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World of Warcraft: Dragonflight’s best plotline is a messy family drama

I want Succession but with dragons

Wrathion, a dragon in the visage of a young man with luxurious hair, an elaborate jacket with black scaled pauldrons, and a curved sword, in World of Warcraft: Dragonflight. Image: Blizzard Entertainment
Cass Marshall is a news writer focusing on gaming and culture coverage, taking a particular interest in the human stories of the wild world of online games.

World of Warcraft: Dragonflight revisits the Dragon Aspects, a set of powerful characters who have helped players through in-game scrapes and jams over the past 18 years. Each Aspect commands a Dragonflight, a group of dragons who each specialize in powerful magics. The Red, Black, Blue, Green, and Bronze Dragonflights each have their own internal struggles to deal with, along with the new threat of the ancient Primalist dragons stirring on the Dragon Isles. One of these Dragonflights has particularly interesting conflicts to wade through, because it’s a family drama with some very messy protagonists.

The Black Dragonflight has an interesting role in World of Warcraft because they’re nearly extinct. Their Aspect, Neltharion, ended up listening to the whispers of Azeroth’s Old Gods, going insane, and turning on the other four. Wrathion is Neltharion’s heir, and players met him back during the Cataclysm and Mists of Pandaria expansions. Another dragon, Sabellian, is challenging Neltharion’s claim. It’s a lot. We’ve got a rumble on our hands, and neither side is the good guy.

In one corner, we’ve got Sabellian. Sabellian was abandoned by the villainous Deathwing on the shattered planet of Outland after a history of service to the corrupted Aspect. He flourished without his dad in the picture and made a home on Outland, where he found a way to cleanse the corruption of black dragons. By the time players meet him in The Burning Crusade, he comes across as a levelheaded and helpful ally.

Wrathion, on the other hand, has had much more screen time. That isn’t necessarily to his benefit; we’ve followed the character since he was an impetuous little kid. The guy has done some good things, like helping players kill the Old God N’Zoth, and can be an overall charming guy to hang out with. But Wrathion has made some pretty bad choices, too, like freeing a war criminal from custody in order to start a war to make both factions stronger. (It didn’t pan out and nobody liked the results.)

World of Warcraft: Dragonflight - Wrathion in his dragon form, which is a much larger and noble version of the character. Image: Blizzard Entertainment

Both of these characters have returned to the Dragon Isles and are extolling their individual virtues in the Waking Shores’ Obsidian Citadel. Each of the dragons are happy to tell you why they should be the guy in charge of their Dragonflight, and they each also try and stress that they would do the right thing and not at all be corrupted by the power. Their Dragonflight was on the brink of extinction; it says a lot when the predecessor to your job is called Deathwing. There’s no immediate resolution to this particular conflict; it never quite reaches the murderous intensity of House of the Dragon. Both characters are diplomatic in their approach, and it’s more like a family Thanksgiving when someone brought up a hot-button topic.

Sabellian’s been off screen for well over a decade, and Wrathion’s always been posed as the natural heir to the title of Aspect, so seeing this new conflict play out is one of the immediately gripping parts of Dragonflight. Players can also pledge their allegiances to one or the other in an endgame set of weekly quests. It’s fun to see a messy little family drama play out in Azeroth.

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