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Big Changes Coming in BfA to GCD, Realm Firsts & Much More

Suzie Ford Posted:
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Blizzard promised at PAX East last week that the World of Warcraft: Battle for Azeroth beta would be coming "soon". A week later, we haven't seen any definitive proof that soon means anything more than typical Blizzard-speak. However, the BfA alpha has been getting some updates over the intervening days with some pretty interesting new things. We've looked things over and found five of the most interesting new components of the BfA alpha. 

Big Changes to Global Cool Down

Over the past couple of Battle for Azeroth alpha builds, Blizzard has been busily adding a ton of abilities to the GCD pool. Every class and spec has been affected in one way or another. From what Game Director Ion Hazzikostas wrote on the WoW forums, this is an experimental addition to BfA and "nowhere near final". The goal is to assess feedback from players.

While there are many reasons for the change, it's very clear that this will have a huge impact on PvP arenas and battlegrounds. One of the biggest complaints from the PvP community has been the amount of burst damage that can be dealt and the incredible mobility, multiple interrupts and CC abilities of some classes. Adding offensive abilities to GCD will theoretically alter these and make burst damage somewhat less of a factor, with strategic use of abilities more of a priority.

Hazzikostas wrote:

This brings us to a broad category of abilities that are off the GCD in Legion: Offensive burst cooldowns. These are almost always pre-planned and not generally used in response to an unexpected situation. With them off the GCD, talenting into such abilities often just becomes a matter of adding another line to a burst macro without any additional gameplay as a result. In endgame raid and dungeon situations, stacking all possible cooldowns has an outsized impact on someone’s total performance, while in PvP, the fact that major damage amplifiers can be applied simultaneously with an outgoing damage ability heavily limits counterplay and makes worst-case burst damage more severe.  Thus, we're putting most activated offensive cooldowns, along with On Use offensive trinkets, back on the GCD. We will tune these effects around this change. 

If you'd like to see a list of abilities that are now part of the GCD, you can check out WoWhead's compilation(s) here and here.

Legion Legendary Effects Disappear at Level 116

The Legion legendary system was always a mixed bag -- sort of a love-hate thing for most players (but that's a whole different article). Many of them currently have BiS properties that have made the hunt for them all the more crucial for top-end raiders and Mythic+ players. People have been wondering for some time what will happen to legendaries in BfA. After the stat squish, they will retain both an ilevel of 280 (normal BfA dungeon ilevel) and all secondary effects. However, the secondary effects will be removed once a player hits level 116. 

At this point it is unknown if players will regain access to secondary effects for Timewalking.

Hall of Fame Raid Achievements Replacing Realm Firsts

Blizzard is changing up the way that guilds receive Feats of Strength for completing raids. Up to now, guilds competed to earn the coveted "Realm First" Feat of Strength and achievement. However, that appears to be changing in Battle for Azeroth. WoWHead datamined two new Guild Achievements: "Hall of Fame (Alliance)" and "Hall of Fame (Horde)". The Hall of Fame Guild Achievement will be rewarded to the Top 100 guilds per faction worldwide. This opens up intriguing possibilities for cross-realm Mythic raiding from its opening day and for worldwide Mythic raiding faction-based leaderboards. 

Players have surmised that this new decision will provide a hefty social impact for raiding guilds and will improve the overall balance between Horde and Alliance guilds completing Mythic raid achievements around the world.

According to the analysis at WoWHead, this could also have a negative impact on low-pop realms where competition is reduced. It will remain to be seen how this change on the race for World First (unofficial) achievements plays out when the first mythic level raid appears.

Join Party Voice Chat?

With BfA, a new voice chat feature will be more readily available in game. While voice chat capability has been available in WoW for years, this new system could have a significant impact on random groups of players running, for instance, a Mythic+ dungeon or in LFR where groups are formed from multiple realms. It could also have a big impact on random battlegrounds as well. 

When joining a group, a "toast" box will appear along the left hand side of the screen asking players if they want to join the voice chat. Players do, of course, have the option not to join. Clicking the chat interface reveals a few new functions: Chat Channels, Deafen Voice Chat and Mute Voice chat. Players can also select to have open mic or push-to-talk.


Of course, with every new build of the Battle for Azeroth alpha, there are new story spoilers. For anyone wanting to see both Horde and Alliance perspectives on the Battle for Undercity, check out the videos below. But I'll repeat: SPOILERS! I f you hate 'em, don't watch!

Some Other Stuff

Of course, these things aren't all. Here are a few other tidbits of interest:

As always, thanks to WoWHead for their diligent datamining and posting of the best BfA alpha material!


Suzie Ford

Suzie is the former Associate Editor and News Manager at MMORPG.com. Follow her on Twitter @MMORPGMom