The most exciting features coming in World of Warcraft's next big update

World of Warcraft's Legion expansion is headed toward a climactic finale with patch 7.3—which is likely the final major update until the next expansion is announced. For the first time in Warcraft history, players will make an interstellar journey to the eredar homeworld of Argus, the seat of power for the Burning Legion. For an expansion that started with the forces of Azeroth crumbling under a full-scale invasion by the Legion, we finally get to take the fight to them. Patch 7.3 won't be available for several months, but a good chunk of it is playable on WoW's Public Test Realm (PTR) server. Along with extensive work done by dataminers—which has already revealed some exciting clues as to what the next expansion could be—here are some of the biggest features coming in 7.3.

Warning: This post will contain story spoilers. 

Argus and your new home base, the Vindicaar 

When Blizzard first announced the journey to Argus at Blizzcon 2016, I had hoped that the planet would be more than just the setting for the new raid. Argus is so much more than that. Containing three sizeable zones, Argus looks like the biggest addition to World of Warcraft since Legion first launched last year.

Following Kil'Jaeden's defeat in the current Tomb of Sargeras raid, Illidan uses the Sargerite Keystone to create an interdimensional rift between Azeroth and Argus. If none of that makes sense, just watch this cutscene.

With the two planets now side by side, the forces of Azeroth launch an invasion of their own on the eredar homeworld to stop the Legion once and for all. Using the Vindicaar, a dranei spaceship, players will travel to Argus and quest through the three new zones in what Blizzard is describing as "a very story-driven update." Unlike patch 7.2, Argus will appears to feature a ton of in-game cutscenes, story-driven quests, and solo instances to bring story back to the forefront of Legion. Given how sparse the story of 7.2 was, this is really exciting. 

The Future of World of Warcraft

Legion will likely soon wrap up its story, leaving many wondering what's coming next. Dataminers have discovered some vital clues, but we also spoke with game director Ion Hazzikostas earlier this year to talk about what WoW's next five years will look like.

Only one zone is available on the PTR right now. Simply called Argus, this zone is a seared and battered landscape that offers a breathtaking view of Azeroth from space. The three new zones won't allow you to take to the skies using your flying mounts, so instead you'll have to explore on foot. Fortunately, the spaceship that flies you to Argus, the Vindicaar, is capable of making an elaborate network of portals to help you travel around quickly. Blizzard says they're like regular flight paths but travel happens instantly and they'll unlock as you venture deeper into each zone.

World quests and world bosses will be available on Argus, though it's not clear what other activities each zone will contain as of yet outside of the main story quests. What we do know is that the Vindicaar will be your new homebase away from Azeroth. Aboard the vessel is the Netherlight Crucible, "which allows you to upgrade your Artifact [weapon] to unlock a new way to customize your Relics." How that all works isn't clear as it's not available on the PTR. Though we do know that Artifact Knowledge will become an automated process, with players obtaining the upgrade automatically each week instead of having to start the process manually and return in two days to pick up more Knowledge. Thank god. Now I don't have to feel guilty for not logging in every few days.

The view of Azeroth from Argus' surface is stunning.

Invasion Points 

This is the feature I'm most intrigued about because, from the sounds of it, World of Warcraft is going to get a lot more like Diablo 3. In an interview with YouTuber Jesse Cox, game director Ion Hazzikostas said that Invasion Points are a network of Legion portals to new planets scattered all across the cosmos. Players can collect riftstones and enter Greater or Lesser Rifts (sound familiar?) to travel to new planets and help the locales defeat the Legion.

It's not clear whether these rifts will, like their Diablo 3 counterparts, use procedural generation so that each instance feels different than the one before it. Dataminers have snooped around, however, and discovered that each rift appears to lead toward one of six biomes: blood, fire, forest, ice, islands, and marsh. Aside from the huge implication that comes with suddenly travelling to planets all over the cosmos, Invasion Points could be one of the coolest new features added to Legion—depending on what you're actually doing on these new worlds and what the rewards are. 

Antorus, the Burning Throne 

Like every major patch in Legion, 7.3 will also introduce a new raid for players to bash their heads against in exchange for sweet new gear. Antorus, the Burning Throne, is going to be one hell of a raid since, if datamined dialogue is correct, this could be the climactic final battle to Legion. The raid isn't available on the PTR yet, but that hasn't stopped players from peeking into the dungeon journal to see what it's all about. Warning: Major story spoilers below.

What we do know so far is that the raid has 11 bosses and ends with a fight against Argus, the Unmaker. If you're reading this and wondering why the final boss shares a name with the planet it's because, well, they're kind of the same thing. The planet of Argus is the vessel which carries the soul of Argus, a titan. Corrupted by Sargeras, another titan, players will literally be fighting the spirit of the planet itself. Datamined dialogue expands on this and, from the looks of it, spoils the ending of Legion entirely. I won't mention it here, but if you're curious you can head over to Wowhead's page and read it for yourself.

Along with the new raid comes a new tier of equipment for players to farm. Tier 21, which starts at ilvl 915 for the easiest LFR raids all the way up to 960 for the hardest mythic difficulty. These new sets are probably some of the best armor designs Blizzard has created in a very long time. I'm particularly fond of the new rogue set, which features some awesome smoke effects and little touches like 3D modelled pouches and daggers that give it some weight. But the real winner of this new tier has to be the warlock, which is so badass I kind of want to level one just to get that helmet.

You can head over MMOChampion to see the new sets for each class and their variations. 

Rogue's tier 21 armor set.

Warlock's tier 21 armor set.

New animations for spellcasters 

This feature might not seem like a big deal to non-players, but anyone who mains a spellcasting class is probably dying of anticipation. With Legion, every melee class got an overhaul to their animations that had a profound impact on making the combat feel more weighted and punchy. Now it's spellcasters' turn and, from what we've seen, the new animations, sound, and spell effects look awesome. YouTuber BellularGaming has a comprehensive look at them below. Sadly, warlocks won't be getting updated animations in 7.3. Blizzard is still working on them, so hopefully they'll arrive shortly after. 

...And a whole lot more 

Given that 7.3 probably won't be out until September or later, there's still a lot of gaps that need to be filled in. These are just the biggest, most exciting changes coming with the trip to Argus, but there's a ton of smaller updates too, including a big update to crafting professions, a new dungeon, new legendary items, and a ton of new mounts and pets (including this adorable puppy). Hopefully Blizzard will reveal more details at Gamescom in late August. If you want to check out what's available on the PTR for yourself, you just need an account even if the subscription is lapsed. This quick guide will help you get that all set up.