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WoW Wednesday: Diving Into the Rise of Azshara

After yesterday’s reset, Patch 8.2 has launched. With the release of Rise of Azshara, a new world has opened up to players of Battle for Azeroth. This week we’ll be taking an in-depth look at what you need in order to start sinking your teeth into the content of Patch 8.2, open up both of the new zones and make the most out of your preparation for Season 3.

As with Battle for Dazar’alor and the swap over to Season 2, this last season of Battle for Azeroth officially ended with the regional restarts this week. While your weekly chests will be viable to claim for both PvP and PvE, this week both Rated Player vs. Player and Mythic+ Content will be locked out. Season 3 will open up July 9th with a new Mythic+ affix and a reset of the PvP leaderboards.

Until the start of that new season both player gear and certain reward drops will be restricted to no more than item level 420. Afterwards that ceiling will increase to 450, with Mythic and Gladiator loot averaging at iLvl 445.

Your first steps into Rise of Azshara will begin by venturing to Nazjatar and uncovering the plot of N’zoth. This is the first bit of gateway content to the new patch, which can be accessed after you have unlocked World Quests on your account. Don’t worry about completing certain steps of the War Campaign to start major patch content. After logging in you’ll receive a bread-crumb quest to talk to your War Effort’s leader (either Nathanos Blightcaller or Genn Greymane). From there your fleet will begin to make haste towards the Horde’s mysterious target.

Once you’ve been cordially invited to Naz’jatar you and your faction will find yourselves besieged by the forces of Queen Azshara. She and her mighty armies are intent on retrieving a particular relic in the Horde’s possession and control the Tidestone of Golganneth. With it they have opened up the sea to the depths of Nazjatar and could crush both factions when they wish. Thanks to the timely intervention of local forces, the two factions find refuge in the deeps.

The Horde is assisted by the Unshackled. This renegade faction comprised of Gilgoblins, Makura and Sea Giants have banded together for their mutual survival. Step by step they’ve worked to free themselves from the Naga’s slavery and carve out a home. The Alliance, on the other hand, befriend the Waveblade tribe of Ankoan. Descended from ancient Jinyu, these deep-sea warriors have been hunted for generations by the Naga. Driven to desperation by the death of their leader and the sacking of Mezzamere, they’ve arrived on Azshara’s doorstep to wage a war for their survival.

After a string of introductory quests in Nazjatar, which introduce players to the new Benthic gear system as well as several faction-related events, Magni Bronzebeard calls for your assistance. With M.O.T.H.E.R.’s calculations complete, he has found a way to infuse the Heart of Azeroth with even more power. His questline (which reintroduces a favorite character of mine) unlocks the Essences system.

Essences for the Heart of Azeroth work much like socketable talents. As your Heart grows in power and levels up, it will unlock several talent slots starting at level 35. You can equip up to three unique essences at a time, one of them giving you a new on demand ability. All have potent passive effects with some introducing significant damage reduction abilities or resource generation. Some Essences are currently available in game while others will be introduced with the launch of Season 3. Each Essence has multiple ranks and tiers, with Rank 4 being the last. Each one features increased power between ranks, with the last featuring a flashy cosmetic effect.

If you’re concerned about power leveling an alternate character’s Heart, worry not! Completing this chain to unlock the Heart Forge and Essences will auto-boost your heart to level 35.

After you’ve completed both of these chains and return to Nazjatar, you’ll be able to access Mechagon. Whereas the former is a very World Quest and storyline driven zone, the latter is based firmly on exploring the entire landmass.

Built much like the Timeless Isle, Mechagon opens up to players purely through grinding and exploring. Ruled over by the tyrannical King Mechagon, he and his mechagnomes extend an invitation to all who would sacrifice their flesh; join his kingdom, obey his regime, and become machine as the Titans intended. Those who disapprove or disagree will be exiled, or worse. After a brief introductory quest, you’ll quickly find yourselves side by side with Prince Erazmin in a fight to liberate the soul of his very people. Welcome to the Rustbolt Resistance!

Your progress in Mechagon is driven by grinding mobs, tinkering in Rustbolt and working on larger projects across the Island. Eventually you’ll be able to build your own gadgets and cosmetic rewards, as well as trinkets and rings.

While these are the steps to unlocking all of the new content to Patch 8.2, each synergizes with the other differently. If you intend to focus more on the cosmetic aspects and grinding at your own pace, Mechagon will be the place to go. Whereas Nazjatar’s factions are reputation locked by Daily Quests, the Rustbolt Resistance can gain rep through just about any zone-wide action. If you were so inclined you could collect every mount within a week’s time.

However, if you’re seeking to maximize your gear and push your personal performance you will be spending a heavy amount of time in each zone. Both the Rustbolt Resistance and your new allied faction contain several Azerite Essences locked by reputation. The new Benthic Gear system uses Pristine Manapearls, a currency shared with the Nazjatar factions, which is used to purchase and empower your gear. Likewise, Trinkets and Rings can only be obtained through Mechagon content. The new Pocket-Sized Computation Device is tooled similarly to Legion artifacts and will only increase in item levels with newer color-coded punch cards socketed into it.

The new Essences for the Heart of Azeroth cannot be ignored either if you seek to unlock several prior to the beginning of Season 3. While several are gated in Mythic Chests or Conquests grind (and thus can only be done after the new Season starts) most are unlockable through reputation, quests, and other areas of gameplay. One of the few PvP essences can be unlocked on launch day by winning two battlegrounds and a PvP island expedition.

Patch 8.2 does feature some more of the same, but for now at least now there’s enough fresh content to sink our teeth into for the new season.

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About Phil DeMerchant

A young pundit of the Industry, Phil first fell in love with gaming through World of Warcraft and the 3D platformers of the Playstation Era. Honing his expertise over years of reporting, he now focuses on investigative work on appraising and evaluating industry practices.