We are getting right down to it in our look at the top 32 best World of Warcraft tracks. In today’s column, we’ll be breaking into the top 10 with some of my absolute favorite pieces that have been added to this long-running (and extensively scored) MMO.
If you’ve been going on this journey with me this far, I want to thank you for your patience and interest! For me, it has been a great reminder of the game’s musical journey so far and has also served to whet my desire for Battle for Azeroth’s score.
Let’s get going!
The latest build for World of Warcraft: Battle for Azeroth’s ongoing alpha test is available, and to the surprise of absolutely no one who has been watching the datamining community there’s already stuff that’s been dug out of the files. Want to see more followers from the as-yet-undisclosed mission system? Here you go, those are in there. Want to see some new models for weapons and such, or male orcs without terminal posture problems? Obviously, those are both in there.
There are also a new selection of Azerite traits, both in a general pool and for the three plate-wearing classes… and for Priests, just because Priests need love too. The dataminers have also uncovered new broadcast text added with this particular patch, but you might want to avoid that if you’re trying to minimize your spoilers before the expansion is actually released. There’s plenty of stuff to look into and speculate about anyway.
The Heart of Azeroth is the big new expansion improvement players will be contending with in World of Warcraft: Battle for Azeroth. We know how it’s meant to work, but we haven’t yet seen any of its traits actually in operation… until now. The most recent build of the game’s alpha has added in a handful of traits and effects for Hunters and Shamans, both classes that share the same armor type. This would indicate that more traits are likely being finalized, so this serves as a vanguard to more abilities.
The current list of traits feature some distinct abilities per class (boosting the Astral Shift damage reduction for Shaman while improving Aspect of the Cheetah for Hunter) and some universal traits, such as increasing movement speed based on Haste or granting attacks splash damage on each target. Obviously, the trait list is incomplete at this time, but it should provide a hint about what your various bits of armor will offer you once the system goes live with the expansion.
Watching as speculation and mining swirls around the Mag’har as a future allied race, I can’t help but start thinking about the bigger picture in World of Warcraft. Because soon we’ll be able to make another couple of allied races, and we’ll have more on top of that, and it brings up a pretty good question: what, exactly is the Alliance at this point?
You might think that’s a silly question, but both the Alliance and the Horde are kind of nebulous political groupings, and their extant members are a pretty big deal when you’re speculating about who’s going to be next to sign on board. Plus, I think it helps a bit to consider what could be coming in the future, both for future customization options and further development.
So, then, let’s start with the Alliance, because it’s first alphabetically and a bit simpler to put together. What actually comprises the Alliance?
If you’d hoped that the idea of follower missions would go away in World of Warcraft: Battle for Azeroth, we’re sorry to inform you that does not appear to be the case. There was a mission table added to the capital cities recently, and while that alone could just be a testing remnant or something… well, now some followers have been mined out from the game’s data files. So while we don’t know the structure, you can bet that Class Hall Missions 2.0 (or Garrison Missions 3.0, however you want to number it) will be coming with the expansion.
Fun hints from the followers in question? Well, there are some notable names on there, and there are also several different troop types separated out by race. All of the followers mined out thus far are Alliance, running the gamut from Worgen Bloodfang Stalkers to Dwarven Ironforge Mountaineers. So it would appear that we’re getting a more faction-oriented structure this time, although further details have yet to be seen.
It’s important to note at this point that World of Warcraft: Battle for Azeroth has not yet revealed the classes for Zandalari or Dark Iron Dwarves, but the datamined classes suggest that Zandalari cannot be Paladins. This seems at odd with the extant Zandalari Prelates, who already appear to be Paladins, but a questline in the current test reveals why that might not be an option when the race is available to play.
That being said, who knows if that’s going to be the case when the Allied Race is playable, so lore speculation remains speculations. For all we know Zandalari can be Druids and Paladins and nothing else. (Probably not.)
Testers have also taken a look at the game’s new interface for PvP talents in the expansion, which is still early and likely to change as development continues. It’s pretty substantially different; take a look at the early previews to see what it’ll be like to pick out PvP abilities when the expansion drops.
In our third part of this five-part countdown of World of Warcraft’s best music (at least, you know, in my opinion), we’ll be heading into the teens and some of the most iconic music of the MMORPG to date.
I think we’re getting a bit of everything in today’s list, from vintage Vanilla WoW to the Legion era, from silly to serious. One of the more difficult aspects of putting together this countdown is considering the “old” and “new” versions of songs, especially when Blizzard has remade or revisited areas, characters, and themes. I find that some people are heavily biased depending on which era they played the most, and thus that music means more to them than the others.
I’d like to hold myself up above that bias horizon, but alas, none of us can escape it. So I’ll endeavor instead to be as fair-handed as is gnomingly possible.
