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BlizzCon > WoWNov 3, 2023 6:47 pm CT

Meet the major players of World of Warcraft: The War Within’s story

The first two trailers for World of Warcraft: The War Within kick off with quite a bang, introducing us to several of the expansion’s power players — including ones who are technically still absent, who we haven’t seen in a while, or who’ve just gotten a serious glow-up. Since the expansion’s announcement we’ve seen the release of the Dark Heart patch 10.2.7 as well as a new trailer released in anticipation of the forthcoming beta and focusing on several characters. But who are all these folks, and what do they want? What part will they play in this first chapter of the Worldsoul Saga?

For reference, here are the trailers and cinematics that have been released so far:

Let’s take a look at the key characters in The War Within expansion.

Anduin Wrynn

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 — now known to be called the Radiant Song — 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.


While 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. (Saurfang’s iconic “we don’t get to hide” line from “Safe Haven” even gets a callback here — a nice touch.) 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.

Still, the most recent trailer seems to suggest that Thrall’s Shamanic gifts are threatened, and he may need to return to his Warrior ways to stop the threat posted in The War Within.


Speaking of which, one of the characters we get to “see” — or, rather, hear — for the first time in this trailer appears to be the voice of Azeroth herself, or her nascent world-soul. 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. (Of course, is that their real motivation? Questioning the Titans’ true motives is a recurring theme in Dragonflight, after all.)

Azeroth’s role in the story is pretty straightforward: it seems that due to the machinations of someone we’ll meet in another video, she herself is in danger. While in the past she has been seemingly only able to communicate through her Speaker, Magni Bronzebeard, it appears that she is now capable of sending messages — albeit ones that are apparently momentary and confusing — to her residents herself via the Radiant Song. What could this mean for the state of the planet? Is the slumbering Titan no longer quite so slumbering? Is she finally irritated enough at that sword in her side to want something done about it?

Wait, what sword?


Oh, that sword.

It feels a little weird to claim a sword is a character, but if anything the Sword of Sargeras is symbolic of some very important, but very absent, players in the upcoming Worldsoul Saga. The potential for this planet, or any planet, to be overrun by the Void Lords is allegedly what sent Sargeras to round up the demonic hordes of the Burning Crusade and destroy world after world so that they could not be corrupted. Last time we saw him back in Legion, he attempted to finish the job as a last-ditch effort, driving his colossal sword directly into the planet before being warped back to the Titans’ seat to serve a sentence with Illidan as his jailer. His sword has remained a thorn in the side of Azeroth, kicking off the race for Azerite that was an important background element of Battle for Azeroth.

Thrall and Anduin claim that the visions they’ve been receiving have drawn them toward the sword, so it appears that maybe this has something to do with the ongoing distress that Azeroth seems to be in. Given that we were told in the opening ceremonies that the Titans will be returning in the final chapter of the Worldsoul Saga, perhaps Sargeras will finally come back for his lost weapon — or we’ll find a way to get rid of it.

Magni Bronzebeard

The Speaker for Azeroth and the one most suited for knowing what is happening with her, Magni has been oddly absent until the latest trailer. In the 10.2.7 campaign quest line Jaina mentions to Khadgar that Magni has been “strangely silent”, a hint that perhaps the Radiant Song is a different tune for him. With Azeroth’s existence likely at stake we’re sure to see the Speaker again in The War Within — but is it just me, or did he look a little angry in the trailer?

Alleria Windrunner

In the second cinematic for The War Within, we catch up not with Anduin’s travel buddy Sylvanas, but 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 (time dilation gets wild in space), Alleria Windrunner chose to learn to wield the power of the Void in the fight against fel forces. While 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.

The “What’s Next” panel spelled out Alleria’s role for us pretty concretely: as the person receiving direct, taunting images from below of the Void’s machinations, she’s aiming to lead us on an expedition down there — and to use her connection to the Void to hunt down the villainess who’s stirring up so much trouble, Xal’atath. Patch 10.2.7 showed us her attempts to do so, but while she learns important information from Locus Walker regarding Azeroth’s potential fate she is unsuccessful in stopping the Harbinger. She has not given up yet, and apparently will be sporting a brand new look when we next see her in game.

Xal’atath, the Harbinger

Anyone who’s played through the Legion artifact quests 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, sometimes affectionately referred to as “Knaifu.” 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 ultra-powerful 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. While 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 — well, whatever it was she intended to do. It appears that those rumors were true, based on both Alleria’s visions at the beginning of this trailer, and the first glimpse we’ve seen in a while of Xal’atath at the end.

Xal’atath, confirmed as the Harbinger in patch 10.2.7, has been watching us and conjured up some dark plans of her own; while the Black Empire is defeated, and the Old Gods are confirmed dead, she 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 it’s 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 bads we’ll face off against during the Worldsoul Saga.

Originally published November 3, 2023. Updated June 3, 2024.

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