Blizzard details PvP changes coming in World of Warcraft: Battle for Azeroth, including War Mode

World of Warcraft's next expansion, Battle for Azeroth, launches August 14, and will bring with it new dungeons, raids, progression systems and—perhaps most excitingly—new PvPvE Island Expeditions, which could provide a refreshing alternative to dungeon grinding. It's also making big changes to PvP, including a rework of talents, a new War Mode and a bounty hunter system, all of which Blizzard detailed in a blog post this week.

The new talent system is designed to encourage more customisation and to stop your early forays into PvP becoming too overwhelming. In Legion, the latest expansion, you gain talents as you earn Honor Levels, which you get from taking part in PvP. It "puts players looking to get into PvP for the first time at a disadvantage until they earn the tools everyone else already has", Blizzard said. 

In Battle for Azeroth, PvP talents will simply become available as you level up. At level 20, you'll earn a "special crowd-control-breaking talent", and by level 110 you'll have unlocked all talents. The system is more flexible, too: in Legion, PvP talents are arranged in rows of three, so you can only pick one at each level. In Battle For Azeroth, you'll be able to pick whatever talents you like from a large pool. "This system offers more options for customizing your character to suit your play style or your environment," Blizzard said.

War Mode is Blizzard's attempt to make PvP more open. If you toggle it on, which you'll be able to do at level 20, you can jump into PvP from any realm, and you'll only play with others that want to play in War Mode. The idea is to stop players feeling "locked" into one style of realm—every realm can now be PvP or PvE, depending on what you want at the time. In War Mode, you'll get access to all your PvP talents wherever PvP can occur, and you'll also get an additional benefit to experience gains as you level up to reflect the "added danger from other players".

Some War Mode features will be specific to the new zones added in Battle for Azeroth. The first is a bounty hunter system. If you kill a certain number of players of the opposite faction—Horde or the Alliance—you'll earn the 'Assassin' status, which grants you 15% extra damage and healing. But the more players you kill, the more likely you are to show up on the zone map for other players, and if they kill you they'll receive Conquest points and other rewards. 

The new zones will also have air drops that the factions will fight over. Once a faction has gained control of a crate, any player in the area will be able to open it to collect personal loot. 

If you can't wait for Battle for Azeroth, then I suggest reading the full blog post, which contains a tonne of detail. The expansion is out on August 14, but a pre-patch will introduce changes before that.

Samuel Horti

Samuel Horti is a long-time freelance writer for PC Gamer based in the UK, who loves RPGs and making long lists of games he'll never have time to play.