Fourteen years and World of Warcraft is still going strong, with a new expansion about to launch. But when exactly does Battle for Azeroth go live in your region? And once you're online, what should you do? We've got answers for both questions and more waiting below, so read on intrepid adventurer - after all, you wouldn't want to be caught unprepared.
When does Battle for Azeroth go live?
In the past, Blizzard has rolled expansions out region-by-region, at different times. For Battle for Azeroth, a worldwide simultaneous launch is planned. Note that I say "planned" because this is an MMO, and MMO launches practically never go as planned. Odds are there will be server crashes and long queues to log in. Still, if you want to be (or attempt to be) first in line, here's when BfA will launch, broken down by time zone:
Pacific Daylight Time (PDT): 3pm, August 13
Eastern Daylight Time (EDT): 6pm, August 13
Central European Summer Time (CEST): 12am, August 14
British Summer Time (BST): 1am, August 14
Australian Eastern Standard Time (AEST): 8am, August 14
What's in Battle for Azeroth?
So many things, but we'll summarize the biggest. Players will get to explore two new continents (more like islands really), each broken into three zones each. Horde players will start in Zandalar, a land full of Aztec and Mayan aesthetic influences, ruled by trolls that are literally dinosaur wizards. Alliance players will start their adventures in Kul Tiras, home to the strongest navy ever known. Once you hit the new level cap of 120, you'll be able to explore the other faction's continent.
There are 10 new dungeons, three of which are open to players right away at level 110, one of which is unlocked at level 115, five more which are unlocked at level 120, and one which requires players to complete the War Campaign storyline for your faction. The first raid, Uldir, will go live on September 4, with more raids coming further down the line.
Two new types of content - Island Expeditions and Warfronts - are also part of BfA. Island Expeditions are repeatable 3v3 scenarios which take place on small islands, where your goal is to beat the other faction's team in resource gathering (which can be done a number of ways) and come in both PvE and PvP varieties. Warfronts, meanwhile, are large-scale 20-player scenarios which are strictly PvE, and challenge players to make a major siege against a fort controlled by the opposition. Only one will be available at launch, located in the Arathi Highlands.
There are also new races to play as, though they won't work quite like they did in previous expansions. Instead, you'll have to earn reputation with the race's associated faction in order to gain access to a short series of quests which will bring said faction into the Alliance or Horde. On the Alliance side we have Kul Tiran Humans, Dark Iron Dwarves, Lightforged Draenei, and Void Elves. On the Horde side there's the Zandalari Trolls, Mag'Har Orcs, Highmountain Tauren, and Nightborne.
How do I start playing Battle for Azeroth?
There's still a bit of time to pre-purchase BfA directly from Blizzard, or you can wait for a physical copy to arrive on your local retailers' shelves. World of Warcraft no longer requires you to purchase the base game and all previous expansions separately, so as long as you have a subscription set up you'll be able to play.
You may be wondering how much old content you'll need to play through in order to reach the fun new stuff. The answer is none; each copy of BfA comes with a one-time level 110 boost so that you can jump right into the new content.
How much does Battle for Azeroth cost?
World of Warcraft still runs on a subscription-based model, with the base price of $14.99 / £9.99 per month - though buying larger chunks of time at once can save you some money in the long run. As for BfA, the standard edition will cost you $49.99 / £39.99, the digital deluxe costs $69.99 / £59.99, and the collector's edition costs $99.99 / £89.99.
Any Battle for Azeroth tips to help me get started?
Yes! If you're brand-new to the game, I suggest holding onto that level 110 character boost and instead starting with a level 1 character. Play that class up through level 20 to see if you like it. If you do, then you should go ahead and use the boost. Or try another class. Either way, make your boost count - you don't want to feel overwhelmed or stuck with a class you don't like.
Horde and Alliance have very different aesthetics, but that's largely what it comes down to for beginners. Do you like spikes? The Horde is for you. Prefer medieval European-style fantasy? That's more the Alliance's shtick. Just click through the various races and see which one grabs your eye, and don't worry about missing out; both factions have access to the same classes, many of the same quests, the same dungeons, etc. The biggest difference you'll see is in the story. Plus, you can always make a secondary character, commonly known as an "alt".
Join a guild. Plenty of guilds are constantly recruiting, regardless of server or faction, so finding a group of people should be easy. Let your new friends know you're fresh to the game and you'll likely be swarmed with guildmates offering advice, possibly even running you through a few easy dungeons so you can get the hang of things.
If you're a WoW veteran, you probably already have a system and playstyle ready to go. But if I can make one suggestion to make leveling quicker, be sure to turn on the new War Mode feature. You can only do this in Stormwind if you're Alliance or Orgrimmar if you're Horde, and once you do you'll be open to attack from other players out in the world, but on the plus side you'll get a whole new suite of talents to choose from, plus a 10% boost to XP.
Since it'll take time for members of the opposing faction to hit level cap and be able to explore your starting area, you should be relatively safe for the first week or so to leave it turned on. However, I'd suggest leaving it turned off while you get your BfA intro quest from Magni Bronzebeard, as his location and the route to him is likely to be swarmed by Horde and Alliance alike.
If you've got your own tips to share, be sure to leave a comment below. See you in Azeroth!
Horde vs Alliance has been the backdrop of Warcraft since the franchise's beginning, but Battle for Azeroth pushes that faction rivalry to the forefront. Want to know what's got players so riled up this time? Here's a story about why the Horde burning a tree pushed got this Alliance player angry for all the right reasons.