Learn more about the patch in our 7.3.5 Survival Guide.
Spoilers in the post.
Alliance vs Horde Setting
The Alliance and Horde cinematics open in very different settings and moods. The Alliance cinematic is quite triumphant, with Anduin making an emotional speech in front of all the citizens of Stormwind (you can even recognize a few shopkeepers from their models!) The Horde cinematic, in contrast, takes place in a dark room in Orgrimmar with only the faction leaders present and several members tense or bored with each other.
While the Alliance cinematic appears to present a greater show of unity, it’s interesting to note that not all Alliance faction leaders are spotted in the crowd–just Greymane. The Horde leaders, while ill at ease, are making an effort to be in the same room together discussing the situation. (Although, another potential take on the situation is that the Alliance leaders understand the importance of letting Anduin be in the spotlight, and are stepping off to the sides so he can truly be seen as the ruler of his people during this celebration.)
The first chapter of Before the Storm reveals that a similar celebration will happen for the Horde. However, in this celebration, Sylvanas will ride through the crowd instead of delivering a rousing speech like Anduin:
They emerged, ready to begin the march. Sylvanas had taken care that no one referred to it as a “parade”, lest they start having expectations of the one Garrosh had advocated. Varok Saurfang await her in the main area of the hold. With him stood an honor guard of veterans. Sylvanas would make a circuit through the city astride on of her bony skeletal horses, gathering different races and their leaders as she went. She was not fond of any of them, but Varok Saurfang was the one she gave grudging respect. He was intelligent, strong, fierce … and, like Baine, loyal. But there was something in the orc’s eyes that always put her on alert when she gazed into them. The knowledge that if she misstepped too badly he might well challenge her, perhaps even oppose her.
You can also check out the Faction Leader Dialogue at the Alliance and Horde embassies to see how the factions differ in their reactions to the player and aftermath of Legion.
Sylvanas as a Leader
Sylvanas has a very different leadership style than Anduin, more of a mastermind and less interactive with her people. In the Before the Storm chapter given to BlizzCon attendees, we learn that she feels out of place in Orgrimmar:
Sylvanas Windrunner, former ranger-general of Silvermoon, the Dark Lady of the Forsaken and present warchief of the mighty Horde, had resented being told to come to Orgrimmar, like a dog that needed to perform all its tricks. She had wanted to return to the Undercity. She missed its shadows, its dampness, its restful quietude. Rest in peace, she thought grimly, and had to smother a smile. It faded almost at once as she continued pacing impatiently in the small chamber behind the warchief’s throne in Grommash Hold.
At the start of the Horde cinematic, she doesn’t say a word as the other faction leaders chat. When Baine asks to speak, she simply nods her head, looking bored. She doesn’t even seem too happy about the Legion’s defeat–but then again, her main purpose is to help the Forsaken and find a way for them to survive and regenerate. The Before the Storm chapter delves into this in more detail–the other faction leaders sense her lack of visible passion for the Horde.
Sylvanas recalled Saurfang’s thinly-veiled… warning? Threat? You are the leader of all the Horde-orcs, tauren, trolls, blood elves, goblins-as well as the Forsaken. You must never forget that, or else they might.
What I will not forget, orc, she thought, ire rising in her anew, are those words.
When Baine finishes his speech in the cinematic, everyone cheers “For the Horde!” except for Sylvanas, Nathanos, and Gallywix–they don’t even raise their mugs up. This is an action which could worry Baine and Saurfang, some of the most loyal members of the Horde.
In Before the Storm we learn that she feels hesitant about leading the Horde and that her talents are better suited to a different style of leadership:
Where I could do as I truly wished.
She’d never wanted this. Not really. as she had told the troll Vol’jin before, during the trial of the late and greatly unlamented Garrosh Hellscream, she liked her power, her control, on the subtle side. But with quite literally his dying breath, Vol’jin, the Horde’s leader, had commanded that she do the opposite. He had been granted a vision by the loa he honored.
In the Battle for Azeroth trailer she yells “For the Horde!” as an inspiration for the troops–so either something has changed between the Legion Epilogue and Battle for Azeroth start, or she’s only impassioned because her home, Undercity, is under attack and she will do whatever she can to save it.
Sylvanas is also set up in contrast to the other faction leaders, namely Baine and Saurfang. While she coldly observes everyone at the table, Baine and Saurfang are bantering and sound down to earth. Baine gives a sobering speech while Saurfang expresses disapproval of Gallywix and his schemes.
