The Elf Problem – A World of Warcraft Battle for Azeroth discussion

With Battle for Azeroth only around 3 months away, Blizzard have been slowly but surely releasing which allied races will be included in at least the early days of Battle for Azeroth. So far, we have immediate access (with a pre-purchase) to Void Elves and Lightforged Draenei on the Alliance, and Nightborne and Highmountain Tauren on the Horde side. However, we also have confirmed Kul Tiran Humans and Dark Iron Dwarves for the Alliance, as well as Zandalari Trolls and Mag’har Orcs for the Horde for when Battle for Azeroth launches, whether immediately or slightly later on.

However, there was a big debate surrounding these allied races, or more accurately surrounding the Void Elves and their place as an allied race. Now, just being a lore nerd for a moment I feel like I need to clarify a few things. The Quel’dorei, or High Elves as they were called by other races, were brought to the brink of extinction by Arthas when the Scourge invaded Quel’thalas and corrupted the Sunwell to resurrect Kel’thuzad. Around 90% of their race was wiped out by this invasion and then 90% of the survivors renamed themselves as Sin’dorei, or Blood Elves to others, to honour their fallen kin. After doing some very simple maths here, we can see that would leave only 1% of their original population continuing to call themselves High Elves. As you can probably see, this is not a large number of remaining High Elves and the argument to bring them in as a race can easily be countered by simply saying “there aren’t enough of them to justify them as a race,” however we then have to look at the Void Elves that were introduced. Again, being a lore nerd, the Void Elves were a small collection of Blood Elves who decided to dabble in the void and it almost consumed them. Saved by Alleria Windrunner, who was the first of her people to really learn to harness the power of the void without it consuming her, and the player character during the quest chain to obtain Void Elves as an allied race, there was a very, very small number of resulting Void Elves. Considering High Elves have played a relatively large part in the recent Legion expansion, headed by Vereesa Windrunner and the Silver Covenant, I think most people can turn the argument of “there aren’t enough High Elves left,” against the Void Elves.

We can combine this with the fact that Void Elves seem to be shoehorned into the story. The transition feels clunky and unnatural, like they came out of nowhere. Let’s compare the allied races we have right now:

Nightborne

  • Major rep-grind faction is the Nightfallen
  • Literally fight an insurrection alongside them
  • Established in the lore: were Night Elves who relied on the Nightwell when they closed Suramar off from the world
  • Establishes strong relationship with Blood Elves as they suffer similar addictions
  • Shunned by Tyrande (for no real reason, but that’s a whole other rant) so faction choice makes some sense.
  • Full of major NPCs from the Nightfallen quest line

Highmountain Tauren

  • Have an entire leveling zone in Legion
  • Help the player characters attain one of the Pillars of Creation
  • Deep background and lore revealed in Highmountain quests
  • Lots of familiar NPCs from the expansion
  • Share obvious culture and beliefs as vanilla Tauren
  • Independent people who have survived and thrived for generations

Lightforged Draenei

  • Fought alongside us on Argus as the Army of the Light
  • Has a link to the Alliance already as regular Draenei have fought alongside the Alliance for years
  • Natural link to the Light worshiping Humans
  • Turalyon was a champion of the Alliance
  • T’PAARTOS (seriously, T’Paartos is the greatest)

and then… Void Elves

  • Only really familiar character is Alleria Windrunner
  • Never see any other Void Elves until quest to obtain them
  • Try to harness a power that literally everyone else hates
  • There’s like… 20 of them? Maybe less?

All of the other allied races we receive have established links, rich histories and large enough populations that the concept of “players being the special ones” still holds true. Void Elves just seems like a concerted effort to never produce High Elves for Alliance players, without any other real meaning or purpose; it feels like “nope, this is your Blood Elf mesh on the Alliance side and that’s all you’re getting.”

This is all a shame, because I feel like, at least for female characters, the voice acting for the Void Elves is fantastic. I really liked the voice given to the female Void Elf characters for their various voiced emotes and I feel like their jokes are also great, on the same sort of level as the jokes the original Blood Elves and Draenei got in the expansion, The Burning Crusade. I just can’t bring myself to play one as I just feel like they aren’t as rich or varied or interesting at the other playable races of Azeroth. You could argue that they share the history of the Blood Elves, but in that case I’ll just… play a Blood Elf?

In combination with the Nightborne this leaves us with no less than four different types of elf that we can play as. With the recent rumours that San’layn may be another allied race for the Horde (San’layn are literally just vampire elves), that would bring us up to five and at this rate it’s going to become a bit of a meme. Considering the original Warcraft games were about Orcs and Humans, the fact that the number of Orcs and Human options added together will only equal the number of elves we have by the time Battle for Azeroth starts… Well, World of Elfcraft just doesn’t have the same ring to it, honestly.