World of Warcraft: Battle for Azeroth takes players on the high seas

With Legion's last major update already out, it should come as no surprise that Blizzard has announced the new World of Warcraft expansion at Blizzcon 2017. Battle for Azeroth takes players on a high-seas adventure to the South Seas islands of Kul Tiras and Zandalar, just as the community predicted. It's a nautical-themed expansion that is reigniting the conflict between the Alliance and Horde as players embark on the quest to level 120. "The stakes have never been higher," said Blizzard vice president J. Allen Brack. "Now, more than ever, your faction matters."

In Battle for Azeroth, each faction is racing to recruit new allies before waging war against the other. The Alliance is looking to join forces with Kul Tiras, the homeland of Jaina Proudmoore and her father's mighty armada. Meanwhile, the Horde is venturing to the jungles of Zandalar to recruit the trolls to their side. Once you've rallied your forces, each faction will begin an assault on each others' island.

Typical to the cycle of expansions, Battle for Azeroth won't feature any new classes to play as. It does, however, introduce several new races—or, rather, variations on existing ones. Once you've earned favor with the Lightforged draenei, Highmountain tauren, Nightborne, Void elves, Dark Iron dwarves, and Zandalari trolls you can unlock their special appearance and level a new character to 120 to earn a special set of Heritage Armor.

Battle for Azeroth will also have some really neat adventures to embark on. Island Expeditions are a PVP/PVE hybrid activity where groups of three explore uncharted isles in a race to secure resources. These events are dynamic, and will introduce new challenges as you set out to defeat the other faction and fuel the war effort.

Warfronts are an even cooler idea that pulls inspiration from Warcraft's real-time strategy past. Groups of 20 will build up their forces and launch an assault to capture key strategic locations. You'll lead the charge accompanied by a horde of soldiers under your command as you siege outposts and battle enemy commanders. This is all in addition to the usual dungeons and raids that players will quest through. And, yes, world quests are also returning.

Of course, what would World of Warcraft be without loot? Artifact weapons from Legion are gone, but a similar system is replacing it where you use a new resource called Azerite to customize your armor with new traits and appearances.

As someone who enjoyed Legion but always wished we could get back to the Orcs versus Humans conflict that sparked Warcraft decades ago, I'm excited to see how Blizzard handles this expansion.

This is just the beginning of our Blizzcon 2017 coverage. In the next few hours, Blizzard will unveil more detailed plans for Battle for Azeroth so stay tuned for more details.

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.