World of Warcraft is back with a new expansion: Battle for Azeroth. The expansion is slated for an August 14, 2018 release with new quests, Allied Races and a series of events that follows the fall of the Burning Legion.
Conflict at the heart of Warcraft is reignited with a new age of warfare beginning.
But, for fans of the game that have noted a major decline in population and the feeling of community, one question lingers: should you buy World of Warcraft: Battle for Azeroth?
What Can You Expect When You Purchase World of Warcraft: Battle for Azeroth?
If you’ve been through Vanilla, BC, Lich King, Cataclysm, MOP, WoD and Legion, you’re probably wondering: what’s left? And that’s what a lot of fans of WoW are asking. It seems like the developers have done everything that they possibly can.
But you would be wrong.
Battle for Azeroth begins with the story that the Legion’s crusade has shattered Azeroth as players know it. The world’s wounds are being tended, but the conflict between the Horde and Alliance rages on.
An uncertain future awaits, and players will need to:
– Claim the world’s resources
– Fight on numerous fronts
– Recruit new allies
Players will start by traveling to two fabled kingdoms: Zandalar (Horde) and Kul Tiras (Alliance). If you’re a fan of questing and leveling up, you’ll be introduced to ten new levels of gameplay that bring the maximum level up to 120.
And, as all veteran players know, once you’ve leveled, you’ll be able to engage in:
– World Quests
As your power continues to grow, you’ll set out and explore the world around you.
If you pre-order, you’ll gain access to new allied races before anyone else. But if you plan to wait, you’ll still have access to these races. This isn’t as exciting as a new class, such as a Demon Hunter, Monk or Death Knight, but the allied races are a nice added touch.
Heroes will be able to enlist the help of:
– Highmountain Tauren
– Lightforged Draenei
– Void Elves
Players that choose to complete the entire leveling experience as one of these new races will be able to obtain the Heritage Armor set.
Great Sea Islands
An exciting addition to the game is here: the Great Sea. Players can go out and fight in the Great Sea to plunder their enemies. The chance to battle on the sea is here, and you’ll be facing enemy players and rival intruders.
You’ll be able to bring a group of three along for the fun.
But, it’s not all about dominance and enhancing your character. The Great Sea Islands also introduce the beginning of your efforts to fuel the war effort. You’ll be working to collect each island’s resources.
Island expeditions are a great way to earn Azerite crystals.
But players need to explore the landscape in true expedition fashion. You’ll have to unlock areas with your team members, and islands are not static. Hundreds of locations with different aspects each time a person arrives keep island expeditions fun and exciting.
The island may change every time you arrive on an island.
Advanced NPCs are introduced when trying to get Azerite. These NPCs are filled with more attacks, spells and artificial intelligence than any other character players have experienced. These NPCs have tactical layers, and this means some groups going offensive and others defensive.
AI has tactical knowledge of the island, and this makes the NPCs unpredictable.
Expeditions come with different difficulty levels, and there’s also a PVP version where the foes that you face are other players.
Warfronts are a massive player experience that starts with 20-player cooperation to secure a strategic location. You need to make your way to the frontlines and lead the charge. You’ll be responsible for building up your faction’s forces, and this means:
– Battling enemy commanders
– Laying siege to the objective
The mode is a new PvE mode that has been inspired by Warcraft RTS battles. It’s a fun and exciting change in the World of Warcraft toolbox of things to do.
One of the infusions of power that will come about in the Battle of Azeroth is the inclusion of titanic might. It’s your chance to start infusing your armor with a new resource that adds:
– New traits
– New powers
You’ll be gathering Azerite to unlock your new powers.
Alliance Kingdom: Welcome to Kul Tiras
Kul Tiras is the home of a well-known part of World of Warcraft lore: Jaina Proudmoore. Aliance heroes will enter Kul Tiras with a land filled with surprises. You’ll be introduced to three main zones when in Kul Tiras:
– Tiragarde Sound
– Stormsong Valley
Adventure awaits heroes at every corner. You’ll start by diving into a land of dark magic and betrayal. Pirates will take to the seas and invade your shores. These powerful foes use death magic and consist of mystical priests with the intent to obliterate the enemy: you.
Tiragarde is filled with stony peaks, while the red forests and high plans of Drustvar await. Stormsong Valley is picturesque, pushing WoW’s game engine to the limit as players navigate through the canals to unlock the secrets of the Battle for Azeroth.
Horde Empire: Welcome to Zandalar
Horde players rejoice. You’ll be thrown into Azeroth’s oldest city: Zuldazar. Horde players will make their way to the Zandalar empire as they come across powerful blood-trolls, titan constructs and larger-than-life dinosaurs that cause havoc all across Zandalar.
You’ll also have access to three main lands:
Zuldazar is filled with lure as you enter Azeroth’s oldest known city. You’ll then make your way into the horrifying black swamps of Nazmir before trekking across the deserts of Vol’dun.
Dark and deadly, heroes of the Horde will need to display their might when they visit the Zandalar empire.
