Battle For Azeroth Initial Impressions

Hey! I’m Tea, I’ve been playing World of Warcraft since WotLK released in 2008. My Warcraft journey started when I played through the original Warcraft series and found myself not wanting to leave the world behind. When I googled “Warcraft” a game called the WORLD of Warcraft appeared and thought ‘hey! I’ll continue my journey there!’. 11 years later here I am! I raid Mythic in a guild on Stormrage Alliance. While I can’t guarantee I will raid Mythic in this expansion end game PvE content has always been where my heart is at ever since I discovered “raiding”. Now that you know a little about me, let’s talk about Battle for Azeroth first impressions.

Itstea harnessing the heart of Azeroth

BFA hype came late for me. I was at Blizzcon when the expansion was announced. My first feelings were underwhelmed and hesitant. I’m over faction wars, I don’t enjoy PvP activities (with the exception of BG’s for some reason) so BFA reveal didn’t hit the right note for me. Then about 6 weeks before the expansion released I interest slowly started to mount about what the expansion might offer.

Now that I’ve had a week to play (the times Stormrage was up) it’s clear to me (and anyone who has ventured into BFA’s Azeroth) that the art and cinematic team did outstanding work to modernize game visuals and bring the game aesthetically into 2018.

My personal opinion, as a long time endgame player, it feels to me the combat system is showing it’s age and lack of agility. I won’t armchair dev or pretend to know more than a surface level context of game design so please don’t @ me. Other notably shitty things are the dev decision to switch the loot system to personal AND locking BFA pieces from being traded is discouraging [UPDATE – Blizz has decided to reverse this decision 08/23/18].

Pivoting back to where Battle for Azeroth shines – the genuine love for the world and its inhabitants, including us player characters, the design team has is on full frontal display. World zones feel completely alive in a way I haven’t experienced since the first time I quested through Grizzly Hills and stumbled upon a titan scale staircase and felt a sense of wonder at the ruins of something like this left behind. Every new zone in Battle For Azeroth oozes atmosphere and personality.

Alliance or Horde, every zone starts with a voice acted introduction quest line. This is a charming touch that draws you into caring about the zone story. I found myself immersed to the point that I stopped the show I was watching on the second monitor and just enjoyed the quests and ambiance of Drustvar. I had the same experience beginning every other zone as well. I felt a bit spoiled when the voice acted intro quests ended!

I’ve only played through the Alliance side of the expansion at this point but everything I’ve seen on social leads me to assume Horde has a similar cinematic experience. The in-game cutscenes are among the finest Warcraft has produced. I find myself joining the side of YouTube commenters who are clamoring for a CGI Warcraft movie. I mean, if the cinematics are THIS good I can’t see a CGI cinematic effort from Blizzard failing.

There are countless nods to pop culture embedded in quests and NPC’s. The balance felt tipped a little too heavy on references. Drustvar had a supreme Witcher vibe that I thoroughly enjoyed. Leveling with Warmode on wasn’t an issue at all which I was pleasantly surprised by. I think that might change in a few months when people are leveling alts, etc.

When I got to 120 I was THRILLED! I stood in Boralus for a hot minute just enjoying the leveling slog was over and bantering in guild chat. When I was ready to move on I was overwhelmed. Want to unlock further war missions? World Quests? Unlocking two mythic only dungeons Seige of Boralus and Kings Rest? Reputation gates exist for most of the content a PvE’er needs to complete weekly to raid prep. You quickly realize that character levels are meaningless in BFA. The real leveling is in your Heart of Azeroth, which you rank up with Azerite obtained through activities.

I have a FT job and play in the evenings after work. That’s when I don’t have other demands from work, spouse, or my social life. Going into this expansion I thought the changes to our primary power component (Heart of Azeroth in BFA from Artifact Weapons in Legion) would give me a different initial experience than I had when Legion first launched. Remember when the people in your raid who were able to play all day had 3-4 more AP levels than you? When people who were maxxed did SO MUCH more damage or healing because the weapon was just so much more powerful from those levels?

Well, turns out HoA isn’t much different. It might be a little worse, due to traits unlocking based on your HoA level. That leaves anyone serious about end game content grinding to unlock as high as possible before raid released on September 4th.

I’m not 100% confident I will be seeking a raid spot in the upcoming tier. I’ve enjoyed having more time to myself and playing other games with my friends. So much of my identity is wrapped up in being a Mythic raider and completing tiers that I don’t know how I will actually turn casual but I think it might be time. I don’t have the stomach for the natural tension and conflict that arises when 20 competitive people are in the same room anymore. I am considering starting a ‘alt’ run (read casual) heroic group that runs 1 day a week. If you’re interested let me know (vanity#1426)!


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