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World of Warcraft: Battle for Azeroth review part two: Reaching level 120 in Zandalar with War Campaigns, Island Expeditions, quests, and new dungeons

The great pyramid of Zuldazar
The great pyramid of Dazar’alor, where King Rastakhan sits upon his golden throne and rules over all of Zandalar – Pic Credit: Blizzard/ Activision

Welcome back for the second part of our review of World of Warcraft: Battle for Azeroth. We spent the last week reaching the new 120 level cap, and now it is time to share our insights and opinions on the latest WOW expansion.

Rather than rush through the content in a headlong dash to reach max level and the endgame, which had always been my habit in the past, I decided to take my time and do every single quest I could find on my way to level 120. I also explored every hidden nook and cranny for hidden gems of lore and rare items.

To my great joy, I experienced World of Warcraft in a new and thoroughly enjoyable manner. I made discoveries in the game that I certainly would have missed by rushing. While I do understand that hardcore players, especially those in top-ranked guilds, have valid reasons for power leveling to 120, I was able to see WOW from an entirely different perspective.

I would suggest that anyone who loves World of Warcraft, even the most elite level player, should, at the very least, level an alt in a slow and steady manner and take in every bit of content the expansion has to offer.

Questing On My Horde Hunter In Zandalar

As a loyal member of the Horde who is focused on PVE and raiding, I did the vast majority of my leveling in the Horde zones of Zandalar. I have played exclusively as a hunter since the beginning of WOW, and although I have decided to level my very first alt with a Demon Hunter soon, this review is from a hunter’s perspective.

I have always felt that as someone who prefers to do leveling quests solo, hunter was one of the best, if not the best class for the job. Now that our pets are holding solid aggro again, and with the introduction of a streamlined set of abilities, hunters have an effective, user-friendly rotation that works well for both the casual player and the elite endgame raider.

While some hunters were upset with the changes, those of us who can remember the days of four full bars of hunter abilities to manage will welcome the changes. For the first time in memory, I actually had to look through all my talents and abilities to find an ability for the last button on my second action bar.

Adding to the fun for hunters, there are so many new pets to tame in Zandalar. Although pet abilities have also been streamlined a bit, just like hunter abilities, the variety of great looking, colorful pets in the expansion is amazing. Beast Master hunters will have a field day and spend many hours taming as many of these beautiful new creatures as they can find, and there will certainly be a few new exotic pets to discover over the course of the expansion.

Battle For Azeroth Is A Content Rich Visual Treat

While we mentioned this in part one of our World of Warcraft: Battle for Azeroth review, it bears repeating that the Zandalar zone is an absolute visual treat. The three quest areas, Nazmir, Vol’dun, and Zuldazar, offer a rich variety of different environments that include lush jungles and forests, barren deserts, dangerous dungeons, and a glorious golden city of pyramids.

Although Battle for Azeroth looks great, no MMORPG will be successful without a rich variety of captivating, lore-rich content. Fortunately, Battle for Azeroth has a ton of entertaining quests to keep players busy all the way to 120 and beyond.

There is so much to do in the expansion that it would be impossible to run out of quests and activities before you reach the level cap of 120. And as experienced online gamers will tell you, this has been a major issue with some of the other more popular MMOs.

Frankly, there is nothing that sucks the life out of any game faster than running out of quests before you reach the level cap.  Then, you are forced to kill hundreds, if not thousands of the same enemies over and over and over to max out your character.

Thankfully, this is not a problem in World of Warcraft. There is so much to do and see that players will still be able to find more interesting content in the leveling zones even after they reach the endgame. Plus there are other activities that will open up on your way to level 120 that add even more depth and value to the expansion.

New Dungeons in Battle For Azeroth

At present. Battle for Azeroth offers players access to a total of ten new dungeons, with certain level requirement and unlocks depending on the dungeon. The number of dungeons a player can access is based on the following schedule, the details of which can be found in another amazing guide from our friends at Wowhead.

Dungeon Gear and Access Requirements For Alliance and Horde

“There are four difficulties consisting of Normal, Heroic (120), Mythic (120), and Mythic+ (120).

