Battle For Azeroth Sure Is More World Of Warcraft

The dancing GIFs shall continue.

2016's Legion expansion brought bold new features to World of Warcraft, changing the game in exciting ways. So far, the Battle for Azeroth expansion does not.

Legion brought us game-changing level scaling and artifact weapons, and expanded upon cool ideas such as random treasure troves and follower missions from its predecessor, Warlords of Draenor. The demon-infested Broken Isles gave players exciting new landscapes to traverse, beautiful lands decimated by the glowing green infernal taint.

Battle for Azeroth, which mainly takes place on a pair of formerly out-of-touch island continents, is much more grounded in “reality”. It’s rolling hills. It’s shipwreck-dotted islands. It’s rustic villages. With a few notable exceptions, it’s more of what we’ve seen before.

Pretty, but plain.

That's not to say saying the expansion isn’t pretty. It just cannot compare with the otherworldly sights delivered by its immediate predecessor.

Speaking of pale comparisons, Battle for Azeroth’s artifact system is a far cry from the artifact weapons introduced in Legion.

Instead of collecting and evolving powerful instruments of destruction, now players are regularly gifted with bits of armour (head, shoulder and chest) that have their own skill tree of sorts. By collecting a resource called Azerite, players level up the Heart of Azeroth artifact, enabling them to select special powers and traits for their magic armour.

Powering up my robe.

Going from undertaking a dynamic quest to procure an ancient weapon to being handed super-powerful armour is a bit of a let down. I enjoy the extra power. I just wish there was more to it.

But hey, I am only a week in so far. There is still plenty for me to do. My Warlock is only level 116, so she has four levels to go before hitting the cap. I’ve only unlocked two out of three of the battle story zones, so there’s more to do there. I still have a couple dozen quests in my log, with more popping up every step I take in Kul Tiras.

To the islands!

I’ve only just unlocked Island Expeditions, special missions that send players off to uncharted islands to search for more precious Azerite. And hell, I haven’t even done a dungeon yet. What kind of Warlock am I, aside from one terrified someone with damage counters on is going to kick him from the group for under-performing?

I’m not having a bad time in Battle for Azeroth. I like the incessant questing, as obnoxious as it can be. I enjoy exploring, seeking out pretty new places to take screenshots and potentially die. I just wish the expansion did more to advance the game.

We’ll see if that feeling holds up as I barrel towards the level cap.


Comments

    This review basically boils down to "I haven't played much, and I haven't tried out most of the new features, and I'm not max level yet, but there's still nothing new". Not good, Fahey. Azerite gear, island expeditions and warfronts just off the top of my head are new things you haven't tried yet. Too early to complain.

      And how many hours should a review take to for an opinion on an MMO. A week, a month, 13 years...

      A hardcore player has already committed to the game and no review or opinion would sway them, for a returning player who is going to use their first days to judge how much time they are going to commit to it. I think this is review is valid... no opinion is too early if you spent time with it.

        It's not about hours, it's about content. If you haven't actually played the content, you can't really formulate a valid opinion on it. I expect the same of all reviewers, I want them to actually play the game, use the systems and such before making a broad judgement call about how much of it there is.

      Hell even the dungeons are a good step up from legion. From feedback I've heard, bfa is a breath of fresh air after cosmos threatening demons and constant fel green. I have no idea why you wrote an article regarding new content when you're not Max level - commentary on zones and questing would have been appropriate.

      The azerite gear is pretty blah to be honest. I'm really not a fan of the new approach. Especially when you get a piece that has a "talent" you like but then need to dump it because the new piece has a higher ilevel... only to find it's talent is blah.

      I also hate the fact that the neck is basically a "lost" slot (just like the weapon was last xpac, or the ring before that). I like getting upgrades or pieces with interesting set bonuses or procs. I'd rather see a system where you don't lose a slot to a single item for the whole xpac (whether the item powers up or not).

      I'm enjoying BFA at the moment, but I don't know how long that will last. I feel like once I've knocked out the last questline it'll be the same old grinding dailies (whether you call them dailies or world quests they're still dailies).

        The difference between the neck and weapon slot tho is significant. Unlocking the weapon slot reintroduces weapon damage vs stat/effect bonuses as a factor, whilst the neckpiece has almost exclusively been a secondary stat bump the last couple of expacs. By locking the artifact to the neck rather than the weapon, they are reallowing a lot of variability to setups and optimisations, whilst giving the neck slot a purpose beyond boosting secondary stats.

          Agreed. The neck is a non-functional slot, it has no appearance or functional choice and always served only as a stat stick. The weapon, on the other hand, has min/max damage and DPS, weapon speed and style (eg. polearm vs fist weapons) and that flexibility was largely lost in Legion. I hated that they hard-locked brewmaster to polearm/staff in Legion, my build in MoP and WoD was dual wield fist tank.

