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World of Warcraft’s new patch concludes Dragonflight’s biggest conflict

Guardians of the Dream includes Dragonflight’s last raid

A player in World of Warcraft flies their dragon over the sights of the Emerald Dream in the Dragonflight patch Guardians of the Dream. 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.

While Blizzard announced the next three World of Warcraft expansions at this year’s BlizzCon, we’re still not done with the current expansion, Dragonflight. World of Warcraft players are delving into the Emerald Dream in the game’s next patch, Guardians of the Dream. Patch 10.2 takes place in the spirit realm, the Emerald Dream, that mirrors the world of Azeroth.

We’ve seen hints and glimpses of the Emerald Dream in the past, but this time we’re going much deeper in service of a final stand that ties up many loose plot threads that date back to the Legion expansion. Here’s what you need to know:

What is Amirdrassil, the World Tree in Guardians of the Dream?

World Trees are a spiritual anchor and sanctuary in the world of Azeroth. The final battle of Warcraft 3 was centered around Nordrassil, a World Tree which spread life-giving power across the globe and granted the Night Elves their immortality. Nordrassil was badly damaged, which led the Night Elves to plant Teldrassil, a replacement tree… which Sylvanas Windrunner burned down at the start of Battle for Azeroth expansion.

Amirdrassil is the third crack at growing a World Tree to serve as a home for the Night Elves, and this one is blessed by the Winter Queen and Elune, and enhanced by the souls of the innocents lost during Teldrassil. The seed of Amirdrassil was a major plot thread through the Shadowlands expansion, and it’s culminating in Guardians of the Dream.

“This is such an important moment for Azeroth as a whole, we wanted to include everyone we possibly could who would have an interest in making sure that Amirdrassil blooms, or that the Emerald Dream doesn’t turn into a fiery hellscape, or Azeroth doesn’t turn into an expansion of the Firelands,” says Katherine Bankson, assistant lead quest designer at Blizzard, in a call with Polygon.

The Primalist dragons have been a major threat throughout Dragonflight, and that culminates in the expansion’s final raid, in which players chase after the fiery Fyrakk before he can scorch the tree as it blooms in both the Emerald Dream and Azeroth.

A shot of the Emerald Dream, a mystical realm that exists alongside the reality of Azeroth. It’s a lush and gorgeous vista with purple skies and large trees. Image: Blizzard Entertainment

Why is the Emerald Dream a big deal?

The Emerald Dream has been present in World of Warcraft’s lore, but players have only heard about it or explored small slices of it (which were usually corrupted by some sort of enemy). This is our first time getting to check out a pure, relatively peaceful slice of the Dream. Unfortunately, it’s under attack. This is a battlefront now, and characters from the lore have shown up: divine beings, druids, and even a few unexpected faces like Forsaken fan favorite Lilian Voss.

“I’m a fan of bringing back characters that we’ve seen in the past, because they don’t just stop moving and doing things just because we, the player, have walked away and gone elsewhere. They’re still off doing their own thing [...] Their world doesn’t revolve around you. You revolve around their worlds,” says lead narrative designer Anne Stickney.

The Forsaken, led by Sylvanas, played a major part in burning down the last World Tree. Now, Voss is working with Night Elf hero Shandris Feathermoon to help out in the Emerald Dream. “It’s a story about reconciliation, grief, and conflict,” says Bankson. “These two aren’t going to be dancing off into the sunset of the Emerald Dream together — there’s way too much tension for that. But we wanted to dig into that tension, because it’s juicy, it makes for a great story.”

Dragonflight has moved past the classic Horde vs. Alliance conflict, and Nordrassil’s bloom provides a sort of closure to one of the greatest acts of war in recent memory. “Dragonflight as a whole hasn’t been what I would call a factional expansion, where we’re talking about the two factions [Horde and Alliance] — it’s been much more about the Dragonflights,” says Stickney. “That’s the tactic that we’ve been taking a lot with this expansion.”

By focusing on personal stories and individual characters over factions, Blizzard hopes that Guardians of the Dream provides a satisfying resolution to many dangling plot threads. “What are those personal stories we want to tell, outside of ‘Oh, we need a good Alliance person, or a good Horde person, to tell that story’?”

Patch 10.2 will contain the last raid in Dragonflight, but there will likely be at least one more patch bridging the expansion with the upcoming Worldsoul Saga, as announced at BlizzCon. Guardians of the Dream launches on Nov. 7, which gives players plenty of time to explore the Dream before the next expansion The War Within arrives in 2024.

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