In what may be a first, an NPC from an alpha build of a game has gotten an official tribute video from its maker, five months before launch. Welcome to the Az-Laar meme.
Az-Laar is the beefy, gate-crashing Kool-Aid Orc from Middle-earth: Shadow of War's gameplay preview earlier this week. Enlisted as a "living battering ram" in a siege, Az-Laar unexpectedly became a fan favorite for his oratorical skills (at 2:51 of the video) and for tearing the head off an enemy (at 4:59).
Alas, he perished, dunked in siege oil and deep-fried like a state fair treat (at 8:36). YouTubers posted their condolences to Az-Laar in the video's comments, enough that the Shadow of War YouTube account noticed. They’re stirring up the masses on Twitter, too.
Az-Laar's doom appears to be an unavoidable sequence. But who knows, Shadow of War’s "Nothing Will Be Forgotten" tagline could also mean Monolith Productions concocts some way to bring back a fan favorite before the game's launch Aug. 22, on PlayStation 4, Windows PC and Xbox One.
If not, I cherish the desaturated, slow-motion last look at Az-Laar, dripping in oil and realizing his certain death, turning to face the viewer as if to say "do not remember me this way." We won't Az-Laar. We will remember you for bringing war.