We don’t yet have all of the allied races promised to us for World of Warcraft: Battle for Azeroth available in the test builds. But that hasn’t prevented those builds from containing even more hints about the upcoming Mag’har Orcs, which haven’t yet been officially announced but certainly look like they’re incoming at alarming speed. Jokes, flirts, and appearance options have all been added with the most recent build of the expansion alpha.
Of course, there are other things within the latest build; there are more Vulpera customization options for the male members of the species, class changes, new creature models… the usual stuff to be mined from the data of a test build. Still, the promise of another allied race for the Horde seems to be materializing at alarming speed, and the presence of jokes alone makes it seem far more likely that they’re incoming sooner rather than later.
It’s funny to me that people had such an aggressive reaction to the changes coming to Hunter pets and damage formulas in Battle for Azeroth. The latter in particular should be both invisible and completely immaterial for actual play; the only real change is that they now use weapon damage on abilities which were previously disconnected from weapon damage, but these formulas have always taken into account, say, the difference between two-handers and dual-wielding options. The former is, at its core, an opportunity to make pet families relevant again after most of the pets of Legion were more or less difference in appearance only, which is a far cry from the days when your choice of pet was significant.
To make it clear if it’s remotely ambiguous: Yes, these are changes I support and ones I think are good for the game on a whole.
And yet all of this does prompt a pretty salient question about World of Warcraft because even if these are intelligent choices, the weapon damage issue has existed for ages now. The time for fussing about with Hunter pets was also ages ago. It’s a big change to functionality being tossed into the mix more or less out of the blue with no other prompting, and that raises the question that’s been relevant ever since Cataclysm rolled around: Why is it that Blizzard can’t stop messing with everything?
For all the good that World of Warcraft‘s level scaling has brought to the game, it has made farming for old appearances slightly more difficult. Now that the game’s dungeons are all synced to drop personal loot, it can be hard to farm things that you can unlock but wouldn’t drop under the game’s personal loot restrictions. Good news, then; when Battle for Azeroth rolls around, a new style of loot will be put into place for legacy loot in content that you outlevel by a significant margin.
Any dungeons or raids that you enter while at least 10 levels above the “designed” levels will activate Legacy loot; every boss will drop as many items as possible, and all loot can be freely traded between party members when things drop. Loot is split between players, however, so if a boss drops four things for a two-person party, both players will get two items. It should make for an easier time getting cosmetics and farming for them, so that’ll be a welcome change – especially with a whole new expansion’s worth of stuff to farm for transmog purposes.
Ever since its launch back in 2004, World of Warcraft has never boasted the most cutting-edge graphics and polygon counts. This was intentional, of course, as to keep the MMO available to a large of a crowd as possible, and Blizzard compensated with a colorful and creative art style.
Yet the game hasn’t remained stuck in 2004. The art style and detail has improved over the years, and with the higher system requirements for the upcoming Battle for Azeroth expansion, World of Warcraft is taking the opportunity to upgrade some of its more lackluster models to a higher fidelity.
Nowhere is this as apparent as with the game’s critters and creatures. YouTuber Bellular put together a video showing the art evolution between old and new beasts, some of which are truly shocking in their difference. Check it out below!
Does it matter how many people are playing your MMO? For some, yes, it does. It’s at least of passing interest to others, especially if players are looking for a “healthy” title or want a large number with which to impress their friends and argue that this MMO is besting another.
So don’t be too surprised that there is an effort to figure out what Guild Wars 2’s (undisclosed) population is at the moment. In An Age challenges one community estimate of 3.3 million players by looking at the available evidence and financial reports.
“Here’s my gut check: Guild Wars 2 probably has about 1.5 million monthly ‘players’ and many times less people who actually log on when there isn’t a holiday event/Living Story taking place,” he argues. “Ultimately though, I think Guild Wars 2 is actually uniquely well-positioned to survive regardless of whether it consists of a million actives or three million tourists.”
It’s going to be easy to ignore new formulas in World of Warcraft: Battle for Azeroth for a little while. After all, you’re dealing with a big across-the-board numbers squish along with a new expansion, so you’ll probably be focusing more on your individual abilities feeling like they do the right amount of damage per hit. But there’s been what appears to be a pretty major under-the-hood change in the game’s damage calculation. Whereas previously abilities that didn’t use your weapon didn’t care about weapon damage, it appears that everything in Battle for Azeroth uses weapon damage as an important component of its overall damage.
How does this affect you? From a moment-to-moment standpoint, it might not, but it does important work in addressing the disparity between classes like Warriors and classes like Monks. Most Monk abilities were not weapon strikes, so weapon damage didn’t actually affect their overall damage heavily and more attack power was the only real factor; by contrast, most Warrior abilities scaled with weapon damage all along. Going forward, if both classes scale based on weapon damage, it means that they’ll both need to assign roughly the same amount of weight to getting better weapons. It’s not something you’d notice unless you paid a lot of attention to damage formulas and specific gear importance, but it’s still an interesting change.