I’ve already gone on the record about how much I dislike the faction conflict theme of the upcoming Battle for Azeroth expansion. I think I’m in a weird place compared to some of my friends, because I do have strong faction pride. I like playing Horde and I enjoy their story perspective. I just don’t think overt faction conflict in WoW is at all interesting anymore, and hate when it stands in the way of me playing with my friends.
Because of this I’ve been struggling with this odd malaise ahead of BfA’s launch. I want to be excited about new WoW things to do and the inevitable flood of players returning to the game. Instead I have mostly been annoyed by the story beats that feel at odds with the way I enjoy the game. Still, I was not going to miss the pre-expansion story quests that were added in this week. Spoilers for the “War of the Thorns” story ahead!
I started off on the Horde side because that will always be my home faction. The opening quest from Sylvanas immediately made me feel better for two reasons. First, although the Horde are the aggressors here, we’re not marching to Teldrassil to burn it to the ground. Sylvanas’ stated goal is to occupy the city to gain access to its port and cut off the Alliance’s azerite supply chain. I am a confirmed Sylvanas fangirl who also really dislikes the night elves, but even I would have reservations about marching off to explicitly commit genocide and burn down the world tree. The second thing that made me feel better about the story was Sylvanas’ other goal here: kill Malfurion. March off to murder one of my most hated lore figures in the game? Sign me up!
The quests themselves involve a lot of running around. From Undercity to the Barrens, Ashenvale, and finally Darkshore, we’re rushing ahead of the Horde forces to prepare the way. The individual quests are fine, nothing especially exciting or awful. I did like the rogue quest in Ashenvale, where you are meant to be taking out town guards. If you direct the assassin to kill civilians, they will do it, but are vocally unhappy about it. It was a nice touch.
In Darkshore, the Horde forces get blocked, first by Malfurion’s wisp wall and then by Alliance forces at the river. There’s some conflict over azerite, but otherwise the story for the week ends there. The Alliance side quests are spent reacting to the Horde. You start scrambling to try and fail to protect Ashenvale. Then you move to Darkshore and help bolster the defenses there. Finally you head to Teldrassil to warn them and set preparations in order. I feel bad for the night elves, and I had some pain because I know soon my beloved Undercity will soon be in the same situation. But mostly I hated taking orders from Malfurion and I sure hope we actually get to kill him soon.
Once you’re finished the story a few world quests open up. Importantly, once you’ve done the story on one character (per faction), you have the option of skipping straight to the world quests on all of your alts. They were mostly simple, and reward 210 gear. I was hoping that the rewards would be interesting new transmog options, but they seem to be the garrison/level boost class armor from WoD. I’ve seen some folks complaining that this gear is “only” 210, but I’m perfectly happy with it. It will be a guaranteed upgrade for all of my alts unless they happen to have a Legiondary in that slot. My only complaint is that I’ve had to give up my artifact weapon on a few characters already. I was hoping to hold onto them for at least a couple levels into BfA.