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Blizzard has already announced the next "World Of Warcraft" expansion – "Battle for Azeroth". As usual, it comes with a higher level cap – 120, new continents and races. At first glance, the content seems quite ordinary and predictable, but once you take a closer look, you’ll discover that the game giant is fixing major mistakes of the past that drew away many players.

I've been “dwelling” in "World of Warcraft" since Vanilla, and the time I spent in-game has significantly decreased in recent years. For me, Blizzard has deviated from what made the game a hype in the first place. It just feels cumbersome. Here’s how “Battle for Azeroth” is coming to bring WoW to its old days of glory:

PvP

I would like to start with this, as putting your skills to the test against other players is what engages me the most.

Moreover, as visible from the cinematic, the main story will revolve around a massive war between the Horde and the Alliance.

I miss the Vanilla days where you could just log in, go to a zone and start a melee between factions. “Battle for Azeroth” is bringing them back! BellularGaming has stated that “PvP and PvE servers will no longer exist.” This means you’ll be able to select in-game whether you’re up for this experience or not. You would just need to go to Stormwind or Orgirmar and activate your PvP mode which will also present players with additional “bonuses." Once you leave the city, you’ll be in a different war-like world. For example, if a tower is just a cosmetic part of the environment, in PvP it might be capturable, and there would be a reward for doing so. I think it would be great if players could level up this way.

It just brings back an old feeling to the game. The world war between the Horde and the Alliance is here once more.

PvP Vendors

Some great news, at least for me – random drop is over, and according to Stroopz_TV, “PvP Vendors were announced” once more!

Lore

Some people think that "Battle for Azeroth [VIDEO]" is going to be a mostly PvP expansion, but they can’t be more wrong. At BlizzCon 2017 we saw that Teldrassil was burned down, Undercity was under siege and is now in ruins. Christie Golden is writing a book called “Before the Storm” that is going to explain what happened. And that’s just the beginning.

New Continents

Wowhead clearly states that we are going to level up in ”six new zones, spanning in two different continents” – Kul Tiras for the Alliance and Zandalar for the Horde. Kul Tiras is a place where pirates, ancient magic, and vengeful spirits lurk behind every corner, while a ruling council led by Jaina’s mother -- Katherine Proudmoore -- is trying to stand its ground. Zandalar, on the other hand, is home to the notorious Zandalari trolls that are going to join the Horde under the leadership of King Rastakhan.

Dinosaurs, blood trolls, criminals and the Sethrak (cobra-headed people) walk the lands while the whispers of Old Gods hiss in the air.

Allied Races

As Blizzard has said, you’ll be able to “Explore Azeroth as one of six new playable Allied Races.” These will be acquired via quest content from the embassies near Orgrimar and Stormwind and will start directly from level 20 once you make a new character. For the Alliance, they will be the Lightforged Draenei, the Void Elves, and the Dark Iron Dwarves. The Horde will be joined by the Nightborne Elves, the Zandalari Trolls, and the Highmountain Tauren. Each allied race also comes with their own mount and “distinctive Heritage Armor set” that players would be able to use for Transmogrification. So far, what seems imbalanced are some of the racial abilities like the Void Elves’ “Preturnatural Calm: Your spell casts are not delayed by taking damage." Hopefully they will be fixed before the game launches.

Character stories

Blizzard’s Creative Director -- Alex Afrasiabi -- said that the team “really liked how Illidan’s story turned out across the patches” in Legion and that they will “involve more characters” in the story of "Battle for Azeroth." Visible from the cinematic, Anduin and Sylvanass will most definitely be some of them. At BlizzCon 2017 [VIDEO], it was also stated that players would find what’s happening to Thrall and “what’s his place in all of this." There’s also Jaina Proudmoure returning home to her mother and carrying the fault for her father’s death in her backpack. Thus, lore-wise, I think we will get a lot out of "Battle of Azeroth."

PvE

Let’s be honest – PvE has nothing to do with what it used to be. The mechanics are somewhat dull, leveling up is everything else but fun – you just roam around, one-shot everything and overlevel zones, even raids are unchallenging. That’s a thing of the past. I can applaud Blizzard on the introduced PvE changes because the developer’s team seems to get that mistakes were made and is finally fixing them!

Leveling Revamp

Leveling Revamp will make zones scale much like the ones in Legion do. According to Wowhead, the scaling will be as follows: “Starting Zones: 0-10; Classic Zones: 10-60; The Burning Crusade and Wrath of the Lich King Zones: 60-80; Cataclysm and Mists of Pandaria Zones: 80-90.” This will not only fix the overleveling problem but will also bring the exploration experience back. You’ll be able to continue unveiling the story of a zone without being pushed to leave in the middle of it. That said, Blizzard is also making the NPCs more challenging. Visible from the PTR at the moment, their health is almost doubled, and now it feels like you’re playing an actual RPG game while leveling. This will for sure raise the time in which you level up by questing but at least will make it more exciting and engaging.

