World of Warcraft: Battle for Azeroth screenshot of two princesses butting heads

World of Warcraft's Battle for Azeroth expansion arrived a little while ago, bringing with it an excellent leveling experience, some interesting new characters to interact with, as well as some rather beautiful zones to explore. Unfortunately, almost all of the new systems Battle for Azeroth added to freshen up the end-game, things such as the Warfronts, Island Expeditions or Azerite Armor, have ended up being the source of endless complaints from the playerbase.

While I'm afraid I can't tell you that Blizzard is already on the way to implement sweeping changes in order to correct some of these issues, I can at least tell you that they are well aware of the problems, and that they are looking to solve them throughout the expansion. This information comes to us from the recent Q&A session WoW's Game Director Ion Hazzikostas held over at Reddit, and if you're interested in WoW's future I would highly recommend you check it out. 

On the other hand, if you don't have the time to sort through all of those answers, allow me to highlight some of the most important quotes about Azerite Armor, Island Expeditions and Warfronts. Have a look:

"While the generic traits are deliberately fairly straightforward, some of the spec-specific ones are indeed too passive, or interact awkwardly with spec rotations", Ion Hazzikostas answered when asked about Azerite Armor. "We’ll be retiring some of those in an upcoming patch and adding better replacements to the pool. And of course we’ll be adding all-new Azerite traits on new tiers of gear from upcoming content as the expansion continues.

"In terms of long-term prospects, we see the current system as a foundation upon which to continue building, not a treadmill to throw out there and let sit passively for the rest of the expansion. We’ll be adding loads of new traits in future content updates, for starters. But tuning work is something that is already ongoing, and which will ramp up in the very near future as we now have most of the data we need to make these adjustments."

As I've mentioned throughout the first part of my review, the whole Azerite Armor system needs to be reworked from the ground up. If it's really supposed to replace legendary items, tier sets and artifact weapon traits, it simply needs to have a much bigger and more interesting effect on our abilities. Simply getting a couple of extra numbers or an additional X damage nuke every 30 seconds just isn't enough to bring classes back to their end-of-Legion heights. That said, this isn't an impossible task, so here's to hoping Blizzard will manage to make Azerite Armor live up to its potential.

World of Warcraft: Battle for Azeroth screenshot of the Demon Hunter talent tree

It also doesn't help that outside of the Azerite Armor system we have nothing new to gain for our classes by getting to level 120

"In particular, we want to add more new events to increase the variety of the experiences players have when jumping into Expeditions, or running the same pool of islands repeatedly", Blizzard devs continued when asked about Island Expeditions. "We've all probably that giant clump of Azerite stalagmites and elementals pop up a zillion times, and while it's always lucrative, it doesn't exactly help build a sense that you never know what's going to be around the next corner when you see it four times in a row."

"In short, future BfA updates will include not just more content within the existing structure, but refinements to that structure. We've been following all the feedback closely, but in general have just been 100% focused on working on the game and haven't had a chance to come up for air and discuss our thoughts with the community."

Much like the Azerite Armor, Island Expeditions are a truly brilliant idea executed in a fairly mediocre fashion. Blizzard has and can do better than this, so I do believe they'll manage to eventually get the Island Expeditions to become a nearly infinite source of content and rewards, with actually randomized locations and enemies. Until such a time comes, however, I honestly don't think I'll be doing any more of them as I've seen pretty much everything they have to offer.

World of Warcraft screenshot of the Battle for Azeroth expedtions

The idea is great, but it needs a few more months in the oven before it's properly finished

"We're crafting systems with an eye towards the grand scheme of the game as it unfolds over the course of many months, and viewed each Warfront in the same vein as something like rotating events such as Timewalking, which comes around every third week," Ion Hazzikostas continued as he was asked about the lengthy delay between Warfronts. "Island Expeditions were crafted as an always-available complement to core content, while Warfronts were envisioned as more of a periodic special event. (Again, saying that up-front would probably have been smart. But we clearly weren't.)"

"That initial window should never have existed in the first place, but we didn't feel like it was the right answer to leave an unrestricted source of 340 loot in place for the entirety of September just to make sure everyone got a shot, relative to the harm it would cause to the value of other content for fresh 120s, to say nothing of the degraded experience in the Warfront itself from having a bunch of folks wearing 280 gear and unable to pull their weight."

Personally, I wouldn't even mind the three week wait between each Warfront if the content itself was interesting. And mind you, the concept is amazing! After all, it's a lengthy Warcraft 3 styled battle between the Horde and the Alliance where both sides get to use pretty much all of the units seen in the RTS classic - what's not to like about that? Well, as it turns out, the lack of any sort of PvP interaction! Instead of this being the defining feature of Battle for Azeorth and something everyone would be getting themselves hyped about for weeks in advance, the Warfronts have ended up being a glorified PvE scenario with barely any challenge or reason to repeat it outside of loot.

I can only hope a future update will make Warfronts PvP focused because that is exactly the sort of content Battle for Azeroth needs in order to make the war between the Horde and the Alliance feel a bit more impactful and 'real'. As it stands, each side is pretty much dealing with their own problems, only occasionally poking each other with sticks before diving back to fight the old gods. Really makes you wonder why we even had that buildup with Darnassus and the Undercity if it was to lead up to absolutely nothing.

World of Warcraft screenshot of Battle for Azeroth world PvP

World PvP is more exciting than ever, but the story simply isn't following suit

While I'm aware my comments here sound a bit overly critical, it is the sort of criticism that sprouts from my love for World of Warcraft. I've mentioned this throughout the entirety of my review, but I'm genuinely having a lot of fun with Battle for Azeroth despite it's flaws. I just wish to see those flaws corrected so we could all go back to enjoying every aspect of WoW, rather than completely ignore some of the main features of the latest expansion one month after launch.

But that's enough blabbering from me. If you're curious about what the developers have to say about the Shaman class, alt progression and other such community questions, you should definitely head on over to the Reddit Q&A. It might be a bit too filled with PR-speak for my tastes, but it really does appear that the developers understand where the problems are and that they want to see them fixed. How long those fixes will actually take, and how well will they actually correct the problem, that's a question for another day.