For the past four months, Battle for Azeroth has served as one of the most polarizing World of Warcraft expansions in the game’s history. After a fairly promising start, followed by many, many, bumps in the road, it’s fair to say that the first stages of BfA, while certainly troubling, has left the playerbase with plenty of reasons to temper its expectations. However, to look at Battle for Azeroth as a whole, 4 months in, and say that there hasn’t been some intriguing elements to this game would be a disservice to the fun I’ve had – as scarce as it may have been.
I can remember August 13 as clear as day. Loaded up on snacks and coffee, I was diving headfirst into another World of Warcraft expansion. The experience had felt almost like clockwork and I couldn’t feel any more at home. And throughout the course of those first few days, I was in heaven. Staying up late. Waking up early – just to play WoW. And during those days – weeks even – everything felt natural. Familiar.
However, once I started to dig deeper into the expansion and the magic that propelled me through the those first weeks wore off, I, along with much of the World of Warcraft community, started to see Battle for Azeroth for what it was – a significant experiment that certainly progressed WoW while harkening back to many of the foundational concepts that fueled past expansions. But frankly, even with all of that considered, the expansion showed its hand way too quickly.
Although Battle for Azeroth was shaping up to be the shining star of modern WoW, it crashed from heaven quicker than almost any game in modern history. BfA’s fall from grace came immensely fast, as seemingly overnight, the game went from being packed with content to there being nothing to do at all. If anything, Battle for Azeroth is a lot like a massive rollercoaster with just one drop – sort of like Kingda Ka at Six Flags. The expansion takes you 400 feet into the air, letting you see nothing but gorgeous landscapes and possibilities as far as the eye can see, only to drop you for about 3.1 seconds until suddenly, it’s all over and you’re left wondering why you wasted your time.
The sensation of being bombarded with content was enough to propel most players through the initial stages of Battle for Azeroth, but once the layers were peeled back and the true identity of the game was discovered, it’s fair to say that this expansion might just be the emptiest installment of the game in its 14-year history.
When I wrote my first review of Battle for Azeroth, a few weeks after the release of the expansion, I complained about there being “too much to do”. Now, as we sit just hours from the first major content patch, I’m starving for something to do. Whenever I log into WoW these days, I run around Boralus for about 5 minutes, and by the time I get to the Gryphon Master, I’m already too bored just thinking about what lies in the world beyond. After doing “everything”, I, along with everyone else, am just looking for “anything”.
And while it may be natural for a game to offer less available content as a player progresses, this shouldn’t be the case for World of Warcraft. The game has proven time and time again that it can support a constant cycle of content, as expansions in the modern age like Mists of Pandaria and even Legion proved on multiple occasions that WoW is always worth playing.
However, Battle for Azeroth isn’t worth playing in its current state.
While expectations regarding hype and excitement were certainly met back in mid-August, the expectations regarding longevity fall flat in mid-December. The game went from a fiery promise to a full-blown hot mess in what seemed like no time at all. What was on pace to be one of the best expansions ever turned into a relatively forgettable experience. The Battle for Azeroth launch gave WoW players the same feeling that sports fans feel after an opening day win. Although the team is “on pace” to have a perfect season, it’s only a matter of time until the nasty reality to sets in.
And while the expansion is nowhere near its final state, and the developmental process is still ongoing, it’s important to realize that there’s a major difference between a developing product and one that seems practically unfinished. The beautiful landscapes of Kul Tiras and Zandalar, the flashy new mechanics presented in Mythic+ mode, and the solid storylines found throughout the entirety of the expansion are certainly welcome in a game that hasn’t quite lived up to the standard of “replayability” that WoW has usually produced. But are they enough? Have they salvaged the first four months of the expansion? Have they done enough to make the first stage of Battle for Azeroth worth your time and money?
When all is considered, no.
But, that isn’t to say that the expansion isn’t beyond the point of no return. Battle for Azeroth still has plenty of gas left in the tank and undoubtedly, there’s still much to do before this iteration of the game wraps up . However, the ball is in Blizzard’s court. It’s on them now. All that matters is where they end up when the opportunity to turn the page presents itself
Photo Credit: World of Warcraft, Blizzard Entertainment