The opening cinematic is a important component of every Blizzard game.
It sets the tone for the game and establishes the central tension in the mind of the player.
Blizzard cinematics have always been of the highest quality and as they are launched pre-release, I have no doubt contribute to the fervent excitement of the fanbase. Although I don’t play WoW anymore, I was interested to read the Reddit page in the lead up to the launch of the new Mists of Pandaria cinematic, where players compared their favourite cinematics of old.
Most cited the menacing refrain “You are not prepared” from The Burning Crusade’s cinematic as a high point, whilst others spoke nostalgically about the cinematic to Wrath of the Lich King. The contrast of the voiceover of King Teneras describing Arthas’ future days, counterbalanced with the corrupted Arthas resurrecting a frost dragon struck a chord with many gamers.
Unlike Nils, I did not delete all of my characters in disgust when Pandaria was announced. But I hoped that there would be a strong overriding narrative to grab hold of. Something other than “You discover an island where there are pandas that do kung fu”.
For this reason, I was disappointed by the MoP cinematic, for the description above is exactly what I found.
I know that many will disagree, saying that in fact the lack of a major antagonist in MoP enables Blizzard to return focus to the central thematic pillar of the conflict between The Horde and The Alliance. Indeed the whimsical fight between the orc and human in the latest cinematic certainly hinted at this.
However I would suggest readers watch this cinematic from 1995 (!) and tell me which one is better at building anticipation of an all-war between the factions…