Welcome to Massive, a new periodic column from our resident MMORPG expert Michele Morrow on all things massive, multiplayer, and role-playing….
It’s time to get back to what the Horde and Alliance enjoy most – destroying each other while fighting a common enemy and defeating Old Gods. World of Warcraft‘s hotly anticipated Patch 5.4, better known as the “Siege of Orgrimmar”, drops Tuesday and will reportedly be the last major content release in Mists of Pandaria.
Current Horde Warcheif Garrosh Hellscream has finally pissed off everyone on Azeroth by digging up an extremely powerful artifact called the Heart of Y’Shaarj. An Old God, Y’Shaarj was defeated by the Titans, who buried his heart in a secret vault deep within Pandaria. Once a seven-headed Old God and the progenitor of the seven evil “Sha Primes” — Doubt, Anger, Fear, Hatred, Violence, Despair, and Pride — Y’Shaarj’s dying breath corrupted the lands, continuing to feed off negative emotions. The Pandaren, trained in love, patience and compassion, learned the dangers of the Sha, for “…swords cannot slash doubt. Armor cannot deflect hatred.” And thus, they have restricted their contribution to its powers. Everything was fairly under control until the meat-headed warriors of the Horde and Alliance crashed into their peaceful continent.
Although World of Warcraft suffered a significant loss of subscribers last quarter (1.3 million as reported by Joystiq), it’s currently the world’s most successful subscription-based MMORPG. Many have dissed Mist of Pandaria’s anthropomorphic panda people as a Kung-Fu Panda rip-off, but hidden within this seemingly childlike attraction lies rich, artistic expression. I’m not saying art doesn’t exist in hundreds of games, but Mists of Pandaria has been somewhat misunderstood. The Warcraft Sha was loosely based on feng shui – a Chinese form of geomancy. And real giant pandas, native to China, represent strength in the face of severe extinction. The creation of an entire Pandaren race was something larger than simply appealing to a younger audience.
Now that Garrosh has seized control of an Old God’s malevolent heart, World of Warcraft players get to rip apart massive bosses directly inside the Horde capitol. The Seige of Orgrimmar boasts two stages – one downing the final Sha (the Sha of Pride), and the second killing the insidious Garrosh Hellscream. I haven’t been this excited about raiding in a really long time – not since Icecrown Citadel. I want that orc’s head on a spike like I do Tywin Lannister’s.
But while the majority of players will be focused on raiding, Blizzard has curiously created a new land called “The Timeless Isle”. In a post by Community Manager Bashiok, a once vanished island has reappeared “in a state of perpetual sunset”. In addition, “The Timeless Isle has come and gone throughout history – sometimes just a glimmer in the distance, often appearing in different locations. Some less fortunate adventurers dared step foot on the island during these moments and were just as quickly lost to the Timeways, never to be seen again.”
So why is Blizzard introducing a chaotic, time-centric island now? World of Warcraft has a deep history experimenting with the timeways, the Infinite Dragonflight, and now, a new faction called the Timewalkers – right at the end of Mists of Pandaria. What all of it means, you’ll have to wait and see for yourself once the patch goes live. Read up on Blizzard’s official World of Warcraft: Siege of Orgrimmar Patch 5.4 for all your class nerfs, armor sets, pet battles, and major updates.
Comment below or hit me up on Twitter if you think Garrosh will be the guild-breaker Arthas once was, and also… what’s up with the Timeless Isle? Let us know what you think!