World of Warcraft’s next expansion is less than a month out and, as has become tradition, the “pre-patch” / pre-event is getting ready to kick off starting on July 17th. When you log in on Tuesday, the “War of Thorns” will begin and it won’t be the same Azeroth you left on logging out on Monday. So, what will be the big things that will change literally overnight? Here are a few of the most significant.
Editor's note: You can also check out the v8.0.1 patch notes.
One of the first things you’ll notice when you log in is that you don’t have health and mana in the millions and that, at least at a glance, your most powerful attacks will be hitting about as hard as a butterfly kiss. Don’t despair! Seeing those teeny tiny numbers is an across-the-board change for Battle for Azeroth that affects not only player characters, but NPCs. According to Blizzard, this will make “the numbers easier to read”.
Honestly, it’s just a practical change that won’t require advanced mathematics knowledge to read and understand the numbers.
Dead Artifacts / Class Reworks
In the last several weeks in the live game, players were told to report to Silithus to investigate the damage caused by the massive sword now sticking out of the planet itself. If you played through the end game in Legion, you understand that this is Sargeras’ last “f-you” to the planet’s denizens and it’s causing some big issues that can only be stopped through the sacrifice of every artifact -- you know, those things we’ve spent the last two years stuffing with power unimaginable.
If you played through the...er...pre-event to the pre-event in the last few weeks, you’ve taken your artifact to Silithus and sucked the power out of the sword and making our artifacts crazy unstable. That instability finally takes its toll and when you log in tomorrow, all of its power has been drained and all traits are disabled.
That’s the story explanation for a class talent overhaul. Artifacts featured a number of active and passive abilities that players had become accustomed to since the launch of Legion. With Battle for Azeroth, some of the artifact talents will be showing up in the familiar talent matrix, though not all of them, of course, which may feel something like a nerf. Some of the passives / actives from artifacts will be “baked in” to classes and specs. Some will join the talent matrix. Some...well, there’s just no easy way to put it...some will disappear into the Twisting Nether never to be seen again. The same applies to some Legendary effects too.
Alongside the changes to abilities and talents, the new GCD mechanic will roll in with the pre-event. This is going to have a significant impact on every character in the game. “We’re putting most activated offensive cooldowns, along with On-Use offensive trinkets, back on the GCD” wrote Ion Hazzikostas about the new system. Check WoWHead’s excellent series of “How to Play Your Class in BfA Pre-Patch” article for specific information about your favorite class.
War Mode / PvP Talents / PvP Post-Season / Dueler’s Guild
When the pre-patch hits, there will be no more PvE or PvP servers. Instead, players can choose to participate in the new wPvP feature called War Mode. You can toggle it on or off in Stormwind for the Alliance and Orgrimmar for the Horde. When the War Mode is turned off, you can continue leveling, kissing squirrels and doing world quests the usual way, as if you were on a PvE server, undisturbed by the dangers of open world PvP.
When the War Mode is turned on, it’s a different story. You will be put in the shard with other players who chose to toggle the feature on, and the danger will be lurking around every corner. To compensate for the time spent fighting (or corpse running), brave PvPers will receive a bonus to experience while below max level and extra rewards from World Quests once hitting 120.
Additionally, toggling War Mode allows you to choose 3 PvP talents that can be used at any time, both against players and NPCs. If you manage to score 10 kills without dying, you will be marked as the Assassin of your respective faction with a helpful tracker for the players of the opposite group. Let the hunt begin!
The last but not the least is the introduction of the PvP Post-Season. While the usual mounts, tabards, titles and so forth are missing from this, players will be able to score some sweet gear to prepare for the full release of Battle for Azeroth.
When the expansion rolls out full-force, max level players with War Mode toggled on will be able to participate in the new 1v1 PvP activity: the Dueler’s Guild. It allows you to queue against representatives of your own faction and earn a tabard, a title and a few achievement points spruced with bragging rights.
New Story - “War of Thorns”
With the threat of the Burning Legion no longer looming above the factions, the hostilities between the Alliance and the Horde are kicking it up a notch, in particular in the Seething Shore BG set off the coasts of Silithus and Feralas. Blizzard will be releasing content weekly to prepare the players for a full-blown faction war that is coming in Battle for Azeroth.
Much like Legion invasions, the pre-patch storyline (and its unique rewards!) will only be available until the expansion is released on August 13th.
Un-like Legion invasions, the content of the pre-patch is only available to the max level characters. No free Heritage Armor for you.
When you launch BattleNet tomorrow, you’ll find the new Communities system that allows you to create and manage a WoW group that can pretty much be anything you want it to be. Love collecting battle pets? Make a group and get other like-minded individuals to join! Want to help solve the mysterious clues left by developers about that mount? Join up with others who are doing the same…. kinda like guilds, but who are we to quibble?
You can invite folks to your community directly by name or you can provide a code or send an invitation link. Members will be able to take part in Community chat via text or voice and different channels can even be set up.
In a sense, Communities bring Discord into BattleNet as groups like this have been functioning there for a long while. The caveat is that, unlike Discord, these Communities will not be cross-faction.
Other Things You’ll Notice
- Pet battle changes with a lot of nerfs to some of the most popular battle pets
- You can purchase exactly the Legendaries you want from a vendor without having to put up with that damned RNG
- Current raids will utilize Personal Loot rather than Master Loot
- Legacy Loot will be an option for older raids and dungeons
- Profession changes with First Aid disappearing forever
DO THIS STUFF TODAY OR IT’S GONE FOREVER!
- Try to get the Field Medic achievement that requires 16 “quests” that are kicked off through a dropped item. Trust us when we tell you that...this one’s probably not going to happen because the RNG chance of getting the quest item is abysmal.
- SPEND YOUR PET CHARMS! The ones you have can only be spent on toys / pets from Legion -- no stones, etc.
There’s more, of course, so if you want a more detailed guide of the things that will keep you playing right through the realms going down for maintenance, check out our recent “Things to Do for Yourself Before Battle for Azeroth” and see what you can still get done ahead of August 14th.
What are you looking forward to in the pre-event? Leave us your thoughts in the comments.