BlizzCon 2018 – What we learned about World of Warcraft

Although Diablo was the headlining title at BlizzCon 2018 it’s hard to deny that World of Warcraft always has the hugest announcements and greatest pull of all Blizzard titles.

Even the smallest announcements attract players the world over, eagerly hanging on every word. It should come as no surprise then that the ‘What’s Next: WoW’ panel was packed to the rafters with frenzied fans, and it’s fair to say that Blizzard did not disappoint.

BlizzCon World of Warcraft

With a much more comprehensive review to come once the content goes live, we were all expecting details on the upcoming 8.1 patch. Launching December 11, patch 8.1, affectionately called ‘Tides of Vengeance’ sees the faction war between Horde & Alliance ramp up to 11.

With a new Warfront on the way, the forces of the Night Elves strike back at Darkshore, with an updated outdoor world and quests to enhance the already formidable Warfront system. To help set the scene for the upcoming new Warfront, Blizzard revealed to us this new cinematic titled ‘Terror of Darkshore’.

With Malfurion healed and angry, his furious wife Tyrande looks to exact a heavy toll on the Horde and their Banshee Queen Warchief. As the ‘War Campaign’ continues, players can look forward to new questlines featuring key actions to try and secure victory for your faction, as well as new events called Faction Assaults.

Similar to Legion assaults from the previous expansion, friendly zones will be overrun with enemy forces that require players to undertake world quests and defend strategic locations. As if all that wasn’t enough, more Islands are now available for expeditions as well as varied layouts and randomly generated enemy teams to compete against adding a greater variety and replay potential to the expedition system.

The success of the heritage armour system for allied races means we are getting heritage armour for the other races as well. First up is Blood Elves & Dwarves.

It seems that with each major content patch during Battle for Azeroth we will get two new heritage armour sets, one for the Horde and the other for the Alliance. There were little details given on system improvements other than that they were on the way, but the planned improvements included Azerite armour, doubloon vendors, improved emissary rewards for rep, a better system for reputation on Alt characters, PvP Talents and quest structure for Warfronts.

Needless to say, the WoW dev team have a lot on their plate right now, and that’s barely scratching the surface of it.

Amidst all these announcements was also a brief look at the new raid, titled ‘The Battle for Dazar’a lor. This is a bold first attempt at creating a raid that is different for each faction, with Alliance and Horde guilds each experiencing the raid in a uniquely different way.

There hasn’t been a huge amount of detail revealed about how it’s different, other than the fact that opposing faction leaders will be featured as bosses. Either way, the mythic race of guilds competing to finish it first will be entertaining, and no doubt it will advance the story in a meaningful way.

There’s an unclear release date for The Battle for Dazar’alor other than it won’t be December 11 and likely early 2019. These guilds don’t have to sideline family during the holiday season to chase progression. Yep… that’s a thing that happens and it’s nice to see Blizzard considering this.

Speaking of meaningful story progression, the question on a lot of people’s lips has is how did Saurfang survive and what’s he been up to? Well, Blizzard has all the answers, delivered in a beautifully crafted cinematic that has become Blizzard’s signature move to inspire its player base.

Holy Shit! Game of Thrones eat your heart out, this is the political intrigue that I’m after.

Tides of Vengeance is shaping up to be huge, with loads of content and that is just the tip of the Iceberg that was revealed during Blizzcon.

Now not all announcements were game content related. Blizzard continues to do great work in the communities around them, by introducing the new battle pet Whomper and donating 100% of all sales to the charity Code.Org, who aim to expand access to computer science in schools and disadvantaged or underrepresented demographics.

Fresh of the back off the Pink Mercy skin, Blizzard makes a habit of providing small cosmetic in-game features to players in exchange for generous donations. This ongoing relationship helps strengthen the community as we rally around charities and show our support, even if you’re just in it for the sweet loot then you’re still helping those in need.

Whomper is available through until December 31 and is an adorably cute little Yeti from Drustvar. You can either make a purchase in-game or clicking here. You can even gift your friends and family their own little Whomper, and I’m sure he will grow into those big clumsy feet.

