So let’s unpack the Dominion a little, shall we? Because we’ve just met them.
When WildStar first announced the existence of the Dominion in a roundabout fashion, I honestly didn’t expect they would be playable. As I’ve seen more and more hints about them, I’ve grown progressively more interested in their outlook. Here we have a faction that has done unquestionably awful things and is completely evil as far as one faction is concerned… but what do they think of themselves? What is the Dominion like on the inside?
As it turns out, WildStar has hit exactly the notes I was hoping for. The Dominion doesn’t come across as being terribly pleasant at first glance, but the sheer amount of character in the factional intro video makes it clear that they could not care less about how they come across to you. They are refined, they are elegant, and at the end of the day, they represent everything the Exiles are fighting against. So let’s talk Dominion.
Mandates and authority
Let’s get something out of the way: The Cassian humans have been essentially picked directly by the Eldan to do what they’re doing. That means that every piece of arrogance the Dominion has is arguably justified.
The Eldan were powerful beyond measure. If they had wanted to grind the galaxy underneath their collective bootheels, it would have been doable. But they didn’t. They lifted the humans up and gave them a mandate to go out and take control, and they even helped out with a few uniquely awesome robots. Cassus sees itself as the center of the galaxy not because of arrogance but because its rulers were more or less told to go forth and do whatever they wanted.
Preserving the integrity of the Dominion is justification enough. The Dominion cannot be allowed to fall apart or fail; it is there at the behest of the Eldan. Offering the Granok a place within the Dominion was an act of incalculable generosity, and refusal of such is an indication that the species needs to be removed before it can harm anyone else. The Dominion elevates by association.
Imagine if one of the world’s major religions announced tomorrow that it could prove everything its members believe — that its god or gods can be seen and interacted with, complete with unambiguous demonstrations of power. Refusing to obey stops being a matter of choice and starts being actively dangerous. You don’t need to question; you need to accept. That’s what the Dominion has backing its every action, a Heaven-sent justification of every single action it undertakes.
The price of freedom
When you understand what underpins the Dominion’s views, suddenly it becomes much easier to understand why the faction can be so relentlessly brutal. The Exiles represent not just a rejection of authority but a defiance of the natural order. Those who harbor the Exiles are doing the same thing. Eliminating opposition is a necessity.
Note that in every single case of Dominion brutality we know of, the Dominion did not throw the first stone. The Granok were offered a place, Brightland chose to rebel for people’s rights (despite the fact that these people had never been promised any rights), and the Aurin could have just as easily thrown the Exiles to the winds. Their actions might seem disproportionate, which is fair, but how can they enforce order if they’re not willing to make a show of force when defied?
The Draken, to me, summarize this perfectly. These are warriors that do not meet the aristocratic standards of the Cassian humans by any stretch of the imagination, but they are still considered heroes within the faction. They serve loyally and are commended for it. Service, not individualism, is the highest goal of the society. Maintaining a galactic empire is difficult, and that means weeding out opposition and potential rot before it can poison the entirety of the organization.
It’s the Alliance, the benevolent side of the Sith Empire, the Templars in London. It’s the face of an organization that isn’t concerned with you because it has big goals, big needs, and a big constituency. You cannot be a beautiful and unique snowflake.
Let’s talk nuts and bolts
As with the Exiles, we know three of the Dominion races. Unlike the Exiles, we don’t really have any hints about what number four might be. (The Exiles have space undead. That’s not Eliot speaking from forward knowledge; that’s Eliot analyzing. Mark my words.) All we know is that they appear to like guns, which means nothing because we all like guns in video games.
One of the biggest challenges that Carbine is facing with the factional split is making the factions a reasonable split instead of arbitrary. Thus far, it looks like that goal is being met. Dominion and Exile members are incompatible by definition, and that extends to their goals on Nexus. The Exiles can’t just be allowed to live there, and the Exiles can’t tolerate the Dominion in the area. These groups cannot coexist, but there’s no obvious villain or hero.
It also ensures that the flavor of both factions will be very different. The Exiles want to settle Nexus and understand it, but the Dominion sees the technology of this planet as a natural reward for crafting a strong and stable empire. What better reward than to make the Dominion the true masters of the galaxy, after all?
You might think that sounds ominous, but consider how many of the Dominion’s harsher policies are necessary simply because the government has no other ways of maintaining control. Far from being malicious, the Dominion operates to the best of its abilities within the limits of technology. If there were better methods, they could truly make the civilized worlds of the Dominion a paradise for all citizens.
And the non-citizens… well, there are always casualties.