World of Warcraft: The War Within Is Coming – Why Now Is the Time to Play for the First Time

World of Warcraft’s The War Within expansion got a release date during the Xbox Games Showcase 2024 – coming to PC via on August 26, this expansion will be the first part of a trilogy of expansions known as The Worldsoul Saga, diving deep into the mythology of World of Warcraft.

To celebrate, Official Xbox Podcast host Malik Prince teamed up with World of Warcraft community manager and WoWCast host Bethany Stout to interview World of Warcraft Executive Producer Holly Longdale and Game Director Ion Hazzikostas, finding out more about this expansion, and why now is a perfect moment to jump into the game for the very first time. You can watch the entire interview below, or read on for all the key details.

Of course, it’s something new to see World of Warcraft on an Xbox podcast. “We’re just super excited to be part of Xbox now, coming from Blizzard,” said Longdale. “And we’re representing a PC game, World of Warcraft, so we’re super excited to be here, and we want to share with all the Xbox fans that we’re here to stay. We’ve been around for 20 [years] – we’re not your dad’s game, we’re not your mom’s game – and we’re going to be around for 20 more at least. We want to invite everybody into this incredible experience.”

Part of that invitation comes with the game’s free trial, allowing you to explore the world and level up all the way to level 20. But there’s a new option to do so with the Welcome to Azeroth bundle. Including everything players need to begin their adventure in Azeroth, this offers the current expansion, Dragonflight, a level 60 character boost, and 60 days of game time for $24.99 USD.

That bundle has been carefully-chosen to help you get ready for the upcoming expansion: “We’ve really done a lot over the last 20 years to ensure that 20 years of content is not 20 years of obstacles that you have to overcome to get to the latest, coolest thing,” said Hazzikostas. “When War Within comes out, Dragonflight, the current expansion, will be what you play through to level up and jump right into War Within. That will give you the power, give you an understanding of the mechanics, you’ll have a dragon companion that you’ll earn very early on […] and it’s also going to prepare you story-wise for what The War Within is going to bring.”

It all makes The War Within a great marker for when to start playing WoW – as the beginning of a brand-new, three-expansion saga, this is a new story that even seasoned veterans will be discovering for the first time. And that story is already being told ahead of the expansion’s August 26 launch:

“In the lead-up to War Within, there’s already stuff going on in World of Warcraft at this very minute,” said Hazzikostas. “Xal’atath – the villain that you saw at the end of that [Xbox Games Showcase] cinematic – has emerged into the world, and her tendrils are branching throughout Azeroth, weaving dark plans that are going to threaten us. It’s exciting to have that build-up to that launch moment.”

When it does kick off, The War Within will introduce brand new zones to explore: leading players under the surface of Azeroth into Dwarven caverns, taking them to the beautiful Hallowfall Canyon (with airship travel to get around), and into Azj-Kahet, the home of one of World of Warcraft’s most powerful civilizations, the Nerubian Empire. Incidentally, Nerubians are an intelligent race of arachnids  – and The War Within will offer an arachnophobia option to replace their models with (friendlier-looking) crabs.

We’ll also get a new feature called Warbands, which will allow players to switch between multiple characters without having to replay swathes of the expansion. Delves will offer a new dungeon experience, allowing for smaller, shorter dungeon crawls, even for solo players. For bigger dungeons, which often require you to play with others, The War Within will offer AI characters for those who can’t play with a party.

The War Within is doubly special for Blizzard, as it marks the 20th anniversary of World of Warcraft, and it’s an opportunity to look at how different kinds of players approach the game, and build something for all of them: “This is a huge year for World of Warcraft in general,” said Hazzikostas. “It’s really humbling to reflect upon my own relationship with the game, but really just to look back at the journey that we’ve taken as a development team with our community. We’re a game that has grown and evolved as our community has.

“I think not everyone has that time to spare these days – we’re all busy, we all have a lot of responsibilities, but we want to maintain a relationship, or build a new one, with this world that’s been special for so many people. [It’s] evolved over the years to keep that depth for those who want to seek it, but [we’re] making sure that there’s a wide range of levels of commitment and relationship you can have with the game and still have an epic, fulfilling experience.”

“What you saw [in the Xbox Games Showcase] cinematic was a celebration of the past 20 years, and the journey of our story over the past 20 years,” said Longdale. If you want to join in those celebrations – whether you’re a committed player, someone looking to return, or a total newcomer – now’s the time.