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Blizzard details World of Warcraft’s new Battle of Azeroth expansion

While some will be looking forward to Blizzard’s official World of Warcraft Classic server, going back to pre-expansion packs isn’t for everyone. Those sticking to the current servers need not worry, however, as Blizzard has revealed details on its seventh expansion pack for the MMO, titled Battle for Azeroth.

The Battle for Azeroth expansion introduces the expected new level cap of 120, Allied Races, Warfronts and new areas to explore such as the continents of Kul Tiras, for members of the Alliance and Zandalar, for champions of the Horde.

The new playable Allied races, which includes the Highmountain Tauren, Zandalari Trolls and Nightborne races on the Horde side, and Lightforged Draenei, Dark Iron Dwarves and Void Elves siding with the Alliance, tie directly into the campaign of the expansion, requiring players to recruit them for, you guessed it, the Battle for Azeroth.

This is done via completing necessary storylines first, to give the impression that you are indeed recruiting help for your faction before the impending war comes to a head. When you’ve met those requirements, the Allied characters will begin starting at level 20, with the option to fast-track to level 110 of the new 120 cap. If you resist, however, then you are given a neat way of showing off with Heritage armour, built around the individual races’ histories.

Warfronts is a new type of gameplay reminiscent of Warcraft’s RTS roots, enabling large-scale 20-player co-operative PvE battles to take place. Commanding a faction of forces, the player is compelled to capture points to gain resources and expand their army, not to mention annihilating the enemy captains. That includes base building, resource gathering and most of the RTS goodness we’ve been missing over the years.

As for the endgame content in Battle for Azeroth, once players have completed the respective storylines, they will gain the ability to take the fight to contested islands in Island Expeditions. Players can choose between four difficulties: normal, heroic, mythic and PvP, before indulging in a 3v3 to gain the much needed ‘Azerite.’

Overall there will be 10 new dungeons in this seventh expansion. At first these will be split by faction, until players reach level 120, unlocking everything no matter what they’re playing as. This includes the showcased pirate-themed Tirigade Sound’s Freehold dungeon as well as Atal’Dazar, an Aztec temple on Zuldazar.

On the general improvements front, Blizzard is adding social features such as integrated voice chat and WoW Communities. This is accompanied by a game-wide overhaul on level-scaling in which enemies in certain zones will remain within a cap, built to improve sense of progression via some areas being distinctly more difficult than others.

“If you’re a seasoned adventurer returning from a campaign in Northrend and you come back to Elwynn Forest and find that the wolves and the bandits there are still an even match for you, that kind of undermines your progression,” said game director Ion Hazzikostas in a ‘What’s Next?’ panel.

“We’re thinking about a structure more like: imagine Westfall scales from 10-60, imagine Burning Steppes scales from 40-60. You’re never going to outlevel the zone while you’re in it but there’s still some sense of progression, and once you’ve moved past the entire expansion, you do feel like you have surpassed it and you are more powerful.”

There is currently no pegged release date for the expansion, but it should be headed to the Public Test Realm within a “few weeks.”

KitGuru Says: I’d love to see this kind of effort be implemented in non-MMO expansions, however that seems unlikely given that WoW is subscription-based and therefore has a steady cash flow. Still, this seems like DLC done right rather, once again. Will you be jumping back into World of Warcraft for this, or even the Classic servers?

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