The chilly, flat Borean Tundra is one of two entrance zones for Northrend. Warsong Hold, home of Garrosh Hellscream, sits in the middle of the zone, , while the Alliance are based out of Valiance keep in the southeast, and the Scourge hold sway on the fields south of Warsong (the Naga also hold a small settlement called Riplash Strand). Up north, the Taunka and the Tuskarr make their homes, also threatened by the Scourge at En'kilah. And in the northwest, the subzone of Coldarra hosts The Nexus, a dungeon hub with level 71-73 and level 80 five man instances (The Nexus and The Oculus), and a raid wing called The Eye of Eternity, home to none other than Malygos himself.
Howling Fjord is the other entrance to Northrend, where dark gray cliffs rise above the icy waters of Daggercap Bay. It's home to the Vykrul, a new NPC race that centers their operations around Utgarde Keep, an instance hub which hosts a level 70-72 instance (the first many players will run in Northrend) and a level 80 five man called Utgarde Pinnacle. The Forsaken have made a settlement on the east coast called Vengeance Landing, where rumors say they're working on a brand new plague, and the Alliance have made a home in Valgarde, a port city threatened by the emerging Vrykul.
The Dragonblight is where dragons make their final resting place, but the Scourge has built up on both sides here -- Azjol Nerub, home of the spidery Nerubians, bounds the zone on the west, while Naxxramas floats above the eastern border. Wyrmrest Temple (believed to be built by the Titans) stands in the center, surrounded by a shrine for each of the dragon aspects, each under attack by the Scourge in a hungry grab for power. But the Scourge have a challenge here as well -- the Scarlet Crusade has transformed into the Scarlet Onslaught and hope to bring the Lich King down once and for all. Alliance have settlements in Fordragon Hold, Stars' Rest, and Wintergarde Keep, while the Horde make their homes at Agmar's Hammer, the Kor'kron Vanguard, and Venomspite. The Tuskarr host a port at Moa'ki Harbor in the south, where humble huts overlook a vast expanse of sea and sky.<br><br>The Dragonblight is also notable for being the place where Arthas first obtained Frostmourne, and there are remnants of that first expedition still left in the zone.
Grizzly Hills is home to the Grizzlemaw Furbolgs, but that hasn't stopped all kinds of other groups from fighting the bears for their own place on the land -- the Iron Dwarves have made a home in Thor Modan in the north, while the Drakkari Trolls take places whereever they can, holding just a few ruins. Their former stronghold, Drak'Tharon Keep, has fallen to the Scourge, but both Alliance and Horde have made headway here with their own settlements. Finally, the Hills are home to a few old friends -- Wendigo and Sasquatch roam the area, while darker threats like The Venture Company and even rumors of an Old God also are to be found here.
Sholazar Basin shouldn't exist at all -- it's a tropical, Un'goro-like region in the middle of the frozen wastes, and the reason for its existence is unknown, though the mystery seems to revolve around a series of five pillars believe to have been erected by the Titans themselves. Hemet Nesingway is here, and of course anywhere you find the Titans, you'll find the dwarves, hunting for clues to the past. The zone is also home to a faction war -- the Wolvar people of the Frenzyheart Tribe are clashing with the Oracles, an evolved version of the Murloc races, and players will be forced to choose a side between them.
Crystalsong Forest (so named for the "trees" there, which are actually crystalline structures growing from the ground) is a place of old magic and strange happenings. The Tuskarr believe that many of the Blue Dragonflight (killed here in a great battle with the Black Dragonflight) left their magic behind, and the crystals that sing around this zone are now kept up by crystalline golems and remnants of the Green Dragonflight. There's magic at work here so powerful that few understand it -- the Lich King himself has lead two unsuccessful campaigns against the place, and appears to be leaving it be for now. Players who want to explore the region will have to step carefully -- at the first sign of being attacked, the old magic at work here will defend itself viciously.
Zul'drak is the ancestral home of the Drakkari Ice Trolls, ruled by their Frost King Malakk. Gundrak is their capital city, a level 76-78 five man instance with four bosses (five on heroic mode). The Drakkari are much more tribal than even known Trolls -- they are barbaric and vicious, and we'll likely see even the old Troll aspects help us lead the charge against their current culture. The only group challenging the Trolls here (besides players, of course) is the Scourge, who have taken Drak'Tharon Keep for their own, and also host an instance there for players to fight through at level 74-76. The entire zone of Zul'drak is basically all one city -- it'll be interesting to see how Blizzard folds an area the size of Shadowmoon Valley into one place and setting.
Dalaran, located above the Dragonblight, serves as the main hub for Northrend as Shattrath did for Outland, and is a magical, bustling city of the Kirin Tor and the Violet Citadel. The city contains magic of all kinds, and is steeped in the lore of Azeroth's past -- nearly every main figure in the World of Warcraft has visited and met with the mages in the city at some point. Alliance players will find a home in the Silver Enclave, while Horde will be able to meet in Sunreaver's Sanctuary. And below the city is a dank set of sewers called the Underbelly, some of which, since the city was literally ripped from the ground and floated up to Northrend, open out into empty air.
It is here at the Storm Peaks that we may finally find out what the Dwarves (and everyone else) want to know about the history of the world of Azeroth. While the Titans' influence is felt all over Northrend, it is here, in their city of Ulduar, that their footprints are found most deep. And speaking of footprints, the Storm Giants also roam this mountainous zone, treasuring their privacy and using their crystalline golems to keep any passers-by from bothering them. This is a rough zone -- the wind and weather have kept any major settlements from being formed here, but the Dwarves have made a place at Frosthold, and the goblins, always interested in Titan treasure, have created a neutral town at K3, at the base of the mountains. Only the hardiest of adventurers will survive in the Storm Peaks, but those who do may learn more about the world they live in than ever before.
Finally, Icecrown stands as the main stronghold of the continent of Northrend, and it is a place of dark ice and old evil. It is here that the Lich King sits on the Frozen Throne and commands his dark armies of Scourge. The Frostwyrm Sindragosa was summoned here (Sindragosa's Fall is where the expansion's cinematic took place), and Angrathar, the Wrath Gate, is where Arthas repels Horde and Alliance alike. Icecrown Citadel itself is not yet in the game, but will eventually be a level 80 raid, and maybe players, if someday strong enough, will be able to do what no one else has yet been able to do -- end the evil of the Scourge and the Lich King himself.