The new Warfront activity is one of World of Warcraft: Battle for Azeroth’s most anticipated features. Not only does it highlight the theme by forcing Horde against Alliance in a large scale battle, but it also hearkens back to the good old days of Warcraft, the RTS series. In the beta, Warfronts are exciting and fun, but I have some concerns about if they can stay that way for more than a few play sessions.
Battle for Azeroth will launch with only one Warfront, the battle for the Arathi Highlands in the Eastern Kingdoms. Once players are max level in the expansion, they’ll be able to contribute items, gold, and resources to their faction’s war effort. Once one faction reaches 100 percent, they’ll gain access to the Warfront, which they can then queue up for.
While the Warfronts are strictly PvE, players will be going up against the opposing faction’s NPCs. After a week or so, the faction who launched the Warfront will automatically “win,” claiming the Arathi Highlands for themselves. The other faction will then work toward a war effort to take the Arathi Highlands back, gaining access to the Warfront. The faction that currently controls the Highlands will gain access to exclusive world quests in the area.
The mode is intended to feel like a Warcraft 3 match, just with a different perspective and no external unit control. Players will scatter around the map and begin chopping down trees to gather wood or collecting iron from the mines. They can then contribute these resources to building bases, upgrading their waves of troops, hiring mercenaries to travel around with them, or launching a siege upon vehicles to knock down the enemy gates.
The player’s side will push into each area, taking it away from the opposing faction and gaining access to a new tool or unit. Once the siege vehicles are built, the mode will move into the end game. Players will need to defend their siege units until they open the castle gate. Once players have made their way into the castle, they’ll have to fight a boss from the opposing faction. After defeating the boss, players will leave the Warfront and gain some high-level gear.
Warfronts start off as fun and engaging, and will be pretty rewarding for the first few weeks after Battle for Azeroth launches. However, having done the same Warfront twice during the expansion’s beta, I’m not sure how interesting it’ll be after my third, fourth or even fifth time through. The idea and even the execution are fun, but it seems like Warfronts could end up being a chore for gear and reputation less than a month into the expansion.
The question surrounding Warfronts is how often they’ll change. Does Blizzard have ways of mixing the current ones up? Or will players have to wait for new Warfronts before they get something new? How often will new Warfronts be added? Like so many things with World of Warcraft, it’s hard to tell where the feature will be a year or even three months from now.
In its launch state, Warfronts are fun enough, but they don’t seem exciting or repeatable in the way that other World of Warcraft activities are. Hopefully, we’ll see them evolve over time, like all of World of Warcraft’s great systems. For release day, go in confident that you’ll enjoy the first time. But don’t expect to enjoy your second go-around with the same wide-eyed fervor.
Update (Aug. 13): Blizzard has noted in a forum post that Warfronts will not be going live day one of Battle for Azeroth. Instead, players will need to wait to experience the Battle for the Arathi Highlands. While no date is given in the post, it seems likely that Warfronts will launch around Sept. 4, the same day the Uldir raid and the Mythic Plus system will be released.
Blizzard also clarified how the first Warfront will go down. The Horde will be the first faction able to contribute to the war effort, and therefor the first faction to actually attempt the Warfront. However, the Alliance will have access to World Quests in the area before the Horde launches their attack.