Happy Battle for Azeroth Day, everyone! Starting tonight, World of Warcraft’s newest expansion will release globally and players will evacuate the Broken Isles en masse for fresh content.
And while this should be a time of celebration, Blizzard isn’t making everyone happy. The studio quietly disabled the ability for the group finder to auto-accept players, a feature that was heavily used for world quests and world bosses in Legion. This move has broken several popular add-ons and led to frustration over the removal of a user friendly feature.
Blizzard said that it did this to promote more of social hobnobbing: “The challenge with mods like World Quest Group Finder is that by automating this process for quests that were designed for single players, that’s not actually a social experience — there’s no actual interaction going on. Oftentimes, in fact, it’s just leeching — players can be on their mount, flying in midair, and that quest autocompletes for them.”
One of World of Warcraft: Battle for Azeroth’s key features won’t go live when the expansion launches this coming week. Blizzard announced players are going to have to wait a while to experience Battle for Stromgarde.
“Similar to other types of endgame content such as raids and rated PvP, the Battle for Stromgarde will not be immediately available at launch,” the studio said. “Instead, it’ll open a few weeks later.”
Blizzard went on to explain how the Horde and Alliance will take turns controlling the keep and assaulting it, offering players on both sides a rotation for the PvE scenario. Warfronts remain one of the lesser understood new systems in this expansion despite Blizzard hyping them strongly during last year’s Battle for Azeroth reveal.
Here’s something a little different: Usually, before I write a World of Warcraft column (or any column), my assumptions and data are pretty firm before I put them down on paper, else I wouldn’t be writing it in the first place. This is one of the reasons that, for example, I spent so much time showing my work when trying to predict the launch date for Battle for Azeroth; that was all about hard numbers, so it was easy to check math and assumptions in an obvious fashion.
But in this particular case I’m exploring a concept that I’m still playing with and researching, something that may turn out to be somewhat erroneous. To wit: I suspect World of Warcraft expansions have switched from selling to existing customers and into reclaiming old customers as a primary design focus.
It might seem like an odd assertion, but I think it’s an interesting thing to consider and may help shed light on a number of design decisions, several of which I think are pretty bad ones. But for this particular column I’m not interested in analyzing the merits of design choices; I’m interested in presenting the evidence and showing how it lines up in a more neutral fashion. Because I think it can shape some interesting thinking.
As the final few days count down before Battle for Azeroth drops, World of Warcraft’s developers are making some significant last-minute class adjustments to make sure that players will be in a good place at level 120.
This class change hotfix is mostly made up of buffs — mostly. Many builds, such as Frost Death Knights, Beast Master Hunters, Marksman Hunters, Holy Priests, Elemental Shamans, Feral Druids, and Demonology Warlocks are getting across-the-board increases to their damage output. There are a few nerfs as well, most notably to Assassination Rogues, but they are not nearly as extensive. Many PvP tweaks are being made as well.
And if you’re still hot and bothered over the recent storyline, you may want to listen to this recent interview with former Blizzard lead Chris Metzen, who discusses the negative reaction to the War of Thorns storyline and the harrassment of the writing staff.
So, to the surprise of absolutely no one, burning down an Alliance capital city did not actually demoralize anyone
other than players and now the Horde is getting one of its cities attacked in World of Warcraft. Equally unsurprising to anyone who followed reveals about this, that means the Alliance is marching on Lordaeron, and players can take part in this push right now in the game.
Players who have tested the beta for Battle for Azeroth will be familiar with the scenario, as it’s the same one kicking off the expansion in the testing cycle. If you want to get a start in on the pre-expansion hullabaloo and conclude the storyline before the full launch next week, hop on in and make your way to Stormwind for the Alliance or Orgrimmar for the Horde.
Also strap yourself in for the people trying to explain how capturing and holding a city in response to an unprovoked attack is the same thing as razing a city on a whim with no existing state of war.
There’s no shortage of World of Warcraft news as Battle for Azeroth looms next week, so let’s hop to it! Players should steel themselves for another round of class tuning changes, which are arriving today and will most notably impact Druids and Priests.
Blizzard continued to stoke the fires of Horde vs. Alliance conflict with the release of two free e-stories that look at the different sides of this conflict. Of course, some players are still coping with the huge lost of Teldrassil from last week, using art as a coping mechanism to express their sorrow.
The studio also posted a zone overview of Vol’dun, a Horde-side region full of sand, salt flats, and rocky terrain. There are a lot of secrets to be uncovered here, and players will also bump into the fox-like Vulpera and the snake-like Sethrak.
With a week to go until Battle for Azeroth releases, players are running out of time to bone up on all of the features and zones coming with World of Warcraft’s seventh expansion. So consider this your homework for today, to read up on the naval-themed zone of Tiragarde Sound.
