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One of World of Warcraft’s classic characters returns next patch

A return to the days of Warcraft 3?

An orc and human face off in a screenshot from Warcraft 3 Reforged Blizzard Entertainment
Ryan Gilliam (he/him) has worked at Polygon for nearly seven years. He primarily spends his time writing guides for massively popular games like Diablo 4 & Destiny 2.

World of Warcraft: Battle for Azeroth’s story has been fairly predictable so far. Aside from some weird offshoots like the knife from Legion coming to life, the Horde have battled the Alliance just like Blizzard said they would. And it looks like both factions will put aside their differences to handle Void enemies before the expansion finishes, just like players suspected they would.

In the most recent update to the public test realm, where Blizzard is testing the new Rise of Azshara patch, a familiar character has returned to the cast just in time to save his beloved Horde.

[Warning: this post contains major spoilers for World of Warcraft: Battle for Azeroth patch 8.2, Rise of Azshara]

After a few years of wandering Azeroth, Thrall has returned to aid his people. Thrall was the main protagonist for the Orc campaign in Warcraft 3, and served as the Warchief of the Horde for many years in World of Warcraft. He disappeared shortly after the start of Legion, and players haven’t seen him since.

We’re not entirely sure how Thrall returns to the Horde. After players reach the Nazjatar zone, one of their faction leaders will send them to aid Baine Bloodhoof — a Horde leader that Horde Warchief Sylvanas Windrunner intends to execute. He’s in the dungeons of Orgrimmar, and players will have to fight through areas from the 2013 Siege of Orgrimmar raid.

Thrall’s new model in Rise of Azshara
Blizzard via WoWhead

During the rescue, players will run into a group from the Alliance and Horde. Jaina Proudmoore and Mathias Shaw lead the Alliance, while Saurfang and Thrall make up the Horde rescue team. It seems in his search for allies, Saurfang encountered Thrall and recruited him for the upcoming Horde rebellion. The Horde and Alliance teams bicker, but Thrall encourages the two factions to work together to save their mutual ally.

There are currently several placeholder cutscenes during the rescue attempt, and it’s not entirely clear how it’ll end. The only definitive thing this new mission teaches us is that Thrall is back and has a part to play in the war to come. Depending on what happens to Saurfang in Battle for Azeroth, Thrall could even return to the position of Warchief.

During his original time as Warchief, Thrall helped establish the Horde city of Orgrimmar. Thrall stopped being Warchief to save the planet, and players negatively started referring to him as “Green Jesus.” After Thrall, the position of Warchief went to Garrosh Hellscream. Garrosh was the big-bad for the Mists of Panderia expansion and the final boss in Siege of Orgrimmar.

After Thrall helped players chase Garrosh through time in Warlords of Draenor, Thrall lost his connection to the Elements and gave up his weapon to Shaman players. After that, he disappeared into the wilderness to meditate.

This is the first time Thrall has shown back up in World of Warcraft since 2016. It’s also the first time Blizzard co-founder Chris Metzen has voiced the character since he retired. Metzen did show up during a World of Warcraft panel at BlizzCon 2018 to tease the return of his character.

It’s unclear when Blizzard will release patch 8.2 onto World of Warcraft’s live servers. Players will likely have to wait until the end of May to see Thrall storm the dungeons of Orgrimmar.

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