Why High Elves Don't Work: A Primer (Revisit)

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DISCLAIMER: This is a thread of mine from August. I'm reposting it light of the coming forum migration, so that discussion may continue as this topic is still somehow being thrown about.

After seeing this entire debacle play out since Void Elves were revealed, I have noticed a couple things. Firstly, that Ion, and thus Blizzard, haven't changed their stance on High Elves since Blizzcon. Secondly, that High Elf Hopefuls keep bringing up the same arguments that they claim supports High Elves.

Despite our Lead Game Director Ion Hazzikostas stating quite clearly on two different live streams that High Elves don't make sense as an Allied Race, why they don't make sense, and that there are no plans in the immediate future for High Elves, I am here to refute each and every one of the copy and paste points people keep bringing up, and give clear, logical explanations as to why they don't work or make sense, in hopes you all can reach the same conclusions Ion and Blizzard have!

Ready? Let's begin!

1: "High Elves are different enough from Blood Elves!"

I see this one a lot, but no. Sorry. They aren't. The High Elves went through no mutation, no physical change, no evolution or otherwise genetic alteration after Quel'thalas was sacked by Arthas and the scourge. Kael'thas renamed the High Elven people Blood Elves in memory and honor of their fallen, and for no other reason. It's been only 30 or less years since Kael'thas renamed his people Blood Elves. They are racially, genetically, identical. While people love to think of High Elves as "pure" or Blood Elves as "tainted", which are both untrue, given the recent golden eyes of the Blood Elves, it doesn't appear that tapping demons' magic to sate the elves' magical addiction did anything cosmetically permanent. Blood/High Elves that succumbed to their hunger became Wretched. Blood Elves that overindulged in fel became Felblood Elves.

2: "Blizzard did Pandaren for both sides, they can do Blood/High Elves on both sides! How could it dilute faction identity more than Pandaren?"

I'm going to go ahead and say most people asking for High Elves don't play Pandaren. Why? Because they represent the lowest number of players within their own faction out of ALL races. Last number estimates show about 2.5%, per faction. Combined across all of WoW, roughly 1 in 20 plays a Pandaren, whereas Blood Elf numbers are the most populous among Horde races, having been roughly equal to Human numbers in Alliance for most of WoW since TBC.

Also, for or those that don't know, Blizzard regrets doing Pandaren as a Neutral race, to the point that I can say we'll likely never see another Neutral race. Since MoP, it's basically impossible to write Pandaren lore now, because their forces are split faction, and we haven't seen them do anything notable in WoW since MoP. Their identity is basically nothing.

3: "High Elves' lore and history is rich enough to stand alone!"

Except any High Elf history is also Blood Elf history. High Elven buildings, tabards, crests, architecture, vehicles, weapon style, etc. is Blood Elven except painted blue. The only notable High Elven characters left are Alleria and Veressa, but Alleria now leads and represents the Void Elves going forward, leaving only Veressa. The two have been separate for only 30 or so years. Not nearly enough to diverge or have enough unique history.

4: "Nightborne are just Night Elves, so we should get High Elves even if they're just like Blood Elves!"

Nightborne spent 10,000 years in arcane isolation from Night Elf society. They physically changed from the powers of the Nightwell, and their culture changed immensely from worship of Elune. They bear little cultural similarity to current day Night Elves.

They are far more similar to the Blood Elves in that isolation around a magical font of power changed them drastically over time. Blood Elves originated as Highborne Night Elves that were cast out for continuing to practice in the arcane. This doubles as a lore reason as to why they find allies in the Horde through the Blood Elves, as they can empathize with their plight.

5: "High Elves chose not to feed on demonic magic! They sated their magical addiction through other means! Their culture is so different!"

If I make myself a ham sandwich and offer you one, but you tell me you don't like ham and would prefer a turkey sandwich, I wouldn't turn around and call you culturally different from me.

Regardless, as of the end of The Burning Crusade expansion, where Blood Elves were introduced to the Horde, the Sunwell was restored as a font of Arcane and Holy magic, removing the inherent need for Blood Elves (or High Elves) to sate any magical withdrawal. Lor'themar has also continued to allow High Elves to make pilgrimages to the Sunwell. You can see High Elves in a post-TBC-era Sunwell during the Quel'delar questline, and more recently, the Nightborne recruitment questline, where he even granted Alleria an audience.

6: "We can make High Elves different enough from Blood Elves! Look at all these tattoos and tribal motifs we made! Void Elves are not what we want!"

