World of Warcraft dev talks narrative themes in patch 10.1, Embers of Neltharion

World of Warcraft dev talks narrative themes in patch 10.1, Embers of Neltharion
Images courtesy of Blizzard

Written by 

Lloyd Coombes


8th Mar 2023 16:00

World of Warcraft Dragonflight may have reinvigorated the MMO, but the work doesn't stop with a major expansion.

Next comes a regular cadence of patches, looking to delve deeper into the almost two-decade-old MMO's lore and characters.

With Dragonflight drawing praise for its quieter, more serene moments amidst the Dungeons, Raids, and attack cooldowns, we asked Steve Danuser, Narrative Director on World of Warcraft, if fans can expect more of the same from the upcoming patch 10.1, Embers of Neltharion.

WoW's Narrative Director on balancing serenity and spectacle in Embers of Neltharion

"We really like the balance that Dragonflight has of those big action moments that everyone expects from a World of Warcraft expansion with big battles, and things like that, but also lots of smaller character-based moments," Danuser said at a recent developer interview.

"I think those really stand out in Dragonflight because, unlike some previous expansions where you might only see part of the content if you have a Horde or Alliance character, everyone is working together through the course of Dragonflight."

"It allows all of the content, those local stories, and interesting smaller characters to be available to everyone, and we really like that," he explains.

"I think in both Embers of Neltharion, and the 10.0.7 content that leads up to it, you'll see some very quiet moments where you get to reflect with certain characters, and you see them grappling with these themes of legacy and history in the past and how that affects the future and all of those kinds of things," Danuser reveals.

WoW Dragonflight cinematic still showing a huge mountain fortress
Click to enlarge

That theme will be prevalent throughout the next patch, as it turns out.

"That's a big resonant theme throughout all of Dragonflight, and you'll definitely get to see that play out in quieter ways as well as going into big raid encounters that are also based around this theme of trying to claim a legacy."

"That theme of legacy was definitely something that started the wheels turning, and when you look at the dragon aspects, who are kind of the central characters that we knew about coming into this expansion, we really thought about what their legacy meant to them."

"We saw them in Cataclysm [WoW's 2010 expansion] give up their spectral powers in order to defeat one of their own," Danuser explains.

"In the years since then, we haven't really delved into it the repercussions of that and what it meant and what they might want for their own future. And that's what Dragonflight really gave us an opportunity to tell."

"By its very genesis, I think the themes of Dragonflight lend themselves to a story that even for these big, larger-than-life characters like Alex Straza, there is a very personal side to everything that happened in the past and what it means for the Dragons’ future."

"So all of these themes tied together and allow those bigger stories to unfold, as well as the smaller stories that our Quest designers and narrative designers and content designers really gravitated to in order to showcase those themes in characters both big and small."

For more on Embers of Neltharion, World of Warcraft's 10.1 patch, be sure to check out our guide to everything included, as well as a discussion about which features are included in a patch versus what's found in an expansion.

Lloyd is GGRecon's Editor-in-Chief, having previously worked at Dexerto and Gfinity, and occasionally appears in The Daily Star newspaper. A big fan of loot-based games including Destiny 2 and Diablo 4, when he's not working you'll find him at the gym or trying to play Magic The Gathering.

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