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World of Warcraft: Battle for Azeroth

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World of Warcraft: Battle for Azeroth
World of Warcraft Battle for Azeroth.jpg
Developer(s)Blizzard Entertainment
Publisher(s)Blizzard Entertainment
Director(s)
  • Ion Hazzikostas
  • Alex Afrasiabi
  • Chris Robinson
Producer(s)
  • Ray Cobo
  • Shani Edwards
Designer(s)
  • Matt Goss
  • Jeremy Feasel
  • Steve Burke
SeriesWarcraft
Platform(s)Microsoft Windows, macOS
ReleaseAugust 13/14, 2018
Genre(s)Massively multiplayer online role-playing game
Mode(s)Multiplayer

World of Warcraft: Battle for Azeroth is the seventh expansion pack for the massively multiplayer online role-playing game (MMORPG) World of Warcraft, following Legion. It was announced at BlizzCon on November 3, 2017. In contrast to previous expansions, which went live at midnight in each time zone, Battle for Azeroth had a simultaneous release for all regions, corresponding to midnight Central European Summer Time on August 14, 2018.[1][2][3]

In addition to raising the level cap from 110 to 120, the expansion introduces the Kul Tiras and Zandalar continents and four allied races for both the Alliance and the Horde, while also adding dungeons and raids,[4] warfronts (20-player PvE mode against opposite faction NPCs), and uncharted islands.

Gameplay[edit]

The expansion allows players to level up to level 120, an increase from the level cap of 110 in the previous expansion Legion.[1] Initially, there will be ten dungeons included with 8.0 with Mythic Plus versions of the dungeons and the first raid, Uldir, being available soon after the game's release. Following the beginning of preorders and the release of four allied races in January 2018, the number of character slots per server was raised from 12 to 16; with the launch of the expansion in August, it was raised to 18, to make room for the two additional races unlocked with initial content. The number of available bag slots in the player's backpack, which has been fixed at 16 slots since the game's release in 2004, will also receive an increase if an authenticator is attached to an account.

Changes to gameplay[edit]

A "stat squish" and "item squish" was implemented to lower the numbers used in the game, e.g. a legendary item previously with a level of 1000 reduced to 265. Unique class-specific buffs are added back, i.e. mages' Arcane Brilliance and priests' Mark of Fortitude. Titanforging—a random event that raises the initial item level of an item gained via drops or rewards—is still in the game; however, if the item is one of those affected by the Heart of Azeroth, then that item cannot be titanforged.

Changes were also made to levelling in earlier content with Legion's 7.3.5 patch. The level-scaling tech introduced in Legion not only be continued in the new continents of Kul Tiras and Zandalar, but was also be applied to content from prior expansions, allowing larger level brackets for lower level zones. Further, as previous expansions are now included in the base game, the level ranges for those expansions are now broadened, allowing players to spend more time leveling in preferred expansions and avoid others entirely. Some examples include a zone like Westfall having its level bracket (at 10–15 as of Legion) increased to 10–60, whilst continents such as Outland and Northrend sharing a 60–80 level bracket. The aim of this change is to encourage more player choice whilst levelling and to allow players to experience the full story of a particular zone without overlevelling the relevant quests.

There were not as many class changes in Battle for Azeroth as there were for Legion, although Ion Hazzikostas noted, "Not all experiments were successful (i.e. Demonology Warlocks). Survival Hunter execution needs work but we're committed to the melee Hunter."[5]

Heart of Azeroth[edit]

The Heart of Azeroth is an artifact given to the player character from the world soul via Magni Bronzebeard. It is a necklace that can use the power of Azerite, the lifeblood of the embryonic titan Azeroth (See Plot, below). Azerite is similar in function to Legion's artifact power, in that it is gathered normally from playing the game and is used to upgrade an artifact; likewise, the Heart is similar in function to Legion's artifact weapons by having the capacity to be constantly upgraded. Unlike artifact weapons, however, the Heart is shared with all of the player's specializations and can empower all eligible pieces worn simultaneously.

Valid pieces for Azerite empowerment are available for the chest, shoulder, and head slots of all classes. This equipment has multiple tiers of that can be unlocked, represented by a series of concentric wheels with icons representing individual powers; as individual powers are selected, they rotate into slots at the top of the interface, activating the selected benefit and locking out the others unless the player pays to reset their decision. Outer rings offer multiple choices, some based around the character's class and specification, others around the zone or circumstances in which the gear was acquired. The innermost circle offers no such options, instead being a boost to the level of the item itself, and thus providing a flat all-around benefit.

