World of Warcraft: The War Within - The Story and Details Revealed So Far
The War Within is the newly announced expansion heading to Blizzard’s long-running MMO, World of Warcraft. The War Within will be the first of three new expansions revealed for the Worldsoul Saga trilogy, subsequent entries of which will be named Midnight and The Last Titan. This upcoming expansion will take players beneath the surface of Azeroth to the land of Khaz Algar, where they’ll find the Earthen, a race of dwarves, and darker forces such as the Nerubians. Of course, a new setting isn’t all that comes with an expansion: the game will have a new level cap, dungeons, and a raid to overcome. Continue reading to find out all we know so far about World of Warcraft: The War Within.
World of Warcraft: The War Within
With World of Warcraft’s 20th anniversary coming up next year, and 2023 being the year BlizzCon returned after a long hiatus, fans certainly expected a lot from the even’ts welcome ceremony, and World of Warcraft in particular had a lot to surprise fans. The biggest announcement by Blizzard Entertainment at BlizzCon 2023 was that World of Warcraft will be receiving three major expansions in the future. These expansions will tell the tale of World of Warcraft’s next ongoing storyline, the Worldsoul Saga. The expansion that will be the opening act of this saga will be The War Within. This expansion is slated for release at the end of 2024 and will introduce new zones to explore, new dungeons and raids to conquer, new game systems to master, and more.
In terms of story, this certainly feels like the greatest undertaking in World of Warcraft since its inception. The story has been unfolding for almost 20 years (30 if you include the original Warcraft games), but it has never really felt like Blizzard has been aiming for a single, overarching plot. Each expansion so far has wrapped itself in a neat little package, ready to plunge the world into chaos once again with the arrival of a new threat. The War Within initially feels like a regular expansion. It brings new areas, new enemies, and a host of innovative mechanics that improve the gameplay experience.
However, considering that The War Within is just the first step in the Worldsoul Saga, it feels like Blizzard is entering into an endgame-like event with the series. Although this will not be the end of Azeroth or the Warcraft universe, it may be a definitive point where Blizzard ends its 20 years of storytelling and moves on to something else. Exactly what that means, players probably won’t find out until the third expansion in the saga, The Last Titan.
The overall premise of The War Within is that Anduin Wrynn and Thrall have been experiencing visions where a mysterious voice singing a Radiant Song is calling out to them from the depths of Azeroth. To uncover the source of this voice, Thrall and Anduin gather a band of heroes and lead an expedition into the unexplored depths of their world. Our heroes will also find various allies on their journey, such as an ancient race of Dwarves known as the Earthen. Also, Magni Bronzebeard and Alleria Windrunner are set to return for this expansion to accompany Anduin and Thrall on their trip. As the expeditionary force makes its way through the underground caverns, players will have to fight a new threat that risks cutting their journey and their lives short.
The villain leading this threat is Xal’atath, an ancient being who serves a chaotic, otherworldly force known as the Void. After being released from a cursed black blade, where she had been sealed for untold millennia, Xal’atath now seeks to create a new dark legacy to replace The Black Empire, which fell at the hands of the titan-forged. Xal’atath wants to use a new alliance with the Nerubians to form a force that seeks to enact the machinations of the Void. She has conscripted the Nerubians and their queen, Ansurek, to serve her. In return for their service, she has promised to help release the Nerubians from their isolation, restore their empire to its former glory, and grant them the power to transform into terrifying soldiers through a horrifying evolution.
Who are the major players in The War Within?
More details will inevitably emerge between now and release, but Anduin Wrynn, Thrall, Magni Bronzebeard, Alleria Windrunner, and Xal'atath are all set to play a significant role in the upcoming game.
It’s been a while since we saw Anduin Wrynn, the young man who is on paper still the King of Stormwind, and it doesn’t look like his time away has changed him for the better. Anduin was front and center during Shadowlands, where he was one of the important captives whisked away to Torghast by the Jailer. Anduin eventually found himself being controlled by Domination magic and forced to relieve several Covenant leaders of their Sigils, giving the Jailer access to Zereth Mortis, the place where the mysterious First Ones allegedly created all the realms of Death, and the ultimate goal of all the Jailer’s millennia of scheming.
