If you consider yourself a veteran World of Warcraft player, you’ll almost certainly remember that with the launch of the current expansion, Battle for Azeroth, realms on which world player-versus-player combat was always enabled were removed and replaced with a new system called “War Mode.” Throughout this article, I’ll discuss my personal thoughts on War Mode as it currently exists, as well as my experiences with it. For the benefit of those who may be unaware of War Mode’s purpose and features, I’ll also explain the bonuses provided by War Mode in most in-game situations.

As I mentioned earlier, War Mode was introduced as the replacement to always-on PvP realms. It’s different from those realms because it allows players to voluntarily opt into the possibility of player-versus-player combat taking place outside of dedicated areas such as battlegrounds. In order to enable War Mode, players must be in their faction’s capital city (either Stormwind or Orgrimmar) and then click the “War Mode” button present in the talent selection window.

When War Mode was first implemented, players were only able to turn War Mode off in their faction’s capital as well; as of Patch 8.1, however, War Mode can now be deactivated from any in-game rest area, such as an inn. Personally, I think allowing players to deactivate War Mode in any rest area is quite a welcome change. It’s usually not very easy for me to get all the way back to Stormwind when I’ve become annoyed serving as unwilling cannon fodder for enemy players and wish to simply continue questing in peace. It’s somewhat calming to know I can just head back to the nearest inn and disable War Mode if I feel I need to.

So, aside from enabling player-versus-player combat virtually anywhere in the world, what exactly does activating War Mode do? Well, it actually does a couple of potentially beneficial things. Firstly, it grants non-max level players who have War Mode active an extra percentage of gold and experience from quests. War Mode grants max-level players an additional percentage of rewards from world quests (i.e. gold and war resources), instead of a bonus to experience gain.

These bonuses are, of course, likely meant to entice players to opt into War Mode; as far as I’ve seen, that strategy seems to be working quite well for the most part. However, what if a player isn’t interested in those bonuses as a reward for taking a risk and activating War Mode? Well, such players may instead find themselves enticed by the prospect of making their character at least slightly more powerful while questing. This is possible because the second bonus provided by War Mode is the ability to choose up to four extra talents (based on character level).

These talents are specifically referred to as “PvP talents,” but their use is most certainly not limited to dedicated PvP areas. As long as a player has War Mode active, these talents can be used anywhere at any time for virtually any PvE content (barring “indoor” instances such as dungeons). These talents can also be changed while the player is in any rest area, just as regular talents can. As I alluded to, these extra talents can potentially serve as the advantage one might need to succeed in PvP combat, or merely as a means to plow through questing zones more quickly and efficiently.

Then, of course, there are the players who voluntarily activate War Mode not for the bonuses, not necessarily for the extra PvP talents, but because they’re focused on participating in as much PvP combat as possible. I, for one, am most assuredly not one of those players, but I think I see a bit of the appeal in focusing on PvP. One aspect of War Mode that I think serves as an adequate enticement for such players is the new “bounty” system. Basically, the “bounty” system provides increasing bonuses, as well as increasing risk, to players who focus on slaying as many enemy players as they can. To elaborate, suppose you manage to kill ten players of the enemy faction within the same zone without dying. Because of your actions, you’ll be designated as an “assassin” on behalf of your faction.

This designation grants you 15% increased damage and healing effects, which will likely be quite valuable in continuing your mission to dominate the enemy faction. However, if you’re marked as an assassin, you’ll also have your exact location broadcast to all enemy players in your current zone. With this information, the enemy faction can hunt you down or, in my case, attempt to stay out of your way. Players who slay ten marked assassins of the enemy faction will receive an achievement as recognition of their deeds.

I think I’ve discussed the incentives for keeping War Mode active sufficiently enough. Now, I would like to begin discussing my personal thoughts on War Mode as I’ve experienced it recently. Throughout this discussion, I know I may sound like I’m complaining to some degree; instead of just taking the obvious, simple step of turning off War Mode if I dislike the risks associated with having it activated. I concede that I am indeed complaining somewhat, but I feel that at least some of my concerns are justified.