There are 10 dungeons in Battle for Azeroth. Of these dungeons, 8 are available for leveling players and 2 of them are Mythic difficulty only.

The item level of dropped gear depends on the difficulty of the dungeon and have a chance to Warforge or Titanforge.

Normal Dungeons drops Item Level 310 gear at Level 120.
Heroic Dungeons drops Item Level 325 gear.
Mythic Dungeons drops Item Level 340 gear.

World Quests continue to offer dungeon quests which offer bonus rewards for completing special objectives in the dungeon.

Completing Glory of the Wartorn Hero rewards the Reins of the Obsidian Krolusk mount.

To queue for Heroic Dungeons through the Dungeon Finder, you must be item level 305 or higher, but you can walk in with a premade group at any point.

Level Requirements:

Alliance:

Reaching max level 120 grants Alliance players access to the Horde dungeons.

At level 110, the Alliance can access Waycrest Manor, Shrine of the Storm, and Freehold.

At level 115, the Alliance can access the dungeons above as well as unlock Tol Dagor.

At level 120, the Alliance can access the dungeons above as well as unlock Atal’Dazar, The MOTHERLODE!!, Temple of Sethraliss, The Underrot and the Mythic only dungeon Siege of Boralus.

Once Alliance have finished the Blood in the Water step of the Alliance War Campaign, they will unlock Kings’ Rest.

Horde:

Reaching max level 120 grants Horde players access to the Alliance dungeons.

At level 110 , the Horde can access Atal’Dazar, Temple of Sethraliss , and The Underrot.

At level 115, the Horde can access the dungeons above as well as unlock The MOTHERLODE!!.

At level 120, the Horde can access the dungeons above as well as unlock Waycrest Manor, Shrine of the Storm, Freehold, Tol Dagor and the Mythic only dungeon Kings’ Rest.

Once Horde have finished the At the Bottom of the Sea step of the Horde War Campaign, they will unlock Siege of Boralus.”

Blizzard has done a solid job, as always, on dungeon design, enemies, and new gear. The dungeons are reasonably easy on normal mode as you level, but there are enough new mechanics, tough bosses, and damaging spells to make Heroic, Mythic, and Mythic+ dungeons challenging.

Some of the trash mobs had high damage attacks, and they often required players to pay close attention and focus fire. Instead of making a mad dash for the boss, we had to take our time and clear the trash first, which is something I appreciate as I am not a fan of turning a dungeon run into a track meet.

I would like to take a moment to address this issue as this has been a massive problem in Destiny 2 strikes recently, with players literally sprinting past almost every single trash mob to get to the final boss. This is a major issue on Mercury, with players actually running through the entire Infinite Forest without killing a single enemy.

Sadly, the fault is squarely on Bungie’s game design, and it needs to be fixed in the Forsaken expansion, which we will also review when it is released on September 4, 2018.

Returning to the subject at hand, which is the new Battle for Azeroth dungeons, the gear drops come at a reasonable rate, and the new armor and weapons are well-designed, with many items taking on the style of each faction’s main quest zone.

Frankly, I had a blast in the new dungeons, and I am looking forward to running all the dungeons again on Heroic, Mythic, and Mythic+ difficulty.

The Heart Of Azeroth and Azerite Armor System

Magni Bronzebeard offers players the Heart of Azeroth necklace and one piece of Azerite Armor as quest rewards – Pic Credit; Blizzard/ Activision

In the Battle for Azeroth expansion, the Heart of Azeroth and azerite armor system will replace the Artifact Armor and Legendary weapons we earned in the Legion expansion. The perks on your Artifacts will still work up to level 115, but then you should replace your Artifact gear with higher level drops. Your Legendary weapons should be replaced as soon as you get a higher level weapon.

Each quest area and dungeon in your main leveling zone offers a unique set of Azerite Armor, and as with the regular gear, the Azerite Armor reflects the style of each specific area or dungeon.

