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WoWOct 27, 2022 10:00 am CT

What happens during the Dragonflight time skip?

One of the things we’re going to notice once Dragonflight is here in full force is that things are a little different in Azeroth, due to a longer than usual break between the events of the last expansion and those of the next. When Dragonflight launches, there will be a three year time skip: from the end of Shadowlands to the beginning of Dragonflight, three years have passed, making it five years from the start of Shadowlands to the start of Dragonflight. While there’s always a little time that passes between expansions — we saw Anduin Wrynn go from a kid in short pants back in original WoW to a young adult in Mists of Pandaria, for example — this time the period between these expansions is longer than usual.

And things have changed in the interim. The lull between Shadowlands’ end and Dragonflight’s beginning doesn’t bring any new calamities, but it does see relationships change and grow, characters age, and more as life in Azeroth moves on. Like what, you may ask?

Well, Lor’themar Theron and High Arcanist Thalyssra are married now. Baine and Mayla Highmountain are apparently not. I see how it is, Blizzard. I see how it is.

Though we did have a hint that something was going on between Lor’themar and Thalyssra, you may be saying whaaaaaat when did that happen?” in a shocked voice right now. I mean, that’s a huge deal, isn’t it? How did that get past us? Well, it’s simple: it happened during the five year period between the start of Shadowlands and the start of Dragonflight, and it never played out in game. Steve Danuser explained the Dragonflight time skip to us back in August, and it’s something that I’ve been thinking about for a while. Since the beginning of the original Warcraft: Orcs and Humans, the world of Azeroth hasn’t seen a period of relative peace of this sort since the roughly ten year gap between Ner’zhul’s reckless sorceries tearing Draenor apart with the Alliance Expedition still on the planet and the start of the Third War.

Sure, we know that Zovaal was running around with Azeroth in his sights for the two years we’ve been in the Shadowlands, but that’s relatively limited information. The giant hole in the sky was over Northrend, a relatively deserted and seldom visited land (sorry, hardy settlers in Grizzly Hills, but you know it’s true) and for most people, after the end of hostilities between the Horde and Alliance, nothing has really happened.

Life has gone on, people have lived, worked, gotten older. Azeroth has been quiet. At peace.

While we know about Lor’themar and Thalyrssa, there’s a great deal we don’t know, or can only guess at. For example: Anduin has not reappeared in Azeroth, or at least if he has, he hasn’t retaken the throne. Turalyon seems to still be in charge in Stormwind, based on his appearance next to Wrathion in the Alliance intro quests for the Dragon Isles.

But while things certainly have happened in Azeroth while we’ve been away, we know that we haven’t missed any big events like the reclamation of Gilneas. Nothing so major has happened off screen during the time skip, because stuff like that should happen in game. While there may be some surprises waiting on Azeroth, don’t expect anything world-changing.

I think this time skip before Dragonflight is a cool way to get some characters intertwined — like, say, Baine and Mayla — and also to give the people of Azeroth a break. I’m a little sad that might mean the Night Elves still don’t have a place to live, but hopefully we’ll get some hints about what they’ve been up to on top of Mount Hyjal for the past five years.

After all, between the Legion, then the big Horde/Alliance war followed up by Old God attacks all over the world, the idea that the average farmer or farrier or sailor got a few years of relative peace and quiet seems like a good one to me. Basically, by design, not much has happened to Azeroth or our heroes since the return from the Shadowlands. The world is healing, people have had a chance to get on with their lives, and when the Dracthyr show up our heroes are probably so freaking bored that the idea of an expedition to the Dragon Isles sounds perfect.

Grab your stuff, heroes. Well, okay, not just yet… but soon (TM).

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