It all starts with a breadcrumb quest that automatically pops up when you log in:
Quest: Unleash the Dogs of War!
The time has come. King Varian has summoned all the armies of the Alliance for the final assault on Orgimmar! Report to Vol’Jin in Durotar at once!
My first thought was, “shouldn’t we be reporting to Varian himself? Oh well, maybe it’s a wrap-up for the quests in patch 5.3 where we supplied Vol’jin’s rebellion.”
So you fly out to Durotar, and you talk to Vol’jin, who immediately gives you a quest to polish 20 pieces of armor for the Horde assault. After all, they’re going to be the ones leading the charge on Orgimmar, so they need to have shiny, impressive-looking suits of armor for the epic cutscene where they storm the gates in a blaze of glory!
Now I’m frowning. “Um…don’t the Alliance have their own armor to shine? Don’t we have our own assaults to lead? Oh well, maybe we’re being “clever and cunning” and letting the Horde be the cannon fodder, wearing Garrosh and his goons out for when the real cavalry comes storming in in a sea of blue and gold! So I polish the armor, and promptly get put on a quest by Vol’jin to go out and fetch arrows and lost weapons on the battlefield…you know, the battlefield that is raging all around, and there’s a good chance of getting my Alliance self killed while retrieving lost weapons? Oh well, it’s all for the greater glory of the Alliance, right?
So armor polished and weapons retrieved, Vol’jin next sends me on a quest to go kill 40 boars for meat to feed his troops. I was getting sick and tired of playing fetch for this ingrateful damn dirty troll, but hey, it’s all leading up to an epic, awesome moment where we, as the Alliance, after years of getting our butts kick my Garrosh and his rampant Horde, finally batter down the walls of Orgimmar and stick his head on a pike…right??
So after an hour of killing boars (the drop rate is TERRIBLE), I finally have enough meat and bring it back to Vol’jin, who immediately demands to know why it took so long. He rewards me with ten gold, and then tells me to report to Varian on the other side of Orgrimmar. Finally!!!
So the raid starts out with Varian telling us to stay out of the way of Vol’jin’s rebellion, tells us not to destroy buildings, attack only when attacked first, and gives a rather uninspiring speech about securing a safety for the future, and doing what’s right, and how Garrosh deserves to be brought to justice…I almost fell asleep, to be honest. And then a dialogue bubble pops up above his head. He says that we have to rescue the orphans who are trapped in a section of the Valley of Strength. That’s kinda cool, but shouldn’t we help the orphans by killing all the big evil bad guys? Oh, and we’re not allowed to kill any guards. Varian gives us bombs filled with sleep dust, and we’re supposed to throw them at Horde guards when engaged. His logic is that the guards didn’t have a choice but to be involved in this conflict, and we’re not going to take any more lives than we have to.
By this point I’m really wondering what the hell is going on. So far, we haven’t done much of anything, and this is the weirdest thing I’ve ever seen in a raid so far. But it’s just the first ten minutes, so I rescue the orphans with the other play-testers.
Next we kill some sha-infested beasts that Garrosh sends in waves, which is actually pretty cool. The boss is a giant dinosaur Garrosh apparently got from the Zandalari, and it’s HUGE, like a giant T-Rex on steroids but infested by the Sha. Awesome encounter. Next, we have to pave the way for Vol’jin’s rebellion so they can storm the Valley of Spirits and retake it. Again, the Alliance is playing second fiddle to the Horde, but whatever. We clear the way to the Valley of Spirits, kill a giant Sha that spawns once the guards are dead, and Vol’jin and his trolls come riding past on raptors. Kinda cool, I guess…
There were about 6 more bosses and encounters, but I noticed a common theme among them…none of them had us engaging the Horde directly. We were always either doing humanitarian crap, killing sha-infested beasts and guards (Garrosh has been experimenting with the Sha, if you can’t tell), or doing something to aid Vol’jin and his fellow rebellion leaders. In fact, they seemed to be having all the fun, as we could see them always running around and engaging in direct, brutal, bloody combat with big-name lore figures, like Nazgrel and Malkorok. The Alliance, however….well, we don’t seem to be directly engaged in this conflict all that much, nor the key players. But there’s still the final showdown with Garrosh, and that has GOT to be awesome! I mean, Varian versus Garrosh, the final conflict! We’ve been waiting for this since Wrath of the Lich King!
Vol’jin and his troops are gathered outside Garrosh’s stronghold, and we, the Alliance, take the lead and charge in first, engaging him directly. He’s full of taunts and threats, there’s talk of how the puny Alliance will fall, standard bad guy stuff. Then Varian comes in, and engages him, acting as the tank. It’s actually a fight without a tank, because Varian does all the tanking. Then when you get Garrosh down to 20%, Varian disarms him, kicks him to the ground…and backs off without saying a word! Then Thrall, Vol’jin and Baine all come in, and they scold Garrosh, tell him what he’s done and turned the Horde into, how his father would be ashamed of him, etc. Then Thrall casts some kind of spell on him, and a Sha comes out of Garrosh, who immediately curls up and starts crying like a kid. We kill the Sha, Vol’jin and Baine drag Garrosh off (presumably to a Horde prison camp) and Thrall thanks Varian, and us Alliance for our assistance in dealing with Garrosh, and then asks us to leave his city.
And that’s exactly what happens. Jaina ports in, Varian gives a speech about being the better man, Jaina opens a portal to Stormwind, and we leave. I was confused, and so I tweeted a Blizzard developer just what exactly was supposed to be the awesome Alliance moment we’ve been hearing about since Cataclysm and why the Alliance’s perspective seemed to be so lackluster and lame. His response? That there’s another epic Alliance story that’s being worked on for the next expansion, and that I just need “to wait and see.”