Doesn’t sound like Alliance characters are going to have it easy here: “Any hopes for a warm reception in Tiragarde Sound will be quickly dashed upon your arrival. Wounds run deep between the Alliance and the Kul Tirans, inflicted by the tragic events that led to the death of Daelin Proudmoore. Your mission of diplomacy will begin on rough political seas, and the journey to redemption will be a long one.”
Meanwhile, the recent travesty of Teldrassil’s burning has done more than rile up players to protest Sylvanas’ action — it’s created a whole new wave of memes to keep us entertained. One good one? The confirmation of a new Horde ally race, the salt elemental (because players are… you know… salty right now? You get it.).
Even in a quarter that didn’t see a single major product or expansion release, Activision Blizzard made even more money than it did the year previous. The company’s Q2 2018 earnings report
showed that the mega-publisher brought in $1.64 billion during the period. This must be making some execs pretty happy, as this managed to pass the company’s target goals for the quarter quite handily.
Blizzard said that it hosted 37 million active monthly users across all of its games during the quarter. World of Warcraft: Battle for Azeroth has enjoyed “strong pre-orders” to date, and both Hearthstone and Overwatch also were highlighted as particular studio strengths. And this is neither here nor there, but we should point out that yesterday marked the 5,000th day of World of Warcraft’s live operation.
Looks like the money’s going to continue to stream in, with fall expansions and the big announcement that the company signed a deal with Tencent to release Call of Duty Mobile in China.
With World of Warcraft players deeply divided on the build-up to Battle for Azeroth — especially in light of a recent war crime committed by a certain war chief — players were left wondering how the rest of the Horde was dealing with Sylvanas’ over-the-top actions.
Part of that answer was delivered today with a new gorgeous CGI cinematic titled “Old Soldier.” Taking place in the hours before the Siege of Lordaeron that was seen in the Battle for Azeroth trailer, this cinematic focuses on Saurfang’s distress over the lack of honor in the Horde to the point where he feels like quitting entirely.
“They will come for us now,” Saurfang bellows. “ALL OF THEM.”
It also stars the surprise cult star of the expansion, a Troll Shaman that fans have labeled “Zappy Boi.” Our favorite comment? “He is no longer Zappy Boi. He is now Zappy Man.”
The communities for MMORPGs are what keep these games vibrant and awesome, and today we want to shine a spotlight on various projects and activities that players are running this week.
The MMO Bookclub has decided that it will be gathering its community together to play World of Warcraft: Battle for Azeroth during the month of August. Well, the second half of the month, at least.
Over at Secret World Legends, the community is putting on a benefit fashion show on August 4th to raise money for Lupus awareness. It’s a good excuse as any to spend hours pouring over cosmetic options! (Thanks, Hikari!)
It’s been a fun week watching the World of Warcraft community freak, rage, and despair over the latest chapter of the Battle for Azeroth prologue. It’s even stirred up Chris Metzen in his retirement, who showed up on Twitter to encourage fans to stick it out.
“My counsel is that everyone take a deep breath and enjoy the ride,” the former World of Warcraft lead said. “I will! You haven’t seen the whole form of the wave yet. As Douglas Adams would tell you — don’t panic!”
At the very least, the new story chapter is useful for its rewards. In this case, players can earn a Horde and an Alliance mount that can only be obtained for a limited time.
So yesterday’s latest bit of story in World of Warcraft did not, in fact, delight and amaze fans. Quite the opposite. Reactions on the game’s subreddit have been wildly negative, with dozens of threads popping up about how petulantly destroying a city isn’t morally grey and how badly this mangles existing character traits. A large number of players are unhappy, due in no small part to the fact that the net result is that the Horde have basically been portrayed as complicit in what amounts to a war crime.
All of this mockery is heartily deserved. What is not deserved is personal harassment directed at longtime novelist and member of the writing staff Christie Golden, who was not even involved with writing this (she describes all of these decisions as being made before she formally joined the main writing staff). The game’s subreddit has officially stated that this is unconscionable, which might break from predictions but should show that even unhappy groups of fans aren’t supporting harassment campaigns against women because of bad writing.
On the bright side, some hotfixes should clear up some PvP issues? There’s no hotfixing out the story, though.
World of Warcraft’s expansion pre-patch kind of broke a lot of stuff that the devs are frantically rushing around trying to fix. One of the worst issues right now is a noticeably slower pace of leveling and combat, which has led to player dissatisfaction and efforts by Blizzard to figure out and correct the issue.
“We are seeing the same sort of discrepancies that folks in this thread and others have pointed out, but still have yet to pinpoint the exact aspect of scaling that we failed to account for,” the studio said. “The current state is not the game experience we intended, and it’s something we will fix.”
Whether or not leveling gets fixed, Battle for Azeroth is coming next month no matter what, and players will only have a few weeks to blast through content if they want to get ready for the expansion’s first raid. Uldir goes live on September 4th, with the mythic version going live a week later and various wings opening up on the raid finder over the course of September and October.