There may be a possibility of a time skip for Dragonflight's story in the MMO's alpha
NPC dialogue in the alpha build of the upcoming Dragonflight expansion suggests that World of Warcraft's story will jump forward in time following the events of Shadowlands. According to Wowhead, two conversations point to "several years" between Shadowlands' end and Dragonflight's beginning, even though Patch 9.2 only marked the "end" of Shadowlands story.
Genn Greymane, Mathias Shaw, and Turalyon discuss the Alliance's state in Stormwind, with Shaw mentioning the time skip and the fact that Anduin, the king of Stormwind, has not yet returned after departing at the end of Shadowlands. Turalyon, it seems, is ruling the Alliance in his stead.
In the Horde camp, Lor'themar, the Blood Elf leader, is speaking with Thalysrra, the Nightborne leader, remarking on how several years have passed since the Horde's forces have returned from the realms of death and the relative peace that has prevailed since then during that time.
After the events of Shadowlands and Dragonflight are revealed, it is revealed that Lor'themar and Thalysrra have married between Shadowlands and Dragonflight, and the two have been bickering over who proposed to whom during the marriage process. While the game's community is disappointed that they cannot attend the wedding, they are still excited for the two Horde leaders.
It's worth noting that the time skip has not yet been officially announced. In the Dragonflight alpha, NPC characters on both Horde and Alliance mention the heroes of Azeroth have returned from the Shadowlands more than "several years" ago, but dialogue may change before the game goes live.
Even so, a gap in the game's timeline that is larger than normal would be a nice change of pace. When a new expansion rolls around every two years, having Azeroth (and sometimes all of reality) be threatened by a new world-ending threat can get a little silly at times.
There has long been speculation that the Shadowlands may have time-dilation effects, but it is unclear whether the Shadowlands themselves are responsible for the time skip or if Blizzard simply wanted more breathing room for the next chapter.
In comparison with previous expansion testing cycles, Blizzard's Dragonflight alpha is currently in full swing. A release date for the expansion has not been set yet. Check out our hands-on Dragonflight alpha impressions for more information on what's new in Dragonflight, including the Evoker class and dragon riding.
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