            Interestingly enough it doesn't need to. There's no reason they couldn't create appearances for some neck pieces. Big blingy rapper still chains. You could have necks with a glow or other enchant like effects.

            And I'd argue that the neck is still just a stat stick with their current solution. And not even an interesting stat stick (ie: ooh is this necklace better than that necklace). Maybe if they'd given it a socket and you plugged different azerite abilities into it I could agree but it's basically worse than the original necks because at least you got drops and could choose to use them or not. It just sits there slowly getting more powerful.

            And they also had some interesting neck pieces that had procs or set bonuses. I'd like to see more of them. Give players choice, not a single piece that powers up in a boring way. To be honest, I'd like to see that logic applied more. While I wasn't a fan of artefact weapons either (again losing choice), the artefact weapon at least let you choose abilities to power up as you gained power.

            I think in some ways where that went wrong was that it was duplicating talents but letting you ultimately get all of them. I'd prefer an approach where there is choice. Like the azerite shoulders/head/chest but better implemented. One possibility would be to make the sockets genuine sockets (like the artefact weapon ones) so your azerite talents are droppable items.

            They could also have an each way disenchant approach for them. Have the option to either disenchant the shoulders and get the azerite relics back or keep the shoulders and disenchant the relics. Or hell, just be nice and let us remove them and keep both.

          You missed the point, I don't think they should lock a slot to an artefact at all. Doesn't matter whether it's a neck, a ring, a cloak, a weapon. You've effectively lost choice for that slot. I think this was the perfect opportunity to reintroduce the relic slot we had up til, what? Mists? Sadly that would conflict with Blizzard's apparent goal of pruning stuff.

      He specifically states he has tried the Azerite gear and island expeditions. Maybe finish reading the article before you post?

        You get basic azerite gear before you even get to the islands, I'm obviously not talking about that. I'm talking about the four-tier pieces you start getting at 120 (which he isn't) where there's actual choice involved. As for island expeditions, he says he only just unlocked them, not that he's actually been on any. The tutorial expedition is nothing like the actual thing.

        I read what he wrote, I stand by what I said. He has little to no meaningful experience with the new systems introduced this expansion.

    War is here its the Battle for the Planet... but first can you single handled solve the three main problems our new allies have... cause until you do that their army/fleets wont commit to our cause and help us drag out this war into a 2 year long stalemate.

    Also all 6 zones have a different enemies (crooks, corruption, witches for Alliance) and they dont really relate to the BfA theme in any substance... in Legion, the legion was always the bad guy and it stitched zones and sungeins together nocely and in a coherent story for the most part.

    The Azerite grind doesnt feel as rewarding, and feels more gating... and I am already missing the weapon skin challenges.

    Considering it hasn't even been out for 2 weeks, and most of the new content isn't due until September 4th (Arathi front, World bosses, Raid, new PvP season, etc) it's probably a bit early to call it. He hasn't even hit 120 yet either. That in itself isn't an issue but it's definitely too early to decide. Hell, the classes aren't even really approaching balanced until 120. Even then there's a lot of class tuning and tweaks to come, as always.

    How could you only be 116 Mike? I work full time as a teacher, have a life and I've managed to level two 120's (one 320 ilevel, the other 340). If I was a games journalist who was paid to play games for a living, I'd probably be even higher!

    Ignoring that, I do echo some of what you're saying. The first time I levelled through I found the levelling to be tedious, arduous and never ending. While it's nice Blizzard have made it so quests link into more quests which link into more quests, I had actual moments of despair in this expansion in which I was being inundated with so many different new quest lines, all springing off in different direction, that I actually felt over whelmed and exhausted by it all.

    One thing that I felt hurt this expansions levelling process, was the fact that each faction only has 3 zones to level in. Each zone (especially Stormsong and Tiersgarde) drag on for SOOOO long that you really feel like there is no end to the questing there. While it might be purely aesthetic and a pure state of mind thing, I believe having smaller zones broken up across the same land mass, would've stopped this feeling I (and many others I play with) experienced. Also it seems a waste to have 50% of the levelling content gated by faction. I know Blizzard probably did this to squeeze extra subscription time out of it's players (as people will want to experience both sides of the story) but it's a pretty transparent move by them.

    The second time I levelled, it felt a little less painful partly because BM is such an easier spec to level in, but also because I knew what to expect from each zone, so the process didn't feel as long because I knew how long the chapters took to complete.

    As for the end game content, I've done all the dungeon mythics that are currently out. Some of the bosses so far are generic boss affairs that anyone who has played several expansions would recognise, but there were a few interesting nice new mechanics in both the dungeons and the boss encounters. You'd be forgiven for not feeling a sense of familiarity as you play through all of them.

