There is a certain phrase, a “mantra”, if you will, which I habitually repeat to myself whenever new content is previewed or revealed in an upcoming World of Warcraft patch. This mantra is simple, yet the act of frequently repeating it reminds me to maintain a certain mindset which tempers any over-excitement or disappointment the new content may instill within me. My mantra contains only two words: “cautious optimism.” Repeating that phrase to myself allows me to think more rationally than emotionally while I evaluate any upcoming content and collect my thoughts regarding it.

I’ve found myself using this strategy more often than normal recently due to the high amount of upcoming content in WoW’s next significant patch, Rise of Azshara. Over the course of this article, I’ll do my best to present you with information about most things included in this patch, as well as my thoughts about each piece of this content within a cautiously optimistic mindset. For the sake of organizing this article somehow, I’ll start by discussing the potentially “smaller” aspects of the patch, and work my way up to all the “bigger” stuff. The only potentially major thing I won’t discuss are changes (nerfs and/or buffs) to any classes or specs; there are several other reputable, in-depth resources for that sort of thing. With all of that out of the way, let’s begin.

Firstly, I thought I would start on an entirely cosmetic note. To that end, two more core playable races will receive their heritage armor in Patch 8.2: Gnomes and Tauren. I’ve personally harbored a somewhat vehement disliking of Gnomes (more specifically, Gnome rogues in most PvP encounters) for a few years now. Despite the annoyance I’ve experienced by being repeatedly slain by higher-level Gnomes who seemed to have nothing better to do, and my general disinterest in playing as them outside of that, I must confess that I actually like their heritage armor to a certain extent.

To me, the look of this armor set as a whole seems to convey the Gnomes’ well-known penchants for tinkering and accidentally blowing things up as a result of said tinkering. I say that because the armor in the set looks sturdy enough to withstand several accidental explosions. I’m personally not initially a fan of the orange/purple color scheme of this set, but that may change over time if I ever bother getting a Gnome to max level in order to unlock it. Despite what I said a moment ago, that sentiment isn’t even entirely a shot fired at Gnomes; I quite like the Dwarf heritage armor, but I haven’t had the time or the motivation to level up a Dwarf enough to unlock that set yet, either.

Of the two racial sets of heritage armor coming in Patch 8.2, though, I must say I’m significantly more intrigued by and drawn to the Tauren set. Admittedly, this set’s inclusion of a totem in place of a cloak seems like something of an odd choice to me, but the totem does add a fair amount to what I like about the set in a purely cosmetic sense. Of course, not every Tauren character in the game is a Shaman, but I think this set seems perfect for that class specifically. I say that because the set as a whole seems to reflect the values most Tauren hold dear, such as the ideas of honoring their ancestors and communing with the Earthmother.

Moving on to the subject of Island Expeditions, two new islands will be added to the list of reachable expeditions in Patch 8.2. These islands are known as Crestfall and Snowblossom. The latter of these is apparently within the jurisdiction of Pandaria, or at least seems to convey as much based on the appearance of structures and the presence of certain enemies on this particular island. Although I haven’t participated in any Island Expeditions since the occasion wherein completing Expeditions repeatedly helped me get my first Horde character from level 119 to 120 a few months ago, I’m always glad to see more islands being added to the list. I’ve found that reaching the same islands repeatedly can get monotonous quickly despite any rewards they may offer.

The next relatively “small” concept coming in Patch 8.2 is that of “mount equipment.” It seems that some players are understandably unhappy about essentially being forced to use any Water Strider mounts they have, (rather than the mounts they prefer to use) in order to traverse large bodies of water more quickly. After all, most classes don’t have access to abilities which serve the same purpose as Path of Frost, Water Walking, and Levitate. The classes that do have access to these abilities are able to use any ground mounts they desire for the same purpose as the Water Strider. Because of this, Water Strider mounts will lose their famous water-walking ability in Patch 8.2, and a certain type of mount equipment will serve as their replacement.

To unlock the mount equipment system, at least one character per account must be at least level 100. Assuming you’ve met that requirement, the mount equipment system will be available to all characters on an account who are level 20 and over; which seems to imply that there won’t be any equipment usable on chauffeur mounts, sadly. There are a small handful of examples of usable mount equipment at this point, but something tells me the piece of equipment that will prove to be the most sought-after is a set of “inflatable mount shoes.” This equipment provides a water-walking effect which operates exactly like the aforementioned class abilities, which also means the effect will be lost if you take any damage while using this mount equipment.

