Battle for Azeroth Enters the Final Lap

Today we get the 8.3 patch for Battle for Azeroth.  At least it is today in the US and related regions.  Europe gets it tomorrow and I gather Asia will get it the day after that.

Titled Visions of N’Zoth, it is, if not the final patch, then likely the final bit of content the expansion will be able to call its own.

Visions of N’Zoth arrives

The list of things coming with this update is quite impressive.  It includes:

  • Corrupted Zones: Uldum and Vale of Eternal Blossoms
  • New Raid: Ny’alotha, the Waking City
  • Awakened Assaults: The Servants of N’Zoth
  • Horrific Visions
  • New Legendary Cloak: Ashjra’kamas, Shroud of Resolve
  • New Corrupted Items and Rewards
  • Deepwind Gorge Redesign
  • New Pet Battle Dungeon: Blackrock Depths
  • New Allied Races: Vulpera and Mechagnomes
  • Death Knights for All
  • Auction House Overhaul
  • New Quests
  • New Warfront: Heroic Darkshore
  • New Brawl: Teeming Islands
  • Darkmoon Faire Arcade
  • New Mounts
  • Updates to classes, dungeons, raids, items, etc.

That is a serious list, though it is probably the final list, the list of features that will close out the legacy of the Battle for Azeroth expansion.  There has been quite a bit of discussion by the dedicated aboutmany of the features, though I think the most buzz has been around the allied races… and specifically the Vulpera.

The Vulpera arrive

From the allied race announcement:

Clever and resourceful, the vulpera of Vol’dun have survived amidst the sands for generations. Eager to join the ranks of the Horde, their caravans have departed from the dunes in search of adventure.

The serpentine sethrak have taken to subjugating anyone they can as slaves, and the vulpera are an easy target for their machinations. If you’ve taken steps to liberate the vulpera from these overseers, they’ll join the Horde on the battlefield.

  • Available Classes: Hunter, Mage, Monk, Priest, Rogue, Shaman, Warlock, Warrior, and Death Knight
  • Racial Traits:
    • Bag of Tricks – Use a trick on an enemy to damage them, or an ally to heal them.
    • Rummage Your Bag – Change the contents of your Bag of Tricks. Now where did you put that…?
    • Make Camp – Set your camp location outdoors.
    • Return to Camp – Teleport back to your camp location.
    • Nose for Trouble – Take less damage from the first strike inflicted by an enemy.
    • Vulpera Survival Kit – Find extra goods when you loot humanoids.
    • Fire Resistance – Take less damage from fire.

The unique/cute/fun look of the Vulpera, along with their racial traits have led some to forecast how things will end up looking on the Horde side of the game soon.

By the weekend surely…

The new Alliance allied race, the Mechagnomes, pale by comparison.  I mean, sure, there are some out there for whom “more gnomes!” is an incentive, but how many are there?  From the announcement:

Though they once sought to mechanize themselves completely, the mechagnomes now seek a balance between flesh and steel. Emerging from years of isolation on Mechagon, they bring both ingenuity and aptitude to the Alliance.

They left Gnomeregan to construct a metal metropolis, Mechagon. However, their once wise and ambitious ruler King Mechagon now ruthlessly rules over them with an iron fist.

Work together with the Rustbolt Resistance to overthrow their tyrant so these mechanical mavericks will join the Alliance.

  • Available Classes: Hunter, Mage, Monk, Priest, Rogue, Warlock, Warrior, and Death Knight
  • Racial Traits:
    • Re-Arm – Automatically heal yourself when your health drops to a low life total.
    • Combat Analysis – Get stronger as you fight the same enemy.
    • Hyper Organic Light Originator – Summon decoys of yourself to distract foes.
    • Skeleton Pinkie – Open locked chests.
    • Mastercraft – Function as a personal set of crafting tools for professions.

Both allied races have a faction grind you must complete and a list of achievements you must obtain before they can be unlocked.  But we’ve known about the requirements for a few months now, so I am sure people are prepped to get there.

The downside, for me at least, and I have unlocked most of the previous allied races, is that you end up with a level 20 character and a 100 levels between you can the cap.  But Blizz has discounted race and faction changes by 30% in anticipation of this.  Discount available through February 3rd.

And that will be the end of Battle for Azeroth.  There are reportedly no plans for something like an 8.3.5 patch.  This will be where the expansion is done and we’ll have been given all it has to offer.  Work by the WoW team will no doubt be focused on the upcoming Shadowlands expansion.

Battle for Azeroth will depart with something of a mixed legacy.  There was a lot there to like.  Kul’Tiras and Zandalar were both cool and interesting areas.  But it also seemed to include something to irk just about everybody.  From the burning of Teldrassil to the counter-intuitive level scaling to the dissatisfaction with classes to the simple, unfavorable comparisons with how things worked in Legion.

I had great hopes going in.  I had Horde and Alliance characters lined up so as to experience both sides of the story.  But the expansion just wore me down.  Playing a pally in WoW Classic felt better than playing one in Battle for Azeroth.

And the legacy of the expansion will be short lived.  By the time summer rolls around Blizzard will be getting ready to roll out the pre-Shadowlands patches, which will include the risky level squish.  That will make everybody at the cap level 50 and turn all of the past expansions into parallel paths to get players from level 10 to 50.

The new leveling flow from BlizzCon

I am waiting for Blizz to come out with their final plan on the squish… they could still make every expansion annoying by putting the BFA level scaling scheme into them… but it will let you pick your favorite expansions to level in, and even swap between them mid-way, while allowing you to avoid the ones you did not like.  I am not sure Battle for Azeroth would be on my list were I to level up another alt.

Anyway, today begins the final round of the expansion.  For its fans, I hope it will add up to a good send off.  I remain mixed on the whole thing, which has made me skeptical about Shadowlands as well.  But we have months left before I need to worry about that and WoW Classic is still running along just fine for me.

6 thoughts on “Battle for Azeroth Enters the Final Lap

  1. Kaylriene

    A nice, concise write-up, and the 8.3.5 news had slipped my radar so that is good to know.

    I agree with your prediction on August 2020 for Shadowlands, and even if I didn’t, if it ends up being later, it is going to suck the life out of the game. I’m actually surprised they haven’t tried doing another Annual Pass like they did in the twilight of Catalcysm to keep people subscribed and get a lot of beta test logins for Shadowlands. Probably wouldn’t work without a non-WoW title to dangle as a carrot for doing it, but I’d be interested in seeing them try.

    As it stands now, patch 8.3 doesn’t have a long tail outside of grinding small power leaps that will be invalidated by Shadowlands, so I certainly hope the expansion is on the tail of this patch.

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  2. Wilhelm Arcturus Post author

    @Kaylriene – I expect that the unlock of flying, the promise of this final patch, and WoW Classic have kept things somewhat stable through the holidays. My bet would be, if subscriber numbers start to tank, that we will see another six month subscription deal that gets you a special mount. They have already played that card twice, but some time has passed since the last round. I think June 2019 was the last time the did that.

    I believe something like the Cataclysm era deal when they threw in Diablo III with a year subscription would work again, but they haven’t got anything like that to throw in right now.

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  3. Pingback: Some Potentially Good News – Shadowlands by September? – Kaylriene

  4. Mazer

    Didn’t take long for that mount deal to materialize. : )

    I do like the level squish on paper at least, not planning to jump in for Shadowlands but it’ll be interesting to see how it plays out (and if it nudges any other MMOs).

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