Once freed, Anduin—mentally shaken by what he had seen and done—opted not to return to Stormwind and immediately retake the throne of the Alliance. Instead he accompanied Sylvanas Windrunner on her punishment tour of the Maw, presumably helping her rescue and save every soul she had condemned to that hellish realm. He doesn’t seem to have regained much of his confidence; if anything, Anduin seems even more distraught over his time in the realms of Death than before, feeling disconnected from a Light he no longer feels worthy of wielding. We certainly didn’t hear a peep out of him during Dragonflight, but it appears that he’s one of many characters who’s been having visions of radiance—visions that have led him to Silithus. We do still see a little of the old hero in him, though. Maybe this story arc will be Anduin’s redemption.
Although his hair is looking a little greyer these days, Thrall (a.k.a. Go’el) is an iconic figure in the World of Warcraft franchise and needs little introduction. After his role in Shadowlands, Thrall returned to Azeroth, but remained out of the spotlight for Dragonflight. He played a role in the orc heritage armor quest, appearing as a peacemaker and settled-down family man (and, if the player character chooses to join the Frostwolf Clan, a proud clanmate).
As a Shaman, Thrall has always been in tune with the elements of Azeroth and, to an extent, the planet herself. However, it appears he’s one of many these days receiving the visions discussed in the trailer, and much as Saurfang did for him when he was in hiding during the events of Battle of Azeroth, now it has fallen to Thrall to seek out Anduin. It’s only natural that when the planet is threatened, Thrall is one of the first to step up to its defense; he’s done so time and time again, and he appears to be enlisting others as well.
Formerly the king of Khaz Modan and the brother of Muradin, Magni Bronzebeard is a steadfast dwarf who now acts as the herald of the world soul of Azeroth. Magni was always a loyal friend of the Alliance and fought bravely against the Horde and later the Lich King’s forces. When the Cataclysm engulfed Azeroth, Magni heroically sacrificed himself and became a diamond statue, saving Khaz Modan while Magni remained frozen in the heart of the ancient iron forge. As the dwarves remembered and honored his sacrifice, the spirit of Magni bonded with the world of Azeroth. Years later, to everyone’s astonishment, Magni suddenly woke up from his torpor and declared that from now on he would be the voice of Azeroth. As a result, he played a crucial role in the events surrounding the finale of Legion, in which the Titan Sargeras plunged his sword deep into Azeroth, mortally wounding the world.
From then on, Magni’s mission was to heal the wound in the world and save the planet. This was particularly evident during the Azeroth Crisis, when Magni went to great lengths to use the Heart of Azeroth to heal the planet’s wounds. In the end, Magni’s efforts finally bore fruit. Where once the lamentations of the world’s soul could be heard, Azeroth now sings happier songs again. We’ve known for quite some time that Azeroth is sentient; one of the reasons the Titans seem so fixated on this planet, and the Old Gods so dead set on corrupting it, is evidently due to Azeroth’s potential to become a phenomenally powerful Titan herself. Although in the past she has been seemingly only able to communicate through Magni, it appears that she is now capable of directly sending messages—albeit only momentary and confusing messages—to her residents.
In The War Within, we catch up not with Anduin’s travel buddy Sylvanas but with her sister. It turns out Alleria isn’t having visions of radiance, but of darkness, and for good reason. One half of the demon-fighting power couple that led the Army of the Light against the Burning Crusade for a thousand years, Alleria Windrunner chose to learn to wield the power of the Void in the fight against fel forces. Although she has mastered it, the price for that choice has been high—Alleria is constantly assaulted by whispers from the Void, seductive ones that want to turn her from her heroic path and into something darker. Alleria has been receiving visions of goings-on below the surface, as well as some imagery that current players may recognize from Iridikron’s escape cinematic in the Dawn of the Infinite megadungeon.
Alleria’s role is shaping up as the person receiving direct, taunting images from below of the Void’s machinations, and she’s likely to be one of the leaders on the expedition down there and to use her connection to the Void to hunt down the villain who’s stirring up so much trouble.
Xal’atath, the Harbinger
Anyone who’s played through the artifact quests in Legion as a Shadow Priest is of course familiar with Xal’atath, Blade of the Black Empire—or rather, the entity within it who shares the same name. At the end of that expansion, her blade, like the rest of the artifacts, was canonically used to subdue the corrupting energy within the Sword of Sargeras. After that, Xal’atath, like so many times before, disappeared. The knife turned up again in Battle for Azeroth, where she guided us to three powerful Void relics that the naga were attempting to use to create an ultrapowerful storm; in the process, we also got her a body outside of the knife, as the entity within the blade possessed the body of a dead high elf priestess who had been trying to harness one of the relics. After that, she helped us bring the relics and ourselves directly to N’zoth in the Crucible of Storms, then vanished. Although the knife that used to house her had been seen a few times after that (playing a relatively major role in the final two patches of Battle for Azeroth), the being inside stayed hidden… until recently.
