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Though Blizzard has recently caught up to competitors with more substantial updates to World of Warcraft during an expansion’s lifetime, that doesn’t make an expansion launch any less big. This morning at Blizzcon 2017 the next World of Warcraft expansion, Battle for Azeroth was announced and once again they’re trying to pull me back in.
Battle for Azeroth will be the first heavily faction-based expansion in quite a few years. While early expansions continued World of Warcraft’s original ideology of the Horde and Alliance constantly fighting, later expansions tended to treat it as flavor if nothing else. With that in mind it’s not surprising to see that a common belief before today’s announcement was that they would do away with factions eventually, but now it seems that’s far from the case.
In Battle for Azeroth, both Horde and Alliance players will be able to level to the new level cap of 120, but the way they do it will be much more different than it was in, say, the most recent expansion Legion. Horde players will go across three zones in the Troll-based island chain of Zandalar, while Alliance players will be visiting the old Human city-state of Kul Tiras.
Since both factions will be island-bound, Blizzard is also adding a new “Islands” feature that sounds very similar to Final Fantasy XIV’s Palace of the Dead, with randomly generated island layouts and enemies to fight in a smaller than usual party size. The expansion will also feature a continuation of Legion’s customizable artifact system in the form of a new necklace, though it’ll be interesting to see what happens to those world shattering artifact weapons built up over the last expansion when Battle rolls around.
There are a lot of other small things that haven’t been elaborated on enough to really speak definitively on. The expansion will be have what is presumably new open-world PvP areas in the form of “Warfronts,” which will pit 20 Horde players against 20 Alliance Players. There are also going to be new “allied races” which will seemingly be gradually unlocked and then usable for player characters. These allied races have been data-mined over the past few months, and will let players play finally mix things up a bit with things like Horde-based Night Elves and Alliance-Based Blood Elves.
The only other “big” announcement for World of Warcraft at Blizzcon was the unveiling of official “Classic” WoW servers. These servers will let players go through the authentic experience of World of Warcraft, circa 2004, something that nostalgic players have been clamoring over for years.
Neither Battle for Azeroth or the new Classic WoW servers have a concrete release date yet, but if previous expansions are anything to go by we’ll probably be seeing Battle for Azeroth sometime next summer.