I haven’t mentioned this before on Phenixx Gaming yet, but I currently maintain two World of Warcraft accounts: one which contains all my main max-level characters, and a second which solely contains allied race characters. I’ve been primarily playing on my second account as of late; all those fresh level 20 allied race characters aren’t going to level up themselves, after all. However, the process of leveling up my allied race characters is where I seem to have encountered one of my biggest irritations concerning War Mode.

For those who might be unaware, allied race characters start at level 20 rather than level 1, as I mentioned earlier. These characters usually begin by being greeted with a cinematic wherein their racial leader explains why they’ve joined whichever faction they’ve joined, and are then instructed to take a portal to their new faction’s capital city. Once in their capital, players are instructed to find a “Hero’s Call board” on the Alliance or a “Warchief’s Command board” on the Horde. These boards present players with a choice of three zones to which they’re free to travel and begin questing.

For example, Alliance allied race characters will see the Wetlands, Duskwood, and Stonetalon Mountains as their initial three choices on the Hero’s Call board. With the worldwide level-scaling that was brought into effect back in Legion, however, players can visit any zones appropriate for their level and begin questing there; as such, players aren’t forced to travel to any location displayed on the first Hero’s Call board they encounter.

On my most recent few allied race characters on the Alliance, I’ve gone to none of the locations on the Hero’s Call board. The reason for that is twofold. For one thing, I’ve quested through Duskwood so many times that I’ve nearly become sick of it. Secondly, as of late, those three locations have seemed to be crawling with max-level Horde players who frankly have no business in a low-level Alliance zone as far as I’m concerned. That means any low-level Alliance players in those zones are particularly unsafe if they choose to keep War Mode activated in order to level more quickly.

I neglected to mention earlier that players who keep War Mode activated can earn Conquest points by participating in PvP combat. Regardless, as far as I’m aware, no Conquest points are awarded for killing enemy players or NPC guards who are a significantly lower level than their killer. Unless I happen to be mistaken about that, I honestly cannot fathom why these level 120 Horde players seem quite intent on killing significantly weaker enemy players in a somewhat routine fashion.

Furthermore, if it turns out I’m mistaken and Conquest points are actually awarded for killing players that are a hundred levels weaker than their assailant, that just seems entirely unfair to whichever faction is on the receiving end of this mechanic. In addition to that, I don’t believe I’ve ever been made aware of the presence of max-level Alliance players in Horde territory on any of the realms on which I have Horde allied race characters. Perhaps that’s simply because I don’t play my Horde characters quite as often, but that indicates to me that the Alliance is doing little, if anything, to retaliate.

To conclude, I’d like to leave you with some of my final thoughts on this matter. I’m well aware that the current expansion is called Battle for Azeroth; because of that, players are expected to, well, battle for Azeroth. I don’t think that means, however, that low-level players should always be faced with the choice to either turn off War Mode or “get good.” There is no “getting good” against an enemy who’s a hundred levels higher than you. Low-level players should also be free from the fear of logging in and instantly being killed just because they wanted to use War Mode to level up more quickly. Players of all levels should be able to quest in peace without fear of the other faction maintaining an unfair advantage simply because enemy players appear to have nothing better to do. If one faction insists on tormenting low-level enemies, the other faction should rise to meet the challenge. The battle for control of Azeroth is not meant to be as one-sided as it currently appears to be.

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David Sanders

David Sanders

David Sanders is a content creator, part-time YouTube personality, and all-around complete and total nerd from somewhere in Nevada. He greatly enjoys most MOBA games, several RPGs, and turn-based strategy games (especially Sid Meier's Civilization with a healthy amount of mods). When he's not helping to build or plan computers for friends, he can usually be found gaming on his personal machine or recording footage of a game for a project he has in mind.

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