Re-imaging the High Elves to all look like extrapolations of some Warcraft 2-Era rangers isn't solving the problem. The problem is that Blood elves are High Elves. The problem is that the fantasy of a traditional LOTR "High Elf" is a Blood Elf.

Blizzard hasn't been deaf for all these years when Alliance ask for High Elves. It is NOT a secret, but they likely took a look at High Elves and agreed that they are just Blood Elves in fantasy, skin tone, hair color, origin, and feel, with the only difference to speak of visually being eye color.

So they made an attempt to see how they could spin and mix up a Thalassian elf enough to merit inclusion on the Alliance. They made a compromise. They gave it a prominent Thalassian leader with strong Alliance ties, and they provided it with a unique, flavorful aesthetic to set it apart from other races, most importantly their Blood Elf counterparts. In these areas, I think Void Elves were a success. They also currently number greater than any other Allied Race of either faction, so it sounds like most Alliance are enjoying them.

7: "You say there's not enough High Elves left, but there's even less Void Elves, yet they are an Allied Race!"

Let's start with basic stuff. Actual NPC numbers, towns, factions in WoW, etc, do not represent canon numbers. WoW is a representation of a multi-game IP. Example: The canon number of people in Goldshire is somewhere in the thousands, where as in game, I don't think you can find more than 30 NPCs.
The point being, we don't know how many High Elves are left. We also don't know how many Void Elves were created. People's perception that there's less Void Elves than High Elves is based on in-game representation, and Void Elves were literally just added, so of course there will appear to be less. This has definitely changed going forward as you can already see them in BfA events, and they even have their own Island Expedition team. High Elves, barring a single NPC here and there, will only see less and less limelight as Void Elf stories move forward.

8: "High Elves were there in the Nighthold cut-scene! They represented 1/3rd of the forces there!"

The two main factions involved in that quest were the Blood Elven forces under Liadrin and the Night Elven forces under Tyrande. Veressa made an appearance so Elisande could insult her and her people for diluting their bloodline with humans (ouch!). Because she showed up to help Tyrande with a glaive thrower and a few of her Silver Covenant does not somehow equate to being one third of the forces there.

9: "Blizzard reverted their stance on Classic Servers! If we make enough noise and cry enough, they'll cave on High Elves!"

No, definitely not, and if this is the reason you keep arguing about it, please stop. The two are not at all the same. The lack of Blizzard Classic servers was causing unauthorized private servers to pop up and recreate this experience, and Blizzard has to protect their IP, so they shut them down. However, they realized there was more of a crowd/market for this than previously thought, so they announced official Classic servers to cater to this demographic.

If you honestly think there's as many people clamoring for High Elves as there were for Classic servers, you severely overestimate your vocal minority.

10: "Ion doesn't know his lore. Ion isn't listening to us! Ion should be fired!"

While this isn't exactly an argument and more of an opinion, I'm including it here because it's flooding the forums while High Elf Hopefuls go through their stages of grief. Ion isn't Lead Game Director because he doesn't know his lore. He's also not the only person that weighs in on these decisions, though it's easy for everyone to bash him because he is the messenger.

Ion in my opinion does what any good developer does: experiment, keep what works, cut or fix what does not. Through the Q&A's, we've seen the progressing stance on unpopular things in Legion like Legendaries, RNG, AP grind, etc. and in BFA, all of these are getting addressed, while popular things like Mythic+ are seeing dungeons specifically designed around it.

11: "If Blood Elf is the High Elf Fantasy, then NIghtborne is Dark Elf Fantasy, and Horde are getting those! They look just like Night Elves!"

I would say no here. Nightborne were isolated for 10,000 years from Night elf society. That's as long as it took for Night Elves to transform into High Elves after their exile, leading to the creation of the Sunwell, and those two are obviously different races.

If you hadn't caught the obvious, the Nightborne was basically a Legion-era retelling of the Blood Elf storyline:
"An elven people (Blood Elf/Nightborne), physically and culturally warped by thousands of years by exposure to a mystical font of power (Sunwell/Nightwell), find their leader had consorted with the Legion (Kael with Kil'jaeden, Elisande with Gul'dan). A splinter faction within these people (Scryers/Nightfallen) rise up to overthrow their leader and purge them from Legion taint and control."

