Making Battle for Azeroth a Global Conflict

A few days ago, JD Kenada over at Amateur Azerothian wrote a thought-provoking blog post about the necessity of Battle for Azeroth really feeling like a global conflict. You can read the whole post yourself for more details, but the basic premise was that the world hasn’t changed much since Cataclysm and in order for Battle for Azeroth to be believable, it has to. War has to be seen all throughout Azeroth, not just in “a tenth of the (known) world”.

From a lore perspective, I believe that JD Kenada has really hit the nail on the head. Battle for Azeroth is not just some skirmish over newly discovered lands or a fight for some very specific resources, it is a world war in the truest sense. The expansion features cinematic included a very polarizing image of the map with Kalimdor and the Eastern Kingdoms each being conquered by one the factions. That’s going to mean battles just about everywhere since at the current, the two factions are pretty intermingled, even within the same zones.

JD Kenada also brought up the fantastic point that wars don’t only mean fighting, they also mean preparations and construction. If we are to believe that each faction is actually capable of fighting a war on as many fronts as Battle for Azeroth is promising to be, both the Horde and the Alliance need to have the necessary infrastructure and supplies to do so. You can’t fight a war without weapons or siege machinery. And, equally as important, you can’t fight a war without food. For as many battles as Battle for Azeroth will have, there should be just as many factories, farms, lumber operations, and every other implement of a wartime society.

This is all wonderful and good from a lore perspective, but from a gameplay perspective, the idea is a lot trickier to implement. Cataclysm has proven pretty conclusively that folks do not like it when Blizzard fundamentally changes old zones and quests. Revamping the old world would also run the risk of worsening the time discontinuity, as the beginning leveling would all deal with Battle for Azeroth story and once players hit 58, they would jump back in time to either the Burning Crusade or Wrath of the Lich King. If Blizzard were to make the new zones generic enough so as to not break the timeline, the tie to Battle for Azeroth’s global war could very easily be weakened. Messing with the old world could bring more negatives than positives.

So how do you throw Azeroth into a world war without fundamentally changing everything within the world?

The solution I thought of? Phasing, and a lot of world quests.

The phasing aspect, the more straightforward of the two, would enable upon reaching 120 (or perhaps 110, if there would be quests in the new world) and would change the world to reflect the new division of faction lands. This wouldn’t need to be entirely new zones with different layouts or anything like that, but instead the zones how they would look if they had been a part of a global conflict. There might be active battles going on in some zones. Others could be devoted to the production of resources. For example, Westfall might be converted into a huge farming zone to feed Alliance troops. Durotar could become a smithing hub.

Preferably, this new phasing would be toggleable via a member of the Bronze Dragonflight similar to how Theramore is today. It would probably make the most sense for said NPC to be within Stormwind or Orgrimmar and be able to toggle the whole world at once, but I could also see Blizzard going for a zone by zone basis. Players will still be able to go back and see the world as it was before the war, but they would have to activate that themselves.

The world quest portion of my solution is where Blizzard could really have some fun hammering home the idea of a global conflict. Some examples of quests could be aiding in a skirmish between your forces and the enemies, or clearing out the forest of enemies so your side can gather resources. The world quest system, one of bonus objectives that spawn temporarily before being replaced by differentt quests, is perfectly suited to the fluid nature of war. One day your side might be winning in this one zone but the next, you could be almost forced out. World quests would also give players incentives to go all around the world and actively take part in the war efforts themselves.

Battle for Azeroth must include all of Azeroth. Not just the new islands or a few cherry picked faction hubs, but the whole shebang. I don’t know about you guys, but I’d honestly love to go back to the zones I know and love to defend them for the Alliance. I’d absolutely dig more incentives to run around in Stranglethorn Vale or Winterspring. And if we’re going to embark upon a quest of global warfare, I want to fight on all fronts.

What do you guys think? Have any other ideas that I didn’t think of for making Battle for Azeroth a global phenomenon? Or would you be totally against any changes to the old world?