Blizzard has been hearing for years that they want to deliver a more PvP-oriented add-on to rekindle the notorious war between the Horde and the Alliance from Classic times. Such an expansion was already planned for Mists of Pandaria, but then they decided on the long story of Garrosh and the Legion (which was probably also related to the film).

Now the time has come: with “Battle for Azeroth” (BfA for short), the seventh add-on for the MMO veteran will be launched next Tuesday (August 14th) and will unleash the dogs of war again. Even if it gives the impression that PvP battles are in the foreground in BfA, the PvE side offers nothing less than what we are used to from previous add-ons: there are new instances, raids and zones. Even the old three-man scenarios are being revived in the form of island expeditions.

In Battle for Azeroth, all signs point to war.

With BfA, Blizzard not only wants to offer something to PvE people, but also to polish up the neglected PvP sector and bring it back to its old classic heyday. The keyword is “Open-World-PvP”, which is virtually non-existent on most servers – minus a few designated exception zones. In order to do justice to both play styles, Blizzard brings the war between the factions to the fore in both PvE and PvP.

So that you as returnees or newcomers to the add-on also know why all the signs are pointing to war, we have summarized the last events again. We’re also taking a closer look at the improvements to open world PvP already available in the game. Before we start, one more Spoiler warning: Below are some details of the “War of the Thorns” pre-patch event. If you haven’t played it yet, you should skip the first part.

Horde vs. Alliance – the background to the war

The deeper history of BfA and what horrors are hidden in the background are still a secret. At the moment, the focus is on the war between the two factions. The main reason for this is the newly formed ore “Azerite” that appeared in Silithus after the destruction of Sageras’ sword and the healing of Azeroth’s wound. The impetus for the new conflict that flared up was shown in Legion’s faction epilogue cinematics.

The “War of the Thorns” pre-patch event for the upcoming expansion has also been running since July 18. In the introductory quest series, things are not exactly squeamish, but in the case of druids it is also not entirely consistent. To make the plot short: Sylvanas Windrunner (current leader of the Horde) is convinced that the Azerite is crucial to the war between the Horde and Alliance, and therefore wants to secure supremacy. The alliance gets wind of this and in turn wants to get the new ore.

To keep the alliance away from Silithus and the Azerite, Sylvanas takes drastic measures: She starts an invasion on Teldrassil (home of the night elves), as this is the main access point of the alliance to the continent of Kalimdor. Without the port there, the Alliance cannot ship the Azerite to the Eastern Kingdoms. However, the alliance fights back doggedly and initially brings the invasion to a standstill on Darkshore. In order to break the resistance of the Alliance, Sylvanas decides to kill an important figure of the Alliance: Malfurion Stormrage.

At this point, a short insertion: For most Horde players, the Malfurion murder assignment shouldn’t be a big problem. As a druid, this historical development has a strange aftertaste, after all, Malfurion was a close ally in the Legion’s class campaign. They saved Cenarius together, found out the artefact weapon and protected the world from the burning legion … and then Aunt Sylvanas comes and orders the quasi-boss of all druids to be killed, an order that you have to carry out without the possibility of protest.

After the assassination attempt on Malfurion, Sylvanas deviates from the original plan to occupy Teldrassil – for a reason incomprehensible to many fans. Instead, she simply flares the World Tree, including the night elves that live there (shown in the short film “Warbringer Sylvanas” below). The relentless genocide of Sylvanas has caused some resentment in the community. After all, Blizzard has more or less made a Garrosh 2.0 out of the popular character, which will soon require a new leader for the Horde … again.

The third and final phase of the pre-event, in which the revenge of the alliance is dealt with, is currently running with the “Tides of War” scenario. The scene of vengeance is Lordaeron and the home of the Forsaken: Undercity. By the way, the poster cinematic from Battle for Azeroth shows this battle.

