It’s with mixed feelings that I see the resignation of Chris Metzen, the “lord of lore” for Blizzard Entertainment, and arguably the most prominent and most notable figure in the entire World of Warcraft universe. Metzen has created some amazing things, and has been a part of Warcraft since it’s inception.
It’s not just Warcraft however; Starcraft, Diablo, and even Overwatch have received a bit of the Metzen treatment. While a lot of the blame is laid at his feet for some of the more dubious decisions in Blizzard lore, he’s also been a clear and prominent driving force. Metzen has voiced a huge number of very memorable Blizzard characters, from Ragnaros to Nefarian, and everyone’s “favourite” Green Jesus – Thrall. Metzen has an integral tie to Blizzard, and leaves a void that will be hard to fill.
Metzen himself isn’t gearing up for another development project, he’s actually retiring. His 23 year span at Blizzard has seen him take a huge part in many games from the first Warcraft all the way to their latest release, Overwatch. He’s also been a help in several books based on World of Warcraft lore: ‘Of Blood and Honour’ and ‘Alliance & Horde Compendium’ to name a few. Hell, Metzen even has an in-game NPC named after him (albeit, a reindeer).
But Metzen’s career does have a few downsides in my opinion, namely Thrall himself. Thrall is the Orc Shaman who led the Horde from the original World of Warcraft up to the Cataclysm expansion, where he seceded in favour of Garrosh Hellscream and went back to his shamanistic roots in order to try and stop the cataclysm. The expansion ends with Thrall and the Dragon Aspects defeating Deathwing, Thrall having a baby, and the whole thing tying up nicely. A good end to a good character.
Except he kept coming back.
Thrall never left after that, and has been a major point in every single expansion since then, even to the point of overshadowing the new Warchief in Warlords of Draenor, Vol’Jin. Vol’Jin got NO screen-time in Warlords of Draenor, to the point where the events of Legion left me thoroughly sad. Because of Metzen constantly wanting us to remember Thrall, we lost out on so much from Vol’Jin’s leadership, which left a sour taste in my mouth.
Nevertheless, Metzen is an amazing creator, an excellent designer, and a massive creative presence behind some of my favourite games of all time. I sincerely hope that, in future, he has an excellent retirement, and enjoys himself.
I also hope Thrall will now die. Pretty please.