Communities Arrive on the Scene
World of Warcraft started as a social space where players really got to know their guilds. I remember players sitting in world chat talking all day and night, and it was a time when players really relied on one another for progression.
People can jump right into LFG now, and there’s a whole disconnect in the community.
But developers are trying to revive this sense of community that a lot of players felt start to fade after Wrath of the Lich King.
Communities allow adventurers to meet one another and share common interests through the game. Communities can be formed, and even cross-realm social groups can be formed to allow players to reignite a community that seems lost to the past.
What are Beta Players Talking About?
Alpha and beta phases existed for the Battle of Azeroth testing, and this is a great way to really get a feel of how the community feels about the coming expansion.
And there are mixed emotions.
Class changes. The class changes are not winning over fans. It seems as if the developers have run out of ideas. Druid changes have been intense, with a lot of nerfs and changes to the class that make gameplay seem different. A lot of class cooldowns have been added to the Global Cooldown, so gameplay and rotation must be more precise. This means fewer of the major spells can be used in quick succession. There are a lot of pruned abilities added back into the game. Bleeds and poison will scale with haste, so that’s a nice boost to melee classes. Wowhead has a long list of class changes to follow.
Starting experiences. Players are very mixed when it comes to the starting experience of the expansion. A lot of players feel like the Alliance has a “humanized” feel, and there’s a lot of the same content being rehashed. For example, you’ll note a lot of rehashed content from Northrend and Darkshire. Not that I don’t love both of these zones, but it does feel rushed. The Horde experience is a lot better, and while there are complaints, the Horde zones seem more polished.
PVP. PVP players can now find PVP being optional game wide, and this leads to an awesome questing experience. The addition of honor back into the mix makes a lot of players happy that they’ll finally be able to work towards a “goal” in PVP. But every server is going to default to PVE, so that’s different.
Of course, there are a lot of different changes available, so this is just scratching the surface of the changes you’ll experience in the game. You’ll find that attack power and weapon damage have changed, and there’s also the reintroduction of utility in raids.
Remember how buffs were essential to the gameplay of WoW, and then all of a sudden, it was like raid buffs were ripped out?
Well, they’ve come back to some extent in Battle for Azeroth. You’ll find that Warriors will be able to Battle Shout, lasting an hour and adding 10% to all raid member strength and agility. War-Scrolls have also been introduced, helping Scribes have more of a job than they had in the past.
Damage modifiers are also coming back, but in a very limited spectrum. Rogues and Demon Hunters are the only two classes able to modify damage.
A lot of underperforming talents have been removed, others added and some added to help with the loss of artifacts – I know, I really liked my artifact weapon, too.
Professions have remained lackluster for several expansions, and while Scribes get some form of an update, for the most part, I am disappointed with professions. I am not sure we’ll ever see the days of the Burning Crusade and Vanilla WoW when professions were very powerful and offered some of the best gear in the game.
Tier sets are going away, and an item level and stat squish is incoming – goodbye large numbers.
Heart of Azeroth is a medallion that you’ll receive from Magni Bronzebeard, and it’s an artifact that you’ll carry the entire expansion. This is sort of like your artifact weapon, but on a much smaller scale. Your necklace absorbs all of the Azerite nearby, and it can level up to provide boosts to other pieces of gear.
When it comes to PvE, you’ll have 10 dungeons to enjoy from the start of the expansion. You’ll find that some of these dungeons are only available to one faction during the leveling process.
Mythic only dungeons also exist, and these include:
– Siege of Boralus
– King’s Rest
A Mythic+ system is planned for the expansion, too. This system makes it more difficult to complete the dungeon, but with higher difficulty also comes better rewards.
Raids will include the Halls of Control and Uldir.
Battleground blacklisting has been removed, and Large Battlegrounds have been added into the mix. Large Battlegrounds allow for large-scale PVP, such as Isle of Conquest or Alterac Valley. Fans of Strand of the Ancients will be sad that the battleground has been removed.
War Mode can be enabled now, and it’s a mode that allows for players to gain access to Honor Talents when they’re out in the world questing. What do you get for taking these risks? Experience bonuses. Players that prove to be the biggest assassins will have a bounty on their heads.
Four PVP talents can be used outdoors.
Conquest points are introduced to stop the RNG from ruining the player-versus-player experience that so many players miss from just an expansion ago. There are also some rumors of a Dueler’s Guild where 1-on-1 duel queues exist, but we’ll see if the concept actually makes it into the final patch.
Both factions will have access to six reputation factions each, so there will be a rep grind.
Overall, fans of World of Warcraft will definitely want to splurge and spend on World of Warcraft: Battle for Azeroth.
The beta access to the game has been primarily positive, and players have been able to experience just some of what the game has to offer. PVP and PvE has some major additions, and I’m sure we’ll see a lot of additional class tuning during the first few weeks of the expansion release.
World of Warcraft: Battle for Azeroth can be pre-ordered here, and is scheduled to release on August 14, 2018 for PC and Mac.