The opening ceremony for BlizzCon 2017 revealed the seventh expansion pack for World of Warcraft: Battle for Azeroth. As players predicted, Battle for Azeroth will take place on the high seas. Though what wasn’t predicted was the major focus on the conflict that started it all: Horde versus Alliance. Battle for Azeroth will offer two new continents, a level cap of 120, 6 new allied races to unlock, 10 new dungeons, island expeditions, real-time strategy inspired Warfronts, and so much more. This expansion has much to offer, so let’s dive right into everything that we know about Battle for Azeroth.
Battle for Azeroth: Horde versus Alliance
Battle of Azeroth starts off with a raging conflict between the two factions for a reason that is not fully known yet. With the defeat of the Legion and the immediate threat to Azeroth now gone, the Horde and Alliance are turning on one another and seeking new allies for help. With Alliance controlling the Eastern Kingdoms and Horde controlling Kalimdor, both factions are in search of a new powerful navy. Players will head out on the high seas with the Alliance going to Kul Tiras and Horde to Zandalar in hopes to make new alliances and bolstering their ranks.
The level cap will increase to 120. Each faction will have their own leveling zones away from one another with Horde venturing to Zandalar and Alliance to Kul Tiras. Each continent has three zones that have dynamic level-scaling identical to Legion, so you choose where to level. Once you reach level 120, the opposing faction’s zone becomes available to you.
Horde venture to Zandalar, once homeland of an ancient troll empire that has fallen into disarray after the events of the Cataclysm.
- Zuldazar is the capital city of the Zandalari and the only safe refuge the Zandalari trolls have in this region. This will be the capital of the Horde in this expansion as they try and stop the uprising that’s happening within Zuldazar.
- Nazmir is a festering swampland to the north that is filled with savage blood trolls that players will defeat by enlisting the aid of some powerful Loa. For those that don’t know, Loa are gods to the trolls. Nazmir is also home to a Titan facility, which might hold the key to destroy all life on Azeroth.
- Vol’dun is a foreboding desert, home to the Zandalari exiled criminals, a race called the vulpera, and snake men called the sethrak.
Alliance will venture to Kul Tiras, the home of a familiar name: Proudmoore. Alliance players will have to help the four houses that rule Kul Tiras in order to win their allegiance in the coming war. Kul Tiras is also broken into three main regions.
- Tiragarde Sound holds the capital of Kul Tiras which will serve as the capital for the Alliance. Tiragarde is led by Katherine Proudmoore, Jaina’s mother. Players will have to help Kul Tiras defend against pirates.
- Drustvar is a forested mountainous region that’s located in the south west part of Kul Tiras ruled by House Waycrest. Drustvar supplies arms to Kul Tiras. Players will find that the land is cursed, and will have to figure out the mystery of the missing Waycrests.
- Stormsong Valley is lush green and beautiful and ruled by House Stormsong. The people of this region are devoted to the sea with a radical religious fervor. They are led by a group of sea priests that supply boats for the Kul Tiran navy.
There was also mention about the Heroes of Azeroth like Anduin, Jaina, Sylvanas, and Thrall. Hopefully we will get more story arcs behind these major characters similar to Illidan. A major story everyone is excited to hear more about is the story of Vol’jin.
Battle for Azeroth introduces new playable races. Instead of just buying the expansion and getting these races, players will have to go on separate quests to unlock their story and figure out why these races are joining our factions. The races we will be receiving include Lightforged dranei, Void elves, and Dark Iron dwarves for the Alliance and Nightborne, Highmountain tauren, and Zandalari trolls for the Horde. Once unlocked players will be able to make these races that start at level 20. Each race will also get brand new racial abilities.
You will be able to pay to change your race, or pay for a boost like usual so you don’t have to start from scratch. Though, players who decide to level from scratch will receive Heritage Armor upon reaching level 110. This armor will be tailored to each race’s aesthetic and isn’t restricted to any armor type. This means even if you’re a dwarf priest you can still be decked out in the Dark Iron Dwarf’s Heritage plate armor.
Island Expeditions will be a 3-player scenario that are role agnostic. This means that it doesn’t matter if you want to bring 3 tanks, 3 healers, or whatever, the scenario will support that. These scenarios are meant to take around 15-20 minutes and because they are role agnostic the que times for them should be fairly short. The major goal is to obtain all the Azerite, which is used to level our new artifact.
Each island you encounter can change dramatically between playthroughs. A few different examples that were given were finding a neutral troll tribe you can befriend in one playthrough, and in the next you might find the island is cursed and full of demons, or undead. Other island features will include different creatures, capture points, chests and Azerite nodes, questgivers, consumables and shrines, different start locations, caves, ships, and so much more. You will also face off against the enemy faction that you will compete against in order to secure the Azerite. The AI you will go up against is interesting. They aren’t your typical NPC that will just attack you and that’s it, they can sabotage your strategy is so many different ways. Blizzard said this AI will be unpredictable and will always act differently, so you will never have one set strategy to fall back on.
There are four different difficulties to choose from. Normal, Heroic, Mythic, and even PvP. These Island Expeditions are something to really look forward to and we can’t wait to try them out.
Heart of Azeroth
We finally have our answer to what the follow up to our Artifact system will be. With our Artifact weapons being retired, it’s time to take a look at what our new Artifact grind is going to be. Magni will contact the heroes of Azeroth and entrust them with an ancient Titan Artifact called the Heart of Azeroth. The Heart of Azeroth will be our neck piece for the entirety of the expansion, so expect no more neck pieces to drop.
