At Blizzcon, we got deep dive look at the new features and they started with Island Expeditions. Island Expeditions are 3 player Scenarios that are role agnostic. That means if you want to group up as 3 tanks to complete the mission that’s possible. They are intended to take 15-20 minutes and since it’s role agnostic queue times should be almost instantaneous. The major goal of Island Expeditions is to obtain Azerite. Azerite are spires of power born out of the blood of the land Azeroth.
Incredibly destructive and whichever side, Horde or Alliance, has gathered more will have an advantage when Warfronts break out. Goblins and Gnomes will give you maps that help you locate Azerite. You can take a ship to an island to harvest Azerite. Some of the substances are guarded by powerful enemies or obtained through quest while others can be found in chests and nodes.
Dynamic replayability means that each expedition will contain different scenarios and there are optimal ways to complete each scenario in a puzzle like fashion. The islands will contain procedurally generated features listed below.
You will have to go against 3 champions from the rival faction. The champions will race against you trying to collect more Azerite than you can before the scenario is complete. These champions players will encounter are controlled by AI. These AI will be improved where they can’t be treated like normal enemies. In the scenario that was given if at a certain point during the expedition, a Map Objective was more important a champion may decide to polymorph you and mount up to run to the objective. Each champion will have a distinct personality that the AI will be tailored around to give a constant feeling on unpredictability. It was also announced that there would be four different modes for Island Expeditions: Normal, Heroic, Mythic, and PVP.
There were two expedition maps shown during the deep dive, The Un’ Gol Ruins and Havenswood
While everyone is collecting Azerite in a desperate grasp for the power the crystals contain they are forgetting that it is essentially the blood of the land and the world is dying. Magni Bronzebeard saw the dire circumstances and appealed to both faction leaders but was ultimately turned away. He instead is seeking out Azeroth’s greatest heroes and entrusting them with The Heart of Azeroth to undo the damage done by the Legion.
When you collect Azerite the Heart of Azeroth will level up and give you the ability to unlock latent abilities in other items called Azerite Armor. All Azerite armor contain talent rings within the item that have various choices to power the player up. More choices are unlocked based on the level of your Heart of Azeroth. The choices that are contained within the items contain the same layout but get stronger if you get a better version of the item. Basically, the if you like a certain items talent ring layout for your play style then it’s best to try to obtain the mythic version of that item.
The power choices will contain a commonality across the various tiers meaning that all choices will make sense together and allow the player to make a choice based on their playstyle.
Warfronts are an Alliance vs Horde mode with it taking inspiration in the original RTS roots. You will be on the ground building buildings while waging a war with the other side. The first thing you do in Warfronts is establishing your base. Then you can either gather resources or take territory. Resources will be needed to build buildings and claiming territory will unlock new buildings. Working together will allow you to build certain building faster. Buildings like Barracks will create footman that you can send to the enemy gate that you can lead the charge with. The feeling of war should be very real with these features. Commanders will be a bit like the Champions in Island Expeditions as they will have distinct AI traits that shape their decision making. You will be able to research new technology outside of Warfronts that you can bring into battle the next time you enter. There will also be limited events that provide various power-ups.
To cap off the panel they talked about improvements to social features. Battle.net voice will be integrated into World of Warcraft much like the communication system in Overwatch. WoW Communities are a new feature that is like a guild but across various servers. You will be able to see when someone in your community is quick joining an instance and choose to join up with them without delaying the queue. Other features include simple role management, voice integration, a calendar system that will auto maintain reminders based on who is still in the community, and a text chat history feature. The last three features, voice integration, along with the calendar and chat history, will also be added to guilds.