Way back in October of last year, when World of Warcraft players knew a new expansion was coming but were still flailing around game data to figure out what it would be about, a faked image named the expansion as World of Warcraft: Tides of Vengeance. For one day, there was speculation about a naval-themed expansion with Queen Azshara, the naga, and the Old God N'zoth. Until it was shown as a fake.Watch WoW Developer Live Stream w/ Ion Hazzikostas from Warcraft on www.twitch.tv
I bring this up because today Blizzard Entertainment revealed Patch 8.1, entitled Tides of Vengeance. I don't know whether the title was always planned or a clever joke by Blizzard, but regardless, 8.1 is here to fix a number of problems players have been having with Battle for Azeroth. So let's dive into everything they revealed.
First up, Tides of Vengeance will continue the Battle for Azeroth storyline with quests focused on former Horde member Saurfang, deposed Night Elf leader Tyrande, and former Horde Warchief Vol'jin. The first two characters have seen significant shifts already in Battle for Azeroth, while Vol'jin died back in Legion and exists only as a spirit.
Blizzard is also bringing back the excellent Legion invasion system with Battle for Azeroth's Incursions. These Incursions will see the opposite faction attacking Horde and Alliance zone directly. Like Invasions, Incursions can be used to level your alternate characters, something that's been a pain point with the new Allied Races.
Speaking of Allied Races, the Zandalari Trolls and Kul Tiran Humans are right around the corner. You have to become Exalted with the Zandalari Empire or Proudmoore Admirality to unlock them, but beyond that, the full quest chain is expected to go live after the next raid.
Next raid? Yeah, Blizzard also announced not one, but two upcoming raids. The first will be the tentatively-named Siege of Zuldazar, which will feature a total of nine bosses focused around the Zandalari capital city. Carrying forward the differing leveling experience of Battle for Azeroth, Zuldazar will have two different raiding experiences whether you're Horde or Alliance. The Alliance will land at the southern docks of the city and fight their way up the central pyramid to the final encounter with Zandalari King Rastakhan. The Horde will begin at the northern side of the city, meet Rastakhan at the midpoint of the raid, and then work their way down to the docks to fend off the Alliance. Each faction will have three unique bosses, though the opposing faction can fight them once they've completed their version of the raid.
The second raid is much smaller in scope. The Crucible of Storms lies underneath Stormsong Valley, continuing that region's story of Old God corruption. Crucible is coming after Zuldazar and will have only two bosses. Blizzard also promised further world story content prior to the raid, letting Horde and Alliance players know what they're accomplishing in the game's plot.
The new Warfront system is getting beefed up too. In a recent Reddit AMA, Battle for Azeroth director Ion Hazzikostas promised that Warfronts would overlap to handle the problem of the long cycle between factions. The next Warfront will be The Battle for Darkshore, just outside the smoldering husk of Teldrassil. This Warfront will be focused on the Night Elves versus the Forsaken, and the Alliance gets the first crack at it.
Another area Hazzikostas previously pointed at for further improvements and augmentation were the Island Expeditions. There will be two new maps added to the rotation, Jorundall and Havenswood. Jorundall is Vykrul-themed, while Havenswood is a Gilnean island with the adjoining "gloomy" feeling. New events coming are coming too, like Azerite Extractions that give you a slow draw of Azerite, but need to be protected. The developer also promised that Island Expedition spawns will be changed to cluster enemies closer together, rather then spreading them out across the entire map.
Finally, Patch 8.1 will have a number of smaller quality-of-life improvements. There will be Heritage Armor added for the Blood Elves and Dwarves, marking the first versions of the race-specific armor sets for older WoW races. If you're a max-level character and Exalted with your own city, the questline for the armor will automatically unlock. More will be coming in the future. The Champions of Azeroth reputation is now account-wide, and the Exalted Reputations meta-achievement will also become account-wide. Blizzard will also be removing a number of older reputation-locks standing in the way of faction transmogs armor.
Patch 8.1, Tides of Vengeance, is coming to the Public Test Realms very soon. The live launch will follow the testing period, coming later in the year.