Even without having seen the cinematic or played the quest series, it should be clear that the Undercity is lost to the Horde. This outcome is only due to the return of Jaina Proudmoore, who rushes to support the defeated and retreating Alliance troops with their magical arts and a huge, flying warship at the last second.

In case you’re wondering where Jaina got the flying ship from: The answer is provided in the animated short film “Warbringers: Jaina”. Either way, the “tides of war” push the Horde back more or less entirely to the continent of Kalimdor and ban the Alliance to the eastern kingdom. Of course, this is not the end of the war, but just the beginning.

What does the future hold?

The development of history so far has heated the minds of the fan base – even retired Chris Metzen has stepped in to calm the angry fans. Apparently he knows more because, according to him, “we haven’t seen everything yet”. How the rest of the story will develop and which new enemies will sneak out of the shadows should soon be examined in more detail.

It is already certain that the two new islands of Kul Tiras (Alliance) and Zandalar (Horde) will be the main location of the add-on. The islands are located between the two major continents of the Horde and Alliance. Its residents have so far stayed out of everything and only dealt with their own problems, but now they are involved in the war between the two factions.

The two islands of Kul Tiras and Zandalar between the major continents will be the main location of Battle for Azeroth.

The Horde will land on the island of the Zandalar Trolls in search of new allies after they rescue the princess of the tribe from Stormwind’s dungeons. For its part, the Alliance is looking for allies among the mighty seafaring people of Kul Tiras in order to be able to counter the horde and the huge sea fleet of the Zandalar trolls. However, neither the Zandalari trolls nor the people of Kul Tiras who have already belonged to the Alliance are particularly enthusiastic about joining the respective faction. In the course of the add-on, it will be the task of the players to secure the support of the races for their faction.

The fate of Sylvanas is likely to be of particular interest, because she is basically still left of the old leader gang from Classic times (Cairne Bluthuf and Vol’jin are dead and Thrall has resigned in order to be useful as a teacher for young shamans do). After her sudden change of heart in the War of the Thorns, it would not be surprising if the Alliance would finish her off later or – if she realizes her mistakes – sacrifice herself for her people.

But who would take over the executive chair? Your loyal champion Nathanos Blightcaller? Hochfürst Saurfang, who has recently been in the limelight? Or maybe Zekhan (aka Zappy Boi), who gives Saurfang new courage in the cinematic “Alter Krieger”? Perhaps one of the new leaders of the Horde peoples will also be appointed – for example, there was no goblin as war chief. But a new character could also take the stage on Zandalar.

At Allianz, Jaina Prachtmeer, among others, should be in the foreground. In Legion, she went her own way bitterly after Khadgar and the Kirin Tor welcomed the Horde to Dalaran to join forces against the burning Legion. After her departure, Jaina was not seen for a long time and her whereabouts remained uncertain. Some of their experiences during this time were processed in the comic Homecoming and in the animated short film “Warbringer: Jaina”.

Only with the pre-event “Tides of War” did Jaina step back on stage. After the Horde wants to ally with the Zandalari trolls, they are forced to return to their old homeland of Kul Tiras in order to convince the powerful seafaring people to rejoin the alliance. There she does not expect a warm welcome because of her involvement in the death of her father (Daelin Prachtmeer).

The development of the young king Anduin Wrynn and his loyal supporter Genn Greymane should also be highlighted, because both still have a chicken to pluck with the horde. Genn has hated the Horde for ages and especially Sylvanas, who fell victim to his country (Gilneas) and his son. Anduin, on the other hand, had to learn the hard way that not everything can be solved with diplomacy. He finds himself forced to fight the war against Sylvanas and the Horde.

As you can see, there are enough characters on both sides who want to lead the course of the war … and with the new islands and their inhabitants there are sure to be a few outstanding personalities.

By the way, on Monday we’re going to take a look at one of the most important changes coming with Battle for Azeroth: Open World PvP. Blizzard has done a lot to bring the fight out of the battlefields and arenas back into the wide world.

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