Along with the warm and fuzzy feel good stuff, came details about 8.1.5 which gives players perhaps some of the most eagerly anticipated content since allied races were revealed… and that is Kul Tiran Humans and Zandalari Trolls. The two races that we races that we have been scrambling to please in-game will now be available to play, yay!

The Kul Tirans can play as Druids, Hunters, Monks, Priests, Rogue, Shaman and Warriors. You read that right, human Druids and Shamans which is totally nuts but incredibly welcome. The Kul Tiran racial abilities are:

  • Brush It Off: Increase Versatility and regenerate a portion of damage taken.
  • Child of the Sea: Hold your breath longer and swim faster.
  • Haymaker: Haul off and punch an enemy, stunning and knocking them back.
  • Jack of All Trades: Increase skill in every trade skill.
  • Rime of the Ancient Mariner: Reduces Frost & Nature damage taken.

But it’s not all big sea shanty sailors, the Zandalari Trolls can play as Druid, Hunters, Mages, Monks, Paladins (whoa), Priests, Rogues, Shamans & Warriors. But can we just take a minute to appreciate Troll Paladins? That’s insane, and the Zandalari have a great character model as well as awesome Heritage armour set. Their racial abilities are:

  • Embrace the Loa: Pray to a Loa and gain their favour.
  • City of Gold: Loot additional coin from Monsters.
  • Regeneration: Concentrate to heal quickly over a short time.
  • Pterrordax Swoop: Can whistle up a Pterrordax to glide you to the ground.

But that’s not all that 8.1.5 is introducing, with new questlines for trade skills, new timewalking dungeons introducing Warlords of Draenor content, new charity events for Children’s Week and an in-game Free T-Shirt day, graphics updates to Warsong Gulch & Arathi Basin as well as an AI PvP mode. Whew… That’s a lot for a ‘minor’ content patch.

BUT THAT’s NOT ALL!

On top of the above announcements, comes even more info with patch 8.2 titled ‘Rise of Azshara’. As the faction war burns fiercely, ships from both sides go missing as the Naga prepare to strike. A huge crack in the sea (yep a crack in the sea) has opened up and revealed the lost Naga city of Nazjatar.

With new questlines for players to dive into and new friends to make, in the form of Gelbin (Sea Goblins), Makura (Lobster People) and Sea Giants (Giants from the sea), we prepare to face Queen Azshara herself, the all-powerful ruler of the Naga.

It is here we learn more about Naga society, where they came from as well as discover new types. But we aren’t just getting one new place to explore, there’s another lost city recently uncovered known as Mechagon. A city of Junker-Gnomes who replace their soft fleshy parts with superior machine bits.

Deep in this lost city lays a new Mega-dungeon similar to Karazhan in Legion. Eight mythic bosses await players, and you’ll fight your way to the cruel King Mechagon. Blizzard was worried that Gnome characters would feel a bit embarrassed about their look when meeting their long lost cousins, so Gnome’s are getting a Heritage armour as well as Tauren, because why not.

With more islands being added to the expeditions rotations, a new arena for the PvPers as well as a heroic difficulty for Warfronts to add a level of difficulty to a let’s be honest, simple event.

Perhaps the most eagerly anticipated news though is flying! Yep, we’ll be able to fly again in 8.2, no more falling to your death on cliffs in Tirasgarde Sound or climbing a million stairs in Zandalar. And if all that isn’t enough to sate your thirst for what’s happening with World of Warcraft, in 8.2.5 both Goblins and Worgen are getting updated character models and I assume heritage armours.

There was a mountain of information for only 47 minute presentation but I think we can all appreciate that Blizzard is hearing the criticism of Battle for Azeroth. It is clear they are working to keep the content coming as well as implement systems to improve things that haven’t worked as intended like Azerite armour and weekly mythic chests.

Oh and WoW Classic is coming ‘summer 2019’ which is winter here, and is included in your current World of Warcraft subscription.

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Jamie Sherlock
Gamer, writer & sports enthusiast. I'm interested in all things RPG and stats. I believe fantasy sports teams is just DnD for the guys who made fun of kids who like DnD, but that doesn't stop me from participating in either hobbies. Unashamed Blizzard & Wizards of the Coast fanboy, if you got a problem with that you best roll initiative punk!

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