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The Battlefield Overview in Wrath of the Lich King

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The Battlefield Overview in Wrath of the Lich King
The Howling Fjord:
It sits high above the Great Sea on the southeastern tip of Northrend. It is said that in ancient times the vrykul, a race of half-giant warriors, inhabited the land, founding a vast and prosperous civilization.
Utgarde Keep:
Among the cliffs of the Daggercap Bay in the Howling Fjord stands Utgarde Keep, an impervious fortress occupied by the savage and enigmatic vrykul. The ancient stronghold stretches deep into the earth, but thus far no scout from the Alliance or Horde has survived long enough to explore its depths. Long thought to be abandoned, Utgarde has only recently returned to occupation after millennia of disuse. Now the half-giant vrykul pour endlessly from within the keep's battle-scarred walls to assault the nearby settlements.
For the Alliance, the first major quest line you will be involved with is "Hell Has Frozen Over," which immediately pits you against the Vyrkul that are attacking the walls of Valgarde. This is the quest that will nab you the first green items (assuming one doesn't drop off the Vyrkul you kill) you will see in the expansion. Surprisingly enough, the green items you will first see are not much better than Karazhan epics. In fact, if you are completely Karazhan geared, you most likely won't be replacing your gear until you hit level 72 or 73. This is a big difference from the transition from WoW Classic to the Burning Crusade, as players with Black Wing Lair gear started replacing their epics as soon as they started doing Hellfire Peninsula with random green item drops. In Wrath, however, your epics will last you quite some time; the same goes for Arena gear for Seasons 3 and up.
In Valgarde, players will be re-introduced to Tirion Fordring, who is now the new incarnation of the Ashbringer and wields the legendary sword. Fordring has come a long way from when you last saw him, and he now leads the Argent Dawn and the Knights of the Silver Hand against Arthas. Unfortunately, the two factions have merged into the Argent Crusade, giving you (you guessed it!) yet another faction to grind up from neutral to exalted with.
On the Horde side, the first place you will see is Vengeance Landing, a site controlled by the Hand of Vengeance, a faction of the Forsaken sent to Northrend by Sylvanas for the specific purpose of overseeing the release of the Forsaken's "New Plague," which Horde players have periodically assisted with via quest lines. Some of you know where that plot thread eventually leads, but I won't spoil it for the rest of you. Just like the Argent Crusade, the Hand of Vengeance is another faction to grind up to exalted, with some decent rewards for doing so.
One of the first quest lines you will take up as a Horde player will begin with a quest called "War is Hell," which will pit you against a group of Alliance battle ships off the coast of New Agamand, which have been attacking the Forsaken for several days. Upon completion of this quest line, you are immediately introduced to Prince Keleseth, the first boss of Utgarde Keep and see a cut scene that spills a lot of lore.
Again, players who are geared in tier 5-equivelent equipment will not be seeing any big gear upgrades, but the quests completed here do net a sizeable amount of experience and reputation so they are very much worth completing.
There are several quests and encounters in Howling Fjord that serve as previews to things you will see in other zones at higher levels. Everywhere in the Fjord you will see servants of Arthas and discussion of plot points that you won't see culminate until you reach Icecrown Glacier; Tirion Fordring will eventually move from the Fjord to Icecrown, for example.

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