Chris Metzen, one of Warcraft’s most prominent creators, has come back home.
World of Warcraft has become a staple in PC gaming, with its emblem well-pressed into the fantasy genre. Something about its story and the world within it keeps players returning to the lands of Azeroth again and again. Of course, there is no shortage of people to thank for the wonder that is World of Warcraft. But one particular individual has gone above and beyond the call of duty for this beloved game: Chris Metzen.
A Legend Begins
Chris Metzen began his legendary career with Blizzard Entertainment -known then as Chaos Studios- as an artist in 1994. His first contribution was to the game Justice League Task Force, a fighting game for the Super Nintendo Entertainment System (SNES). Metzen then began work on Warcraft: Orcs and Humans, the first game in the franchise that would define his career. In addition to various artworks and illustrations, Metzen’s work also included game documentation.
When Warcraft II: Tides of Darkness made its debut, his position expanded to include direct work on the entire fictional universe. Metzen’s skills blossomed, spreading and affecting the entirety of Blizzard Entertainment and every franchise the company produced for two decades. He helped co-create Blizzard’s second major gaming franchise Diablo and gave life to King Leoric with his first voice-acting role.
Metzen on the Rise
Metzen’s rise to the top continued with Starcraft, Blizzard’s next major project. He was a lead designer for the 1998 science fiction strategy game as well as voicing more characters. The following year Metzen would write the first story set in the Starcraft universe alongside fellow Blizzard employee Sam Moore.
2002 saw Metzen named creative director for Warcraft III: Reign of Chaos, a title he would proudly wear for every subsequent game Blizzard Entertainment produced over the next fourteen years. His influence spanned multiple games, creating worlds and stories for some of the longest-running franchises in the gaming world.
Metzen brought more than his creative talents to the table. During his tenure with Blizzard, Metzen voiced some of gaming media’s most iconic characters. From King Leoric of Diablo, as stated above, to Bastion of Overwatch, Metzen is credited with bringing many beloved characters to life with his vocal efforts. His most influential roles, however, are those of Warcraft’s King Varian Wrynn of Stormwind, Vol’jin of the Darkspear Tribe, and Thrall, Warchief of the Horde.
Metzen’s role as Thrall, arguably Warcraft’s most iconic character, began with Warcraft III: Reign of Chaos and has continued to this day. Metzen has been the man behind the voice each time the character appeared, providing him with a steady connection to the Warcraft Universe and its fans.
A Well Deserved Rest
Metzen announced his retirement from Blizzard Entertainment in September of 2016 after nearly twenty-three years with the company. He described his time with Blizzard as an era spent with his second family. But he expressed a desire to focus now on his first family -including his newly born third child. However, Metzen did promise -after much clamor- that he would continue to play the role of Thrall. His final project was the intro cinematic for Battle for Azeroth, the seventh expansion in the World of Warcraft franchise.
Credits: YouTube Account World of Warcraft
Following his retirement, Metzen has made sporadic appearances in Warcraft-related media, including even a cameo in the Warcraft film. In 2020, Metzen also founded Warchief Gaming, a company focusing on new stories and games in the tabletop strategy genre. The studio’s first game Auroboros: Coils of the Serpent was announced on Kickstarter in 2021, and quickly reached over 10,000 backers on the site.
A Long Awaited Return
Now, after several years away, Metzen is returning to Blizzard. He announced his decision to come out of retirement in December of 2022 following the successful launch of Blizzard’s ninth World of Warcraft expansion, Dragonflight. Metzen is set to work as a creative advisor, and his work will begin with World of Warcraft: Dragonflight before he branches out to other projects.
Chris Metzen is legendary in the gaming community, for his talents have impacted franchises across the industry for two decades. His return to Blizzard Entertainment signals a new and exciting time for the company, and -coupled with Dragonflight’s current success- has served to restore a lot of the goodwill Blizzard lost during World of Warcraft: Shadowlands. Mezten’s impact on the company can’t be overstated. Blizzard fans look forward to his continued presence in not only the world of Warcraft but in other Blizzard Entertainment franchises.
The sexual misconduct and harassment lawsuits aimed at Blizzard Entertainment during 2021 and 2022 have abated for the moment. Chris Metzen’s return is absolutely a positive step forward for the company. However, it is worth mentioning that many of the issues recently brought to light did occur under Metzen’s leadership. Metzen released a statement on Twitter in July of 2021 concerning the lawsuit.
Metzen apologized for his shortcomings as a leader, and for his failure to protect his subordinates the way they deserved. Many felt the apology, well-meaning though it was, came too late. His new position within Blizzard Entertainment will also not carry the same level of authority he previously possessed.
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I’m a Wonder Woman fanatic -married to my Superman- with a mild addiction to tea and World of Warcraft. One day I hope to write a book that history recognizes as a classic; it will most likely involve dragons.