Azerite equipment is currently balanced around being able to unlock the outermost, earliest tier of power immediately upon acquisition, while delaying further advancement until the Heart has been further empowered. For example, the first piece of Azerite equipment, gained shortly after the Heart itself, is fully empowered once the Heart of Azeroth has reached level 3. A character at 120 (the maximum for the expansion) may find a piece whose first tier requires the Heart to have grown to level 12 or greater.

Allied races[edit]

The allied races, who were formerly neutral factions or newly introduced, can be recruited by completing quest chains. Four of these races were unlocked when the expansion became available for preorder in January 2018, and four more will be added after the game's launch.[6]

The Alliance are able to unlock the void elves (exiled blood elves who can tap into shadow magic, trained by Alleria Windrunner after her experiences on Argus), Lightforged draenei (draenei members of the Army of the Light who fought the Legion on Argus), Dark Iron dwarves (fire-blooded cousins of the in-game dwarves of Ironforge), and Kul Tiran humans (larger, more heavyset versions of the in-game humans of Stormwind).[6]

The Horde has access to the Nightborne (former night elves from Suramar), the Highmountain tauren (moose-antlered cousins of the in-game tauren of Mulgore), the Mag'har orcs (survivors of the Iron Horde from Warlords of Draenor), and the Zandalari (progenitors of all of the trolls of Azeroth).[6]

When an allied race has been unlocked for a player, new characters from that race will start at level 20. If a player levels an Allied race from 20 to level 110 without using character boosts, they will be rewarded with a unique "Heritage Armor" for transmogrification that reflects the unique lore behind the race but is limited for use to that race. Doing the quests to unlock the allied races will also unlock the races' unique mounts for use by the characters of their faction.[5] The void elves, Lightforged draenei, Highmountain tauren, and Nightborne, as races tied to the storyline for Legion, were made available with the preorder on January 30, 2018.[7] The Dark Iron dwarves and the Mag'har orcs are made available upon completing the "War Campaign" in Kul Tiras and Zandalar and reaching Exalted with one faction's War Campaign reputation; the Kul Tiran humans and Zandalari will be made available later in the expansion. Game director Ion Hazzikostas also indicated that additional Allied Races may be available in the future.[8]

Warfronts[edit]

Warfronts will be a new form of 20 player PvE content. They will function similarly to battlegrounds but with more focus on base building, capture and control of territory and resource control to focus on Warcraft's RTS roots.[4] The warfronts will not always be active on a regular basis since there will be a build up to each one.[9]

Island expeditions[edit]

Similar to the 3-player scenarios in Mists of Pandaria, island expeditions are a new form of 3-player content that will provide dynamic challenges that involve battling against a group of either advanced AI NPCs or players in order to gather Azerite for their faction's war effort.

PvP ruleset[edit]

The expansion brings a major change to the PvP ruleset on each realm. Every realm by default only allows players to attack NPCs in the open world; players who wish to engage in world PvP now have a setting called "War Mode" that can only be toggled on or off in their faction's capital city (i.e. Stormwind for the Alliance and Orgrimmar for the Horde). While in War Mode, players have access to new talents and abilities, as well as a slightly accelerated rate of XP gain.[10] Characters with War Mode activated are only able to see other players with War Mode, unless in their own capital cities.

Players who engage in War Mode and are successful at killing multiple enemy PC's without dying in exchange receive an "Assassin" buff that increases their damage and healing. Eventually, such a character gains a bounty on their head, giving other players a reward for killing them.

Roleplaying (RP) servers do not behave the same way as the regular servers. The game director said, "The default behavior for RP servers in Battle for Azeroth will be that PvP flagging people would see other flagged players on that same server. We don't want to split up RP communities."[5]

A new battleground called Seething Shore was previewed in Legion's patch 7.3.5. It is located in Silithus and set after the events of the Antorus raid; it involves players battling to take control of Azerite resources in randomized locations. It was the first battleground added to the game since 2012's Mists of Pandaria.[11]

Art[edit]

Warlocks have received new spell effects; all the other classes received new effects in Legion. Male orcs are now able to toggle between the initial hunched posture and standing upright by using a barbershop, but the other races are not able to toggle between two postures.[5] There are new druid forms for the allied races, i.e. a Zandalari troll forms are all dinosaur-based, while the Kul Tiran humans take forms made of wood and bone as their teachings come from the Drust people who populated the land before them rather than the Cenarion Circle.

