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.

The prepatch is just a patch, at the end of the day. The expansion is yet to come. But this significant stumble causes me to pause and contemplate what we're getting when BfA hits. Will AI-infused Islands and massive PvE Warfronts represent enough new gameplay? Or will the new zones just feel like an in-game content patch (Argus, say, for Legion players) on steroids?


Vol’Dun is the hardest and most tedious of the Horde Zones in Battle for Azeroth. It’s also probably the one that makes the most sense. Each sections of quests leads directly to the one you should do next. For all of these reasons it’s going to be best to get this one done early. Thanks to any legendary items you might have collected in Legion, you’ll be strongest in the leveling process before 115 and weaker after — because that’s when the legendary effects stop working.
Azerite equipment is currently balanced around being able to unlock the outermost, earliest tier of power immediately upon acquisition, while delaying further advancement until the Heart has been further empowered. For example, the first piece of Azerite equipment, gained shortly after the Heart itself, is fully empowered once the Heart of Azeroth has reached level 3. A character at 120 (the maximum for the expansion) may find a piece whose first tier requires the Heart to have grown to level 12 or greater.

Vol’Dun is the hardest and most tedious of the Horde Zones in Battle for Azeroth. It’s also probably the one that makes the most sense. Each sections of quests leads directly to the one you should do next. For all of these reasons it’s going to be best to get this one done early. Thanks to any legendary items you might have collected in Legion, you’ll be strongest in the leveling process before 115 and weaker after — because that’s when the legendary effects stop working.
If you love running old content for transmog items, you'll love the new legacy loot system. Whenever a player enters a dungeon or raid where they are 10 or more levels above the content, the dungeon or raid bosses drop an amount of loot equivalent to what would have dropped for a full group when the content was current. That means players could earn loot for five people in dungeons and loot for 20 people after soloing a raid. The legacy loot system also drops other gear types, like cloth dropping for a plate wearer. It's now much easier to get the transmog gear you want, and you can also collect gear for your alts on the same run.
That lack of storytelling agency may soon change with Patch 8.1, Tides of Vengeance, which is coming to Battle for Azeroth soon. While there are plenty of fun gameplay changes that should make the expansion better, one of the most interesting additions is that of choice. In an upcoming quest, players will be able to choose whether they want to support Saurfang or Sylvanas — essentially honor or evil — in the struggle for Horde warchief.
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