World of Warcraft 8.1, titled “Tides of Vengeance,” will launch December 11 in the US, 12 in EU, and 13 in Asia, according to Ion Hazzicostas. The new raid, Battle of Dazar’alor, will launch very early next year. More details about the patch, including system updates, content, and story, were discussed during the World of Warcraft: What’s Next panel, although they are mostly review for those who have been following datamining news and Blizzard posts over the last few months.
Warning: This post will contain some spoilers for those waiting for the new story developments in 8.1!
In this Post
- Terror of Darkshore, New Cinematic
- New Content in 8.1
- Systems Updates in 8.1
Terror of Darkshore, New Cinematic
This cinematic plays as players begin doing content in Darkshore. Darkshore represents the beginning of the Alliance counterattack as the brutality of the Night Elves, Malfurion, and Tyrande comes to a head and they push closer to Horde territory in Kalimdor. Tyrande exhibits new powers related to her dark eyes, powers related to the Night Warrior ritual which will be explored in the new story. (Night Elf players will unlock the new dark eyes through an achievement, although no fancy powers come with it and it’s purely cosmetic.)
Notably, Malfurion, probably incited by the destruction of his peoples’ home, finally seems to step away from his neutral position adopted in earlier expansions, bringing his wrath and power fully to the Alliance in an all-out war on the Horde.
The story reveals how a band of Horde characters en route with supplies to a Darkshore base are viciously murdered, and Nathanos is made aware of the danger of Sylvanas’ current strategy.
- Outdoor Old Dark Shore Quests & Warfront
The war continues as the Horde attempts to push back against Alliance incursion into Kalimdor, the now mostly Horde continent. Players will be able to earn many new mounts, toys, and gear from outdoor quests in the revamped max level Darkshore zone, featuring new art and other updates. Players will also be able to finish dailies to donate to the Darkshore war effort and battle in the Darkshore Warfront. The story will cover Tyrande, Malfurion, Nathanos, Night Elves, Forsaken, Night Warriors, and more, and will feature a cutscene (above).
Assaults are just like the Burning Legion assaults from the last expansion, except this time the enemies are each faction. Players will push back against the opposing faction through dynamic new World Quests, tick off several World Quests to face a final assault mission, and earn rewards. It is likely that Assaults will award a huge amount of XP like last expansion, which would be great for leveling and gearing alts. Players will see enemy aircraft, mobs, bases, and other details spawn across their continents’ zone maps.
- New Island Expeditions & Updates
Two new Island Expedition zones will be added to the lineup (Jorundall and Havenswood), which we will look at in a separate post. The team is also working on updates to spawns and rewards for existing Expeditions.
- Raid: Battle of Dazar’alor
The new raid is World of Warcraft‘s first one which changes out bosses and boss order based on which faction you play. The Horde will attempt to defend their Battle for Azeroth city of Dazar’alor from the top down, while the Alliance will attempt to take the powerful naval capital from the docks up. It will launch early next year so players won’t have to rush completion of Uldir or worry about progression during the holidays.
- War Campaign
The War Campaign story continues with returning lore characters and some we haven’t heard from in a while, like Mekkatorque and Gallywix. It continues to set up the exciting new zones, raid, and dungeon coming later down the road, which we will explore in an upcoming post.
- Heritage Armor
Heritage Armor is coming for all original and expansion races! The first two have long been datamined: Blood Elves and vanilla Dwarves. Players who have already reached exalted with the appropriate faction and max level with either race need not create a new character of either race and level them up to earn the new armor. They will just require players to finish a short questline that explores each race’s history and lore.
Azerite Armor Updates
- The team is tripling available traits to each spec in 8.1 and beyond.
- They’re also increasing ways in which Artifact Armor is obtained in 8.1, such as emissary rewards, a new currency, Mythic+ rewards, and more.
- A new doubloon vendor gives players greater control of which rewards they pursue in Island Expeditions.
- Reputation will be more alt-friendly going forward.
- Transmog will no longer require rep to wear on alts after it’s already been earned on one character.
- Reputation achievements, such as those that are awarded for earning multiple exalted reputations, will add all the exalted reputations earned across all your alts
- Not discussed today, but earlier Blizzard posts alluded that certain restrictions apply–for instance, they originally mentioned that Horde alts won’t get credit for exalted Alliance reputations.
- Team is revamping all Warfront-related content into more of a daily cadence, instead of reaching certain points and being flooded with quests after gaining Warfront control or in the contribution phase.
- Quests and contributions will be moved to a recurring system so that there’s something to do every day we log in.
- This will also help to smooth out the rate in which factions unlock the next Warfront phase.
PvP Talent & Class Updates
- Little was recapped during the panel, but Ion mentioned that PvP talent and class balancing will continue broadly in 8.1.
War Mode Updates
- The team is re-evaluating how risk and reward play out in this PvP mode.
- They want to offer more incentive and reward to players of the underrepresented faction.
- They want War Mode to be a fun experience, not an inefficient, lopsided one.
We’ll look more at future patches 8.1, 8.1.5, 8.2, and 8.2.5 as we continue to dive into the Day 1 World of Warcraft: What’s Next panel. Click here for more from the panel (it’s a lot), and don’t miss everything Warcraft from BlizzCon 2018!