Plot[edit]

At the end of Legion, the titan Sargeras was imprisoned, but not before he plunged his sword into the planet Azeroth. This not only devastated a massive area (much of the desert zone of Silithus is now cracked and scorched), but badly wounded the gestating titan inside. While the heroes managed to ablate the worst of the damage (at the cost of the majority of their artifact weapons' mythic power), the world is still wounded and bleeding a substance called "Azerite," which has great magical potential. The Horde Warchief, Sylvanas Windrunner, attempts to consolidate Horde power on Kalimdor and gain a monopoly on Azerite (which is primarily found at the southern end of the continent). Her campaign to do so, the War of Thorns, formed a pre-launch event for the expansion and ends with the major Night Elf holdings on the continent seized or (in the case of their capital city of Darnassus) annihilated. The Alliance makes a retaliatory strike against her home base, the Undercity, which was formerly the human capital of Lordaeron. This succeeds in driving the Horde out, but before leaving Sylvanas saturates the area with disease and toxins that render it uninhabitable. With this tit-for-tat military exchange, the Horde has almost complete control over Kalimdor, while the Alliance has near-total dominion over the Eastern Kingdoms.[4] With further conflict inevitable, Battle for Azeroth takes the two factions to the continents of Kul Tiras and Zandalar to recruit new allies in order to turn the tides of war.[4]

In Kul Tiras, the Alliance's initial attempt to gain the nation's assistance ends disastrously when Katherine Proudmoore, Lord Admiral of Kul Tiras and mother to Archmage Jaina Proudmoore, not only refuses the Alliance's request for aide but also orders Jaina arrested and exiled for her role in the death of her father, Daelin Proudmoore, in the aftermath of the Third War. It quickly becomes apparent that Kul Tiras has become mired in corruption and outside threats, so Anduin and Genn Greymane send Alliance Champions to aid the Kul Tirans and earn their trust. Aiding them in this quest are Flynn Fairwind, a "retired" privateer, and Taelia Fordragon, the idealistic daughter of Bolvar Fordragon, former High Lord of Stormwind and current Lich King of the Undead Scourge. The Alliance is successfully able to earn the trust of Kul Tiras by combating the pirates of the traitorous Ashvane Trading Company in Tirisgrade Sounds, the Naga and corrupted agents of Queen Azshara in Stormsong Valley, and the occult forces of the ancient, ghostly warlord Gorak Tul in Drustvar. After these threats are defeated, Katherine is left despondent at her inability to lead her people, and resolves to help the Alliance find Jaina and reconcile with her. The Alliance eventually track Jaina to the prison island of Fate's End, where Gorak Tul, having survived the events of Drustvar, has kidnapped her and is tormenting her with visions of her past failures. The Alliance champions and Katherine destroy Gorak Tul once and for all and rescue Jaina, who is finally able to let go of the hate, anger and obsession with the past that defined her ever since the destruction of Theramore. The Alliance and Proudmoores then unite to defend the capitol city of Boralus from a massive pirate siege, after which Jaina is named Lord Admiral and pledges Kul Tiras' navy to the Alliance.

Meanwhile, in Zandalar, the Horde seeks to earn the trust of King Rastakhan so they can use his legendary Golden Fleet against the Alliance. To this end, they assist Rastakhan and his court in dealing with local threats in Zuldazar, fight maniacal Blood Trolls in Nazmir, and face off with serpentine Old God cultists in Vol'dun. Throughout their journey, the Horde gradually learns about an eldricth being known as G'huun, an artificial Old God accidentally created by the Titans and the patron deity of the Blood Trolls. The Blood Trolls and the Faithless Sethekk seek to free G'huun from his prison of Uldir so they can use him to rule Azeroth, and to this end they resurrect G'huun's champion, the C'thrax Mythrax, to destroy Uldir's seal. Rastakhan's own chief adviser, the prophet Zul, is revealed to be the Blood Trolls' secret leader and launches an armed revolt against Rastakhan. With the Horde champions' help, Rastakhan is able to defeat Zul and his forces, but not before Mythrax destroys Uldir's seal.

With the seal broken, G'huun's full power begins to manifest. Champions of both the Horde and the Alliance venture deep within Uldir and face G'huun's champions, including Mythrax and a resurrected Zul, before finally slaying the Blood God himself.

With G'huun's threat eliminated, the Horde and Alliance return their focus to the war. While the Horde procures the Scepter of the Tides, a legendary artifact capable of controlling the seas, the Alliance dismantles a potential alliance between Sylvanas and the vampiric San'lyan Elves. The Alliance begins to gear up for a preemptive strike against Zandalar, with the goal of crippling the Golden Fleet before it can be used against the Alliance and driving a wedge between the Zandalari and the Horde.

