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Exploring Bastion with Polygon, Featuring Steve Danuser and Johnny Cash
28.05.2020 um 23:22
Polygon released a
short Bastion teaser
, highlighting the first
leveling zone along with a few a insights from
World of Warcraft
lead narrative designer Steve Danuser and senior game designer Johnny Cash. While there isn't much that we haven't already seen or heard, the article brings up a few provocative talking points.
As usual, we've highlighted some of the interesting bits and provided our own commentary, though it's
recommended that you read the full article in its entirety.
Read the full article on Polygon
“We felt like starting off in a place that exemplified the more idyllic or traditional, ‘ah, here’s a place I can get into and feel like I can exhale’,” says Danuser. “There’s something noble and pure about this kind of afterlife.”
We've seen heavenly renditions before, such as the Halls of Valor in
taking a Norse theme. Bastion represents the traditional idea of Heaven, seen through the majestic floating fortresses, angelic looking winged beings, and the general beliefs of purity, nobility, and ascension. Like most things in
World of Warcraft
however, it's not quite that straightforward, and there are dark undercurrents running through the zones. Not only do the Forsworn go against the grain and create conflict within the zone, there are some serious questions as to why some races would adhere to these theologies they'd never heard of before, especially ones which would seem to run counter to their culture in life.
One quest has the player help a Tauren pass their trials; once he does, the Tauren transforms into a Kyrian himself. Why help a cool Tauren become a blue human? Isn’t that a betrayal of his fundamental nature?
This is a very good question, and something that has come up before. One of the early concepts for Skyhold in
was an afterlife for all Warriors rather than just Vrykul, with datamining indicating that we would see famous characters such as Lothar and Doomhammer within (likely leading to a hilariously tense situation, as Doomhammer killed Lothar in battle during the Second War). While the idea was ultimately scrapped, it raised a lot of questions as to why Orcs from Draenor would make their way to the Skyhold, and whether other races who weren't native to Azeroth or didn't necessarily believe in anything to do with the Vrykul would still go there. Bastion would seem to revisit these questions.
An Afterlife for Everyone
Unlike Skyhold and most depictions of the afterlife,
is somewhat unique in that it ties together several different incarnations of heaven, hell, and everything in between. Uther goes to Bastion, Kael'thas is sent to Revendreth to condone for his crimes, Kel'thuzzad shows up in Maldraxxas, Ysera is presumably involved with Ardenweald, and the Maw nearly claimed Sylvanas. From what we've been told, the zones we're exploring are just a few of the prominent areas, though the possibility exists that there could be more for different races or beliefs, not to mention all the varied forces which control life and death such as Odyn, Heyla, the Elemental Planes, the Twisting Nether, and so on.
Therefore, it's not unreasonably to presume that the Tauren who doesn't wish to ascend to become a blue human wouldn't go to Bastion in the first place, and might have been sent somewhere else if they were judged more appropriate to their beliefs. Although WoW has had plenty of death, undeath, revival, and ghostly spirits, it's rarely explored the afterlife or character motivations regarding them. Warcraft has evolved significantly over the decades, with each sequel or expansion adding an even greater sense of scope and scale to the game, frequently retconning or creatively reexplaining older lore to fit within the bigger structure. Although we as players have explored other worlds and elemental planes before, this is the first time we've really delved into the greater cosmology and therefore it opens up a whole new universe of possibility.
There’s also room for Blizzard to introduce new plot threads from, well, anywhere. Everyone who dies in the World of Warcraft universe goes to the Shadowlands — even creatures from planets and zones we haven’t seen or heard about yet.
“Now the trick is, obviously, we don’t have character models for the 18-legged arthropods of Praxis-9,” jokes Danuser. But these souls will still show up as amorphous blobs in zones like Bastion, leading to an endless potential field of future possibilities hidden in an already otherworldly, mysterious zone.
New 18-legged allied race when?
In typical Warcraft fashion,
also brings up older references to previous expansions. Things which were thought of as mere fluff at the time are actually revealed to have serious weight behind them, such as the creation of the Val'kyr.
“When Odyn pierced through the veil and looked into the Shadowlands, and based the Val’kyr off the creatures he saw … what did he see?”
The Val'kyr lore in particular is a very confused subject, given their differing roles and seemingly flexible loyalties.
Sylvanas got her Val'kyr from Arthas.
Arthas created those Scourge Val'kyr based on the ones he found among the Vrykul he conquered.
Those Val'kyr were made by Odyn to ferry Vrykul to Skyhold, frequently citing Helya as the first.
Odyn purportedly created them based off the "creatures" (Kyrian) he saw in the Shadowlands.
Except Spirit Healers also exist as Vry'kul unaligned with Odyn, Helya, or Arthas/Sylvanas, and instead went into the Shadowlands and occasionally aid wayward travelers. At the time,
art showed some dark and sinister looking Val'kyr aligned with the Jailer... although from what we know now, they may actually be Forsworn, which further ties into the story of Bastion. Either way,
The Edge of Night
still implies that the Scourge Val'kyr who joined Sylvanas did so under the Jailer's direction, even though they were supposedly created by Arthas.
Hopefully, Shadowlands will shed some more light on their origins and allegiances. it may be as "simple" as outlined above: simple coincidence that Val'kyr Odyn based off the Kyrian ended up going back to the Shadowlands and becoming involved with its ecosystem. That said, it's also commonly cited that the Chronicles and most of our knowledge of Warcraft cosmology is based on the Titan's point of view, which heavily implies that not everything the Titans said is necessarily true, and that Odyn simply wanted the Vrykul to believe he created the Val'kyr, so that they would aspire to ascend to the Skyhold, rather than foster a belief in life after death in the Shadowlands.
Odyn in particular has a history of embellishment, literally authoring his own legacy in
Die Legende des Odyn
found within the Skyhold, describing the war against the Firelord Ragnaros as a joke. We know at least some of the stories are at least partially true, as the
The Keeper's Eye
describes Odyn peering across the veil into the Shadowlands, an event which we know happened, even if not necessarily the way the text describes. Others are fairly obvious rewrites of history, as
First of the Val'kyr
describes Helya as repentant and pleading for Odyn to make her a Val'kyr... something we definitively know isn't the whole truth.
While not bringing up much in the way of new information, this article is a great reminder of the evolving scope of Warcraft, as the game has gone from deadly struggle between two races to world wide war and beyond, into the cosmos. Exactly where the story will lead is anyone's guess, but the events which have slowly been unfolding over the last few expansions would seem to completely change the narrative - the eventual awakening of Azeroth as a new titan would literally be world shattering for the people who call the world their home, and it's difficult to imagine what the game would look like after that happens.
is a first look at a new narrative beyond the worlds and races we know, though as per usual, it seems to raise more questions than it answers.
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