World of Warcraft artwork showing off the burning of Teldrassil

[Update]: The quality-of-life focused Update 9.1.5 will be launching on November 2, 2021.

While World of Warcraft tends to have plenty of highly compelling stories tucked away in each of its various zones, the main plotline has sadly been a bit of a disaster for the past few years. Not even the Blizzard-quality cinematics can distract from the fact that important characters show up and disappear at random, plot points get brought up and forgotten just as quickly, while pretty much all potentially fascinating events end up getting resolved in what feels like the least satisfying way possible.

Nowhere is this more apparent than with the brief storyline we got with Patch 9.1 - Chains of Domination. Despite going into the self-titled City of Secrets and accompanying the Keeper of Secrets throughout most of it, we have learned essentially nothing about the big bad guy Jailer, his plans, or what the mysterious infinity stones sigils are even used for. And then, to really rub salt in the wound, the whole story ends with a teaser that's the equivalent of Destiny's "I don't even have time to explain why I don't have time to explain."

That alone would've been annoying enough, but then the whole Sylvanas thing happened. Instead of getting some sort of vengeance against her in the raid for the numerous, numerous atrocities she has committed over the years, we got to watch the following cinematic:

If you're not a World of Warcraft fan it's going to be difficult to explain why this is so infuriating, but I'll do my best to do so.

Canonically, for the better part of the last decade (in real life years) Sylvanas has been working with the main bad guy Jailer on some sort of secret plan. What exactly that plan is, nobody currently knows, but it's so important that Sylvanas was willing to commit truly horrible deeds in order to achieve it. All of this eventually culminated with her causing a world-wide war, unleashing a literal god of death and destruction onto everyone, and then siphoning all of the souls of the dead in order to throw them straight into super-hell. Long story short, there is nothing Sylvanas isn't willing to do in order to achieve her goals!

While her plans did align with the Jailer's, it's also important to mention that she was by no means an equal partner of his. The Jailer is a being of unimaginable power, stronger than all of the various gods that inhabit the Warcraft universe, and he also possesses her very soul! In other words, Sylvanas pretty much has to do what the Jailer says or she's toast, and she is fully aware of this fact from the very begining.

World of Warcraft Zandalari Trolls vs Kul Tiran Humans

A whole world erupted into battle because the Jailer commanded it

This is exactly why the cinematic above is such a let down. It comes after nearly a full year of build up, resolves absolutely none of the plot points that have been brought up so far, and then just as a little bonus, it also makes Sylvanas look like an absolute moron by having her betray the Jailer for a completely vapid reason.

The end result of all of this, as you've likely noticed given that the World of Warcraft side of the Internet is currently on fire, is a lot of chronically disappointed players. Blizzard has messed up time and time again over the last two expansions, and despite promising that all of this will lead into something really interesting, all we've got is another set of meaningless cliffhangers to tide us over until we get the next set of meaningless cliffhangers in about six to seven months.

You know what's really funny though? In this same patch Blizzard managed to 100% nail the story conclusion for Garrosh Hellscream. In life he was a fiercely arrogant, momentously stubborn and highly passionate leader who believed everything he did was for the betterment of the Horde, and in his final moments he embodied all of those traits. Even when faced with complete annihilation he stood his ground, defiant to the very end!

Garrosh's final death resonated with me far more than anything World of Warcraft's main storyline has done in the past two years, despite him being a villain in two separate expansions. It just goes to show that you don't need complicated storylines, universe-ending threats or even expensive cinematics. All it takes is a writer with some passion for the character and the willingness to let said character express themselves rather than contorting them to fit whatever narrative's currently going on.

So while I am incredibly disappointed with the story direction Blizzard is heading in, I am both shocked and pleased to say that Garrosh of all people has given me a glimpse of a brighter future. I can only hope Blizzard will manage to correct course and deliver us a truly magnificent story by the end of Shadowlands, because as much as I like ranting about World of Warcraft, I like playing it even more!