Basically, you will receive the Heart of Azeroth and your first piece of Azerite Armor from Magni Bronzebeard in Silithus after you complete a short quest chain. The armor set consists of a helm, shoulders, and chest, and each piece contains three rings and a center that provide various new traits.

Blue Ring – Class Specific and Location Traits
Green Ring – Role Traits
Yellow Ring – Defensive Traits – some Class Specific
Center – Increases the item level of the Azerite Armor by five Item Levels

You earn new traits and level up your Azerite Armor by gathering azerite, which is a mineral made from the blood of the sleeping Titan World-Soul, Azeroth, after Sargeras stabbed her with his sword. You gather Azerite by completing certain quests, killing elite monsters, and from Island Expeditions. The azerite is absorbed by the Heart of Azeroth necklace to increase the level of the necklace, which will activate new traits for your Azerite Armor.

The details of the Heart of Azeroth and Azerite Armor system are quite extensive, and we highly recommend you read Wowhead’s guide on the subject.

War Campaigns Send Players Into Enemy Territory To Establish A Foothold

War Campaigns will send players to Tiragarde Sound, where they will fight rum-soaked pirates to establish a Horde base – Pic Credit: Blizzard/ Activision

War Campaigns, which are part of the requirements to unlock the all-important Island Expeditions, offer each faction the opportunity to set up bases to invade the other faction’s territory. Here is a brief excerpt from the excellent guide to Horde War Campaigns from our good friends at Wowhead.

Introduction to the War Campaign

The War Campaign is the side storyline that will follow you through your adventures in Zandalar, and works in a similar fashion to the Order Hall Storyline from Legion. This time, the War Effort will serve as a continuation for the faction war storyline for Battle for Azeroth, displaying the Horde’s efforts of setting forward operating bases in Kul Tiras, as well as preparing for strikes upon Alliance territory.

War Campaign Rewards

The War Campaign is necessary to start several systems in Battle for Azeroth. Here is a list of the rewards you will receive through the first part of the War Campaign:

Access to the Mission Table of Battle for Azeroth, as well as 5 Champions by the time you’re done with the Campaign

Access to the continent of Kul Tiras

Access to the War Effort Advancements, equivalent to the Order Hall Advancements of Legion

Access to The Honorbound Reputation

Revered with them is required for Azerothian Diplomat, required for Battle for Azeroth Pathfinder, Part One, and Exalted is required to unlock the Mag’har Orc Allied race.

World Quests in Kul Tiras and Zandalar, as well as Flight Master’s Whistle functionality in both Kul Tiras and Zandalar

Access to the Mythic-only Siege of Boralus Dungeon

The achievement Ready for War; Ready for War is a requirement for both the Battle for Azeroth Pathfinder, Part One achievement, and part of the criteria to unlock the Mag’har Orc Allied Race.”

War campaigns send you into three different enemy-held territories in the company of a well-known NPC. For Horde players, you will travel to Tiragarde Sound with Shadow Hunter Ty’jin, Drustvar with Hobart Grapplehammer, and Stormsong Valley with Rexxar.

This reviewer particularly enjoyed the War Campaign in Drustvar, where we met up with Goblin Trade Prince Gallywix and Eltrigg for a wild ride through witch infested woods and into the mountains on Gallywix’s War Trike.

When we arrived at our destination, we established the Krazzlefrazz Outpost with the help of some highly dangerous and amusing Goblin technology, including a Kyanite-Laser Embiggener, a Boom Button, a pile of explosives and fish, and a wormhole.

War Campaigns introduce an enjoyable new activity to WOW while also preserving some of the more useful aspects of Legion’s Order Hall system. Now that I have reached level 120, I am looking forward to the next part of the War Campaign, and we will be sure to include the details in part three of our World of Warcraft: Battle for Azeroth review.

Island Expeditions Are A Major New Activity In World Of Warcraft

We will wrap up Part Two of our Battle for Azeroth review with a look at Island Expeditions, which will be a major part of your endgame activities. According to Blizzard, Island Expeditions are one of the best ways to gather large amounts of azerite to empower your Heart of Azeroth necklace and unlock traits for your Azerite Armor.

