Patch 8.0, more commonly known as the Battle for Azeroth pre-patch, will finally hit World of Warcraft live servers on July 17. Pre-expansion patches are always some of the most exciting in the game; not only do they drastically change up the classes, they give players a chance to quest their way up to the events of the expansion.
The Battle for Azeroth pre-patch brings more changes than usual. With the removal of the Legion Artifact traits, many of the classes have been drastically overhauled. Each class has been more or less overhauled will play identically to how they will on day one of Battle for Azeroth, which launches on Aug. 14. The only thing players won’t have to play around with yet is the Heart of Azeroth necklace and the Azerite gear traits that come with it.
There is quite a bit more to this patch than just class changes and quests. There are new customization options for characters, the game’s second stat squish ever (some big numbers are becoming small), World of Warcraft communities and the new War Mode. The pre-patch will last just shy of a month before Battle for Azeroth releases, with new quests and scenarios releasing each week.
Here are seven things you need to know before logging in to patch 8.0.
1. The war begins
The Burning Legion have been defeated and Sargeras has finally been locked away with Illidan. But the world of Azeroth isn’t ready to lay down its swords and staffs yet. Instead of taking even the briefest of reprieves, the Horde and Alliance have turned to each other for war — each side looking to right the wrongs the other has caused them.
The pre-patch will introduce new quests each week leading up to the war that starts Battle for Azeroth. Players have already learned about the power of Azerite, now it’s time they start fighting for it. Teldrassil will burn and Undercity will return to the Alliance as Lordaeron. Playing through these missions will net players some gear and prep their character for the start of the new expansion.
Don’t worry if you have multiple characters, you can skip most of the new quests your second, third or eleventh time through.
2. Orcs can stand tall
With the Battle for Azeroth pre-patch, players will be able to change the appearance of some of their characters with new customization options. There are some new faces for Blood Elves, and they can finally have golden eyes. But most importantly, male Orcs now have an upright posture option.
This might not sound like a big deal, but when you spend hundreds of hours looking at a character’s back, nothing in the world matters more. Players who want their Orcs to see a chiropractor just have to walk into any barber shop in the game to change. The same rings true for players who want to change their Blood Elves’ eyes and face as well, or any character’s skin tone.
3. War Mode has replaced PvP in the world
World PvP has been a problem in World of Warcraft for ages. Not because it’s unfun (although an argument for that exists). Instead, the problem comes from players being dragged onto PvP servers by guilds and friends, being forced to engage in something they hate. Well, War Mode has fixed that problem.
All severs are now PvE by default, meaning you can’t attack anyone you see in the world. However, returning to your capital city will allow you to toggle War Mode on. War Mode will phase you into a world filled with other like-minded individuals who just want to kill Alliance/Horde in the name of the Horde/Alliance. For the risk of playing in War Mode, it’ll net players extra experience while leveling and numerical rewards in the end game.
4. Connecting with friends is much easier
World of Warcraft is finally getting a decent voice chat system. While that may be a little superfluous in this, the modern age of Discord, it’ll be nice for connecting with a Mythic plus group and then never having to talk to them again.
Better than voice chat is the new community feature. A community is kind of like a guild without the need to be on the same server. Instead, players will be able to have a group where they can chat and organize with friends or members of a like-minded community (like Polygon, for example).
Communities are completely separate from your guild and you can be in many at once. They can also be across the Blizzard launcher, not just for World of Warcraft. So if you have a hardcore Destiny raid crew that needs you to fill a slot while you level in World of Warcraft, you can get a quick heads up without ever having to alt+tab.
5. Smaller numbers, same damage
The Battle for Azeroth pre-patch brings with it the game’s second ever statistic squish. For those not in the know, a stat squish is exactly what it sounds like. World of Warcraft’s numbers have gotten ridiculously large, with the end raid boss of Legion’s health being 13 billion on the Mythic difficulty.
All of those numbers are going down in the pre-patch. Players will now have an item level in the 200s at end-gam, and damage numbers that only hit over 1,000 on rare occasions. Boss and NPC health will be going down to compensate, so nothing should really change from a difficulty standpoint.
This isn’t just an attempt to make the game less silly, it should actually help players keep track of numbers a bit easier and stop the ramp up from getting too out of hand.
6. Loot rules have changed
The Master Looter option is now dead and gone in the Battle for Azeroth pre-patch. All loot, regardless of the activity, will now be personal loot. This means that when players kill something, the rewards won’t be divvied out by a council or a single GM. Instead, if something drops for a player, it’ll drop directly into their inventory.
Items can still be traded, of course, but this should help players running with non-guildmates keep things fair. There are positives and negatives for this new system, but it should help a majority of casual players.
For those that involve delving into old raids and dungeons, the legacy loot rules have been altered a bit, making something instantly legacy once the player is 10 levels or more above. This means players will be able to get a full raid’s worth of loot from some of the Legion raids as soon as they hit Battle for Azeroth’s cap of 120.
7. Classes will play like in Battle for Azeroth
The biggest change that the pre-patch brings is also the most complex. All of the classes are now in their Battle for Azeroth forms. Once players log into the pre-patch, most of their talents and even some of their abilities will be completely different. This should give most players a good month to adjust or reevaluate as needed.
The pre-patch is the perfect time to start playing a new class in World of Warcraft. Try out all the classes you think you might want to play and keep playing whatever seems most fun to you. Aside from the Shaman and Priest, the other classes won’t be seeing any major changes for the next two years. Make sure you like what you play before Battle for Azeroth releases next month, or you might waste a bunch of time during the crucial opening hours of the newest expansion.