The only difference is that Velen reignites the Sunwell, whereas Thalyssra decides to destroy the Nightwell. Either way, they culturally and visually clash with Nigh Elves, who have shunned practice in the arcane since Azshara and The Sundering, having only recently allowed Night Elf mages to tenuously practice since Cataclysm.

Back to the question, Nightborne were given unique idle animations, had the Night Elf signature flip jump removed, and given only one eye shade between them. Nightborne get Warlock as a class option. Nightborne also have severely limited customization options, less than that of any Allied race despite being the most fleshed out in Legion. Whether that serves to severely limit their palette, or indicates they were merely worked on first, I don't know.

I find Nightborne plenty different from Night Elf, considering the entire first story arc in Legion is dedicated to explaining and detailing this, and given the changes mentioned above.

12: "High Elves being barely different from Blood Elves is just like Lightforged Draenei being barely different from Draenei, or Highmountain being barely different from regular Tauren!"

Yes, of course. But unlike High Elves, Draenei and Tauren are not crossing faction lines. They are just more Alliance Draenei. More Horde Tauren. More Alliance Dwarves. More Horde Orcs. The only two Allied Races thus far that "mixed it up" would be the Void Elf, a compromise to the Alliance to get the Thalassian model, and the Nightborne, a compromise to the Horde to get the Night Elf model.

Using any other comparisons between Allied Races to merit High Elves is a pointless endeavor, because Blizzard specifically catered these two to be opposing and opposite compromises for each faction. For an Allied Race that "crosses faction lines" a more drastic set of rules and distinction would be required.

13: "All the reasons Ion gives for not allowing High Elves could be used to exclude Void Elves!"

I'm seeing this one echoed quite a lot, probably because of Taliesin and Evitel's two videos (which, by the way, end up with the result that High Elves probably don't make sense).

To reiterate Ion's main points of reasoning for why High Elves weren't going to work, taken from the two live interviews:
-Too similar to Blood Elf in aesthetic (Fair-skinned, tall, majestic, blond-haired)
-Blurs the lines between the factions (Both visually, and by population numbers)
-No clear idea of who/what High Elves are as a larger faction (Splintered groups)
-No hub where High Elves would pull from (Sort of related to the above point)


Void Elves, by comparison, addressed these in the following ways:
-Changed the visual aesthetic, dark to pale grey skin, dark hair with animated glows and tentacles, vastly different hairstyles, armor type, void skin racial
-Ties Void Elves to Alleria's story with the Void, Alleria staying with Turalyon firmly on the Alliance, being the link to bring them into the fold (not unlike how Sylvanas became the link for Blood Elves to join the Horde)
-Clear idea of who the Void Elves are, Blood Elven exiles who dabbled in Void powers, Alleria and Locus Walker teaching and helping these people to harness and control these powers. New Blood Elf and High Elf exiles find their way to Telgorus Rift.
-A clear hub in Telgorus Rift, where they can study and practice their, frankly dangerous, void powers away from public eye. Reinforces their initial idea as a crack elite squad of Alleria's


The mistake people make when they use this line is that High Elves not being playable was because Blizzard couldn't bend or understand the lore enough to make it work. That's just not the case. We've seen Blizzard do major, drastic ret-cons or lore changes to merit inclusion for a number of things. Blood Elf Paladins and Draenei that weren't Broken back in TBC, etc. To think they couldn't have easily made High Elves 'make sense' lore-wise is not the issue.

The real problem is that they visually, culturally, and aesthetically were not distinct enough from Blood Elves to merit including them on an opposite faction, and so Void Elves were the end result of the iteration Blizzard went through to give Alliance a "flavor of High Elf".

CLOSING STATEMENT

At the end of it all the core issue that, especially in Battle for Azeroth, the faction identity is important, as are the races within those factions. Adding High Elves would indeed damage that identity. To say that adding High Elves to Alliance wouldn't cause damage to Blood Elven or Horde identity is ignorance. Blood Elves have been part of core Horde story for over 10 years now, while High Elves have been a "me too!" inclusion at best, or completely absent at worst.

Moreover, the High Elves per current lore in Chronicle left the Alliance under Anasterian Sunstrider following the Second War (the one Alleria gained fame in), and any current-day remaining High Elves who did not follow Kael'thas or Lor'themar were fringe groups mostly Dalaran associated (remaining a mostly Neutral city-state).

