Blizzcon is underway once again, and the first day featured the anticipated announcement of the next (and seventh!) expansion to the popular MMORPG World of Warcraft, Battle for Azeroth, complete with a cinematic trailer:
Two new features that are sure to excite fans of the series, now entering its fourteenth year, are: a return to head-to-head conflict between the Alliance and the Horde and official ‘vanilla’ servers that will offer a version of the game world akin to that of the original 2004 release.
The vanilla servers have long been requested by fans of the series as the expansion packs have expanded the in-game universe and altered the content of the base game significantly. Several illegally hosted servers have been in operation over recent years, and Blizzard has recently made efforts to shut them down, paving the way for their own official versions to go online.
The return of an emphasis on the underlying conflict of the game will be welcome too. Most of the expansions released to date have seen both factions unite (or at least engage in an uneasy truce) to take on common foes like The Lich King, Garrosh in Mists of Panderia, and the Burning Legion in the most recent add-on. In Battle for Azeroth, the cries of ‘For the Alliance!’ and ‘For the Horde!’ will once again ring out as orcs and humans take each other on.
These clashes will take place in new zones called ‘warfronts’. Going further back to the basics of the pre-MMORPG version of Warcraft, teams of 20 players will come together to build bases, gather troops, research tech developments, and take on the enemy forces. The emphasis will be on cooperation it seems as these teams will take on AI opponents rather than engage in PvP battles.
Island expeditions will also be added with players able to embark on voyages to unknown lands and explore them. Aiming for replayability, the islands will offer different obstacles and challenges each time, such as neutral or hostile native tribes, who may also compete against you to complete quests.
Allied races will also be added meaning you can now play as sub-groups of the default species in the game. For example, you can now create a Dark Iron Dwarf or a Highmountain Tauren as one of your new characters.
Other expected expansion features will also be present including:
- A raising of the level cap to 120
- The option to automatically boost a character to level 110 and get stuck into the new content
- Level-scaling across new and old map zones for a more balanced playing experience
- Changes to the map including the respective falls of Horde and Alliance strongholds Undercity and Teldrassil
- Lost continents to explore with allies and enemies lying in wait
- New quests, dungeons, and raids
- Integrated voice chat and social communities
The release date is yet to be confirmed, but based on the pattern of recent expansions, we can speculate that the old conflicts will re-ignite during or after summer 2018. In the meantime, however, Blizzard have set up a ‘beta opt-in’ page on their official site and have released a features trailer in addition to the cinematic one. Check it out here: