Back in August, I wrote two articles about World of Warcraft: Battle for Azeroth, the highly-anticipated new expansion for the venerable MMORPG. The first of those articles contained my first impressions of content specific to the Alliance faction, and the second contained similar impressions of content specific to the Horde. Since Battle for Azeroth has been out for a few months now, and I’ve been able to spend significantly more time with it, I thought I would update my thoughts on the expansion’s content in another article. I’ll cover what I think of both factions’ content in this article; I don’t consider it necessary to split my thoughts into two articles again.
As I mentioned in both previous articles, I’m a stalwart Alliance player who only occasionally dabbles in the Horde’s side of the story. As you might expect then, I’ve spent the vast majority of my time in Kul Tiras exploring what the Alliance-specific content has to offer. With that said, I’ll begin by discussing my thoughts on the maritime kingdom and everything that must be done to restore it to its former glory.
As you’ll recall from my article on Alliance content, I noted that Kul Tiras is initially deteriorating due to governmental corruption, piracy, and that which I cannot discuss for fear of spoiling anything for new players. In regards to that last thing that I can’t discuss, I’ll just call it “outside influence” for the purposes of this article. In order to restore the kingdom to its former glory and ultimately entice its leadership to rejoin the Alliance you, as the Alliance emissary, must combat these forces and restore the faith which Kul Tiran citizens once had in the Proudmoore Admiralty.
To do this, you’ll quest through three zones: Tiragarde Sound, Drustvar, and Stormsong Valley. Each of these zones has a faction attached to it, with whom you’ll gain reputation as you complete quests. The Proudmoore Admiralty faction is attached to Tiragarde Sound, and the Order of Embers and Storm’s Wake factions are based within Drustvar and Stormsong Valley, respectively. These latter two factions form due to the evils that plague Kul Tiras.
That brings me to my only major disappointment with Kul Tiras and the Alliance content. Don’t get me wrong, I like at least a couple of things about all three zones, but I didn’t quite fall in love with any of them as I had hoped to when I first started questing and exploring. It came as a bit of a shock to me when I realized that I don’t have a favorite Alliance-specific zone in Kul Tiras, but I do have a favorite Horde-specific zone in Zandalar.
Because of this, it took me longer than I had originally expected to reach max level on any of my Alliance characters. Considering I started playing practically the moment Battle for Azeroth went live, it took me about a month and a half to reach level 120 on my main. This wasn’t because the content was difficult or anything like that; it was mainly because my excitement to play the new content kind of petered out faster than I expected it to.
I felt a bit burned out on Kul Tiras at about level 115 or so, and that was well before I finished the story campaigns in any of the three zones. This burnout was mostly due to the fact that most of my friends felt the same way I did, and consequently didn’t really want to play together. I strongly dislike questing alone, so without any friends to play with, I just kind of let WoW slip out of my sights and focused on other games for awhile.
I played with renewed vigor again once I finally reached level 120 and unlocked world quests, but sadly, that excitement didn’t last long, either. While a rather small handful of the world quests I’ve done don’t feel repetitive per se, a significantly higher number of them do feel like menial busywork with little reward outside of emissary quest caches and the occasional gear upgrade, however slight or significant such upgrades may prove to be.
I mainly wanted to reach max level and unlock world quests so that I could continue the Alliance war campaign, gain reputation with the 7th Legion faction, and in doing so, unlock the new Dark Iron Dwarf allied race (which, for the record, I managed to do just yesterday at the time of writing). Unlocking every allied race can be a bit of a grind, to say the least, but when it came to unlocking the Dark Irons, I had no idea how much of a grind I would be getting myself into.
In order to unlock that particular allied race, one must reach Exalted status in terms of reputation with the 7th Legion, complete the first portion of the Alliance war campaign, and then complete several scenarios and a dungeon before finally being given the opportunity to create a Dark Iron Dwarf character… or, in my case, eight Dark Iron Dwarf characters. You may recall that in one of my previous articles, I mentioned that I bought Battle for Azeroth on a second account solely to fill said account with new allied race characters; so far, I’ve done exactly that.
I personally disliked this process for one simple reason: I despise grinding reputation no matter how many ways there are to make it easier or less time-consuming. For some strange reason, though, I found a small bit of consolation in knowing that the Horde is required to follow similar steps in order to unlock their newest allied race, the Mag’har Orcs. I suppose as long as both factions have to suffer through the rep grind, I’m okay with it. I must admit my jealousy, however, due to the fact that the Mag’har Orcs are led by an alternate-universe version of Grommash Hellscream, whereas all the Dark Irons get is the less-than-pleasant Moira Thaurissan as a leader.
