World of Warcraft: The War Within Preview – Scratching the Surface
8 mins read

World of Warcraft: The War Within Preview – Scratching the Surface

Back in 2022, I World of Warcraft's final expansion previewed, Dragonflight, in a press pre-alpha state. While I'm always hesitant to recommend an entire MMORPG expansion based on brief early alpha storyline play and not the sum of its content, Dragonflight felt exceptional out of the gate, and it's largely based on the transformative new dragonriding mechanic and other key That was thanks to the changes that shook the dust of the widely publicized Shadowlands expansion. Blizzard designed the Dragon Islands with grandeur in mind, and my early experiences wandering around them adequately conveyed a sense of increased scale and majesty that will persist throughout the expansion.

By comparison, looking at the pre-alpha of The War Within, I'm not extremely As mesmerized. To be clear, I don't dislike it! Broadly speaking, it feels very similar to World of Warcraft, which is fine. And it's impossible to say at this stage whether my muted feelings are due to something particularly sinful about the new expansion, or simply because I've seen so little of it.

Earlier this week, I played the story content in the first area, the Isle of Dorn, for about 90 minutes or so. Most of it consisted of a very linear, fast-paced story, following a few dwarf factions forming a council and battling a familiar Warcraftian race of evil bug people. Veterans of World of Warcraft won't encounter anything shocking here: kill 12 enemies, save six people, clear the wreckage, find Bran Bronzebeard, blow up the Nerubian nest with explosive wine casks. General stuff.

The story of the Isle of Dorn that I saw Very Fast, possibly due to several discoveries that have not yet been implemented in the initial alpha build. But that may also be because the surface of Dorne is probably the least exciting area of ​​The War Within. Honestly, I wish I had been encouraged to explore more of it on foot, because I think I would have enjoyed it more. Nerfed Dragonriding (*important*Dynamic Flying) sounds awesome after Dragonflight's robust talent trees, and having it available right out of the gate means I spend a lot of time zooming from city to city and almost no time getting happily lost. Is. I don't know, I think Dorne is okay. It is a lush island with some mountains, caves, forests and dwarf architecture, and a good part of the space is given over to the new capital, Dornogal. The biggest, most exciting backgrounds that Blizzard has teased for The War Within are all located deep underground in Khaz Algar, the expansion's series of stunning new vertical (not horizontal!) zones. Blizzard mentions a massive Titan industrial complex, an ancient Nerubian city, and an underground cavern illuminated by a giant crystal “sun”. i want to go There!

I also played two dungeons. I wouldn't call the Rookery the most exciting World of Warcraft dungeon to date. It wasn't bad, it was just fine! There's a fight where you have to jump into a pit when lightning strikes, and another where a big man comes out of the water and darkness falls over you. But the other alpha-enabled dungeon, Cinderbrew Meadery, did little to assuage my worries that its booze-soaked halls would be nothing more than “we have Stormstout Brewery at our house.” The Meadery is full of furious bees, wise fools and silly encounters that force you to dodge thirsty patrons and blow up explosive barrels. I can't wait to see what a riot it will be on Mythic+ difficulty.

Blizzard mentions an underground cavern illuminated by a giant crystal “sun”. I want to go there!

Delves, a brand new feature, was a little more interesting: With the help of an NPC companion, you (and up to four others if you want) essentially do a mini-dungeon focused on collecting treasure. Each delve I completed utilized a unique mechanic: a kobold-themed delve forced me to monitor my steps in health-damaging darkness so as not to burn my candle, and a Nerubian-themed Delve was covered in spider webs summoning the enemy. I like the concept of Delves, especially as a player who enjoys relaxing with solo exploration-focused content (and misses my withers a few expansions ago!). Blizzard only offered limited options in the alpha, so the few delves I was able to try got repetitive very quickly, but I'm optimistic about the possibilities once everything opens up at launch.

Finally: Hero Talents. Look I'm not a theorist or anything. But I'm not sure yet that they're going to make drastic changes to the gameplay. It's at least a good, simple system: level up, get talent points, plant a talent tree, done. No grinding for power up artifacts, no corruption dice rolls, no farming Soul Ash every week. As a busy adult, this is a huge relief. I don't know if the long-term solution to World of Warcraft's need for constant character growth is to keep slapping more talent trees on top of talent trees, so I'm curious what the long-term plans are for these systems. And as someone enthralled by the idea of ​​”class fantasy”, I can't help but want a little more flavor for its elemental wizardry. Sure, it's cool to summon little ghosts using my most powerful spells, but is there more to it than just powering up those ghosts? Is this the upgrade I'm stuck with for the next two years? Will the totemic path be completely different and let me do some cool totem dropping style of play? There are still a lot of questions that we won't get answers to until later, even in alpha or beta. Patience.

Maybe I'm a little disappointed about The War Within, but I really think most of my hesitation comes from how amazing Dragonflight was in 2022, and how little I've seen of The War Within so far. I'll leave this preview with two hopeful thoughts. First: We didn't get to see the introductory scenario of The War Within, but based on what followed (which I won't spoil, but you can see in the preview video if you look closely), the inciting incident This extension is mad Mad And it has some absurd implications, so I'm very interested to see where they take it.

Second: At the end of my demo, a quest appeared to indicate that I needed to descend into Khaz Algar to proceed, so I descended into the Corvette tunnels on my dragon. A barrier prevented me from progressing to the next area, but I got a brief taste of the depth we're dealing with here and it really made my heart beat faster! I was momentarily reminded of the Zaralek Caverns of Dragonflight, but the sheer depth at which I was zooming gave me the overwhelming feeling that the whole thing was about to open up into something huge. What that vastness was, I never saw. but I Love The idea of ​​a vertical continent, and it makes me hopeful that Blizzard has some good ideas to give both Khaz Algar and The War Within more depth than I saw from the surface.

Rebekah Valentine is a senior reporter for IGN. Got a story tip? Send it to