World of Warcraft is a game that needs no real introduction, at one time it was the most played MMO game ever, and is still a juggernaut in the industry, a game that basically sets the rules for how MMO’s will be made for the next 10+ years, with companies desperately trying to get to the same level as popularity as WOW. Well, that was at least until the three expansions that almost killed the game, Cataclysm, Mists of Pandaria and Warlords of Draenor, three expansions that took the subscriber count from over 10 million down to the low 2-3’s.
But the short history lesson is over, Legion came out and brought back WoW to popularity with a massive expansion and changes to the game world, and now Battle for Azeroth has some pretty big boots to fill.
So Battle for Azeroth continues on from Legion, and story-wise it follows the turmoil found in one particular event when the king of Stormwind dies in battle. and the Alliance blame the Horde. The expansion ticks on with some more smaller events here and there and now the Alliance are knocking on the door of the new Warchief to bring them to “Justice”. Honestly I don’t know why but this feels like one of the most grounded stories in a long damn time, well actually since Vanilla, as every other expansion has had some form of world threatening evil that needs to be stopped, and ends up with the Alliance and Horde working together somehow, and its just become something I’ve gotten used too, so seeing the story so far is pretty interesting an refreshing…that is the start of the expansion, we haven’t seen the rest of the story just yet, as they will slowly be released as time goes on.
Now one big thing that has changed is Blizzard has decided to address the concerns with Power creep, item levels in Legion were all around 920+ with stats in the 1500-2000 range, health was 300k+ and it was beginning to just be a bit too much.
So they lowered everything, that 920 legendary you got? Now 140, the 2000 stamina? Now 20, seemingly the items are around what you would have gotten back in Burning Crusade or Wrath of the Lich King, and honestly, it makes the game a bit more easy to deal with. No longer do I need to think, hmm just how much more damage will I get going from 1540 strength to 1542, as the damage increase was not noticeable, now each point of a stat actually feels meaningful, with some small level of increase. And who knows maybe in another 10 years we will be back to item level 920 if Wow still doesn’t die.
With that said, the rest of the gameplay is pretty standard, talents have been reworked for all classes, so expect to have to read through them to see which fits your playstyle the best, Artefact weapons are gone, and instead replaced with a new form of evolving Armor, though they are only good for so long, think Artefact weapons but you still get to upgrade them slowly. PvP has had a slight rework in the form of its talents, and is more focused due to the story going on so far.
The main attraction is the new areas, Kul Tiras and Zandalar, for Alliance and Horde respectively, with the Alliance zone being a forest/Mountainous area and the Horde zone basically being a heavily styled Aztec zone.
Straight away one thing I love here is the fact that armour is different between the two factions, no longer will both look the same when levelling, as Horde have a very distinct style VS the Alliance armour, and each has a very different story going on. Though where Legion had 6 zones to level in, each faction only has 3 but will be staying in that zone for a significantly longer time.
Finally, you have the new races, as there is no new class in this expansion, the new races are reputation locked, most will force you to go back to Legon areas and farm that rep to unlock, and the final being unlocked through Battle for Azeroth zones.
The races give no real bonus over the standard races, only a different look and racial abilities, but they are definitely harder to unlock than what some people are used to, so will be much rarer to see around the world.
Graphically the game looks very similar to what we have come to expect, and honestly, at this point, I doubt there is much more the game can do in an engine from 2005, but it still looks presentable. The game definitely looks a far cry from some expansions, with more detail found in facial expressions and armour detail, though there really isn’t that much of a difference between Legion and here. It is not that either look “Bad” they both look good, but its good compared to how WoW used to look, if you compare it to more modern MMO’s over the last few years, Black Desert, FFXIV, and Elder Scrolls Online, the game looks dated, graphically inferior to its peers. Though WoW has something that those games doesn’t, performance, and this expansion, all set in the jungle with leaves and trees surrounding you runs surprisingly well, they seem to of done a fantastic job of making the game run as well as physically possible.
So if you’re here for the prettiest graphics, Black Desert will probably be more your thing, though I don’t think anyone plays WoW for its graphics surely?
Finally Battle for Azeroth is a massive game, that so far at least builds on the massive improvements made in Legion to keep the game still feeling fresh and interactive, though with that said, a lot of the features here are very similar to what we are used to in legion, and may cause some more boring similarities if Blizzard are not careful. Though for those of you hoping to continue that WoW hype train, congrats, you get too, and the internet will continue to both love and hate WoW for a few more years.