Island expeditions

As it was said at BlizzCon 2017, we will be able to “explore uncharted isles across the Great Sea” to find valuable treasures. Much like the MoP scenarios, Island Expeditions will introduce a way to get items in a 3-player team while fighting against a “Tactical AI." Every time the environment will feel different, and the objectives will vary. This will make it more challenging and engaging for the players. Island Expeditions won’t be role dependent and will have 4 different modes: Normal, Heroic, Mythic and PvP. I think that this will expand the end game and give us something to do in between raids.

Warfronts

According to Blizzard, these will be “a large-scale 20-player cooperative PvE mode” where you’ll battle the NPC armies of the other faction. Warfronts won’t always be active; they will be like special events that occur from time to time. Basically, you’ll establish a base, gather resources, build structures, train troops and upgrade them. It’s going to be like "Warcraft III" from an RPG perspective. You’ll have to defend and attack. The main point is to take down the opposing Commander. Rewards are planned to be specific armor sets.

Dungeons

Wowhead states that there will be “10 new dungeons at “Battle for Azeroth's” launch, 5 for each faction. All 10 will be playable at level 120. Mythic keystone updates will also be available. BellularGaming has made a video, pointing out that Freehold -- a city of the underworld mob -- will be interactive, meaning that “depending on what you do there, you’ll get different routes through the dungeon." It would be great if we can see more of those. They will be engaging for players and will change the uniformity of raiding at a high level.

After BlizzCon 2017, we also know for sure that players will finally be able to face-off against Queen Azshara as a boss, which for me is quite exciting.

Items

Similar to WoD, Blizzard is introducing a new stat squish, this time it will be implemented through item levels. Wowhead gives us more insight on this, stating that “the characters available for the Demo had 185 ilvl, which equated to around 16k health. A hard hitting spell like Chaos Bolt was hitting for around 6.3k with the demo character's gear.”

Artifact weapons

Naturally, after “Legion," our Artifact Weapons should be gone. But how exactly are we going to get rid of such legendary equipment?

After killing the titan Argus and unveiling Azeroth, we saw Sargeras lurking over it. Before imprisoning the Destroyer of Worlds forever, he managed to stab Azeroth with his blade. The sword has wounded the planet, and in the PTR you can talk to Magni Bronzebeard who’ll tell you that your artifact weapons are “the only vessel capable of containing that power.” Apparently, the power is red, this it isn’t Fel or Void energy. It’s some other source. I think that the link to why we’ll need to get rid of our artifact weapons is hidden here. Just imagine what will happen to a thing like Xal'atath that has its own mind and is dating back to the Old Gods after containing such power. I really hope that Blizzard is going to introduce some captivating lore around it because there’s just so much space for creativity and speculation.

Otherwise, as it’s written by TradeChat, “some artifact traits will be coming to Battle for Azeroth with us in the form of baseline abilities, talents, or on new gear items.” Currently, the developers are testing each class without the artifact to see whether it’s appealing and enjoyable to play and they’ll naturally start adding spells from there.

Heart of Azeroth and Azerite Gear

In the new expansion, you’ll receive a necklace – Hearth of Azeroth, as stated in Wowhead -- “an Artifact Quality medallion that is a gift from Azeroth and Magni Bronzebeard." The item will feed on Azerite, consuming all nearby sources automatically. Visible from the official BlizzCon 2017 footage, there will also be 3 Azerite pieces of Armor – helm, shoulders, and head. Once your necklace reaches the required level, it will unlock specific traits to choose from on each piece of Azerite gear. This means that if you get a higher tier item, you’ll be able to equip it and have its traits unlocked because of your Heart of Azeroth’s level. The best pieces of gear will still drop from Mythic Raids, but, as Wowhead claims, “Azerite attuned pieces cannot titanforge."

Your oldest item is gone

The one thing we’ve been carrying around since Vanilla WoW, the thing that heard the first whispers of the Burning Crusade, was there when the Lich King fell, survived the flames of Deathwing and the Old Horde, traveled to distant lands to find the Pandarean and was there when the end of the Dark Titan came. Your old leather backpack will now be replaceable by a larger new one. BellularGaming has said it will be “a perk for people using the Battle.net Authenticator.”

Addition features

Communities

Communities are a new in-game feature that, as written by Blizzard in the official press release, will help us “join up with WoW players who share common interests.” BellularGaming gives more info, stating that they “will be accessible through the guild tab, will be cross-realm and character-based.” Their text history would be visible, and a character would be able to join multiple ones. This feature will introduce yet another way to engage and communicate with other players, so I’m excited to try it.

Character models

Blizzard is reworking some of the character models. According to BellularGaming, “orc and troll characters will be able to select their posture." In other words, you’ll soon be able to stand up straight like Thrall. Blizzard is working on the Goblin and Worgen models, especially the female Worgens.

If we can judge by the “Legion” expansion’s timing, which was a bit quicker, the Beta should be expected somewhere around January, and the official release date could be anytime from September to November 2018.

The battle for Azeroth is coming. The Horde and the Alliance will finally clash once more to prove their power, and the whole planet will be the battlefield. Anduin, Sylvanass, and their new allies will be put to the test of leadership and glory. Rivers of blood will soak the lands while whispers of Old Gods and forgotten enemies will blare amidst the desolation. Are you ready for the drums of war?