At the end of the Dawn of the Infinite megadungeon, players noticed that the Void-flavored portal through which Iridikron escaped contained the silhouette of a distinctly feminine elf. Immediately, between this and Iridikron’s talk of a “Harbinger,” rumors immediately began to fly that this was Xal’atath, returned at last to do whatever it was she intended to do. It appears that those rumors were true, based on both Alleria’s dark visions.
Xal’atath, confirmed the Harbinger, has been watching us and conjured up some dark plans of her own; the Black Empire may have been defeated, and the Old Gods are confirmed dead, but Xal'atath has struck up an alliance in the deep places of the world with the Nerubians, who made their largest appearance in Wrath of the Lich King. She has taught their queen how to mutate certain Nerubians into paragons of their species, something the queen has fully embraced; meanwhile, she is using them to gather a substance called the Black Blood of the Old Gods. Whatever it is that she’s up to, it seems she has distressed the planet’s soul enough to call out to its defenders, and so Xal’atath seems to be the first of no doubt many big enemies we’ll face off against during the Worldsoul Saga.
In a first for the series, the new continent the expansion introduces will be entirely subterranean. Introduced as Khaz Algar, this is the home of a specific subset of the Earthen, who players have seen before in zones like Ulduar. Within the continent are the following four zones:
- The Isle of Dorn: a surface-level zone with fertile soil and plant life, this new area will be the central hub for players. Billed as a lush paradise, the limited screenshots show a combination of epic structures and beautiful vistas reminiscent of Valdrakken.
- The Ringing Depths: an industrial underground cavern full of lava-flowing foundries, forges, and furnaces. Overseen by the Machine Speakers, Kobolds have taken over much of the Ringing Deeps, building a city of their own. Titan relics appear to litter the environment.
- Hallowfall: a vibrant underground zone shining bright from the light of an enormous crystal that has recently seen its light changing. Fading without warning, the zone has been plunged into darkness. This area will be home to the Arathi and their capital Mereldar.
- Azj-Kahet: in the deepest depths of Azeroth, this zone is the heart of the Nerubian Empire, the home to forgotten scavengers. Here lies the Nerubian City of Threads—a city that has been built on the ruins of itself many times over and is billed as having a complex political system and culture.
New dungeons and raids
When The War Within expansion launches, it will do so with eight dungeons for players to conquer. In line with previous expansions, four of these will be leveling dungeons, and the other four will be reserved for max-level characters. The full list is as follows:
- The Rookery
- The Stonevault
- Priory of the Sacred Flame
- City of Threads
- Cinderbrew Meadery
- Darkflame Cleft
- The Dawnbreaker
- Old City
Additionally, the expansion will include a raid dungeon that will presumably follow a similar formula to Dragonflight’s Dawn of the Infinite megadungeon. Entitled Nerub’ar Palace, this eight-boss Nerubian Empire raid in Azj’kahet will be the first raid in The War Within.
One of the new systems being announced for The War Within is delves, which are scalable world instances for 1–5 players that are similar to dungeons, raids, and PvP except that they focus on the outdoor world and offer a more structured experience. Delves address the lack of upgrades and overall excitement found in the outdoor world beyond completing quests. Delves will involve exploration, deep-diving into mysteries, and extending open-world content, as opposed to moving from one boss to another, in the same vein as dungeons—with the difference from other open-world adventuring being the treasure received at the end.
Unlike previous small-group content, such as scenarios and island expeditions, delves offer fully flexible group sizes, so you can run them alone, with a partner, or with a full party. Delves are also role agnostic, so you’ll be able to bring any combination of specializations you choose—no need to seek out tanks or healers for your group. They’ll also be cross-faction.
You’ll be accompanied by a seasonal NPC companion in the vaults, starting with Brann Bronzebeard for Season 1. These companions will have customizable talents and abilities that you’ll be able to select to suit your group and playstyle.
