The Horde and Alliance are once again at war! With a title like Battle for Azeroth, hostilities between the two factions look to be heating up in a big way. The community has been given lots of information in the days since the Blizzcon 2017 announcement by way of posts and interviews. Battle for Azeroth offers significant updates to the game as well as what is shaping up to be a vibrant storyline populated not only with familiar characters but also with new allies and characters.
Quality of Life
World of Warcraft is by any standard, a venerable title. As such, there has been numerous gameplay and mechanical changes over the years as the game has evolved. Leveling a new character has been one such thing. As additional expansions have added more zones and more stories, mechanics have been added to improve the leveling experience. However, while these changes have resulted in less time spent leveling, they have also resulted in players out-leveling the zones before they can complete the zone story. To help address this, Blizzard announced that the level scaling technology used in Legion is being applied to the entire world with previous expansions having reasonable order flexibility and level caps. The breakdown will look something like this: 0-10: Starting Zones, 10-60: Classic, 60-80: Burning Crusade & Wrath of the Lich Kind, and 80-90: Cataclysm & Mists of Pandaria. This scaling will also be applied to the dungeons and rewards from these zones. These changes will start rolling out in patch 7.3.5 on the PTR and may be active before Battle for Azeroth launches.
In addition other smaller but arguably just as important quality of life announcements have been made as well. The default backpack, which has been the same size since Classic at 16 slots, will be getting an upgrade to an as yet undetermined number of slots. This upgrade will be tied to the existence of the Blizzard Authenticator being tied to the player’s account. Considering that they said in the past the size was tied to old and very difficult to modify code; one has to wonder if this is 1/2 work around and 1/2 incentive. If that’s the case, it’s a great way to get more users utilizing the authenticator and increasing account security. The Blizzard Authenticator is available in physical format, for Android devices, or iOS devices.
Players will also have the number of character slots available per server increased with the addition of six more slots! These slots are being added to allow players to create characters from the new allied races, specifics regarding the new allied races will be addressed later. New allied races must be unlocked via specific questlines that players must complete allowing the new race to be selected at character creation or via the race change service. These new characters will start at level 20 and upon arriving at level 110 will unlock an iconic race specific heirloom armor set.
The distinction between PVP and PVE servers is going away. All servers will now default to PVE with the ability to opt-in to PVP content in the world. You will only be able to opt-in at a major faction city. Opting-in to being flagged for PVP will be incentivized but there are no specifics as of yet. The intention of this change is to utilize the sharding technology so that players will be able to play however they want with their friends without having to change servers. It should also help to alleviate server Faction imbalances as well.
To round out the quality of life changes, World of Warcraft will take advantage of the technology implemented for Blizzard Social. Players will be able to join voice chat with your party or within your raid and see who’s speaking in game. This integration also allows Blizzard to add new features to guilds, allow for the creation of communities, and facilitate communication via a new and improved Voice Chat system. Both Guilds and Communities have a member roster and offer access to a chat channel, a shared event calendar, and access to Quick Join functionality. However, unlike Guilds, Communities will not have access to a shared Bank or Achievement system but will be Cross-Server.
Expansion: Battle for Azeroth Overview
The Blizzcon 2017 announcements for the new expansion: Battle for Azeroth certainly lived up to expectations! The opening cinematic is quite simply, gorgeous. If you haven’t seen it yet, you should. With the defeat of the Legion, diplomatic relations between the Alliance and Horde and failed and the two factions are now at war outright. Setting the stage of the expansion, Lorderon lies under siege and
Teldrassil lies in ashes. As hostilities mount and the conflict grinds on, the champions of both the Alliance and Horde search for new allies.
The Alliance turns to the island Kingdom of Kul Tiras, home of Jaina Proudmoore, and its forces. The navy of Kul Tiras is powerful, as is the Kul Tirans themselves. Along with their new allies,
the Lightforged Dreanai, Void Elves, and Dark Iron Dwarves the addition of Kul Tiras and it’s resources could turn the tide of the war. These new allies (minus the Kul Tirans) will join the Alliance, and become playable options, at the completion of a race-specific questline. Kul Tiras is divided into three zones, each with their own denizens, aesthetics, and troubles. These zones can be completed in whatever order the player chooses and will have faction only dungeons that will remain locked to the Alliance until level 120.
The Horde is likewise searching for a similar advantage and turn their eyes to the Ancient Troll Kingdom of Zandalar. Like Kul Tiras, the island kingdom possesses a powerful navy and additional resources that could turn the tides of war. The Zandalari will accompany the Nightborne and the Highmountain Tauren as allies to the Horde. These allied races can be unlocked via a race-specific quest just like their Alliance opposites. Zandalar itself is also divided into three zones, each with their own denizens, aesthetics, and troubles. Like the starting zones of
Legion, these zones can be completed in whatever order the player chooses and will have faction only dungeons that will remain locked to the Alliance until level 120.
In addition, The life-blood of Azeroth herself is spilling forth onto the surface, crystallizing into a gold and blue substance of great value. Called Azerite, this substance empowers the Heart of Azeroth; a powerful artifact gifted by the Titan herself via Magni Bronzebeard. This powerful artifact, known as the Heart of Azeroth, in turn, will be able to increase the powers of as of yet undetermined pieces of azerite armor. This will work similarly to the Artifact Progression system from Legion.
There was so much World of Warcraft related content revealed at Blizzcon that it’s hard to cover all of it. From this point forward, details will be in point form.
- The Battle for Azeroth expansion will launch with a total of ten dungeons, four per faction until level 120 at which point a max level dungeon will open. There will also be one raid: Uldir, Halls of Control, at launch as well.
- At level 120, players will be able to group up with three other players for a role agnostic challenge based in dynamically generated islands with a new type of AI Blizzard developed to be more intelligent and tactical.
- Blizzard is introducing Warfronts; 20 player co-operative experiences inspired by the RTS genre. Players will build structures, gather resources, and lead troops to victory!
- Located off the coast of Sillithus, the new battleground, Seething Shore, tells a part of the pre-expansion story. Should be available on the PTR starting patch 7.3.5. In addition, there will be two new arenas, Tiragarde and Zuldazar.
- Mythic Keystones are here to stay and will be available to players at level 120.
- Each of the Allied races will have their own unique racials and some additional flavor effects. Void Elves will be able to shift between forms. Zandalari druids will their own form and have a raptor travel form.
- Blizzard is actually working on a World of Warcraft: Classic! This will be a legacy server type experience, hopefully without all the frustrations of Vanilla WoW but the work is just getting underway.
- Beta opt-in is already active, might see invites in the new year!
For the HORDE! For the ALLIANCE!
Even with all the information presented above, there’s still more available! The content presented here is intended to highlight some of what the community learned over the Blizzcon weekend. As a community, Hells Right Hand is excited about the expansion and we’re looking for others who share our passion for the game. If you’re interested, check us out here. If you’d like to read more, head on over to Wowhead, MMO-Champion, or Icy-Veins for more in-depth coverage. The quality of life changes that are coming are extremely exciting and the content we’ve seen so far from Battle for Azeroth looks amazing! How do you feel about the changes and the coming expansion?