Now then, I shall discuss my updated impressions of Zandalar and Horde-specific content for awhile. I’ll admit outright that I haven’t reached level 120 on a Horde character yet, as I’ve been so focused on unlocking Dark Iron Dwarves, that I felt I didn’t have the time to focus on any of the Horde’s affairs. Now that I’ve accomplished that goal though, I intend to power through the zones of Zandalar which I’ve yet to finish and reach max level at my earliest opportunity.
As I mentioned previously, I don’t have a favorite Alliance zone in Kul Tiras, but I do somehow have a favorite Horde zone in Zandalar. The zone in question is Vol’dun. I can’t quite put my finger on why I consider Vol’dun to be my favorite zone, however. If I had to guess, I’d say that it’s likely due to the intrigue I find in the idea that General Jakra’zet is a traitor to the Zandalari Empire and a threat to the Horde, as well as the possibility that I might be personally responsible for putting an end to his schemes. Then again, maybe I just want an excuse to punch him in his rather pronounced nose in return for him calling me a “mongrel from the Horde” upon our first meeting.
I’ve been discussing Battle for Azeroth‘s plot with a very close friend of mine as of late, and our conversations brought something rather disheartening to my attention. The Alliance storyline in Kul Tiras doesn’t really immediately offer much to the whole idea that Azeroth is under siege from increasingly obvious forces and the two factions are too busy trying to kill each other to realize it, as Magni Bronzebeard wants us to see.
The most the Kul Tiras storyline brings to that particular table can be summarized in a manner that I personally find rather boring, much to my disappointment as a stalwart defender of the Alliance. With that said, however, the Horde’s storyline in Zandalar brings quite a bit more structure to the aforementioned “Azeroth is under siege” idea. I’ll do my best to avoid spoiling anything as I discuss this, but considering the expansion has been out for a while now, I’m sure you can read up on the plot thus far if you’re interested and can’t play the expansion yourself.
As I just alluded to, the Horde’s story quests in Zandalar make it alarmingly clear that the faction war isn’t the biggest threat to Azeroth. Most of the reasoning for this is shown to players in the zone known as Nazmir. As Princess Talanji explains before you officially begin questing in any of the three zones, the biggest threat emanating from Nazmir is the surge of blood trolls who intend to launch an assault on the Zandalari capital. Upon venturing there, you find that the blood trolls are more than just a group of savages unhappy with the Zandalari Empire’s rule; through their blood magic, they’re actively attempting to manifest their evil loa spirit, known as the Blood God G’huun, into Azeroth to consume the blood of their enemies.
In order to put a stop to the blood trolls’ aspirations and prevent G’huun from being awoken and wreaking havoc upon Azeroth, Princess Talanji informs the player that they must seek the aid of the more benevolent loa present within Nazmir. Unfortunately, that doesn’t exactly go as Talanji planned; more of these loa end up corrupted by G’huun, dead, or both than end up aiding Talanji and the Horde. The player is only able to bargain with two of several loa mentioned by Talanji, those being Krag’wa, the loa of frogs, and Bwonsamdi, the loa of death.
With all of that said, I don’t feel quite as burned out on Battle for Azeroth content as I did in, say, mid-September or so. With BlizzCon having recently come and gone, and the road map for World of Warcraft laid out before us, I readily admit my excitement for what’s to come. Patch 8.1 releases December 11th. This patch brings with it two more allied races in the forms of the Kul Tiran Humans and Zandalari Trolls, as well as another portion of both factions’ war campaigns. If nothing else brought by this patch tickles my fancy, I’m at least excited for the new allied races, though I’m not looking forward to the processes that will likely be necessary to unlock them.
In addition to that, Blizzard also announced quite a bit of new content to come in Patch 8.2, including the second part of the Battle for Azeroth Pathfinder achievement, the completion of which will allow players to use flying mounts to their full potential while in Kul Tiras and Zandalar. In addition to that, though, Blizzard also announced that a raid will be added in Patch 8.2 which features Queen Azshara as a boss. This seems to me to imply that players will finally be able to put an end to the threats from the naga and what I referred to earlier as that pesky “outside influence” once and for all.
While I’m quite excited for most of the new content, I’m doing my best to remain cautiously optimistic. I sincerely hope the new content and features prevent me from getting burned out on the game as a whole, or at least slow the burnout process down to where I don’t get to feeling disinterested as quickly as I did when Battle for Azeroth first launched.