Updates to Stormwind and Orgrimmar in the Battle for Azeroth Demo

I’m back from BlizzCon, and what a BlizzCon it was. While I have some serious worries about the expansion, worries I detail in a future article, Battle for Azeroth in terms of what content it’s offering is shaping up to be my favorite expansion ever. I’ve wanted Zandalar as a continent for a long time… (far longer than when I wrote that article, even)

However we’re not here to talk about Zandalar or Kul Tiras today. As I’ve mentioned on twitter, the BlizzCon demo for Battle for Azeroth also hid some very surprising updates to Stormwind and Orgrimmar. Each city has had a new district added, with some very surprising lore developments included within. It goes without saying that this post includes heavy spoilers for Battle for Azeroth. So read on at your own risk.

On Saturday, I heard that posters on the story forums were discussing a claim that there was a new building in Stormwind where Alleria was talking about void elves. Having already explored Drustvar and Nazmir, I decided to get in line for the demo again and make a level one human character to see if these rumors were true. What I found was so much more. Afterwards I made an orc and checked Orgrimmar to see if it had a similar update (spoiler alert: it did).

Sadly I cannot share any images of what I found. I asked one of the Blizzard employees on site if I was allowed to take any pictures from the demo and was told I could not. I mentioned there were people streaming the demo and he said they’ll get in trouble for doing that. Given that WoW developers were present on these streams, I assume he was misinformed or those were very special exceptions. Either way, I didn’t want to take any chances. Several other posters on the story forums have reported on the Stormwind changes as well, and fellow Blizzplanet contributor Handclaw saw Baine Bloodhoof’s new model as well (though in a different location).

For the most part, Stormwind and Orgrimmar were identical to their live versions, except for these two new areas. Each was called the “Stormwind/Orgrimmar Embassy” and was made entirely of garrison art assets. There was a single new type of building in the Stormwind Embassy which resembled a cross between a farmhouse and barracks, my guess would be that it’s from the new Warfront feature. I’ve made a mock up of where they were located:

As you may notice, the Orgrimmar Embassy had replaced the Goblins Slums. A tiny section of it remained, the area where Boss Mida is, but it was otherwise completely gone, even the lake. Each district consisted of: a large central building (a medium barracks for Alliance, a medium town hall for Horde), a blacksmithing area, and lots of tents. Stormwind had additional buildings: Celestine of the Harvest’s house was replaced with the updated garrison house model and there was the aforementioned new building where the Wollerton Stead currently is. The Stormwind embassy was completely devoid of NPCs outside of the central barracks, and the Orgrimmar Embassy still had all the old Goblin Slums NPCs but I don’t think they were meant to be there. The mining trainer, for example, was constantly swinging a pickaxe into the air.

What was really interesting were the NPCs located inside the barracks and town hall. In each, all the respective faction leaders had gathered, along with some very intriguing additions. The Orgrimmar Embassy’s leaders were Sylvanas Windrunner, Varok Saurfang, Baine Bloodhoof, Lady Liadrin, Rokhan, Lor’themar Theron, Trade Prince Gallywix, Ji Firepaw, Eitrigg, and Nathanos Blightcaller. Saurfang, Baine, and Nathanos all had brand new models. Baine’s new model looked identical to the artwork of him shown on the Kalimdor loading screen:


Saurfang’s new model has been shown off at BlizzCon:

It’s interesting to note that Saurfang’s new model is the only orc model in game, besides Thrall’s, that stands upright.

Nathanos’ model had his hair slicked back while he wore an outfit similar to Genn Greymane’s but with a tall collar. Basically he’s going for a Count Dracula look.

The Stormwind Embassy’s presence consisted of Anduin Wrynn, Turalyon, Alleria Windrunner, Tyrande Whisperwind, Velen, Genn Greymane, High Tinker Mekkatorque, Muradin Bronzebeard, Aysa Cloudsinger, and… Wrathion.

Wrathion was sitting in the corner, away from the other alliance leaders. I initially thought it meant he was spying on the factions, but Wrathion was only present in the Stormwind Embassy.

Now that the descriptions are out of the way, I can talk about what happened upon entering the main buildings. As soon as my character entered, a scripted conversation began. This unveiled the purpose of these new districts, they’re for the Allied Races.

In the Stormwind Embassy, Anduin explained that he’d gathered the other leaders here because “the horde’s aggression cannot go unanswered,” and that they were in need of new allies. Turalyon said that now that the Legion has been defeated, the Army of the Light “would be proud to fight for the Alliance.” He also mentioned that a group of draenei initiates were about to undergo a special ceremony to become lightforged, and that this would be the perfect time broach the subject to the Army of the Light. Anduin fully agreed with this plan.

