In terms of evidence, here’s what I’ve got:
- Ogres are the only humanoid race that worked for the Horde in WC2 that hasn’t become playable.
- Metzen wants playable ogres (or at least did once upon a time).
- Warlords of Draenor has a ton of situations predicated on the existence of a vast ogre civilization that’s so old it’s in decline.
- Chilton’s recent comments indicated that new races would be a thing in “some other expansion that is coming up.” Combine with the following:
- Blizzard has stated that Expansion 6 is already in development.
- They also identified a second continent on Draenor as the ogre homeland.
- Much lip service has been paid to the idea that the timejump to Draenor was not meant only to set up WoD but to set up future expansions as well.
- Expansion 6 takes us to the Gorian Empire for blood and glory. QED.
- The Horde started off with a bunch of brutal monstrous races, and the races they’ve gotten since have either been a stark contrast (blood elves) or only semi-monstrous (goblins) or the pandaren. Adding the ogres to the Horde at long last gives them another bruiser race that fits the savage sentiments of the faction.
Maybe there are some counterarguments out there (“what do you do about two-headed ogres,” “wtf do ogre women look like,” “dammit ogres are stupid,” etc.) but I feel like all of that can be countered by solid design. The bottom line is that the evidence for keeps cropping up and the evidence against is the same as it was ten years ago.
The big issue that comes up for me is what to do for the Alliance.
- High elves are the only humanoid race that worked for the Alliance in WC2 that hasn’t become playable FOR THE ALLIANCE. They’re playable on the Horde, and quite frankly there’s not enough reason to have identical elf races on both factions; the pandaren are an exception.
- Assuming that a playable ogre faction would actually be Gorian ogres, arguments could be made that you could have a separate faction of ogres join the Alliance. This also invokes the Pandaren Exception.
- The expansion races for the Alliance have all been homeless, lost races, with the main difference being whether they had a choice in it. The draenei are exiles hundreds of times removed from their homes, the worgen homeland got blighted by the Forsaken, and the Tushui pandaren chose to leave the Wandering Isle. Another race of exiles (as in a high elf faction, or any other race for that matter) doesn’t compliment the concept of the Alliance as a league of nations in a mutual defense pact.
- No other race jumps out at me as a playable contender that could meet the following criteria:
- Is a sovereign kingdom that mostly controls its own borders,
- Is made up of bipedal humanoids,
- Has not already been implemented in game using another playable races’ skeleton (which knocks off the jinyu, mogu, saurok, mantid, and various others).
Now, that’s a personal limitation: just because I can’t think of a solution doesn’t mean no solution exists. I just don’t feel like there’s anything for the Alliance that’s as much of a shoe-in as ogres for the Horde.
Before I leave you, one last thing:
The Pandaren Exception
When it comes down to it, the two factions need to have distinct silhouettes. That means having distinct races that, in turn, have distinct silhouettes. It’s not just a matter of being able to identify a player as an enemy or an ally in PVP (people throw out same-faction arena as a typical counter, for example) but also a matter of that silhouette immediately letting you identify a race, and having that race be associated with a faction helps to build the faction identity. So when you break down silhouette as a pillar by putting identical races on both factions, you’re breaking down faction identity.
In a franchise like Warcraft where “orcs vs. humans” is a core aspect of the narrative, breaking down faction identity and uniqueness is bad.
So why do pandaren get a pass? The best answer that’s ever come out of the devs has been that the pandaren were too cool to limit to one faction. Players on both factions would have rioted if they didn’t get the chance to play a pandaren, and all things considered there was nothing about the race that locked them into being one side or the other. There’s also the statement that just doing one playable race and one starting experience let them focus on their efforts and ensure that the starting experience was as awesome as it could possibly be.
Doing another neutral race would chip away at faction identity. The more races who join both factions, the less reason there is for the factions to be distinct, and there’s less defensible reason to keep tauren from joining the Alliance or have dwarves join the Horde.
And yeah, I can hear people saying “but that’s what I want” and my only response is this: you’ll have to convince Blizzard’s devs that this is good for the game as a whole, which is a lot more work than it takes for them to maintain the status quo.
So the pandaren were a special case. I don’t think we’ll see another neutral race again.