(Part 1 of 4 of a series of lore-related posts inspired by the Cataclysm trailer)
As everyone probably knows, the official Cataclysm cinematic trailer was released on Sunday. The initial, general consensus seemed to be overwhelmingly OMG. Well, after a few days to consider and reflect on it, here's my personal thoughts & feelings on it, with blue for positive, yellow for neutral, and red for negative.
Breathtaking fully-rendered game zones.
It explains why the world is actually being broken.
Deathwing looks invincible as hell.
The destroyed areas were all low-level zones.
Unremarkable but appropriate voice acting and music.
I've read a few complaints that Deathwing's voice is yet another deep gravelly voice, and this is true. However, while Arthas' Lich King/Batman voice was kind of lame (especially considering how good his WC3 voice was), Deathwing is the embodiment of the earth and rock...if ANYONE deserves a deep gritty voice, it's him. I have no complaints here.
Musically, I was unimpressed while Deathwing was underground. Fairly droning, generic stuff. However, when he took to the air and started wrecking places, it felt suitably climactic and final, almost like saying OH DAMN, THIS IS IT. THE WORLD IS ENDING AND WE ARE ALL EFFED. The crescendo when the Loch Modan dam crumbles & Deathwing approaches Stormwind gives me goosebumps. That being said, I'll always remember the Wrath trailer music. Cataclysm's armageddon-ish music, while exciting and fitting, isn't really unique or distinctive. It's not TERRIBLE, but neither is it groundbreaking.
Nothing about the faction/political upheaval.
[Faction leader-related spoiler alert]
I was a little disappointed there was nothing about the increasingly hostile tensions between the Horde & Alliance, breaking the somewhat stable sense of peace that has existed since...well, since release. In my opinion, the faction strife is almost as big a story as Deathwing. Leadership on both sides is in chaos, with Varian trying to learn how to be a leader, Magni out of commission and his daughter Moira stepping in with dubious intent, Malfurion suddenly back, Thrall out/Garrosh in, Cairne dead, Vol'Jin at odds with Garrosh, Sylvanas being distrusted by everyone...these are dangerous, tumultuous times.
With the direction they took in the trailer, obviously Blizzard couldn't show the political stuff - and to be honest, that would be pretty boring. Perhaps if one of the areas destroyed had some Horde and Alliance combatants busily fighting, but then both sides stop and look up in dread at an approaching, unstoppable tidal wave or the like, that could have been a subtle way to demonstrate the state of open war it sounds like Cataclysm will bring.
A lack of player connection hampers the emotional impact.
With TBC's trailer, we saw Blood Elves, Draenei, Undead, etc. all kicking ass, which was awesome because hey - that's us! That's a mage, that must be a warlock, etc. And Illidan himself, a former Night Elf with huge canonical significance in both Warcraft III and the novels, was familiar and well-known. It appealed to our role as players AND our history with the WoW universe.
Wrath's trailer, however, went in a completely opposite direction. Instead of showing us "cool things" like TBC's trailer, it's completely absent of any player representatives, DRIPPING with lore, and amazingly symbolic considering the speaker and the terrible irony of his words. Countless players who knew Arthas' story played Wrath solely for the personal goal of putting an end to him; this trailer took that ambition, magnified it, and made it real. It was finally happening.
The Cataclysm trailer is a completely different beast. Like Wrath's, there are no player races shown. However, since one of the main highlights of the expansion is the introduction of two new races, this feels a little strange. Sure, Wrath didn't show Death Knights in the trailer, but Arthas' story is pretty much > all else, plus DK's are so connected with him anyway.
Instead, Cataclysm's trailer focuses entirely on Deathwing and the destruction he inflicts unto Azeroth. The problem is, we don't really know who Deathwing IS. Unlike Illidan and Arthas, or even Zul'Jin and Kael'Thas, who we came to understand, know, and empathize with through book and game lore, Deathwing is just...a monster. An evil monster out to destroy everything, who really has no redeeming qualities, no friends who will lament his decline into evil, and no tragic backstory to make us feel sorry for him. Pretty much all of Warcraft's major villains are fallen heroes or former allies - it's a bit of a cliche formula, but it WORKS. Deathwing is so...bland compared to previous antagonists. To make matters worse, his actual history is actually pretty complicated and difficult to fully understand, spanning thousands of years and involving the Dragon Aspects, the Old Gods, Sargeras, etc.
With no player inclusion and no real emotional attachment to Deathwing, that leaves Azeroth's destruction as the focal point of the trailer. That's not insignificant, but come on - earthquakes and tidal waves do not an epic trailer make! Granted, it is pretty awesome to see Deathwing land on and crush Stormwind, all fire and brimstone. But he doesn't seem like a complex villain, an evil mastermind, or a tragic figure whose misfortune has led him down a dark path. He's just a big mad dragon.