Next up, Alleria said that she had been trying to convince the blood elves to rejoin the alliance but that her efforts were “futile.” However, she found a faction of blood elves who had been exiled from Silvermoon for practicing void magic. Alleria said she believes that she can train them to harness the Void as she can in return for having them join the alliance. Anduin responded that he didn’t like the idea of using void magic, but he trusts Alleria and her judgment, and that having seen what she’s capable of, the alliance can’t afford to ignore that kind of power.

Then Anduin said that while both should be recruited, it was up to me to choose which race they go after first. I could then talk to Turalyon and Alleria, who each gave a summary of their allied race which was identical the summaries they have on the Battle for Azeroth website and a greyed out option to “start quest.”

The Orgrimmar Embassy followed the same structure. Sylvanas asked the other leaders if there were any new potential allies for the horde in their war. Baine spoke first, saying that he was holding a large banquet in Mulgore for the chieftans of the Highmountain tauren tribes to convince them to join the horde. Sylvanas was somewhat dismissive, saying the highmountain tauren didn’t have much to offer but their strength would make for good frontline soldiers.

Liadrin then said she had been making inroads with the Thalyrssa and the nightborne, and believes that with some additional encouragement they could be recruited. Sylvanas was more enthusiastic about them than the highmountain tauren, saying that “even without the nightwell” their magical abilities and knowledge would be invaluable. Again, Sylvanas said it was up to me choose which race to recruit first.

That was all I could do at these new districts. Notably there was nothing about recruiting the dark iron dwarves or Zandalari trolls. The Battle for Azeroth website does say “Even more allies await in unexplored lands. As heroes of the Alliance adventure through Kul Tiras, they’ll have a chance to recruit the Dark Iron Dwarves. In Zandalar, champions of the Horde can convince the Zandalari Trolls to join them,” so they’ll probably have a different method of being unlocked.

As a final note, keep in mind this is from a very early demo so it’s entirely possible for none of this to make it to live servers. For example, the BlizzCon demo for Shadowmoon Valley in Warlords of Draenor had almost nothing in common with the Shadowmoon Valley we ended up getting when the expansion released. Hopefully we’ll find out more about these new areas, whatever Wrathion is up to, and the allied races soon.

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BlizzCon 2019 Panel Transcripts


World of Warcraft Writer and columnist for Blizzplanet. I am also known as The Red Shirt Guy (BlizzCon).

24 thoughts on “Updates to Stormwind and Orgrimmar in the Battle for Azeroth Demo

  1. Wonder if this means the first four Allied Races will be unlockable in 8.0, prior to launch, since that’s presumably when they’d do something moderately major like an update to SW/Org.

    1. That’s probably going to be their Early Access pre-order selling point, like how DHs were playable a few weeks prior.

      1. You unlock the races, so I assumed it would be somewhere along the lines of earning favor with the new races.

        1. That’s what the quest chain is for. Could easily be done before launch. Zandalari and Dark Iron aren’t options yet.

    2. Nope, devs said A-Races would be unlocked during expansion progress, specifically the Zandalari Trolls who get unlocked once you clear Zuldazar’s questline.

      1. Jeremy Feasel separately said in an interview that completing the Highmountain story quests will be a prerequisite for unlocking the Highmountain Tauren as playable, so I think from that we can presume that completing the Suramar and Argus storylines will be required for the other 3 races. That puts the vast majority of the required work in Legion, not in Battle for Azeroth, and further supports the idea we’ll be able to access them prior to BfA’s launch.

        The only ones we know for sure are going to be unlocked over the course of BfA are the Zandalari and Dark Iron.

    3. Agree; I’m fully expecting those four races to be accessible in 8.0 for anybody who’s pre-purchased BfA. Their stories are already well explored in Legion and data for them is already in the PTR files, which is how we found out about them in the first place. Why would they be on the PTR if they weren’t coming before BfA launches?

      Another thing that supports this is that Ion said at the What’s Next panel regarding heritage armour, when you level allied races “from 20 all the way to max”; and max was written on the slide as 110. Why? Because 110 will still be max level when these first 4 races unlock.