Based on the excerpts from Before the Storm that we’ve posted in this article, it seems like Baine and Saurfang continue to work together to represent the interests of the Horde people to Sylvanas, expressing the importance that she remain a visible leader and properly celebrate the victory against the Legion. It will be interesting to see how things develop, as they appear to be natural leaders for their factions, and Sylvanas does not enjoy her role as Warchief.
Anduin as a Leader
We have a bit less to go by for Anduin, as the Before the Storm chapter only covered the Horde. However, in this cinematic we’ve seen he’s really grown as a leader from the start of Legion.
Genn: I understand the need to mourn, but the king’s place is on his throne. The Broken Shore must be our focus. Convince Anduin to end his vigil!
Anduin dons a special disguise and walks the streets of Stormwind in A Kingdom’s Heart, hoping to learn what the citizens think about his leadership style. The people are less than confident. Anduin pauses by his father’s tomb and ruminates:
I have not returned to Lion’s Rest since my father’s memorial was moved here from the keep.
The war has consumed all of my energy and attention. I have not had a moment to grieve.
Since you brought my father’s compass back to me, I’ve prayed to the Light for guidance, and to know his spirit is at rest. The Light doesn’t answer.
My people like me, respect me…but they don’t believe in me. Not like they believed in him.
I’ve heard the voices of the people, but how do my father’s advisors feel? I fear they do not trust me as they did my father.
A turning point for Anduin is when he makes his way to the Broken Shore, visits the location of Varian’s death, and is finally worthy of wielding Varian’s sword:
Going back to the Legion Epilogue cinematic, it’s symbolic that Anduin is giving a rousing speech to the adoring citizens of Stormwind, at the location which was a low point for him in Patch 7.2. With this speech, he demonstrates he is fully in command of the people and they are confident in his abilities to lead them.
Azerite is the life-blood of Azeroth, bleeding out in the world in Battle for Azeroth. We’ll be collecting it to power the Heart of Azeroth necks.
Azerite seems quite sinister and all-consuming in both cinematics though, making us wonder if it’s really the life-blood of Azerite, or if C’thun’s proximity to the Wound in the World has tainted it somehow.
Both Anduin and Sylvanas have strong reactions to the Azerite, like they are possessed by it. Their voices sound eerie, and in Anduin’s case, there’s a really cool echoey sound effect, almost like he hears a whisper. Both of their reactions sound greedy–they want to use the power of Azerite for just their faction. However, Sylvanas may have a real reason for wanting the Azerite–perhaps she thinks it will help her with her quest for Forsaken immortality, explored in the Stormheim questline.
This cinematic raises more questions about the Azerite, such as who tipped off Galywix that the Azerite was in Silithus. Speaking of Silithus…none of the faction leaders acknowledge the terrible damage to the zone in their speeches. Saurfang even makes a joke that “Nothing good has ever come out of Silithus,” laughing at Gallywix’s plan to send more Goblins there.
It’s concerning that nobody is either aware of the sword, or if they are, do not make an effort to heal the zone. Magni and Khadgar share similar frustrations in The Speaker’s Perspective and The Blood of Azeroth.
Khadgar is peacing out back to Karazhan, disappointed how the events have gone:
It appears that the scars between the Alliance and Horde have yet to heal as well. Too many lives have already been lost fighting to save Azeroth from destruction. I will not stay and watch this world lose more. I have a request for you before I go.
Magni is also upset and trying a last-ditch appeal to factions:
Do the leaders of the Alliance and Horde even know what they’re fightin’ over? This substance that is risin’ up from the wound is the lifeblood of Azeroth! We need ta heal the wound, not exploit it fer power! Azeroth is the only home we’ve got. We cannot allow her ta die! I trust ye, <name>, and I know that yer voice carries great weight among the Horde. Ye must reason with ’em ta stop this madness! ‘Tis the only hope our world has…
As a side note, the little sounds Gallywix makes while walking to Sylvanas were improvised by Darin De Paul, best known as the Voice Actor for Overwatch’s Reinhardt.
The Scout at the End
At the end of both cinematics, we see an eagle pick up a hunk of Azurite and return to a hooded female figure wearing the uniform of SI:7. This figure has some similarities to one in the Burning of Teldrassil concept art, but we do not think it is the same figure.
While both characters wear hoods and blue/gold tinted armor, one major difference is that the character in the concept art has pointy elf ears and the character in the cinematic has none. This rules out major elven characters like Alleria or Vereesa.
The role of the scout at the end could simply be to explain how the Alliance acquired the Azerite, and how Gallywix’s confident proclamation that the Alliance don’t know about this is seriously wrong. Of course, it would be cool if this was a major plot twist and actually a famous character in disguise.
That concludes our thoughts on the cinematics. Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!