebon Blade, both of whom can see the dangers of splitting apart when they are so close to the Lich King. Despite this, the factions are still incredibly hostile at the tournament and come the assault on Icecrown Citadel, they will be vying not only with the Scourge guarding the way, but with one another to reach the top.
In the future, when Cataclysm hits, the situation of the war between the Alliance and the Horde could go either way. As Deathwing erupts from the Elemental Plane and the world is torn apart a second time, an ideal world would see the two factions set aside their differences and band together once more to prevent themselves from being destroyed, and the world along with them.
The chances of this happening are slim however, and with the Forsaken pushing (or being pushed) to take control of Lordaeron by attacking Gilneas, home to the Worgen who are the newest members of the Alliance, and Garrosh assuming more and more power in Orgrimmar and the Horde, it looks as if there’s no escaping another full-scale conflict. Not only that, but at the worst of times, as the elements rampage across Azeroth and rumours of an all-powerful super-weapon emerge from Uldum…
We can only wait to see what happens. Personally, I’d love to see the Alliance go to war with the Horde world-wide with all the races involved while Deathwing, Azshara and everyone else decide to take advantage. It’s been mentioned before, but it’s about time we lost to someone, or at least conceded ground, and this is an opportunity. Plus, it would be awesome.
What do you think? What do you want to see?