I know it’s an unpopular opinion at the moment, but I like Sylvanas Windrunner in Battle for Azeroth. She has done horrible terrible things that I will always condemn out of character, which has made me wonder why I still like her in spite of these atrocities. I think the answer is Motivation. Sylvanas clearly has goals and is actively flexing her agency to accomplish those goals. This is why a lot of villains are popular.
While reminiscing about Vanilla Warcraft I came to the conclusion that gnomes are the most Motivated race. Their city is in a shambles, but they are actively working towards retaking it. You run in to gnomes all over Azeroth (not many, but still widely scattered) and plenty of them explicitly state that they are where they are doing research on how to fix Gnomeregan.
No other group in Vanilla WoW had such a clear and driving goal at such a high level. The trolls were not as dedicated to reclaiming the Echo Isles (which they managed to 100% do anyway.)
I’ve lamented in the past that Gnomes had very little identity outside of Engineering. It’s an idea that I feel like doesn’t give gnomes enough credit and is a bias I myself had to take a hard look at to get around. Yes, engineering is important to them, and yes it’s one of the main things that attracted me to the race, but being a one trick pony always gets boring, no matter how good the one trick is.
I don’t see reclaiming Gnomeregan the same way I did in the past. It was not something I wanted in the background of my lighthearted, carefree race. Now instead of seeing a tragedy that drove gnomes from there home, I see the rally to conquer a common foe, to return to homes that had been stolen, and I know that, to some extent, anytime I see another gnome our characters have that in common.
That unifying goal give gnomes as a whole a personality that is hard to match. Worgen find themselves in this situation more than anyone right now. Goblins, Night elves and Undead are displaced, but their homes are essentially gone, and now they will have to find a new one. They will all set out in different directions for new homes. While the opposite is true for gnomes they have all set their course together with a common destination.
“For Gnomeregan” is different than “For the Horde” the horde rally cry is basically “Go Team!”. The Horde has the Horde, but we don’t have Gnomeregan, it’s something we are striving for.
I’m really happy Mechagon exists. It adds new gnome content without removing this large driving factor. The gnomes having a capital city is something I would love to see, and I do genuinely enjoy the peeks we are offered in to the current state of Gnomeregan by the pet battle dungeon and Heritage armor quests, and I think there is room for a raid in there someday, but I don’t think I want to see gnomes lose their white whale. Gnomeregan will always be a dungeon and that’s good, because it gives us purpose.