Illidan Stormrage in Heroes of the Storm
|First appearance||Warcraft III: Reign of Chaos|
|Created by||Blizzard Entertainment|
|Voiced by||Matthew Yang King (Warcraft III)
Liam O'Brien (World of Warcraft, Heroes of the Storm)
Illidan Stormrage is a fictional character who appears in the Warcraft series of video games by Blizzard Entertainment. Born a night elf and sorcerer, his pursuit of power led him to commit several horrific acts against his own people, which earned him the nickname "the Betrayer" and to become the first Demon Hunter. Self-proclaimed the Lord of Outland, he also defected to the Burning Legion and became a partial demon himself. The character is one of the most notable and popular in the Warcraft franchise and has received positive critical reception from video game players. Illidan was voiced by Matthew Yang King in Warcraft III: Reign of Chaos and its expansion The Frozen Throne, and by Liam O'Brien since World of Warcraft: The Burning Crusade.
In an interview with Warcraft developers Scott Mercer and Greg Street, Mercer mentioned that "we realized [...] Illidan had appeared many times in the concept art and the other material surrounding the expansion, but very few players ever actually saw him in the game itself. To most heroes, Illidan was a bit like Sauron from The Lord of the Rings; he was an omnipresent evil that they would hear about, but never actually meet in a face-to-face confrontation." This resulted in the developers putting in more effort to ensure that players experience "more personal connection[s]" with characters such as Illidan.
Role in Warcraft
Illidan Stormrage is the first Demon Hunter and always carries the Twin Blades of Azzinoth, taken from a slain demon lord. The night elf was born before the War of the Ancients, a conflict that erupted over 10,000 years prior to the Third War, when the chaotic Burning Legion first invaded Azeroth. Driven by his thirst for power and his desire to impress Tyrande Whisperwind, Illidan made a pact with the Legion to secure the entrance of its leader, Sargeras, into Azeroth through the might of an artifact called the Demon Soul and the energy of the Well of Eternity. The efforts of Malfurion Stormrage, Illidan's twin brother, disrupted the Legion's plot, with Illidan himself turning to his side and assisting; the demons were defeated. After recreating the destroyed Well of Eternity, the powerful magic that attracted the attention of the Legion that led to the demonic invasion, Illidan was imprisoned for thousands of years. Illidan earned the title of 'Betrayer' during the War of the Ancients and throughout the millennia of his life he has deceived friends and foes alike for power.
During the Third War, Tyrande released Illidan from millennia of imprisonment, hoping that the Betrayer would redeem himself by battling a returned Burning Legion. Though Illidan fought to defend his people, he soon slipped into darkness: after absorbing the energies of the demonic Skull of Gul'dan, Illidan became a demon, an act for which he was banished by Malfurion. Fleeing the wrath of the night elves, the twice-condemned Illidan allied himself once again with the only entity that would accept him—the Legion. Illidan's demonic masters sent him to destroy the Lich King, who had broken free of their influence, but Illidan failed to do so. To protect himself from the Legion's vengeance, Illidan hid on Outland, a destroyed world that he would seek to rule with the help of Lady Vashj, Kargath Bladefist, Prince Kael'thas Sunstrider and Akama. Illidan is a raid boss and the primary antagonist to the World of Warcraft expansion The Burning Crusade. He was slain by Maiev Shadowsong, his former jailer turned prisoner, in a coup d'état initiated by Akama and player adventurers.
Illidan was featured in flashback quests in the two expansion packs immediately following The Burning Crusade. In Wrath of the Lich King, the player plays the role of Arthas in his duel with Illidan outside Icecrown Citadel (from the end of The Frozen Throne); in Cataclysm, the player takes the role of Illidan himself in the Felwood, claiming the Skull of Gul'dan and killing the demon Tichondrius (from Reign of Chaos). He also appears in the Well of Eternity dungeon released later in Cataclysm, where the players travel back in time 10,000 years to the end of the War of the Ancients.
Illidan will make a return in Legion, the sixth expansion to World of Warcraft. A teaser cinematic released shows Gul'dan from the alternate Draenor (shown in Warlords of Draenor) discovering Illidan's corpse encased in a crystal prison in the Vault of the Wardens.
Illidan appears as a playable character in the crossover video game Heroes of the Storm. In the game, his trait reduces his cooldowns by one second and heal him whenever he uses basic attacks. He also has the ability to move quickly to and jump over his foes.
Like many other prominent Warcraft characters, Illidan also appears as a collectible card in the game Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft. Additionally, he also appears as an opponent the player must defeat in the tutorial phase of the game.
World of Warcraft: Illidan
In the novel World of Warcraft: Illidan, written by William King and published by Del Ray Books, more details are revealed about Illidan's intentions than was told in The Burning Crusade game. The book begins with him being released from his 10,000 year captivity by Tyrande, and his first encounter with Malfurion since he was sealed away. He also expresses his desire to never be imprisoned again. The book then travels into the future, specifically the point where Illidan defeats Magtheridon, and is ordered to destroy the Frozen Throne, Ner'zhul, the current Lich King, and Arthas, the next one. Then it skips ahead again to about 6 months before he is slain by the player characters.