      It’s not really any different from Demon Hunters being accessible a few weeks prior to Legion’s launch, or the new race/class combos that came with Cataclysm being accessible from patch 4.0.1

  2. Hold on, I’m very confused by the way Battle for Azeroth has been presenting Void magic. Don’t get me wrong, I know it’s dangerous and that it’s rare to see someone use it but the game seems to imply that Void Elves are the first non-insane Void users, as well as the only Void users in the entirety of the Alliance. Look at Anduin saying that he isn’t too keen on recruiting Void Elves because of the magic they use, or the Blood Elves exiling them for dabbling with the Void. It also seems to imply that Void magic is completely illegal in the Horde, and was probably illegal in the Alliance as well prior to the Void Elves joining. So, uh, our Shadow Priests or Subtlety Rogues… don’t exist? And, what about the Cult of the Forgotten Shadow? Is anyone able to explain this or did Blizzard just retcon something?

      1. That’s… fair enough, but it doesn’t really explain how our characters haven’t been exiled by now.

        1. Same thing as with Alliance warlocks, lore wise, they do not roam the streets casually with a giant demon at their side and such, rarely do they actually join faction wars(the “official” ones where leaders are present, etc) They’re a part of their faction, but usually do their work outside of the public’s eye.

          Only one in recent memory I can think off, where they openly used warlocks, was on the broken shore, where Dadgar tells you that “our warlocks have opened us portals to this ship” or something along those lines. Their service and skills will be called upon in dire situations, when they’re needed. But outside of that, they’re kept out of the public’s view and knowledge off them.

          A normal citizen, still believes the lich king is dead. So wouldn’t be too far fetched to think that they don’t know about the warlocks/death knights/shadow priests, we bring along with us to raids, battles, world ending threats and such.

    1. Basic shadow magic like the cult of the forgotten shadow or sub rogues isn’t void magic, it barely scratches the surface. Void magic is the tentacled insane stuff, like shadow priests who constantly risk permanent insanity as they lose more sanity with every spell they cast. It’s basically drawing from the old gods themselves.

      So, yeah, Void Elves are in fact the first ones to use -VOID- magic and not go crazy at least partially. Shadow priests are probably only still fine because they lorewise have the ability to continue doing the spells that don’t drive them crazy.

    2. Given the standard set of Void powers SPriests use, it could be similar to Druids in that practicing unauthorized/untested forms of that magic is forbidden because of the unpredictability and damage it can do. My guess is that, especially given the pale skin and different eye color of the Void Elves, they were integrating the Void into their very being as a permanent state, which would (before Alleria) guarantee servitude to the Old Gods. SPriests have a normal form and a Shadow Form for a reason.

  3. It’s pretty crappy how some random Blizzard volunteer told you that BS lie. I watched someone stream the demo WITH volunteers and employees running around behind him, they knew he was streaming and they didn’t care. We kept wondering where you were in the Q&A, which was a horrible Q&A btw. Keep up the good work!

  4. Did Tyrande have any lines? I’m intrigued on how she’s going to handle the situation. I’m really hoping this is her comeback expansion because Blizzard has been writing her horribly as of late

    1. I feel this will happen before the attack on Teldrassil. I wouldn’t be surprised if they allow these four allied to be unlocked before 8.0, during the “story content” that will be released between expansions.

  5. Hey Ian; how big exactly are the districts? Are they multiple buildings? Are there new roads and stuff?

  6. They gentrified the Goblin area in Org? Nooooooo! And it looks like they replaced the old farm in Stormwind too. Wonder how the Cata, fishing and Halloween quests in that will be affected.

  7. Ian, I was wondering what your opinion on the dark iron dwarf addition as the equivalent to zandalari trolls. I am honestly very surprised to be receiving the dark iron as a new allied race when they already serve the alliance under moira. Horde side, we go to the new island and recruit that islands inhabitants. Shouldn’t we be doing this on the alliance side and receiving Kul’tiran humans? I find it apalling that the alliance get 3 re skins while the horde get the nightborne model AND zandalar model, with 1 re skin tauren.

    I am not saying we shouldn’t receive dark iron dwarves, I just think that is more of an option that falls in the same category as orc’s upright option.

    1. Nightborne are Night Elf models with reskin, and Zandalari trolls are slightly modified normal Troll model, though I do agree that horde has way more appealing races.

    2. they shouldve switched Nightborne with void elfs imho. Void elfs are basicly blood elfs only reason why they join alliance all of a sudden is because of Alleria. It should be the other way around alleria should join the horde case closed. As a leader the you should follow the will of your people. Nightborn should go to the alliance. Night elves don’t belong in the horde. Every alliance person is gonna spit on void elfs…. Srsly…

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