The next World of Warcraft expansion, Battle for Azeroth, is scheduled to launch in August. With just over a month until the launch of the pre-event to set the stage for BfA, and with most players feeling the Legion doldrums, it’s the perfect time to bone up on the lore behind the faction conflict, the centerpiece of BfA, and to study up on the growing tensions between Horde and Alliance.
As many lore fans understand, much of the story behind World of Warcraft actually never appears in the game itself. To gain a full understanding of the truncated story during the game requires players to read novels, comics, manga, short stories or to watch cinematics or other commercially-produced videos. Even fan videos based on the above serve a purpose in providing “the big picture”.
Of course, it needs to be said that the lore in World of Warcraft is, to put it mildly, fluid and subject to change based on both the whims of the writers or the fact that gameplay often takes precedence over lore when the need arises.
So all the caveats aside, here’s how you can try to catch up with the World of Warcraft story.
The Chronicle Three Volume Set
The first World of Warcraft Chronicle was released in 2016 with subsequent volumes released in 2017 and 2018, each targeting a specific time period in the history of Azeroth. The idea behind the series is to provide deep lore behind every race, every conflict, every major personality as well as present them in readable “digest” form. The coffee-table sized books also feature full color artwork, intricate maps and much more for the discerning reader.
As mentioned above, however, it needs to be said that even the “definitive” series that details all the lore behind WoW is not always immune to change. More than a few stories have been “retconned” in Chronicle: Volume 3, the latest in the series, though mentioning which ones would be spoilerific, so we’ll leave it at that.
Blizzard is big on comics these days. Every IP in the company’s stable has its own comics that help fill in some of the untold stories in each. WoW has a nice backlog of comics that stretch back into Mists of Pandaria. Continuing that tradition, the first BfA-themed comic, Reunion, has already been published. It fills in some crucial information about Jaina Proudmoore after she disappeared during the opening moments of the battle against the Burning Legion. We know that at least two more comics will be coming out.
The next comic has already been previewed, in fact, and should be out later this week. Called The Speaker, it is centered on Magni Bronzebeard, a now neutral character that is known both as the King of Diamonds (due to his new physical appearance) and as The Speaker of Azeroth.
While not Battle for Azeroth specific, there is a nice archive of WoW-related comics. You can find them all here.
One of the central components of BfA is, of course, the faction conflict. We’ve already seen several leaders present in alpha including Jaina Proudmoore, Anduin Wrynn, Sylvanas Windrunner, Gallywix, Baine Bloodhoof, Genn Greymane and others. Many of the racial leaders have had stories on the WoW site for a long time and if you’re looking to “get to know” them and to learn more about motivations that could come into play during BfA.
If you love short stories and the characters and locations in WoW, head here to read / download the current crop.
Starting in Warlords of Draenor, Blizzard released a series of multi-part audio dramas hearkening back to the old days of radio serials enjoyed by generations past. Warlords saw a four part series called The Tomb of Sargeras, while Legion fans finally learned the backstory behind the disappearance of Alleria and Turelyon called A Thousand Years of War. It remains to be seen if Blizzard will produce any audio dramas for Battle for Azeroth, but they seemed quite popular, so we’re hoping so.
One of Blizzard’s hallmarks is high quality cinematics stretching all the way back to 2004. Cinematic developers have always stretched the bounds of what has been thought possible and have shown the stories in WoW in ways most don’t expect. That, of course, also goes for Battle for Azeroth. The cinematic video designed to introduce BfA during last year’s Blizzcon literally “WOWed” (pun intended!) the audience and we’re likely to see more as the expansion nears, raids are released, etc.
Novels & Other Print Materials
Of course, Blizzard has been invested in tie-in novels since the dawn of the Warcraft strategy game. You can check out a definitive, chronological list here.
Of course, like all expansions before it, Battle for Azeroth will also have a prequel novel published. Penned by Christie Golden, now a full time writer on the WoW team, Before the Storm is set for release on June 12th, though we will have a review next week.
The Horde and the Alliance defeated the demonic Burning Legion, but a dire catastrophe is unfolding deep below the surface of the world. There is a mortal wound in the heart of Azeroth, struck by the sword of the fallen titan Sargeras in a final act of cruelty.
For peace to be possible, generations of bloodshed and hatred must be brought to and end. But there are truths that neither side is willing to accept and ambitions they are loath to relinquish. As Alliance and Horde alike grasp for the Azerite’s power, their simmering conflict threatens to reignite all-out war—a war that would spell doom for Azeroth.
For those who REALLY love spoilers, you can head to WoWhead to read over 90 pages of the novel’s 330 that were released on Amazon a couple of weeks ago as part of its “preview”. The pages have since been pulled, but live on at the link above.
If that’s not enough to keep you busy as you while away your summer days ahead of the prequel event coming in July, you can always look for fan created videos that detail the lore or peruse any number of fan sites to learn more.
So, there you have it. What will you be reading first?