World of Warcraft: Battle for Azeroth coming this summer, Allied Races unlock with preorder

World of Warcraft's next expansion, which has the Alliance and Horde at each other's throats, is due to be released this summer. Announced at BlizzCon 2017, Battle for Azeroth sends the factions on a high-seas adventure to discover the lost islands of Zandalar and Kul Tiras, where each side is hoping to recruit new allies to help them destroy one another. Battle for Azeroth promises a renewed focus on PvP, both through systems like the Dungeons and Dragons-inspired Island Expeditions and a complete overhaul of server rules, eliminating PvP-specific servers entirely for a much better system. 

While Battle for Azeroth won't be available for a few months, Blizzard has given some immediate incentives to pre-purchase the expansion. Starting today, preorders will unlock the ability to play as Allied Races—the new variants on existing races like the Lightforged Dranaei or Void Elves. You'll have to complete a relatively lengthy reputation grind with each Allied Race's faction, but once that's done you can start a new character using their unique appearance at level 20. 

As we've already covered, Patch 7.3.5 introduced level-scaling to all of Azeroth, making old zones feel challenging again. Blizzard is obviously hoping you'll spend this downtime between expansions leveling up some new characters, and each Allied Race you get to level 110 will unlock a set of unique Heritage Armor that can be transmogged over your existing gear. "Alliance players can add the shadow-touched Void elves and valiant Lightforged draenei to their ranks, while members of the Horde will be able to bring the ancient Nightborne and noble Highmountain tauren into their faction’s fold—with additional Allied Races to come in the future," Blizzard said in a press release.

Pre-ordering the expansion, which starts at $50 for the standard edition, also comes with a level 110 boost, letting you immediately jump into endgame Legion content. If you want to spring for the deluxe edition at $70, you can nab some extra cosmetic goodies for other Blizzard games too, like new emotes for Overwatch's Tracer. You can find the full list of what comes with the deluxe version here

For veterans, Battle for Azeroth is a very exciting expansion. While it doesn't offer a new class or race (just variants on already existing ones), the nostalgic focus on Alliance versus the Horde along with highly experimental ideas like Warfronts—20-player real-time strategy battles a la Warcraft 3—fill the gap. There's no word when the expansion will begin beta testing, but signups are available here. If you're returning to World of Warcraft and have no idea what Battle for Azeroth is all about, check out our extensive guide covering all of the basics. 

Steven Messner

With over 7 years of experience with in-depth feature reporting, Steven's mission is to chronicle the fascinating ways that games intersect our lives. Whether it's colossal in-game wars in an MMO, or long-haul truckers who turn to games to protect them from the loneliness of the open road, Steven tries to unearth PC gaming's greatest untold stories. His love of PC gaming started extremely early. Without money to spend, he spent an entire day watching the progress bar on a 25mb download of the Heroes of Might and Magic 2 demo that he then played for at least a hundred hours. It was a good demo.