Blizzard debuted World of Warcraft‘s next expansion during BlizzCon’s opening ceremonies today in Anaheim, California today. It is Battle for Azeroth. The battle between the Horde and the Alliance is once again front and center.
World of Warcraft launched for PC in 2004 and quickly became a sensation. Subscriptions, which cost $15 per month, peaked in 2010 at 12 million before falling to 5.5 million after the Warlords of Draenor expansion in 2015. After that, Blizzard stopped reporting those numbers.
This is World of Warcraft’s seventh expansion, following 2016’s Legion. Each one gives lapsed players a reason to return. The new content can entice them to pick up old characters or create new ones. Even though World of Warcraft isn’t as hot of a property for Blizzard as Overwatch and Hearthstone these days, it still brings in a lot of money thanks to its monthly subscriptions.
The nautical human empire of Kul Tiras will be a new continent for players to explore for Alliance players, while the Horde will go to the ancient troll empire of Zandalar. The level cap is going up to 120. Players can also plunder islands in new 3-player cooperative Island Expeditions (it will also have a player-vs.-player option). A new Warfronts feature looks to capture some of the original real-time strategy flavor of Warcraft.
The intro cinematic, which you can watch above, shows Horde leader Sylvanas Windrunner fighting with her army against invading Alliance forces lead by King Anduin and Genn Greymane as they attack the Undercity. The expansion itself will start from where the cinematic leaves off. The story will also focus on popular Warcraft characters like the human mage Jaina Proudmoore and the orc shaman Thrall.
The expansion will setup an Alliance-controlled Eastern Kingdoms and Horde-dominated Kalimdor. Blizzard also revealed that Sylvanas will burn the world tree Teldrassil.
Legion notably introduced Class Halls, a hub for players of the same character types like Hunter or Death Knight, and level-scaled zones, so most new areas weren’t locked behind a level requirement. Legion also introduced the Demon Hunter class.
Players will level up in their respective new zones, which will feature the same level-scaling mechanic from Legion. At the max level, you’ll be able to explore all of the new areas.
Blizzard is also bringing scaled zones to the entire game. Classic zones will, however, have level ranges with caps. You’ll also be able to explore content from past expansions in new orders. Outland and Northrend will scale from 60 to 80, for example. This also applies to old dungeons and their loot. These new features will begin rolling out before the expansion launches as part of the 7.3.5 patch.
Battle for Azeroth will also feature Allied Races, which has players going through quests to bring new races to their respective factions. Once you do, you can then unlock them for character creation. Allied Races characters start at level 20.
The Horde get the Nightborne Elves, the Highmountain Tauren, and the Zandalari Trolls. The Alliance get the Void Elves, the Lightforged Dranei, and the Dark Iron Dwarves. Blizzard says that it will add more Allied Races after the start of the expansion.
Blizzard is also changing how its player-vs.-player mode will work in World of Warcraft. Servers will no longer be designated as PVP or PVE (player-vs.-environment). Activating PVP is now a player choice in every server. Turning on PVP, and making yourself a target for players on the other faction, will give you bonuses to offset the inefficiency.
Battle for Azeroth will launch with 10 new dungeons and keep the Mythic Keystone feature from Legion, which increased the difficulty of the content while giving out better rewards.