At the end of each delve, you’ll have to defeat a boss or complete a puzzle to unlock the vault’s treasure and complete the mission. The expansion will launch with the following 12 unique delves throughout the world:
- Earthcrawl Mines
- Skittering Breach
- The Waterworks
- The Spiral Weave
- Kriegval’s Rest
- Nightfall Sanctum
- The Dread Pit
- Rak-Rethan Abyss
- Fungak Folly
- The Sinkhole
- Deepwalker Hold
- Mycomancer Cavern
Delves will also offer plenty of cosmetic awards, such as mushroom and candle hats, based on their specific theme, and they will be included into seasonal content, giving players rewards for the season, including mounts, pets, and achievements.
Warbands is an innovative and game-changing new feature that will be introduced with the expansion. With Warbands, the character selection screen has been revamped and will conveniently showcase all your available characters, regardless of the server they belong to. You will be able to effortlessly manage multiple characters across accounts while enjoying a plethora of quality-of-life improvements.
- Banks offer a shared account between characters, meaning that you won't need to mail items anymore.
- Reputations, Achievements, and Renown will be account-wide for all players.
- Flight Paths will be linked across accounts, meaning you'll only have to unlock paths once, saving time.
- Universal Transmog across your warband will become available, meaning one character can unlock a Plate item, and another can transmog them.
New hero talents for each class specialization will allow players to progress characters with “evergreen self-contained talent trees that also infuse class fantasy flavor” inspired by iconic Warcraft universe archetypes. These will be in addition to current talent trees, and include three trees per class—two small trees per specialization that you can switch between. This system will auto unlock at level 71, with players receiving a new talent point at each level. Once players reach level 80, the whole tree will unlock. The goal is for hero talent trees to be “low friction,” with the ability to swap between choices and trees easily, in a vein similar to that for Dragonflight talents.
The following are the names of the hero talents that players will be able to choose from:
- Death Knight: Deathbringer, Rider of the Apocalypse, San'layn
- Demon Hunter: Aldrachi Reaver, Fel-Scarred
- Druid: Druid of the Claw, Elune's Chosen, Keeper of the Grove, Wildstalker
- Evoker: Chronowarden, Ruby Adept, Scalecommander
- Hunter: Dark Ranger, Pack Leader, Sentinel
- Mage: Frostfire, Spellslinger, Sunfury
- Monk: Conduit of the Celestials, Master of Harmony, Shado-Pan
- Paladin: Herald of the Sun, Lightsmith, Templar
- Priest: Archon, Oracle, Voidweaver
- Rogue: Deathstalker, Fatebound, Trickster
- Shaman: Farseer, Stormbringer, Totemic
- Warlock: Diabolist, Hellcaller, Soul Harvester
- Warrior: Colossus, Mountain Thane, Slayer
New playable allied race: Earthen dwarves
Earthen dwarves are a new allied race coming to The War Within that exist as three estranged groups: Oathsworn, Unbound, and Machine Speakers. Members of this titan-forged race are made of living stone imbued with the essence of Azeroth’s worldsoul. As players progress through the main campaign, they’ll meet the Earthen that have made the Isle of Dorn and the zones beneath it their home. Earthen will be available to both Alliance and Horde players and can be played as the following classes: Death Knight, Hunter, Mage, Monk, Paladin, Priest, Rogue, Shaman, Warlock, and Warrior. Leveling an Earthen toon will also unlock the new Earthen Heritage Armor.
New “dynamic flying” update
The Dragonflight mechanics have undergone a transformation in The War Within and are now called dynamic flying, which will be available from the beginning of the expansion, with the to-be-confirmed style unlockable at max level when the campaign is completed. This exciting update has been applied retrospectively to all existing flying mounts, resulting in a more thrilling and momentum-driven flight experience compared to the traditional classic/static flight initially introduced in The Burning Crusade. You will also be able to toggle between dynamic flight or the traditional flying style.
What is the WoW: The War Within release date?
A release date for The War Within has not yet been confirmed, but judging by the small print on the prepurchase page on the official website, you can expect it to arrive in fall 2024. This ties in with the timeline of previous expansions, which generally run for around two years; Dragonflight was released at the end of November 2022, so we can expect The War Within to be out sometime between October and December 2024.
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Ashley is a technology writer who is interested in computers and software development. He is also a fintech researcher and is fascinated with emerging trends in DeFi, blockchain, and bitcoin. He has been writing, editing, and creating content for the ESL industry in Asia for eight years, with a special focus on interactive, digital learning.