I’m super-hyped for Battle for Azeroth. Just from the short demo of Nazmir at BlizzCon, I can see that Zandalar is everything I’d ever hoped it would be. Add on finally getting to visit Kul Tiras, the allied races, more story and development for faction leaders like Jaina, Saurfang, Baine, and Genn, and more old world updates (though it sounds like they’ll just be phased scenery like Theramore, but still I like seeing the world change and evolve) and this is looking like a pretty great expansion. So why I am so worried that it won’t be?
Read on to find out.
The problem I have with Battle for Azeroth is how it was presented at BlizzCon. Throughout the convention I couldn’t help but feel this was very similar to the announcements of Cataclysm and, even more so, Warlords of Draenor. Outside of the zones, almost every feature or addition the developers talked about was kept incredibly vague. Lots of “we’re not sure how that works yet,” or “we haven’t decided on the specifics of this.” When Blizzard is this vague, its usually about features that end up getting cut like Path of the Titans in Cata or heavily redesigned and scaled back like garrisons, Trial of the Gladiator, and the faction capitals in WoD. Almost all of BfA’s features were described this way. To me, it either means that the expansion is much earlier in development than previous expansions were by the time of their announcement, or we’ll see significant changes to BfA’s systems compared to the outline they gave at BlizzCon. Both of those options also mean that the expansion is very far off.
Speaking of the expected release date, while we’ve had longer content droughts than this will probably be, I fear this one might feel worse due to us getting used to the seventy seven day patch schedule Blizzard has stuck to since Legion came out. From what was shown, and past expansion announcement to release time-frames, my guess would be that we won’t see Battle for Azeroth until late Q3 – early Q4 2018. Specifically I’m leaning towards November. Furthermore, the expansion’s tie in novel, Before the Storm, has been delayed from May 15th to June 12th. These novels typically come out several months before their expansion. While The Shattering came out two months before Cataclysm, and Tides of War one month before Mists of Pandaria, the two most recent pre-expansion novels have come out with a much wider gap. War Crimes came out six months before Warlords of Draenor, and Illidan five months before Legion.
With the two most recent coming out around five to six months from their respective expansion, a June release date would indeed put us the range of November or even December. Again, I don’t think this will hurt WoW, we survived the fourteen month gap between MoP and WoD, and this is looking to be only an eleven month one. It’s the reasons why I think there’s going to be such a gap that worries me. Cata and WoD are often considered some of the worst expansions, and Battle for Azeroth reminds me of them.
Hopefully I’m just over thinking things or being paranoid or pessimistic. I’ve seen the argument that Blizzard’s presentation was deliberately vague so that people won’t accuse them of “breaking promises,” which if that’s the case then my worries about the expansion may turn out to be nothing. With an interview by WoWChakra saying that Blizzard aims to start beta testing early next year, we’ll have a much better of idea of where the expansion is soon.