The World of Warcraft is an expansive universe. You're playing the game, you're fighting the bosses, you know the how -- but do you know the why? Each week, Matthew Rossi and Anne Stickney make sure you Know Your Lore by covering the history of the story behind World of Warcraft.
If you've read Act I and Act II of Cataclysm for Dummies, you should have a pretty basic understanding of what happened during Cataclysm, why Deathwing was a threat that needed to be addressed, and what we've been doing in all of those zones, 5-man dungeons, and raids. There was a purpose to every raid that came out with Cataclysm, but that purpose isn't blatantly clear unless you're paying really close attention as you're leveling through the zones. People who love following the lore do that automatically, which is why these guides aren't for them.
However, you might want to know what all of this means or have some questions about the stuff that wasn't really resolved in Cataclysm. Or you may want to know what's in store in Mists of Pandaria and why you should be interested in what's coming next. This epilogue is going to go over a few simple end-of-Cataclysm points that should be of interest to those wanting to know what's next or still have some questions about Cataclysm's story.
Why was Deathwing flying around and torching everything in sight? What was the point of that?
Here's the deal: While we were busy trying to wreck Deathwing's plans, Deathwing was busy trying to set all those plans in motion. That required travel time -- after all, you can't get from the Twilight Highlands to Uldum in an instant, unless you're taking portals through a capital city to get there. Deathwing was flying around because he was arranging all of the events we saw as we were playing through Cataclysm. And the fire? Well, he's a giant dragon hell-bent on destruction. Of course he's going to torch as much as he can while he's in the air. (Plus, from a non-lore standpoint, having another achievement to nab was a pretty cool thing, too.)
What was up with that whole troll thing? Did we stop the Zandalar when we beat ZA and ZG?
No, you didn't. What you managed to do was put a stop to the cronies the Zandalar managed to dupe into that whole troll global domination idea. The Zandalar are still very much a force to be reckoned with, and we haven't even figured out who that mysterious prophet Zul is. However, maps of Pandaria that were released at BlizzCon last year show Zandalari Isle as part of the map ... and that means we'll probably be resolving all that troll chaos come Mists.
If Deathwing was such a huge problem, why didn't we just kill him from the start?
Because Deathwing wasn't the real problem. The big reason that Deathwing was such a threat was because he was working for the Old Gods -- gods like C'thun and Yogg-Saron. These guys are the worst of the worst, and Deathwing was their main lieutenant, in a way. But the Old Gods had managed to corrupt a whole host of other creatures under Deathwing, sort of amassing a gigantic, crazy army of people who wanted to see the world end.
Deathwing had all of these crazy groups like the Twilight Cult and Ragnaros and his minions working under him, carrying out the will of the Old Gods and working toward bringing the Hour of Twilight into being. But none of us -- not the players, not the NPCs, and certainly not the Dragon Aspects -- knew that the Hour of Twilight was Deathwing's plan at the beginning of the expansion. We just knew that we had to stop whatever he was doing, and we had to work from the ground up.
We had to kill the other bosses and all of those minions because without those minions, Deathwing had no resources to work with. Think of all of those bosses as a giant army and Deathwing as the general in the very back of it; we had to fight our way through the army before we could get to Deathwing. Trying to attack Deathwing without getting rid of the army would have resulted in us being utterly smushed two seconds after we tried.
If Deathwing summoned the end of the world during the Madness of Deathwing fight, why the heck didn't he just do that when he came out of Deepholm, instead of trying to create Ultraxion in order to carry it out?
What we fight during the Madness of Deathwing encounter isn't really Deathwing anymore. It is pretty much the bubbling corpse of Deathwing, imbued with the strength and power of the Old Gods -- and the ability to wipe out the world. Deathwing couldn't do that before then, because he wasn't imbued by the Old Gods at that point. Ultraxion was the harbringer of the Hour of Twilight, and once we destroyed him, we prevented the Hour of Twilight from coming to pass.
When Thrall shot down Deathwing after the Spine event, Deathwing was essentially dead. What we fight in the Madness of Deathwing is basically the Old Gods' last-ditch effort to bring about the end of the world, using what remained of Deathwing as a bubbling, lava-infested, corrupted puppet. Once we defeated that, the Old Gods lost all chance at ending the world.
So we beat the Old Gods?
No. We can't really beat the Old Gods at this point. In Wrath, there was an event in the Halls of Stone called the Tribunal of Ages. This event flat-out stated that if we kill the Old Gods, we destroy Azeroth right along with them. So we can't really beat the Old Gods or kill them. But what we did do was remove any ability they had to bring about the world's end, for now.
What was up with the Dragon Aspects at the end of the cinematic? Are they going to die now?
They will, eventually. They're mortal now. The Aspects basically used every last ounce of their power to defeat Deathwing, with our help. And since we proved that we're capable of taking care of the world, the Aspects' task is now done, and they are mortal. There are no more Aspects; the Aspects themselves are pretty much just dragons. What exactly this means in terms of their special powers and abilities and what it means for the rest of the world, we don't exactly know just yet.