In order to unlock Island Expeditions, you must first establish two War Campaign footholds in enemy territory, and you must also reach level 116. Once you have completed the requirements, locate Captain Rez’okun in the Port of Zandalar, and he will join you for a tutorial Island Expedition.

After you complete the tutorial, you will be able to group with other players for full-fledged Island Expeditions. At present, there are seven different islands to choose from, three of which will be available each week on a rotating basis.

Wowhead’s Island Expedition guide has the details on each of the four Island Expeditions modes, one of which is a PVP mode against actual players. In each mode, the goal is to collect a specific amount of azerite before the opposing side.

“On Normal, Heroic, and Mythic difficulties of Island Expeditions, players will be racing to collect Azerite against an expedition team of the opposing faction controlled by Blizzard’s new “Advanced AI.” This “Advanced AI” is meant to imitate player-like play, without actually being players.

Normal:

  • No requirements after Introduction is complete.
  • May queue as 1-3 player party.
  • Race to collect 6000 Azerite.

Heroic:

  • 295 item level required.
  • May queue as 1-3 player party.
  • Health and damage of enemies increased by up to 100% (from normal mode value).
  • Race to collect 9000 Azerite.
  • All Azerite gain increased by 50%.

Mythic:

  • 315 item level required.
  • Must queue as 3 player party.
  • Health and damage of enemies increased by up to 200% (from normal mode value).
  • Race to collect 12000 Azerite.
  • All Azerite gain increased by 100%.

PvP:

  • 295 item level required.
  • PvP Talents Enabled
  • Must queue as 3 player party.
  • Health and damage of enemies increased by up to 100% (from normal mode value).
  • Race to collect 12000 Azerite.
  • All Azerite gain increased by 100%.”
The Island Expedition map interface allows players to select which island they wish to travel to and find a crew – Pic Credit: Blizzard/ Activision

There are many other rewards from Island Expeditions in addition to azerite, including rare mounts, pets, transmog items, plundered weapons, and quest rewards. There is also a weekly quest that offers 2500 azerite as a reward.

At present, the losing side in an Island expedition gets half of the amount of Azerite awarded to the winners. I will add that there has been quite a bit of feedback on the WOW forums asking Blizzard to greatly increase the amount of Azerite awarded to both sides.

The general opinion seems to indicate that at the current levels, the rewards are not sufficient for the amount of time players invest each individual Island Expedition. As a matter of course, Blizzard is generally very good at monitoring user feedback, examining the vast amount of data they collect on each facet of the game, and correcting course when necessary. We will, of course, update you if there are changes to the amount of Azerite players earn as rewards.

Final Thoughts And What Comes Next In Part Three Of Our World Of Warcraft: Battle For Azeroth Review

Players fighting for a huge azerite node on a Battle for Azeroth Island Expedition – Pic Credit: Blizzard/Activision

This reviewer can honestly say that I have had an absolute blast so far in the Battle for Azeroth expansion. The story is rich in World of Warcraft lore, and it expands on the story in powerful new ways. I do feel making Zandalar the leveling zone for Horde players was a masterstroke, as we finally see the true might of the Troll empire and the awesome power of their gods.

The expansion will only get better as we reach the endgame and interact with old gods, Titans, and whatever remains of the Burning Legion may still be out there lurking on the fringes of our universe. And, of course, we have our old enemies, the Alliance, to crush once more, or will a new enemy surface to force the Horde and the Alliance to put aside our grievances and reunite to save Azeroth.

With the first raid coming on September 4, 2018, there is so much more to look forward to in this expansion. We still have Heroic and Mythic dungeons, Island Expeditions, the level 120 War Campaign, and PVP to review. And, of course, we also plan to examine the new profession system in more detail.

I, for one, can’t wait.

As always, this is Ghodzilla, over and out.

For The Horde!!!!!!!

Ghodzilla and his Troll and Sethrak allies bid you farewell for now with a resounding, “FOR THE HORDE” – Pic Credit: Screenshot/ Blizzard/ Activision

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