Saturday, August 18, 2012

The WoW cinematics review through the eyes of a non-gamer

I know how I feel about the Mists trailer (HUMAN MALE DEFORMED! GOOSEBUMPS, GAH DEFORMED!), but I am hardly an unbiased observer. Thus, I have enlisted the help of a household member who knows nothing about WoW, MMOs, or computer gaming in general to give me her opinions. I'm showing her the original cinematic, and all the expansion ones in order straight off Blizz's official channel, with all videos at the same resolution and on the same screen. Since the videos have two purposes: 1)get the current and former playbase psyched for the new stuff and 2) make new people come try the game, I thought the opinion of one of these possible "new" players would be useful.

The household member has been told nothing other than "will you watch these videos with me and tell me what you think of them after. Also, any questions you have I will explain after you see them all."

First off, the original WoW Cinematic....(or rather the version that would actually play without fault for me, this one)
Pretty visuals, liked the music. Looks like something from Avatar (nelf female). Undead is gross-looking, Tauren is a wolf-man. Interesting. Incredible imagination

All other videos are from this playlist WoW cinematics
BC: More grim. Belf female is pretty.

Wraith: least accessible without prior knowledge. Cold-looking, who's this guy, the lord of this land? Still great animation. Had to explain who Arthas was (she thought the person talking was him too) and why he was breaking the ice.

Cataclysm: epic-looking, obviously destruction on an epic scale. No explanation necessary. Looks like something out of Lord of the Rings.

Mists: Human is heroic-looking, orc is evil-looking. Very pretty, looks like China. Made sense (sort of) without prior knowledge. Was a bit confused about the panda though.

Random comment afterwards: why weren't there females in the last 3?

So, to an outside observer, Wraith is the least accessible, and could therefore be considered the worst. And yes, these are pretty much fragmented notes.

And what do I think? I feel Blizzard missed an opportunity to show off their lack of sexism by not using the female panda to kick arse and take names, but I do understand why they did so. Sadly, I think their marketing department hasn't yet cottoned to the revolutionary idea that perhaps their primary market doesn't need to be the male 15-25 one, and that perhaps, just perhaps, this market might still play even if a women's shown kicking male arse. I like the atmosphere of the trailer, and I thought the mists being an important visual element was a very nice touch. I know many have commented on the lack of an enemy, but I would argue (shamelessly swiped from a wow insider article) that the Alliance and Horde are the real enemies here, unable to put aside their enmity even at the highest possible cost. Also, again, human male model is NOT YOUR FRIEND, BLIZZ! It may have been a callback to Orcs vs Humans, but while the orc model isn't so bad (because well, an alien race could look like that), the human one just looks deformed and wrong. Men are not naturally triangle-shaped.

Would I make any changes? Yup. Sub in female panda model for the male, replace the male human with a male from a non-human race (like dwarf maybe) or alter the human model so he's less Mr Universe and more strong athlete build. I don't feel the lack of a enemy hurts the trailer, in fact it seems more like a callback to the original trailer (and to a lesser extent the BC one), where the overarching enemy is not a huge focus. I actually like the trailers being more about how awesome the players are instead of "Look at the horrible big bad". I don't feel the lack of a female model is a deliberate "screw you" to women on Blizz's part, more that it's just another part of the institutionalized sexism still rampant in the gaming industry. I suspect using male models is just their default and it didn't occur to them to change it.


  1. While I agree that I'd love to see some more female models in the cinematics (c'mon, Blizz, strong female models ftw!), the reason they went with the male is because it's not a random panda. It's Chen Stormstout, and he's part of the lore related to that scene, the zone, and the expansion.

    However, female human to battle with the orc? Totally could've been done, I think. Have you seen female warriors? Eat you for dinner and spit out your bones.

    1. That would have been awesome! I would have loved to see female human up against male orc.
      Yeah, apparently as a non Warcraft RTS person (and who avoided the Barrens like WOAH), I had no idea who Chen was till a guildie told me to go read wowwiki.

  2. I agree with Battlechicken that the male panada ultimately was the right call as Chen is a central part of the story and lore. To that end I still do not see why Jaina or Garrosh would show up at all even for small snippets as both will play HUGE roles in this expansion, which would have given you the strong female character most people have asked for without just throwing in any old female character for the sake of catering to some of the player base.

    If you are going to put in a female character, make sure it makes sense not half ass it.

    But I do see how this is inline with the original trailer.

    Look I enjoyed the MoP trailer, I just felt it would have had more umph if they had Jaina and/or Garrosh in it even if it was for a short moment.

    1. I can see that too. Maybe a shot of Jaina defending Theramore with Garrosh charging in at the head of a bunch of warriors? Could have been stuck in the beginning with the ships fighting maybe?

  3. I think the Mists cinematic is a load of crap, it's just the Warcraft 3 cinematic reskinned. It was very very disappointing. >: /