Oh hey, guess what? It's spoilers. Admittedly, if you've been following the news about the Legion Alpha, this stuff shouldn't surprise you. But still, given that there are some major plot developments going on, I'm going to just give people a blanket warning - this here is about some major stuff that happens in Legion that has huge implications for the ongoing story of World of Warcraft. Yes, I'm being vague to try to avoid spoiling people with my spoiler warning.
Spoilers to follow.
We've known for quite a while that the Broken Shore event that kicks off the expansion is not going to go very well. This is the Burning Legion, after all, and Blizzard needs to establish that the stakes this time are higher than they've ever been.
And that means that some major characters are going to die right at the beginning. And now it looks like those characters are going to be the very leaders of our two player factions.
Varian Wrynn was missing until the start of Wrath of the Lich King. I'll admit I haven't always been the biggest Varian fan, as he's turned the Alliance more actively aggressive against the Horde (though given the Horde's actions, this has started to feel less like bigotry and more like pragmatism, unless you subscribe to the idea that Thrall never would have picked Garrosh as his successor if it hadn't been for what Varian did in the Battle of Undercity, or that Garrosh even might have been less jingoistic had Varian been more conciliatory.) But over the course of Varian's tenure, particularly in Mists of Pandaria, Varian has shown a lot of growth, holding fast to the strength of the Alliance while also allowing Anduin's attitudes about nuance and empathy to temper his wrath.
The death of Varian will also see the rebuilding of Stormwind's park, which will now serve as a memorial to the fallen king. It doesn't look like the park will be quite the same as the old one - it'll be more of a circular patch overlooking the ocean - but it's nice to know that that fiery pit will finally be gone (after all, the front gate towers stopped smoking and glowing with molten stone a while ago.)
Varian's death may upset some, but I think that he's had enough of an arc that I can accept it, and it will introduce some interesting new dynamics regarding the leadership of the Alliance. Despite being a generally more unified faction, the "High King" role for the Alliance has had less emphasis than that of the Horde's Warchief, but while Anduin has got to be 20 or something at this point (aw, he's grown up so much since vanilla!) I highly suspect that some leaders - particularly Genn Greymane - are not going to let a kid boss them around (Velen and Tyrande meanwhile are probably like "kid? You guys are all kids to us.")
However, Varian's not the only guy who's kicking the bucket. It looks like Vol'jin will be doing so as well.
This I'm less ok with. Vol'jin only just became Warchief, and we spent Warlords of Draenor very far removed from Azeroth, so we haven't even gotten much of a sense of his leadership style. Vol'jin got to take center stage in Mists of Pandaria as he led the Horde resistance against Garrosh, but I'm a bit upset that we don't get to see much of Orgrimmar under Vol'jin's leadership.
The one consolation here is that Sylvanas is now taking control of the Horde, and that is going to be an absolute clusterfuck. So it's not like we're going back to Orcs in control (though give it some time.) Sylvanas is the most outrageous of the Horde leaders. She is brutally pragmatic and is also guaranteed to flare up tensions with the Alliance. In the past, peace was achievable because the Alliance had people in the Horde who they could at least hope would keep Sylvanas in check. But if she's running the show? Oh holy crap all bets are off.
I don't really want to return the Alliance/Horde conflict to the center-stage so soon after Mists of Pandaria, but I also recognize that unless there's some major gameplay-mechanical shift, that conflict is always going to be in there.
Still, much as I enjoy the prospect of Sylvanas' Horde (I can only imagine someone challenging her to Mak'gora and her responding "What do I look like? An Orc?" before having her people seize the challenger and dump them in a bucket of blight) I am upset that Vol'jin has gotten such little time to assert himself as Warchief. Garrosh got two expansions where he played a pretty huge role. Vol'jin got like one cutscene in Warlords of Draenor that was just about building your garrison.