The time for World of Warcraft players to get on the hype train is now. The latest expansion Battle for Azeroth is due to launch in less than two months with a monumental (possibly server-melting) simultaneous worldwide launch. Blizzard is saying this is the first time they’ve ever done such a thing, and with an MMO of this scale, it would be amazing to be on-campus in Irvine peeking through the window into their ops center where they track logins and server performance. As of this time, they have not announced when the 8.0 pre-patch will go live, although it’s currently being tested on the PTR. Based on past expansions, it’s likely to arrive next month.
Leading into the launch have been waves of comics with backstory on such high-level characters as Jaina Proudmoore, Magni Bronzebeard, and the Windrunner sisters, as well as the newly-released Christie Golden novel Before the Storm. There is an interview with Golden on the WoW website that mentions the basic premise of the novel and some of the characters you’ll meet, without going into spoilers. The three previously-released excerpts of the novel are also linked there.
‘Before the Storm’ is also the name of the new login music that players will hear for this expansion. For the first time since vanilla WoW, someone other than former Director of Audio Russell Brower composed and compiled the iconic music. Senior Composer Glenn Stafford, whose tenure at Blizzard predates World of Warcraft entirely, has crafted a piece of music that is definitely stylistically different from what we’ve heard in the login themes from Burning Crusade to Legion. There are many fewer nods to the classic WoW themes, although Jason Hayes’ compositions were acknowledged and incorporated. This piece also features compositions from luminaries such as Neal Acree, Sam Cardon, Clint Bajakian, and David Arkenstone.
Game Director Ion Hazzikostas also took to Twitch in a Q&A hosted by Josh Allen to answer questions about the upcoming expansion. One of the surprising details to come out of it was the fact that Blizzard won’t be finished with their class work before launch, but that the time for major changes has pretty much passed. Players in the beta have been reporting that certain classes and specs were not performing well, and Hazzikostas said that those would be looked at after launch and adjustments made at a later date. Any class adjustments made between now and launch would be more along the line of tweaks rather than wholesale reworkings. The Q&A didn’t touch on such topics as the announcement that the Mage Tower would be up 24/7 and whether it will go away with the 8.0 pre-patch or the actual launch in August.
Finally, in additional news regarding the much-anticipated release of WoW Classic, Blizzard has finally announced which patch they’re going to use as the foundation of the game. They’ve chosen Patch 1.12: Drums of War as what they feel is the most complete and baseline vanilla experience. In their dev watercooler article, they get a bit crunchy on the details of what it’s taking them to overcome the tech hurdles to get the project out the door.
Blizzard has not given a timeline on when to expect new updates for WoW Classic, but Battle for Azeroth is due to launch globally at the stroke of midnight August 14th Central European Time (CEST). For players in the Americas, it means the game will technically launch on Monday August 13th at 6pm EDT/3pm PDT.
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