2020 is set to be a pretty packed year for World of Warcraft. Between the launch of Patch 8.3, Visions of N’Zoth, as well as the launch of Shadowlands later in the year (not to mention all the releases planned with Classic WoW), it’s obvious that WoW is going to have a seriously busy start to the decade.
And while excitement builds around another expansion just on the horizon, it’s easy to forget that the game’s current expansion, Battle for Azeroth, still has a lot of loose ends to tie up. Storylines need to be completed, more content needs to be released, and the expansion as a whole still needs to wrap itself up. With Patch 8.3 supposedly hitting live servers in just a few weeks, the finale of BfA is nearly upon us, but it seems like pushing Shadowlands is Blizzard’s preferred tactic as of late.
Despite Patch 8.3 being announced before Blizzcon, the WoW coverage at this year’s convention focused almost entirely on the next expansion. Even in-game promotions such as the Shadowlands pre-order bonuses would lead you to believe that BfA is being pushed along to a rather quiet end. And sure, that wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world when you consider the tumultuous timeline of the expansion, but there’s still work to be done in regards to how things are going to end.
As we move through the next few months, the concluding stages of BfA will have to coexist with the preluding stages of Shadowlands. It’ll surely be interesting to see how Blizzard wraps things up neatly enough to satisfy those who are still invested in the expansion, while also focusing on bringing in a new crowd alongside the franchise’s returning players for the next era of the game.
Balancing these two endeavors of keeping up appearances for BfA while simultaneously preparing for Shadowlands might just make some of the content presented at the end of the current expansion slightly suffer. New experiences like the upcoming raid, Ny’alotha, new allied races like Mechagnomes and Vulpera, and the final Mythic+ season of the expansion could have their time in the limelight cut short.
And while this concept definitely seems dangerous on the surface, it’s important to realize that it’s been done before – recently, in fact. Just think back to Legion when the content presented during the later stages of that expansion was pushed to the wayside in favor of focusing on the launch of a new expansion in BfA. This is nothing new to Blizzard and if anything, it’s a smarter business decision to put an emphasis on moving towards a fresh start rather than cementing a relationship with a playerbase that you already know is going to continue playing from the end of BfA into the beginning of Shadowlands.
So while it might seem a little bit unfortunate that Battle for Azeroth is being hastily wrapped up, it’s still great that the population of the playerbase that’s still invested in the expansion is getting a “grand finale” patch at all. When you look back at how Warlords of Draenor transitioned into Legion, the bridge between those two iterations of the game definitely could have been more fleshed out, to say the least. Hopefully, as far as the transition into Shadowlands goes, things will go relatively smoothly.
Photo Credit: Blizzard Entertainment, World of Warcraft