The World of Warcraft playerbase is cut in half, but not in the usual “Horde versus Alliance” fashion. Instead, Horde players themselves seem at odds with what their faction actually stands for. Cobo and Lo suggest that this mismatch may be hard, if not impossible, to fix. Someone is always going to be disappointed, and with Cobo’s talk of honor being at the center of the Horde, Sylvanas-stans will probably have a disappointing time with the expansion.
Two new raids coming after the initial update differ drastically in size and content, depending on which side of the war you’re on. The Battle of Dazar’alor raid sees Alliance players trying to take over a city, but if you’re part of the horde, your version will see you try to defend it. Once you’ve beaten it once, you can then play the other side. The Crucible of Storms raid, on the other hand, is smaller and only consists of two bosses.
These are a genuinely challenging and dynamic way to play. No two are alike, and the A.I. actually does give you some real opposition. Island expeditions are like dungeons, available in normal, heroic, and mythic difficulties. That means you can press into higher difficulties for more of a challenge. Of course, the PvP version pushes everything to the max.
The prepatch for Battle for Azeroth first hit on July 17th, but the first real pieces of story weren't available until this week (more on that in a minute). The storyline is called the War of the Thorns, and it's intended to hype up the faction-vs.-faction conflict that makes up the core of BfA. Instead, it feels like it's sucking the air out of the room.
These things happen during prepatches. There are always kinks to work out, and typically those kinks are offset by the items and experiences players receive during the prepatch events themselves. The vast list of bugfixes demonstrates just how doggedly Blizzard developers are playing whack-a-mole with in-game issues. But in the past few expansions, it's become a bit of a trade: Hang with us during the rough patch and we'll reward you with goodies and some seriously overpowered, fun gameplay, Blizzard seems to say.
There’s a lot of #content in the new expansion. It’s mostly locked behind a variety of gates, some of which players can’t even control. Warfronts are the best example. You might assume joining a Warfront is a simple matter of opening the group finder. Wrong! Warfronts are only accessible for a week at a time. It’s not precisely clear how often that week will come around (it’s based both on a time gate and on the opposing faction gathering resources) but, as of right now, it looks likely to be available just one week out of every four.
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.
Class abilities were reworked dramatically across the board, with some still needing a serious balance pass. That left many players not only feeling underpowered, but having to learn how to play their characters all over again. Bosses in large-group raid dungeons that were easily killed each week by experienced guilds of players suddenly became challenging again, or worse, completely unkillable, halting forward momentum on old content for a good chunk of the high-end player base.
Guild Banners. The Banner of Cooperation and Battle Standard of Coordination will increase the experience from kills. They both have a 10 minute cooldown, but when you use one, the other is only locked out for 2 minutes. I was very bad about using these, so it might be worth using a macro to drop them on your first attack against an enemy. Keep in mind you must have reputation with your guild before being able to buy these, so new character may have a bit of a wait before picking them up.
Drustvar is far and away the hardest Alliance zone, which is exactly why you want to do it first. If you have legendary items, they’ll still be usable, and if you don’t, this zone will still be easier early on than it will be later. Drustvar is also extremely fast and will let you jump out ahead of your competition in other zones, which means fewer players around to take your quest objectives.
Players who were around during Mists of Pandaria might recall a dungeon mode called Scenarios, which involved teams of three players instead of the traditional five. Island Expeditions bring a similar feel, with groups being tasked with plundering treasure off various islands. Your team faces off against other players or AI-controlled characters from the opposing faction and whoever can collect the most treasure, or "Azerite," wins.
Allied races: Our new allies will join the factions and players will be able to unlock the ability to play their race. There are 6 planned for launch. Horde: Nightborne, Highmountain tauren, Zandalari troll. Alliance: Void elf, Lightforged draenei, Dark Iron dwarf. Additional races are planned for the future. Receive a Heritage Armor set, if you level an allied race character to level 110.
That’s because armor of higher level has higher Azerite power requirements than lower level armor. That means a shiny new piece of Epic gear will have better stats but, unless you’ve been diligent about your Azerite power grind, won’t have as many traits unlocked. You lose options as you earn better gear. Eventually, you’ll grind out enough Azerite to earn those traits back, but you’re left with limited customization until then.