Having played horde almost exclusively, I was sort of looking forward to seeing the differences in approach in the Twilight Highlands, having been shepherded through the usual neutral zones while levelling. This was somewhat tempered by a lot of alliance talk about how horde had the better story, particularly with regard to some sort of dwarf wedding.
Heart high and head unbowed nonetheless, I proceeded to do the intro quests in Stormwind as soon as I hit lvl 84. And… well, they’re actually a hell of a lot more engaging. Normally I despise having to deal with NPCs, but Anduin mostly stays the hell out of the way and comes across well as thoughtful and earnest without seeming like a parody. Best of all, the intro questline actually makes it clear that the Hammer is a clear and present threat, while the Horde are sort of going along with Hellscream’s embarrassing yelling for the sake of more xp and better gear. The horde get gags, sure – but only by sacrificing their entire intro sequence on the altar of yet more goblin cliches*, and they have no real context by the time they hit the Highlands.
Once in the Highlands proper – without having to deal with waiting for zeppelins or sitting through the aforementioned aggravated Warchiefery – the story follows a pretty solid arc of gathering the Wildhammer clans. As a horde player there’s basically one memorable point of contact and a selection of uniform chest-pounding sludge otherwise, but in the alliance you literally fly around interacting with the varied personalities and temperaments of the dwarves out in the field. There are funny moments, poignant losses, and proud determination – without resorting to the permanent bloodyminded grunting hard-headedness of the orcs.
There’s even a moment of sheer undiluted badass. A certain dwarf you’re sent to find… well, I’ll paraphrase the discussion here:
- Dwarf: You see that canyon there?
- Player: Yeah?
- D: It’s an ambush.
- P: Okay. Why are you so certain?
- D: Well, I’ve been through four times so far. Coming for another go?
The ensuing quest is not an escort mission. This guy is a minister of death praying for gore. It is, on the other hand, a pretty enjoyable crawl through as many enemies as you can haul off him. And at the other end he’s fired up to go again.
I hit 85 before even getting as far as the supposedly aggravating wedding, still hip-deep in dwarves fighting off assaults by the Twilights and the Dragonmaw. Honestly, TH is a shining moment in questing, and the from here on when I see anyone whining about how “Horde are more favoured”, all that tells me is that they didn’t actually play the damn Horde-side chain.
* this doesn’t mean it’s all bad. the zeppelin briefing crew in particular are hilarious.