World of Warcraft: Battle for Azeroth is still a month away, but patch 8.0 arrives tomorrow at around 3 pm PDT (when the scheduled server maintenance ends). This update is going to finally turn the lights off (opens in new tab) on several major Legion features but also significantly change how World of Warcraft plays, laying the groundwork for Battle for Azeroth when it arrives on August 13 in North America.
In a blog post, (opens in new tab) Blizzard detailed all of the nitty-gritty changes coming with 8.0. While you should check out the full list to see some of the more subtle tweaks (especially to your class and how it plays), here are some of the major highlights.
New story quests
One of the most exciting features of any pre-expansion update is the addition of new quests that help bridge the two (often very different) stories together. In this case, Blizzard is setting the stage for all-out Alliance versus Horde warfare by introducing a new storyline that dramatically alters the landscape of Azeroth in two key areas.
Starting on July 24 and continuing up until the launch of Battle for Azeroth, players can participate in a story-heavy quest line that concludes with the destruction of two major capital cities: Teldrassil and Lordaeron. First announced at Blizzcon 2017, these events will help set in motion the larger conflict that looms over Battle for Azeroth.
A major combat overhaul
When you log into World of Warcraft tomorrow, your character's spells and abilities are going to be pretty different. New traits have been introduced and familiar spells might have new effects to consider. While there's a full list of changes made to each class in the path notes, two changes that affect everyone is a stat squish and the new global cooldown on some abilities.
Say goodbye to critical hits that do tens of millions of damage. Patch 8.0 squishes the item level of gear and stats down to more "perceptible" sizes to make things manageable. From what I've played on the beta, I now deal damage in the hundreds and thousands instead of the millions. It's a completely arbitrary change, though. You're not more or less powerful than before, it's just the numbers governing everything has been condensed.
A more contentious change is the inclusion of several abilities on the global cooldown. This means that some spells you could instantly cast now have a cooldown delay in order to pace combat out and make it less hectic.
As of patch 8.0, Legion's artifact weapons are going to lose their power entirely and become as good as regular weapons. Since the system is specific to Legion, they're essentially being retired in favor of new gear arriving with Battle for Azeroth. As the blog post states, many of the unique traits found in Artifact weapons have been incorporated directly into their respective class specializations.
And that's just the tip of the iceberg. There's a lot more coming in patch 8.0 tomorrow including the new PvP rules (opens in new tab) eliminating PVP-specific servers entirely, new cosmetic options for orcs and blood elves, and new social features. Be sure to check out the patch notes (opens in new tab) to see a full list of what's coming.