This story contains spoilers for the story of pre-expansion event.
World of Warcraft's upcoming expansion, Battle for Azeroth, is all about reigniting the longstanding conflict between the mighty Horde and noble Alliance. Though it's still 20 days away from launch, Blizzard is trying to get both sides hyped up with a pre-launch event that ultimately ends with the permanent destruction of two major cities. It should be a climactic clash for the ages, but after playing through the first chapter this morning, it's actually just kind of boring.
Called The War of the Thorns, this pre-expansion event is a time-gated questline that will slowly unfold over the next three weeks until Battle for Azeroth launches on August 13 in North America. The questline marks the first major offensive in this new war between Horde and Alliance, with Sylvanas Windrunnder launching a surprise siege of the Night Elf city of Darnassus. Horde players will participate in the offensive while Alliance players work to slow their progress and buy the Alliance time to muster a defense.
But the big problem, players are finding, is that this dramatic moment is being drip-fed slowly over three weeks and there's just not much else to do in the meantime. Instead of letting players experience the full chain of quests that lead to both the destruction of Darnassus and The Undercity (as I was able to experience it in the beta), Blizzard has chopped The War of the Thorns into three parts that unlock weekly. The first chain of quests sees the Horde invade Darkshore and the Alliance mass a defense that ends in a stalemate and... that's it.
Though the Battle for Azeroth pre-expansion event isn't all that exciting, I've been playing the beta version of the expansion and having a hell of a time. Check out why Zandalar, one of two new continents coming in Battle for Azeroth, is one of the best WoW zones I've ever seen.
When I played through the questline on the beta servers, it was a bit jarring being able to go through everything at once. It makes sense to wait a week between quests because, according to the story, each side is mustering forces to try and break the stalemate and that obviously takes time. I'd be okay with that if there was actually something to do while I waited.
Darkshore has a few World Quests that offer some token gear and resources but not much else. I took one look at them and realized there was nothing useful to me and logged back out.
It's disappointing since, as players are pointing out over on the WoW subreddit, the last pre-expansion event was so damn good. Legion's prologue triggered demonic invasions all across Azeroth, where players new and old could fight off the Burning Legion while earning cool cosmetics and a ton of experience points. It was an incredible way to level up new characters to prepare for the expansion. But Battle for Azeroth's pre-expansion event feels skeleton-thin by comparison.
Of course, it's possible that everyone's expectations are just too high—mine included. As Ranwulf on Reddit points out, most of World of Warcraft's pre-expansion events have been pretty small in scale and underwhelming.
While players know the War of the Thorns will end with the destruction of Darnassus and The Undercity, there are missing cutscenes in the beta that leave out crucial plot details. I'm excited to finally fill in those gaps over the next two weeks, but I wish The War of the Thorns gave me any reason to log in with my main character.