Azerite will be your new resource very similar to our current Artifact power. It feeds your necklace and will unlock properties in the armor you’ll be finding in your adventures on the high seas. The stronger your neck piece gets, the more powerful bonuses you unlock in your armor. This will be the main focus in our characters progression throughout Battle for Azeroth. This system looks and sound a bit complex, but trust me when I say it’s a lot simpler than it appears.
You will gain Azerite similar to how we currently gain Artifact power. Any current content players do will reward Azerite, the difference it has from AP is that it automatically powers our neck piece rather than it cluttering our bags. Each armor piece will have four rings containing several different powers that you pick between to unlock. Good news is when you replace that piece of gear you don’t have to start over in unlocking each ring. Blizzard has also stated that equipment you find from more challenging content will also have more powerful abilities to choose from. Equipment’s power is also related, so the abilities will not randomize each time. Meaning if you gain a mythic helmet off a raid boss then next week you collect the same helmet except titanforged then it will have the same exact abilities as your previous helmet.
Warfronts are another new and exciting addition that will be introduced in Battle for Azeroth. It will be a massive 20 player cooperative instance with Alliance vs. Horde. Warfronts are directly inspired by Warcraft 3 which is pretty dang cool. Warfronts will only be available to players once they reach level 120.
First plan of action when joining Warfronts is to establish your base. For Alliance you will start with a Town Hall, for Horde you’ll build a Great Hall. Next, you will need to decide if you want to start gathering resources or taking territories. Resources are very important in Warfronts; you will have to collect lumber and iron which will allow you to build buildings. However, territories are also very important. Taking territories will unlock new buildings and new research.
Each player that gathers resources gathers it for themselves and they will put into buildings they want to prioritize first. Communication is key when it comes to building. You could have everyone putting resources into different buildings and you’ll never get anything finished. Once your building is built, it’s time to start recruiting your troops that will fight on the frontline. The building tech tree was shown to be the original tech tree of Warcraft 3, though we aren’t 100% sure if it will stay that way.
Something to remember that this is not a PvP mode, and you’ll be up against AI armies commanded by specific an enemy commander who has their own strategies and army composition. There will be different enemy commanders each time you do a Warfront and randomized events that might pop up.
New changes will be coming to the social features of WoW. Battle.net voice is being integrated into World of Warcraft, which is the same voice that Overwatch currently uses. This will allow players to instantly chat in game rather than logging onto different apps like Vent or Discord. When you join a premade group, you will get a pop up that will ask if you want to join the voice chat. If you select yes then you’re simply put right into it.
The next big integration is WoW communities. These will be character specific groups that will also be cross server, and the best part is you will be able to be in multiple communities at the same time. These offer roster of members, simple role management, they have the quick join ability just like the premade group finder, and voice chat integration.
You can’t have Horde versus Alliance and keep how PvP is in its current state. A major change is how Blizzard is scrapping the idea of how PvP and PvE servers work. Many changes are coming to world PvP. There are many players who play on PvP servers maybe because of their guild, or friends are on that server, but don’t necessarily want to do any world PvP and vice versa for those that play on a PvE server but wouldn’t mind taking some part in world PvP. Players now will have the individual choice to opt into PvP from major cities. This works differently than our current toggle. The new version will make it so that no matter where you go, if you have PvP turned off you will not be able to attack or be attacked by other players until you toggle PvP back on in a major city. There are expected to be bonuses for players who toggle on PvP mode.
New Arenas and Battlegrounds will also be added. The new Arenas are Tiragarde and Zuldazar, and the new Battleground is Seething Shore. In the Seething Shore Battleground, Horde and Alliance descend upon Silithus to fight over Azerite bubbling to the surface. Seething Shore will have dynamic control point gameplay. An example given was to think of Arathi Basin with multiple possible flag locations, but you never knew exactly where the control point is going to spawn.
Of course, with any expansion comes brand new dungeons. Each faction will have separate level-up dungeons with four in Kul Tiras and four in Zandalar. All dungeons will be available to both sides at 120. It was announced that there will be Mythic Keystone updates as well. As someone who runs Mythic Keystones regularly, I am excited that they are keeping them and even wanting to improve on them. Blizzard mentioned improving the UI, so that it is easier to form and find Mythic Keystone groups. We were shown a few dungeons I will list below.
- Tol Dagor
- Waycrest Manor
- Shrine of the Storm
- Siege of Boralus
- Temple of Sethraliss
- The Underrot
- King’s Rest
Let’s talk about some of the raid information we were given. The raid we were shown was Uldir, Halls of Control. It is a Titan quarantine facility located in Nazmir. It was once a Titan laboratory where they tried to understand the nature of their ancient enemy, the Old Gods, which didn’t go so well. It will have 8 different bosses to face off against. Now the second raid was a little spoiled with its last boss, Queen Azshara, which is beyond exciting. Sadly, that’s all we got on raids, and we hope to see more soon.
Personally, I am beyond excited for this expansion and I can’t wait to see what other information we will receive in the up and coming months. Let us know if you’re excited or you might possibly pass on this expansion in the comments below. The last bit of news is that Legion’s Legendary system is going away… good riddance!Related: Battle for Azeroth, Blizzard Entertainment, BlizzCon 2017, Expansion, MMORPG, World of Warcraft