This book also introduces the process of which a Night Elf or Blood Elf becomes a Demon Hunter, by introducing Vandel, a Night Elf who joins Illidan in his quest to annihilate the Burning Legion and their dread master Sargeras. Later, Illidan and his hunters invade Nathreza, homeworld of the nathrezim, or dreadlords, such as Tichondrus, Vamirathas, and Detheroc, and the world where the Legion's intel is gathered. There, Illidan obtains the Seal of Argus, and destroys the remaining records. After leaving, Illidan destroys the portal to Nathreza in such a manner, that, more or less like Draenor, Nathreza was wiped from the universe.
Illidan reveals to his lieutenants that the demons of the Twisting Nether cannot be slain permanently, unless they either slay within the Twisting Nether itself, or an area corrupted by its energies, such as Nathreza. Illidan also reveals that he intends to lead his armies, using the Seal Of Argus, to Argus, the Eredar homeworld, where they can annihilate nearly the entire command structure of the Burning Legion, for the Eredar that are able to control the Legion for Sargeras.
Before his death, Illidan uses a large portion of his power to visit Argus, using the majority of his power. In a vision while on Argus, he meets an elder naaru who informs him that he will be instrumental in fighting both the Legion, Sargeras, and a threat even greater, The Void, the dark corruption that created the Old Gods, and also is, after a fashion, responsible for the creation of the Burning Legion. The naaru also informs Illidan that he will transcend death. It is assumed that this is a reference to the fact that Demon Hunters, much like the Burning Legion, do not die when they are slain, they are returned to the Twisting Nether, where they can regenerate a body. Or, unlike demons, they can find their original body and return to it, healing their wounds so that they can survive, and receive greater healing.
In the last days of Illidan, Maiev Shadowsong, Akama, and the player characters siege the Black Temple. Before the raid reaches him, Illidan sends all his Demon Hunters through a portal to attack the Legion. Illidan calmly awaits the raid at the top of Temple and fights them but is slain. Vandel, who was killed by Maiev, reawakens, to find Karabor, the Black Temple, under the control of the Wardens, and Illidan dead. Preparing to fight them, Vandel hears Illidan psychically speak to him, telling him that he must be prepared. Vandel leaves, intending to rebuild the demon hunter forces.
The character has received mostly positive critical reception. Empire listed Illidan #17 on their list of "the 50 greatest video game characters", writing "Illidan was a force to be reckoned with. By the time you and 24 eager guildies had trekked to the heart of Shadowmoon Valley and stood (attuned) at the gates of the Black Temple, ready to face him, it was all the average warrior could do not to soil his chainmail pants." He was also listed #5 on Matthew Rossi of Engadget's "Top 10 magnificent bastards of Warcraft", since "his actions during and after the war were instrumental in the defeat of the Legion and the preservation of magic. If not for Illidan, there would have been no Nordrassil and no Well atop Hyjal, and Hyjal itself would simply be a very tall mountain. Even after enduring a 10,000-year imprisonment for his actions, Illidan managed to take out a key presence in the Legion by himself and claimed the power of the Skull of Gul'dan in the process." Rossi further wrote that "He is one of the greatest manipulators of arcane power ever to live, the first to ever seek to stalk and kill demons, a prodigy and a madman. He betrayed his own people in order to save them and the entire world, but he always served himself first. Selfish, mercurial, brilliant, resentful and tormented by himself, Illidan Stormrage helped make Azeroth everything it is today." The encounter with Illidan at the Black Temple raid made the list in Digital Spy's "The 10 best moments from World of Warcraft's first decade", with Andy Joannou writing "Before then came Illidan, the final boss encounter for the Black Temple raid. A fan favourite, Black Temple is hailed as one of the raids to define World of Warcraft."
While criticising the constant killing off of villains in Warcraft, Rossi also thought that Illidan's death was unfortunate, as "touted and hyped as the major threat of The Burning Crusade, Illidan's death atop the Black Temple is a waste of a major lore figure not because the fight isn't worthy of him or the culmination of an entire tier of raiding, but because with the release of Sunwell Plateau we find that Illidan wasn't actually the major threat—in fact, he was a stewing, impotently insane figure obsessing over his defeat at the end of Warcraft III and it was Kil'Jaeden who posed the true threat all along." Darren Brown of Engadget mentioned the character as one of the "ultimate boss encounter[s]" in Warcraft. Yannick Lejacq of Kotaku listed the references to the relationship between Tyrande and Illidan as one of the positive aspects of Heroes of the Storm, saying "Tyrande Whisperwind and Illidan Stormrage have a tenuous romantic past from their days together in World of Warcraft [...] It’s a little nod to the World of Warcraft fans playing Heroes."
A popular character, Illidan has also often been featured in various merchandise related to the Warcraft franchise. This includes figurines of the character, as well as Halloween costumes. Illidan is also a popular character to cosplay as.
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- King, William (April 12, 2016). Illidan: World of Warcraft. Del Rey Books. ISBN 9780399177569.
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- Illidan Stormrage at Wowpedia, World of Warcraft wiki