However, you know how it took every ounce of their power to stop the Old Gods? The Old Gods aren't dead, just, uh, halted for the time being. And next time they show up, we won't have the Aspects to help us any more. Basically, the training wheels are off and we're on our own now -- a pretty terrifying prospect.
So what's up with Mists of Pandaria? Why are we going there? What on earth is going to be interesting about a bunch of pandas?
Mists isn't just a bunch of pandas -- it's a continuation of the Warcraft story. We're not sure where that story is going because Blizzard didn't show us much of it at BlizzCon. Rather than take this as meaning that there is no story at all, I suggest you take it as Blizzard's keeping it all as a surprise. Cataclysm was so full of story, that there is little to no chance Blizzard will leave the story out of Mists altogether. That'd be kind of silly!
But here's what we do know, taking what we've gotten from Cataclysm. The Horde and Alliance were at each other's throats in Wrath, and it's only gotten worse in Cataclysm. A lot of that rests on Garrosh Hellscream's shoulders. He is not a nice orc. He does not want to be friends with the Alliance like Thrall. And he has spent the majority of Cataclysm conquering whatever land he could get his orcish hands on. The Alliance has suffered tremendously in Cataclysm, and a lot of it has to do with Garrosh, and a lot of that has to do with the Cataclysm itself, and a lot of that has to do with Wrath.
The humans lost thousands upon thousands of people up in Northrend, and they were just starting to pull the pieces back together when the Shattering hit. The night elves were absolutely wrecked when that happened; Darkshore was nearly torn apart, and Ashenvale was overrun by various agents of the Old Gods, as well as Stonetalon. The Barrens ripped in half, and the Alliance had to figure out a way to get supplies around Kalimdor, which resulted in more clashes with the Horde.
Basically, the Alliance were crippled coming into this expansion, and the Shattering dealt even more damage. Garrosh had the Horde charge forth and take advantage of the Alliance's temporary weakness and wreak even more havoc. So the Alliance this expansion have been trying to pull themselves together and recover from their losses in the midst of Horde attacks and natural disaster.
In Mists, the Alliance and Horde conflict erupts in a major way -- and the Alliance may very well get the upper hand again. As far as we know, Garrosh is still in charge, which means that the Horde will continue their slow march towards global domination. And the Alliance? Well, I imagine after the losses in Wrath and the losses in Cataclysm, the Alliance has had just about enough of the Horde, and they are foaming at the mouth and dying to rip some Horde throats out.
And somewhere in the midst of all of this, the Horde and Alliance clash on Pandaria, home of the pandaren. And that fighting and chaos between Horde and Alliance has some dire effects on Pandaria, and we're going to have to straighten it all out. In straightening it out, I am sure we're going to uncover some surprises along the way and find many more bosses to fight.
Who is the final boss of Pandaria, then?
We don't know. What we do know is that we will be fighting, Alliance vs. Horde, and that will be our primary occupation going into the expansion. Some people are irritated that we don't appear to have a big bad boss, but I would suggest that you don't dwell on that as a bad thing. Think of it like this -- if you were thinking that Deathwing wasn't a very big threat, maybe part of that was because you knew he was there and you saw him around all the time.
But isn't it far more interesting, surprising, and possibly terrifying to not know what's lurking around the corner? Isn't the lack of knowledge a little more creepy than knowing everything that's going to happen in advance? There are plenty of options for final bosses in Mists of Pandaria, but Blizzard may just throw us for a loop and introduce something new, something completely and totally amazing that we know nothing about. And in that case, it makes it even more interesting, because nobody will go into this expansion knowing what's going to happen next, and we'll all be at the same state of surprise when we see it!
Go back and review
Cataclysm's story was pretty straightforward -- just as straightforward as Wrath's, in all honesty. We had a creature show up that wanted to end the world, and we had to put a stop to that creature before it did so. In Wrath, we had a creature that wanted to turn the world into a Scourge paradise, so we had to stop that. When you think of it in those terms, it seems like a simple story, but there were plenty of stories on the sidelines that kept things interesting.
What I would recommend if you're looking to learn a little more about the lore or getting a little bored with the Raid Finder is to go back and play through the 1 to 60 content. You don't have to roll a new character to do it; you can go through with your 85 character if you like, and the process will be a lot faster. But what you'll get out of the experience is a look at all of the other stories that were introduced in Cataclysm.
Though Cataclysm's main story involved Deathwing and the Dragon Aspects, there was a lot more going on in Azeroth. That 1 to 60 content illustrates a lot of the Alliance and Horde conflict that we'll see going into Mists. So take your time, play through the 1 to 60 zones, read the quests and enjoy the experience, and you'll be set on lore as far as Mists is concerned. And hey -- that low-level green gear looks pretty nice and makes for some amazing transmogrification sets, while you're at it! While you don't need to have played the previous Warcraft games to enjoy World of Warcraft, a little history goes a long way toward making the game a lot more fun. Dig into even more of the lore and history behind the World of Warcraft in WoW Insider's Guide to Warcraft Lore.