    The new island expeditions feel more like a gimmick at the moment. Everyone is ranting about how amazing the A.I is, but they just felt like brain dead A.I, even on mythic mode. I also think there should be a huge difference between Mythic Azerite reward vs PVP Azerite reward but that's just my personal suggestion.

    The Azerite armour pieces have yet to wow me. I agree with Mike in the sense that when you get a piece every 10 seconds (And at 120 this happens a lot... I literally have about 30 piece sitting in my bags, and about 5 epic ones), I'm more sitting there scratching my head, trying to work out which combo will give me the most DPS. Icy-veins has suggestions, but it might be too early in the game to start saying "OH THIS ONE IS BEST" (I say after crafting the Engineering ones which supposedly have the best traits).

    The garrison part of this expansion feels mostly empty and hollow when compared with WoD and Legion. But maybe that was their idea, to give more power back to the actual players when it comes to gear and questing. At the moment you only get rep, azerite and very small amounts of gold.

    /TLDR

    Enjoy the expansion for now, but I'm interested to see how long it will hold my attention.

      I had actual moments of despair in this expansion in which I was being inundated with so many different new quest lines, all springing off in different direction, that I actually felt over whelmed and exhausted by it all.

      Strangely enough I felt both this and the opposite. Sometimes it's the overwhelming "hey have 50 quests". But then there are times you finish the last quest in an area and that's it, no follow up. No "now you should head to wherever because they need you". So I sit there looking at an unexplored area on the map wondering whether I missed picking up a starter quest somewhere, or whether I just need to head there and it'll kick off or whether Blizzard just haven't really done anything with that area.

      I kinda like that they've been experimenting with garrisons/class halls. But I still don't think they've nailed it. I really liked the idea of having a sidekick to help you when you don't have friends to party with. I think they should continue to use that idea. I'd love to see future xpacs start you with three sidekicks (followers/champions/whatever you want to call them) one for each role tanking, dps and healing so you could pick whichever you like.

      I kinda like the Wildstar idea of having a customisable house that you can build. Maybe move from the whole garrison thing to a manor/castle approach. Then we could see extra loot being added to the game. Imagine roaming the world or doing a dungeon and being able to interact with certain objects to use for your house. Doing Waycrest manor "ooh I love those drapes!" YOINK!

    I'm enjoying it more than Legion so far and the zones are among my favourite in the entire game. Also glad to be rid of Artifact weapons - having Doomhammer or Ashbringer wasn't special when everyone has one.

      That's been a problem for quite awhile. Cata was probably the first xpac where the legendaries really didn't feel legendary because every second person had one. And MoP was the nail in that coffin since literally everyone did have them. I think back in vanilla where you were lucky to have a single lego in the whole 40 man raid they were a bit too rare. But they've kinda flipped too far in the other direction.

      I'm still annoyed that blizzard hasn't done something more useful with the artefact weapons post Legion. They're sitting there taking up space and you can't vendor, DE or even put them in the void bank. How about turning them into heirlooms so we can free up bag spots. Or just let us actually do something with them.

    I haven't hit the level cap yet as I've found the leveling in zones to be just so painfully boring. The zones themselves are great and the quests are about as good as it gets in WoW but it just isn't hooking me like legion did.

    Pfft, plenty of people can't even play the expansion after they screwed up the client and I'm one of them. What about them removing Exclusive Fullscreen because they suck at making the game, making the game unplayable for piles of people then ignoring the forum thread with over 38 pages of people complaining about it? They removed it from all of the game clients including DX 11, 12 and the Mac client for no reason and ruined performance.

    Blizzard was responding to memes but was refusing to address why they removed an essential feature to making their game run smoothly when it only operates on a single core and is pretty crap on a lot of hardware. They've been ignoring the issue on forums, emails, Twitter, everything, in spite of all of the complaints. If Kotaku wants something to report on, check out the #BattleforFullscreen thread on the US Battlenet forums. It's been a complete debacle, just like when these morons tried to remove audio hardware acceleration.

    Now people have bought an expansion where this change wasn't announced... for an unusable game even though the problem was known about all the way back during the PTR.

    I've played WoW since just before original release, and haven't really been part of a guild since the end of the second expansion. And paused for maybe 3 months during the 5 exp. Blizzard is more about making money by everything I've seen. It's bad enough that there is a limit to how many characters you can have on a server, but they've been increasing the cost to transfer/modify characters you already have. Ridiculous in this day and age, to still be paying per month and not able do anything useful to sort your own account. And while I've been paying to watch their game show for several years, they haven't really been announcing anything useful for a while.

      None of the service costs have changed USD price in years, but they do update AUD prices when the exchange rate changes enough, which it has done quite a lot the last year.

      The official reasons the services have fees are A) so they're not exploited, eg. back-and-forth cross-server trading, B) so they can't be used to harass people, eg. changing name repeatedly, and C) so they're not done constantly on a whim, because it puts higher load on their databases than other activities.

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