World of Warcraft: Battle for Azeroth has been quite a roller coaster ride. The expansion followed Legion, which was arguably one of the best eras for the Blizzard MMO, and despite some amazing new zones and interesting mechanics, the BfA story has been a point of frustration for a lot of players. The driving force through the narrative, for both factions, has been the War Campaign. The expansion kicks off with Horde Warchief and longtime fan favorite character Lady Sylvanas (until very recently) committing genocide and reigniting the war between Horde and Alliance after all of that great teamwork the faction's had established in Legion.
The return to a focus on Horde versus Alliance felt like a bit of a rough transition after Legion's storyline, but there are certainly ways it could work. Throughout the World of Warcraft War Campaign the Horde begins to splinter as rogue factions of rebels secretly pledge allegiance to Saurfang and his band of traitors instead of the Banshee Queen. At the end of the latest content patch the Alliance, Saurfang's rebels, and Sylvanas' Horde all face off for one final battle to put an end to the War Campaign once and for all... Probably.
Keep in mind that serious spoilers for the latest Battle for Azeroth content lie ahead. Players who would rather find out what happens by playing through the War Campaign storyline should stop reading here and get back into Azeroth for some new quests.
After completing the final War Campaign quests and unlocking the end of story cinematic, players can finally learn how the conflict is going to resolve. An all-star cast of heroes including Saurfang, Thrall (yes, Thrall is back), and Anduin lead a siege army up to the gates of Orgrimmar. The small force of rebels, even with the Alliance support, isn't going to be enough to take down Sylvanas' defenses without losing a ton of lives on both sides, so Saurfang audibles into an alternative plan that only puts his own life at risk.
As an alternative to all-out war, Saurfang challenges Sylvanas to Mak'gora, which is basically a one versus one fight to the death (fans of the Warcraft movie may remember a very similar scene using the same kind of challenge). Saurfang knows that he cannot defeat Sylvanas in combat, but instead aims to provoke her into trash mouthing the Horde and letting her mask slip. He knows she doesn't really care about the Horde and is only using them as toy soldiers for her own purposes. His plan works and after dressing him up and down with near lethal wounds, Sylvanas shows her true colors in front of all of her loyalists.
The Banshee Queen realizes she's been played and flies away to abandon the Horde and likely become the next major Raid boss for both factions to defeat... But not before delivering one final killing blow to the leader of the rebellion. Saurfang dies saving the Horde from Sylvanas and is carried into his resting place in Orgrimmar by his friends, including Anduin. An emotional funeral follows, and its guests seem to suggest a new temporary truce between the Alliance and the Horde.
The ending is certainly emotional, especially for fans of the old soldier, but some players may still be upset at unanswered questions. Sylvanas loyalists now understand that the reason she was really pushing for war and genocide was because she secretly teamed up with Queen Azshara and she requires dead souls to ensure that she can enslave Old Gods... But why? Nobody knows at this point, but the reason behind her secret plan will hopefully be revealed in Patch 8.3 when Sylvanas inevitably returns as a villain.
Whether the War Campaign was a successful game mechanic or not is something for each player to decide. The branching loyalty paths were certainly interesting, but the long waits between big story beats made it hard to stay invested in the conflict. Battle for Azeroth is certainly not a bad World of Warcraft expansion, but hopefully Blizzard takes careful note of the pieces that didn't work well and makes some improvements when the game's next expansion arrives in a few years.
For now, players who aren't feeling the War Campaign or the retail grind can always opt to switch over the WoW Classic for some nostalgic adventuring instead. Phase 1 of Classic is well underway and players are already defeating Onyxia and Ragnaros in the endgame raids. Players who are just getting started can put the WoW Classic Dungeon Guide to good use and start leveling up!
Be sure to check back for more WoW Classic strategy guides, news, and updates in the coming days. Until then, For The Horde!
World of Warcraft: Battle for Azeroth is available now on PC. World of Warcraft Classic is also available now for PC.