Who Cares About Whitemane?
The Priest We Need
Argument For Whitemane
Written by Midseasons
Heroes of the Storm is a tribute to Blizzard’s history which celebrates the worlds they’ve created and the games set in those worlds. But worlds need people to live in them, and games are meant to be played. Blizzard’s worlds may have thousands of pages of backstory, but those fictional histories are only a supplement to enhance the experience of actual gameplay. The Nexus is a celebration of Blizzard’s lore, but more importantly it’s a celebration of the memories we’ve formed by playing those games together and the community that’s arisen from those shared memories.
By that standard, Sally Whitemane is an iconic hero. It’s true that she’s never been the focus of novels or short films, and her name wouldn’t appear very often if you were to look at a timeline of the entire Warcraft universe. But in terms of community hours invested, Whitemane’s presence is substantial. She and her minions were a core element of World of Warcraft Vanilla and part of a pivotal chapter in the history of the franchise. By that logic, Whitemane is a perfect fit for the Nexus.
As successful as WoW is today, it’s important to remember what an immense shift Warcraft actually made as it transitioned from RTS to MMORPG. That change in genre fundamentally changed how the game’s story was told and how players interacted with its characters. In an RTS, figureheads like Thrall and Muradin are active and give a distinct identity to massive nations which the player commands as an army. In an MMO, those same figures become passive NPCs that sit on their thrones and hand out quests to the player for a few silver coins. The storytelling needs of the new genre demanded a world that felt open, evolving, and explorable, with more personal threats that challenged players as individuals and encouraged them to rally together to overcome their obstacles.
Enter the Scarlet Crusade. In fiction, they rose up in direct response to the events of Warcraft 3, tying the franchise together and making Azeroth feel like a living, breathing world with consequences for the player’s actions. Scarlet attacks on the countryside would eventually become part of each player’s personal quest, and for some players, that conflict could start as early as level 4. And Whitemane loomed over all of it. Players’ conflicts against the Scarlet Crusade would culminate in the dungeon Scarlet Monastery, where Whitemane awaited players as the dungeon’s ultimate challenge.
With its multiple wings and locked doors, Scarlet Monastery became one of Vanilla’s most definitive experiences. At a time when leveling up in WoW took months of effort, Scarlet Monastery spanned from level 28 all the way to level 41. With no matchmaking system in the game beyond a simple chat channel, players could spend hours forming groups to even attempt the dungeon, all the while knowing Whitemane was waiting for them. Once inside, the sheer scope of Scarlet Monastery meant that players could spend days or even weeks progressing through the wings to get the XP and loot necessary to finally face the High Inquisitor, and the treasures inside were great enough that players readily invested those weeks over and over again.
For thousands of players, the time spent facing Whitemane and her Crusaders was World of Warcraft. The hours spent preparing to fight her inevitably lead to hours spent defeating her over and over again for more loot, and those hours become game-defining. Whitemane became a shared experience, reminisced about and immortalized in guild chats and community memes for years afterwards. Even today WoW players have an almost Pavlovian response to hearing the words “Arise, my champion!”
These experiences are what make Blizzard games special, and these experiences are exactly what Heroes of the Storm is celebrating. Whitemane is a very different type of figure than the generals of an RTS or the first-person fantasies of Overwatch, but she represents one more of the important facets of the Nexus. Few other characters have had as many collective play hours invested into them or made as many memories for the community. To this day, Whitemane’s boss fight remains iconic, the only encounter unchanged even after Scarlet Monastery was revised in 2012 to a level 90 dungeon that fit WoW’s modern direction. The figure of Whitemane emerging from the Scarlet cathedral is still a core part of the dungeon, of World of Warcraft, and of the franchise itself.
It’s only fitting she become a part of Heroes of the Storm as well.
A Second Tier Character
Argument Against Whitemane
Written by [Phantom]
Whitemane is the latest hero to have been announced for Heroes of the Storm, and despite an an interesting kit and design, her announcement is a bittersweet moment for many. In the history of WarCraft, there have been many heroes and villains that helped shape the story of what is now considered one of the most influential game franchises ever created, but Whitemane was not one of them.
It's time we started getting the heroes we really want.
In World of Warcraft Vanilla, she was High Inquisitor of the Scarlet Crusade, a corrupt religious organization that originally wanted to eradicate the undead. But her impact in the game didn’t ever go much further than being the final dungeon boss of the Scarlet Monastery alongside Renault Mograine. Recently, in Legion, she was raised as one of the Four Horsemen of the Lich King—which, even if it’s a cool title, had little relevance in the overall story. All in all, her role in the game could be described as a side character with a pretty design that had no relevance to the bigger events of Warcraft.
There are only two things Sally Whitemane brings into the table: She is the first hero based on the Priest class of World of WarCraft, and she is a cool female character in a male-dominated roster. While having more female representation is always welcome, there were many better choices for a character of the holy class than her.
The Prophet Velen is one of the heroes that come to mind. Alongside the Army of the Light, he was a crucial character in the fight against the Burning Legion, the greatest enemy of all time in the story of Warcraft. One of his most memorable moments in this expansion was commanding the Azeroth forces into Argus, something so significant that it completely dwarfs anything Whitemane could ever achieve.
Another Priest representative could have been none other than Anduin, the King of the Alliance. Since Mist of Pandaria, Anduin has had slowly built up importance in the story by becoming kind and smart but willing to fight if he needs to. After a long personal transformation culminating in him becoming the King after his father’s sacrifice fighting the Burning Legion, Anduin is a key figure in the game’s lore. Now, with Battle for Azeroth rapidly approaching and Anduin being forced to take central stage in the upcoming conflict against the Horde, he would have been the perfect representative for a cross promotional event between Heroes of the Storm and World of Warcraft.
Ultimately, the argument against Whitemane goes further than just her character. In February, Blizzard announced they would slow down the amount of hero releases to make each new addition more impactful. But there’s a big list of important heroes that are yet to be release, and every time a side character like Whitemane is released, those legendary heroes fall further down the line. Main characters like Baal from the Diablo franchise who have an entire expansion under their name are still absent from the game.
Whitemane is an unimportant character in the world of WarCraft, let alone in the Blizzard universe as a whole, and you’d have a difficult time finding players who preferred her over Anduin or the Lord of Destruction. The recent release of Whitemane makes me wonder how long it will be until we see the legendary characters we have been asking for since the game announcement in 2013. Or if we’ll ever see them at all.
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