While I know this post won't silence any of the increasingly desperate, baseless, or straight ignorant arguments being brought to this forum, reddit, MMO-Champion, the extremely radicalized/disturbed people on the "High Elven Discord" and the rest of the greater internet, I feel this forum needed a point by point breakdown of the broken record that is the High Elven argument.

Also, as passionate as you may be about the inclusion of High Elf, I am infinitely more-so passionate that High Elves stay out of the Alliance, where lore has had them for over a decade.
Maybe it's just me thinking back from wc2, but isn't the only reason High Elves wear blue is because they were serving the Azeroth army during the 2nd war?

I could've sworn their colors weren't even blue prior to the war....
High Elves don't work? Lazy! Bet they just want welfare!
How about let's not.

Just in general, can we not?
...but the Mag'har orcs come from an alternate universe. Why couldn't High Elves come from an alternate universe?
11/11/2018 01:55 PMPosted by Vaeana
How about let's not.

Just in general, can we not?

If the topic didn't keep coming up, I wouldn't feel the need to bring up my counterpoints.
11/11/2018 01:57 PMPosted by Alainel
...but the Mag'har orcs come from an alternate universe. Why couldn't High Elves come from an alternate universe?


That would require another time travel AU expansion

And nobody wants that.
A post claims a race that had no prior existance in lore works but high elves don’t. You failed already.
We don't need another high elf thread..
11/11/2018 02:00 PMPosted by Alamara
A post claims a race that had no prior existance in lore works but high elves don’t. You failed already.
???? didn’t you read the post
????
High Elves have existed longer than Blood Elves and have been in the Alliance longer than Blood Elves have been in the Horde. Blood Elves are just an "edgy" copy of an Alliance race, and it was given to the Horde so that the Horde would have a playable race that didn't have scoliosis.

/Thread
High elves do not work because we are all independently wealthy. Also beautiful.
oh great, the forums really needed another high elf bait thread
11/11/2018 02:04 PMPosted by Jawah
High Elves have existed longer than Blood Elves and have been in the Alliance longer than Blood Elves have been in the Horde. Blood Elves are just an "edgy" copy of an Alliance race, and it was given to the Horde so that the Horde would have a playable race that didn't a scoliosis.

/Thread


High elves have never been in the current alliance.

/Thread
11/11/2018 01:47 PMPosted by Lydon
At the end of it all the core issue that, especially in Battle for Azeroth, the faction identity is important, as are the races within those factions. Adding High Elves would indeed damage that identity.
This is incorrect. BfA is the best time to introduce High Elves because of all the RTS throwbacks. A great way to promote the Alliance's faction identity would be to allow them to play one of their faction's core races after 11 years in exile with the Horde.
11/11/2018 02:07 PMPosted by Kallistus
11/11/2018 02:04 PMPosted by Jawah
High Elves have existed longer than Blood Elves and have been in the Alliance longer than Blood Elves have been in the Horde. Blood Elves are just an "edgy" copy of an Alliance race, and it was given to the Horde so that the Horde would have a playable race that didn't a scoliosis.

/Thread


High elves have never been in the current alliance.

/Thread
https://wow.gamepedia.com/Allerian_Stronghold

https://wow.gamepedia.com/Silver_Covenant

And those are just the two easiest examples. GG. /Thread
All of the reasons listed in the OP have been debunked ten times over, and I have no desire to do that again.

What I can say right now is: Please add High Elves. I'm sick and tired of Blood Elves pretending they fit on the Horde. The fewer Blood Elves on my faction, the better.
11/11/2018 02:04 PMPosted by Kinax
11/11/2018 02:00 PMPosted by Alamara
A post claims a race that had no prior existance in lore works but high elves don’t. You failed already.
???? didn’t you read the post
????

I wasted my time reading a huge wall of text, indeed, that basically tells that void elves can be pulled out of nowhere and that’s ok, but high elves can’t have anything done to them that makes them “different enough”.
Damm those elves.
IN MY DAYS ELVES WORKED HARD FOR THEIR MANA
11/11/2018 02:09 PMPosted by Jawah
11/11/2018 02:07 PMPosted by Kallistus
...

High elves have never been in the current alliance.

/Thread
https://wow.gamepedia.com/Allerian_Stronghold

https://wow.gamepedia.com/Silver_Covenant

And those are just the two easiest examples. GG. /Thread


Those are examples of traitors working with Dalaran, and refugees on a different planet. Neither are representative of the high elves as a people being part of the current alliance.

If Bob the human and his friends decide to work with the horde it doesn’t make humans the allies of the horde.

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