World of Warcraft returns with its seventh major expansion, Battle for Azeroth. In the sixth expansion Legion's last big update, the titan Sargeras was imprisoned - but not before he sank his sword deep into Azeroth, causing the world to bleed its very life-blood, also known as Azerite.
Battle for Azeroth picks up right where Legion left off. Due to Azerite being both surprisingly plentiful and an incredibly powerful means to enhance one's abilities, it becomes a highly valuable and sought-after substance. This once again damages the relationship between the Horde and Alliance - despite the two factions banding together to defend Azeroth against the demonic Legion in the previous expansion, they are now back at each other's throat. After the Horde burns down the city where Night Elves reside, the Alliance seeks revenge by attacking the city of Lordaeron.
By the way, all this while Azeroth is slowly dying due to having a huge sword stuck in it, but the greed for Azerite seems more important than saving a dying world - for now.
Having the two factions facing each other off feels like old times - after all, this ancient battle is what World of Warcraft started with. Unlike previous expansions, where there is a common enemy and all raids lead up to one cataclysmic event, there is now a clear divide between the Horde and Alliance. Both factions get their own questlines and new areas to discover. The Alliance seeks help from Kul Tiras, the home of Jaina Proudmoore, where they get to venture through Tiragarde Sound, Drustvar and Stormsong Valley. The Horde travels to Zalandar, home of the Zalandari Trolls, and get Zuldazar, Vol'Dun and Nazmir to explore. However, this does not mean you will not get to see any of the lands of the opposite faction - when you undertake foothold missions you venture into enemy territory, eventually sending players through all six new zones.
The new zones Blizzard has created feel alive - questlines are interesting and get more immersive as players get drawn deeper into each zone. Zones also feel more connected - whereas in previous expansions you clearly cross a border from one zone to another, the areas now flow much more naturally into each other, making the environment feel more authentic.
One downside we found was that at the beginning, there aren't many flight points - this means you have to travel around on your mount and run back and forth a lot. As your reputation increases, you will unlock more flight points thus making travelling a lot easier, but this doesn't take away the fact that you're often running around at the start.
Another new addition is Island Expeditions, a three-player mode that takes you to one of seven islands filled with monsters and quests that reward you with Azerite. What makes Island Expeditions stand out from normal dungeon runs and raids is that you're in a race against another team of three players.
Island Expedition lets you play against another team in PvP mode, but you can also opt to play against the AI. The latter has surprised us: whereas in dungeons and raids the NPCs are rather predictable, the AI in Island Expeditions seems actually intelligent: they will attack weak opponents or even run away from a fight if they are losing. Island Expeditions remain interesting and fun: the maps are randomised so you have a different experience every time, and whether you play against other players or AI, you must stay alert and think of the best strategy to beat your opponent.
The PvP mode has been changed entirely and is now called War Mode. This new mode can only be activated in the capital city of your faction. When you turn War Mode on, the zones of Battle for Azeroth turn into PvP grounds with other players who have also got War Mode on. This makes the game a far more social experience as you now have a reason to talk to the strangers around you so you can rally together against the enemy. Zeppelins will sometimes drop loot crates as seen in other big names such as PUBG and Fortnite.
If you get enough kills you'll be marked as an assassin on the map, allowing enemy players to find you and kill you for extra rewards. This certainly makes the already exciting War Mode even more interesting. When killing 10 players as a marked assassin, you gain a title (for example, as Alliance you get the title 'Horde Slayer').