Home > Features (Gaming), Gaming, Opinions (Gaming) > Gaming: World of Warcraft: 4) Draenei

Gaming: World of Warcraft: 4) Draenei

Azuremyst Isles

You can tell they're near the night elves because of all the purple.

When the draenei race were first announced as being the new race who would join the Alliiance in World of Warcraft’s first expansion pack there was a fair bit of controversy. Like the blood elves the draenei are an established race in the Warcraft setting, but where the new blood elves fit the established version of the race, the draenei… didn’t. In the established lore the draenei, part of another race called the eredar, were the wholly evil race responsible for driving the titan Sargeras mad, who then went on to start all the troubles with the demons (ie. the entire Warcraft storyline). When you meet them in Warcraft 3 and World of Warcraft they look like this:

Were the Alliance about to get their first 'monstrous' race?

The playable draenei coming in with The Burning Crusade were a noble, pure race with a strong element of religion in their culture, who travelled through space on an interstellar vessel. The titan Sargeras was so evil that he corrupted these pure-hearted people, who looked like this:

Can you even tell the two pictures apart?

Obviously there’s a lore problem there. The draenei were so evil they could corrupt Sargeras, who was so evil he could corrupt the draenei, who were so evil they could corrupt Sargeras, and so on. Blizzard (or more specifically, lore master Chris Metzen) admitted they had made a mistake, forgetting that they’d established the precise relationship between Sargeras and the draenei/eredar, but by that point they had already put so much work into The Burning Crusade and tie-in novels that it was easier to accept the new version of events than to restructure the expansion to accommodate the established canon.

By the time I left World of Warcraft that lore snafu represented the majority of my interaction with the new race. I only played horde characters at the time, and when I quit the game no high level draenei players had reached Outland, and while there were plenty of draenei NPCs there the whole region was so deliberately alien that it didn’t count for much. It means they are far more new to me than the blood elves, and I found it quite interesting to actually be playing as them.

Structurally it’s still very much a pre-Cataclysm starting zone, most of the quests following the standard “kill x enemies” or “loot y items” approach. However, the text adds a lot of character to the setting, the race having recently crashed their spaceship (which is still a ridiculous thing to exist in the game’s fantasy setting, however much Blizzard makes it run on crystals and magic) and trying to make a new home for themselves on the islands, before they’re recruited by the Alliance. I found the starting zones quite nice to look at as well, as even though a lot of it is just forest (and World of Warcraft has no shortage of forests) I liked the alien twist it all had. It added a great deal of character to the sequence that the blood elf one didn’t, and I really did enjoy it.

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