When I woke up today, I didn’t expect to be able to already prove my guild leader’s Blizzcon prediction wrong.
But, here we are.
(Now, of course, the answer is “this isn’t surprising” despite him saying 8.3 wouldn’t be announced until Blizzcon 5 days ago, and he still thinks no deep dive on the expansion at Blizzcon, so he’s still wrong, but in a new way!)
So Blizzard announced patch 8.3 today and put up a PTR build, meaning that datamining has taken off rapidly, with a pile more information available to us about the next steps in Battle for Azeroth. And it is a doozy of a patch so far, with a ton of announced content and a few things that have been datamined that makes clear where we are headed.
In the interest of leaving this post a good read for those who care about spoilers, I’m going to build this in two sections – the announced content and the datamined content.
Let’s start with the less-spoilery announced content!
Assaults: Confusingly, not faction assaults, the thing they added in 8.1, but rather, the means by which we get two “new” zones, it appears. Assaults appear in two zones – Uldum and the Vale of Eternal Blossoms, and take over the full zone with new landscapes, new enemies, and stuff to do. Vale of Eternal Blossoms has been restored, so outside of assaults, you’ll be able to see a restored version of the zone (not sure if this means the original zone or a rebuilt one, and either way, what happens to the Siege of Orgrimmar entrance). The zones look really cool and appear to have a lot more changes than one might expect, but I find a smidge of disappointment in not having fully Old God themed new zones. The two zones selected are sufficiently large, but both are only partially assaulted, which means that in effect there is around 1-1.5 zones of new content.
Horrific Visions: Intended as a Mage Tower parallel, these are small group content, allowing 1-5 players to enter and tackle alternate universe versions of Stormwind and Orgrimmar, with a full progression system designed solely for it. The actual rewards seem TBD, as the current implementation on PTR is a bit off, but there is a legendary cloak tied to it which benefits your performance in the scenario specifically, and a full mini-talent tree that also has a lot of improvements to your performance in the scenario. I’ll be writing a separate post with my impressions from having played these on PTR, but early preview – I’ve already beaten both – so I will likely have a lot to say here!
Ny’alotha, The Raid: A twelve-boss raid, Ny’alotha features a ton of new encounters, fresh new artwork, and brings our item levels up to 430 on LFR all the way to 475 on Mythic. The artwork for the armor and weapons are done, trinkets are designed and implemented, and the fights are all named…which we’ll discuss later!
A Possible End to Titanforging?: It was hinted that Titanforging would end, given that the remaining Titan Forges are being attacked by N’Zoth. However, it seems like it will be replaced with something else – something “twisted” according to Ion Hazzikostas. No idea what, so moving on!
Heroic Darkshore Warfront: It’s Darkshore, but heroic. Cool.
Aditional Minor Essence Slot: The Heart of Azeroth can be leveled again, and offers a new minor essence slot. Azerite armor continues and the system appears to not have any major changes.
New Allied Races: Vulpera for the Horde and Mechagnomes for the Alliance. Expected, but also, makes the second time the Alliance has been forced to grind a newer reputation to Exalted to unlock an Allied Race (third if you count the simultaneous introduction of Lightforged Draenei and Void Elves as two separate times that was required, which is true!).
New Content Season: PvP content, a new Mythic Plus affix that has you enter an obelisk void to move through the dungeon and pop back up where you are in the dungeon when the effect ends, the new raid, and a likely change in item levels upwards once again!
Alright, so that is the confirmed announced content. However, spoilers already abound!
Raid Bosses: Ny’alotha has a laundry list of all-star former enemies or characters, with the raid making bosses of Ra’den, Il’gynoth (back again with a new prophecy!), the tormentor working over Queen Azshara after her failure at the Eternal Palace, and…Wrathion! This is also, apparently, the first time we will fight the main body of an Old God, with N’Zoth featuring as multiple fights in a similar way to Deathwing, ending with the main Old God himself!
The Horrific Visions: These alternate universes feature some fascinating looks at what could happen in a void-torn Azeroth. Alleria given to void, committing her son to the same fate. Thrall lost of hope and given to N’Zoth. Rexxar with hilariously-named boar pets. They’re fascinating and fun, even if perhaps a smidge simpler than I would like.
A Lot of Dragon Lore: After taking a lot of time away from the main lore, the Aspects are back, and the amount of time we spend rounding up the Aspects seems to me to both help build the story of the patch, but also…maybe an expansion? Gonna wait for a full post on that one, but there is something interesting happening with them…
A Ton of Broadcast Text Spoilers: Not going to recap any here, but there is lore around the Sylvanas/Azshara bargain, Tyrande and her opinion on the close of the Fourth War, the new leadership of the Horde, the new leadership of the Forsaken, and a new set of riddles from Il’gynoth!
Tomorrow, I’ll be writing up my experience playing the PTR for a few hours today and a theory about the 9.0 story based on that. But for now, I’m glad that we have 8.3 news already because that clears the stage for 9.0 at Blizzcon.
Unless you’re my guild leader, in which case he still thinks we won’t see any details about the expansion other than a name and confirmation of development at Blizzcon. What that would leave to discuss at Blizzcon is…nothing, basically, but luckily he doesn’t work at Blizzard and is usually wrong!