Know Your Lore: The secrets of Battle for Azeroth
We got to see a kickass cinematic, watched some panels, and heard Jaina’s chilling voiceover on the features trailer. But what do we actually know about Battle for Azeroth? What’s the story of the upcoming expansion? While there are still some mysteries, there are also some broad strokes we can discuss right now. Some come from the cinematic, others from panels and interviews given during and after BlizzCon 2017. None of it adds up to a complete picture, but there’s some stuff to tease out of the whole.
Teldrassil and Undercity
Who shot first? We have no idea. Before the Storm (the upcoming Christie Golden novel) may answer that question for us. In the prologue preview, Sylvanas tells Nathanos she’s keeping the army in force in order to use it on Stormwind. How we get from that to Teldrassil on fire and Undercity in ruins is as yet unknown.
The cinematic shows us a pitched battle in front of the Undercity. It doesn’t show us who wins, but we’ve been told the Horde retreats and Undercity is destroyed. Alex Afrasiabi told us in the What’s Next panel that the Horde ends up firmly in control of Kalimdor and the Alliance holds the Eastern Kingdoms. Each faction keeps one base on the other side — The Draenei retain the Exodar and the islands, while the Blood Elves are the sole holdout for the Horde in the Eastern Kingdoms.
With this comes a new conflict. Each side wants control of the seas, both to take the fight to their enemy, and to secure their own power at home. With the Horde finally dominating Kalimdor, and the Alliance having finally reclaimed Lordaeron and Gilneas, the stage is set for each side to seek out allies. Both factions want revenge, and in any world war you look for allies. So the Horde reach out to the Zandalari Trolls and the Alliance looks to Kul Tiras.
The What’s Next panel did a very solid overview of both continents. I can’t post it all here, but what we’ve learned so far is fascinating. Let’s look at Kul Tiras first. We’ll see what Jaina has been doing ever since she left the Kirin Tor and what role she’s playing in Battle for Azeroth. But there are other forces at play on the former Alliance kingdom.
The return of Kul Tiras
We’ve never seen Kul Tiras in World of Warcraft. Although its presence was felt in the Warcraft RTS games, no missions ever took place there. So this is a first for us, getting to actually see the political divisions of the island nation. The place will be divided into three regions for the purpose of leveling, Tiragard Sound, Drustvar and Stormsong Valley. There’s also a pirate town named Freehold. Pirates are apparently a big problem in Kul Tiras, to the point where we as players are going to have to deal with them.
We already have a far more complex view of Kul Tiras in just one presentation than we have ever had in twenty or so years of Warcraft. The fact that there are multiple houses ruling the kingdom, that there are discrete political regions with their own leadership, that there’s a pirate city on the island — this is all new information. So, too, is the very existence of Katherine Proudmoore.
In addition to the Houses — Proudmoore, Waycrest, Stormsong were mentioned — we’re told of powerful Sea Priests who help bless every ship constructed in Stormsong Valley. In addition, dark malevolent crones are using blood magic to curse the land of Drustvar. Kul Tiras is not a land at peace. This is to be expected with the death of Daelin Proudmoore during the aftermath of the Third War. What impact did that death have? Was Kul Tiras dealt a blow by the loss of its navy when Admiral Proudmoore took it to Kalimdor? Hopefully we’ll find out.
The Horde, meanwhile, head to Zandalar Isle.
Just like Kul Tiras, Zandalar is also divided into three regions. One thing that amazes me is the Tortollan pictured in the introductory slide. Tortollans confirmed! The three zones of the Zandalar are Zuldazar, Vol’dun and Nazmir. Zuldazar is the capital city and a city under siege, as the Zandalar Empire is under constant attack. We’re finally introduced to King Rastakhan and his daughter Princess Talanji. My sincere apologies to her Highness if I’m misspelling her name.
What’s going on in Zandalar might be connected to the blood magic curses we see in Drustvar. The Empire is under siege from a new threat — Blood Trolls, driven mad by some new and terrible force and unleashed upon the Zandalar.
The Blood Trolls are launching their attacks on Zuldazar from Nazmir’s swamps. This has me wondering exactly what could be sending them. What created these Blood Trolls? Do they serve a master? Perhaps a self-styled Blood God? Nazmir is sinking into the ocean thanks to the Cataclysm, and Hakkar once attacked the world from a Sunken Temple. There are also apparently ancient Titan facilities in Nazmir which may or may not be related.
The final zone in Zandalar is Vol’dun. It’s a desert left behind from the Troll-Aqir wars. That’s right — this one patch of desert has survived since the days before Night Elves even existed. It was a formerly jungle region that was destroyed by the magic of the Old Gods. Now Vol’dun is a Zandalari prison colony of sorts, a hostile wasteland the Trolls exile to die. Still, life continues to thrive here, with both the Vulpera fox people and Sethrak serpent folk making their homes there.
The War expands
In addition to all this, we have the Allied Races, who will be recruited by the Horde and Alliance. It’s as yet unclear what that means in terms of lore — almost certainly they join the factions after the start of hostilities when Teldrassil and Undercity are destroyed. We’ll get to quest to unlock these allies for our factions. And there are some definite interesting shifts in terms of loyalty.
The Nightborne have more in common with the Blood Elves — but they owe their very lives to three factions of Elves. What makes them decide to aid the Horde over the Night and High Elves on the other side will be interesting to watch. The Highmountain also owe the Alliance some gratitude for their help during the Legion invasion, and yet the Horde recruits them.
Meanwhile the Void Elves are a complete mystery. Alleria brings them to the Alliance, but who are they? Are they former High Elves? Blood Elves? Where do they come from and how did Alleria find them?
The Lightforged Draenei are formerly ageless — with the death of Xe’ra it’s unclear if they still retain that state. While it’s not surprising that they’d want to help their people, it’s a little odd that they’re being dragged into what is by comparison a fairly prosaic conflict between political factions, and doing so alongside Void Elves of all people. Light and Void usually don’t mix, so we have a story to uncover here. And I have no idea what’s up with the Dark Irons. The Zandalar are a no-brainer, but why are the Dark Iron involved? Hopefully Moira Thaurissan is up to something.
Heroes of Azeroth
We’ve also learned that while Legion told the story of Illidan Stormrage and that Blizzard likes how that turned out, Battle for Azeroth will focus on other character stories. We’ll see the conflict of Sylvanas and Anduin as the Horde and Alliance gear up to fight. We’ll witness Jaina’s return to Kul Tiras and what she’s been doing since Legion. And we’ll see what role, if any, Thrall still has to play in the Horde he founded and which seems to have left him behind.
There’s a lot more to discover about Battle for Azeroth, these new continents, and where we’ll be taking the fight. Expect to see a lot of posts from us about it all.
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