One of my favorite elements of the 5.1 Domination Offensive storyline was Tak-Tak, the Hozen who shows up in each "chapter" to fly you to wherever the latest events were taking place. You could just fly there yourself, of course, but Tak-Tak's flights were both amusing and actually pretty interesting from a lore perspective.
(Obviously, this is the Horde experience. I assume Alliance players got something/someone similar for the Shieldwall stuff?)
During each flight, Tak-Tak chats amiably with you about recent news. As is typical for Hozen, he's friendly, easygoing and carefree, and his dialogue is pretty funny.
He also tells you about what's been going on in the Horde camp in Krasarang! Seems there's quite a bit that goes down when we players aren't around.
I didn't think anything of this line at the time, but in retrospect, it's actually pretty telling. We players of course know who Garrosh is, and hell, so does anyone of either faction. But Tak-Tak? He has no idea, and he doesn't really care. Now, you can chuckle at his entertaining lack of knowledge...but is this actually representative of what most Pandaria natives feel? Do the normal people living here who haven't been conscripted to one side or the other really have no idea who Garrosh is, and just don't give a damn about our bizarre, stupid war? Makes you think.
As I went on more and more flights with Tak-Tak, I started to really look forward to his little gossip conversations. It was refreshing to hear what the common soldier was talking about, or what the latest rumor was going around camp. And Tak-Tak, being an outsider, often added his own honest, earnest opinions.
As time went on, I started to realize exactly why I so enjoyed these flights. Not only was the gossip funny and interesting, but Tak-Tak himself is actually a really clever medium for Blizzard's writers to deliver important plot and scene-establishing information in a new format, outside the usual quest text, boss dialogue, etc.
In a lot of ways, I began to feel that Tak-Tak's dialogue was increasingly important, giving me the raw rundown on what was happening with Garrosh & his pursuit of power, the tenuous Horde political hierarchy, and even secret information that only he seems to possess. He's a fly on Garrosh's wall telling us everything he happens to overhear, and it's AWESOME.
These chats with Tak-Tak also did a really good job of setting the mood for all of 5.1...which began to grow darker and more grim the further I got into the Offensive questline.
That's pretty grim, Tak-Tak. Especially considering how lighthearted you normally are...
Despite his growing concern about the Sha and using a Mogu artifact, he's remains really chummy and kind, and by the end of the questline I really did feel like he was a trusted friend, confidantes sharing news and worries together. And he often wished you well on your missions - a minor touch, but one I appreciated.
He doesn't really think we should be digging up and using the Bell, he's already told us this. But he still wishes you good luck. What a guy.
Later on, even when he can't actually fly you to where you go, he's still a nice source of "WTF is happening?!" info.
But then...you get to the final quest, the culmination of all this searching, this political tension and faction clashes, and you learn Garrosh has the Divine Bell and is about to use it. You hop onto Tak-Tak's kite for one final ride, and this is what he says.
Now, maybe I'm overreacting a little, but seeing my cheery buddy Tak-Tak say this made my blood run cold.
This is not the joking, chatty Tak-Tak I've come to know and love. This, more than anything else, cemented in my mind just how ABSOLUTELY BAD this all was.
And Tak-Tak's warning...that really got me. He has all these (justified!) concerns about the bad shit Garrosh is getting up to, but what was he MOST concerned about? Your safety. Because he's your friend.
...it's been a long time since I felt an NPC was genuinely, honestly worried about my well-being, not because I'm a soldier, not because I'm useful to them, but simply out of friendship.
I hope so too, buddy. I hope so too.