Setting[edit]

The expansion is set immediately after the events of Legion.[4] Two continents have been added within the Great Sea between the Eastern Kingdoms and Kalimdor: Kul Tiras, one of the major human kingdoms, and Zandalar, the homeland of Azeroth's trolls.[4] While the Alliance and Horde will initially travel to one continent respectively, both continents will be available to both factions at level 120.[4]

Kul Tiras[edit]

The human nation of Kul Tiras is the primary location for Alliance characters in the expansion. It is divided into three zones: Tiragarde Sound (which houses the Alliance capital of Boralus), Drustvar, and Stormsong Valley.[4]

Zandalar[edit]

The troll empire of Zandalar is the primary location for Horde characters in the expansion. Like Kul Tiras, it is also divided into three zones: Zuldazar (which houses the Horde capital of Dazar'alor), Nazmir, and Vol'dun.[4]

Development[edit]

The expansion was announced at BlizzCon 2017 on November 3, 2017.[1] Battle for Azeroth started restricted alpha testing in early February 2018.[12] Public beta testing began in late April 2018.[13] Blizzard revealed the release date on April 5, 2018 alongside a collector's edition.[14]

Reception[edit]

Reception
Aggregate score
AggregatorScore
Metacritic79/100[15]
Review scores
PublicationScore
Destructoid8/10[16]
Game Informer8.75/10[17]
IGN8/10[18]
PC Gamer (UK)86/100[19]
Digital Trends86/100[20]
PC World4/5 stars[21]
The Escapist8/10[22]
Softpedia8.5/10[23]
PCGamesN8/10[24]

Sales[edit]

The expansion sold more than 3.4 million units on its first day of release according to Blizzard, making it the fastest-selling World of Warcraft expansion.[25]

Accolades[edit]

The game was nominated for both "Original Score" and "Original Song" with "Warbringers: Jaina" at the 9th Hollywood Music in Media Awards.[26][27]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c Kollar, Philip (November 3, 2017). "World of Warcraft: Battle for Azeroth is the MMO's next expansion". Polygon. Retrieved November 21, 2017.
  2. ^ Pereira, Chris (April 5, 2018). "WoW: Battle For Azeroth Expansion Release Date Announced".
  3. ^ "Battle for Azeroth: One Launch to Rule Them All". WorldofWarcraft.com. June 7, 2018. Retrieved August 14, 2018.
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i Kollar, Phillip (November 3, 2017). "Battle for Azeroth: World of Warcraft returns to its roots". Polygon. Retrieved November 3, 2017.
  5. ^ a b c d "World of Warcraft - Ion Hazzikostas Live Battle for Azeroth Q&A Recap - MMORPG.com". MMORPG.com. Retrieved November 17, 2017.
  6. ^ a b c Allied Races Blizzard Entertainment, Retrieved November 4, 2017.
  7. ^ "Pre-purchase Battle for Azeroth™ Now! – WoW". World of Warcraft.
  8. ^ Squishei (January 30, 2018). "Liveblog of the January 30 Battle for Azeroth Q&A with Ion Hazzikostas". Wowhead.
  9. ^ perculia. "Battle for Azeroth Warfronts – Faction Transmog Rewards, Stromgarde, Gameplay".
  10. ^ "Blizzard is ditching WoW's PvP servers for an opt-in system". PC Gamer. Retrieved November 4, 2017.
  11. ^ "Blizzard is getting rid of player-versus-player servers in World of Warcraft". Polygon. Retrieved November 21, 2017.
  12. ^ "Battle for Azeroth Invite-Only Alpha Now Playable". Wowhead. Retrieved 25 February 2018.
  13. ^ World of Warcraft Battle for Azeroth Beta Begins
  14. ^ "World of Warcraft: Battle for Azeroth release date set for August". VG247. 5 April 2018.
  15. ^ "World of Warcraft: Battle for Azeroth for PC Reviews". Metacritic. CBS Interactive. Retrieved November 3, 2018.
  16. ^ "Review: World of Warcraft: Battle for Azeroth". Destructoid. August 20, 2018.
  17. ^ "World of Warcraft: Battle for Azeroth". Game Informer. August 18, 2018.
  18. ^ "World of Warcraft: Battle for Azeroth review". IGN. August 24, 2018.
  19. ^ "Review: World of Warcraft: Battle for Azeroth". PC Gamer. August 21, 2018.
  20. ^ "Battle for Azeroth review – An explosive start that fizzles". Digital Trends. August 28, 2018.
  21. ^ "World of Warcraft: Battle for Azeroth review: The world is enough". PC World. August 28, 2018.
  22. ^ "Review: Battle for Azeroth". The Escapist. September 10, 2018.
  23. ^ "Review: Battle for Azeroth". Softpedia. September 17, 2018.
  24. ^ "World of Warcraft: Battle for Azeroth review". PCGamesN. September 19, 2018.
  25. ^ "WoW Expansion Battle For Azeroth Sets New Sales Record". GameSpot. August 24, 2018.
  26. ^ "2018 Music in Visual Media Nominations". Hollywood Music in Media Awards.
  27. ^ "2018 HMMA WINNERS". Hollywood Music in Media Awards. November 14, 2018.

External links[edit]