Broken Shore Finale

Terran: Thank you for the rundown Geordie. Beautiful stuff. Beautiful stuff. So now we are going to take one more look at the Broken Shore, and the way that it all comes to an end.


The Broken Shore finale. As I mentioned earlier, this was one of the big ideas of Legion. We knew about this maybe over a year ago, when we first started discussing how Legion was going to pop off. And in those early meetings, I remember sitting down with Alex Afrasiabi and Chris Metzen, and they were telling me that Varian is going to sacrifice himself. It is going to be heroic. It is going to be amazing; and I ask: Okay, what will happen? How does it go down? Go figure it out.


Oh, man. That is not an easy challenge to be told go find the best way to kill your own king. Uhhrm… But so, I had to take to the challenge, and here is the challenge in all storytelling is that while you can have a logline such as King Varian Wrynn heroically sacrificing himself, you know the A and you know the Z, but filling in everything in between, and giving it all the twists and turns, and curves, and story gravitas that it needs to become a memorable scene, that is where all the work goes in; and so we dive in with our storyboard artist, and we start exploring, and we say what is it going to take to get from that A to that Z, and make it feel like it was rewarding?


Make it feel like it was epic, and we beat this up for weeks, and weeks, and weeks on end, going back to the Warcraft team, trying it out, trying new things, showing them different versions of this movie; and one of the big initial things: we had to make sure was intact was that there had to be a reason, a very very convincing reason that Varian would sacrifice himself here. That it couldn’t be someone else, or that maybe the other guys wouldn’t have allowed him to do it; and that is where the gunship came in.


We added the gunship to this story to bring it kind of back in from the pre-rendered movie, but also as a device; and this device would allow us to get all of Varian’s men in one single point of vulnerability; and this creates a situation that we can exploit. And the way we do that is we throw a 10-ton nuclear fel-reaver from the sky at the ship, and have this giant fel-reaver grab on the bad side of the bannister, and now we have some jeopardy, now we have a situation in which it is clear Varian is the only one who could possibly step in, and intervene; and so we go to Varian, and he has to make a choice.


We have to see him making this choice, and we telegraph through the letter that we have heard him writing in the pre-rendered movie all of his thoughts, all of his feelings to his son, and his acknowledgement that sometimes it is going to be necessary to fight for the survival of Azeroth.


And as he let go… I mean, he was flying through the air like an incredible superhero, and smashes in heroic leaping his head for 9 billion critical damage. We thought this is it. We finally found the heroic sacrifice. This is going to be memorable.


And we went back, and we reviewed it, and we actually said: you know what? I think we need to keep going, because when you are making it, you never really know when you have hit the mark; and so the safest thing to do is just to keep on pushing forward, and so we pushed forward.


He got back up. He kept fighting through rows and rows and rows of demons. This, of course, was very important; because the Legion was never about one giant demon that you could defeat and walk away. The Legion is unending. The Legion is millions. The Legion is legion, and so to demonstrate going toe to toe hour after hour it’s not the combat that will get you, argh… it is fatigue.


And as our King laid on his knees, broken before Gul’dan, when he was so close to making an impossible throw for victory and Gul’dan approaches him, and spoke to him almost gently, almost comfortingly, you will be remembered as the king who died for nothing.


That is the telling moment in deriving this story from these moments, this is the one that mattered. No matter what Varian said subsequently, if we had done our job, if we had built up this moment, if we had taken you on a rollercoaster ride and shown you the heroism of this character, when Gul’dan’s words impugned upon Varian’s triumph, you should feel a rejection in your gut of all those words, and the words should come out of your own words: No. For our homeland. For the Alliance, and even at this moment, even when all was said and done, Shalamayne shattered at his feet, we were still asking ourselves: Had we done right by our king? Had we created an epic experience to make this King remembered? and I hope you all felt that it was worth it, that we did right by Varian Wrynn.


Speaking of which, did you all catch the cinematic yesterday for Heroes of the Storm? In which our King returns to the Nexus, and faces Ragnaros one-on-one? But we have a special treat for you today. I am going to bring on stage Jason Hill, the director of that cinematic; and he is going to talk to you all about bringing Varian the Nexus.


Next: Nexus: Varian


In-Game CinematicsCreative DevelopmentDemon Hunter CutscenesSuramar CutsceneGenn vs Sylvanas
Broken Shore CutsceneAnimationLightningBroken Shore FinaleNexus: Varian

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BlizzCon 2019 Panel Transcripts