Heroic Warfronts are also slated to be implemented in Patch 8.2. The first of such Warfronts will be the Battle for Stromgarde. Considering their “Heroic” designation, these Warfronts are likely to be considerably more difficult and to require more strategic cooperation between players, in exchange for higher-quality rewards than one could receive from a normal Warfront. It seems that players will actually be able to lose Heroic Warfronts if they aren’t careful, which is an idea I personally consider to be both quite intriguing and somewhat unsettling.

As I said a moment ago, I know these Warfronts are designated as “Heroic,” which means by definition that they’ll be more difficult, but no one I’ve met likes the feeling of losing to AI opponents. Regardless, I look forward to trying out these new Warfronts for myself at some point. I do enjoy participating in Warfronts, though that’s admittedly partially because of the quest which rewards you with fifteen of your faction’s Service Medals. I’ve only ever used these Service Medals to acquire several bottles of the Draught of Ten Lands to send to my alts, and that’s exactly what I intend to continue using them to acquire.

We are now beginning to delve into the “bigger” aspects of Patch 8.2. The first of these aspects is the continuation of the story of the Champions of Azeroth. Magni Bronzebeard is still working constantly and indefatigably to figure out how to heal the numerous wounds plaguing Azeroth; of course, he will likely continue to rely on us as his champions to aid him in the process. However, in order to help Magni as best we can, we’ll likely need further upgrades to our Heart of Azeroth. Fortunately for us, the entire system concerning the Heart of Azeroth will feature several new aspects in Patch 8.2.

The main aspect of the changes to the Heart of Azeroth system is the introduction of “essence” items. These essences operate somewhat similarly to the way Artifact Weapon traits did during Legion. These essence items can be acquired via several methods, such as world quests and PvP encounters. Once you acquire one of these essences, you can slot it into your Heart of Azeroth in order to benefit from certain bonuses these items provide. As you gather more Artifact Power to empower your Heart of Azeroth, you’ll unlock more slots in which essences can be placed.

There are four ranks of each essence item; the first three provide a unique bonus, which is empowered based on the rank of the item. The final rank, which is meant to be the most difficult to acquire, adds a “significant cosmetic effect” to the unique ability provided by each essence item. To me, the concept of a “significant cosmetic effect” seems completely unnecessary. While I like the concept of benefiting more from each essence item based on its rank, I don’t need flashy cosmetic additions which seem, to me, to be little more than something to brag about. I consider these cosmetic additions to be akin to using the Flag of Ownership toy on an opponent you kill in a PvP situation; it serves little real purpose other than to add insult to injury, so to speak.

I readily admit that I enjoyed the artifact appearance system in Legion, but I think that’s at least somewhat different from the topic at hand. Sure, I was quite excited indeed when I unlocked and began to use a hidden appearance for my main character’s Ashbringer back in Legion, but I never considered the fact that I unlocked that appearance to be worth bragging about. I feel the same about the cosmetic effects which can be applied to abilities granted to players by their Heart of Azeroth. I’m very much a “function over form” type of player, as you might have gathered by now.

Next, I shall discuss the two new zones to which players will be able to travel once Patch 8.2 hits live servers: Nazjatar and Mechagon. The former of these two, from what I’ve been able to learn, is essentially the “seat of power” of the Naga, for lack of a better phrase. Within this zone, players will be able to explore the Naga homeland with new quests to complete and new factions with whom you can interact. These new factions have their own allegiances; the Alliance will gain reputation with one, and the Horde with another.

In my mind, this serves as more of an incentive to experience the new content with both factions. Nazjatar also contains a new raid called Azshara’s Eternal Palace, in which players are apparently tasked with confronting Queen Azshara herself. I don’t raid very often, if at all, so I have little input to contribute about this new raid. I can say, however, that I’m quite intrigued to see what might happen as a result of completing this raid and its potential aftermath.

Mechagon, on the other hand, is the home of the Mechagnomes, ruled by the much-despised King Mechagon. This zone contains what is referred to as a “mega-dungeon” known as “Operation: Mechagon.” Operation: Mechagon contains a total of eight bosses to defeat including the despotic King Mechagon himself. According to my research, this “mega-dungeon” will only be available on Mythic difficulty at launch, as the Siege of Boralus dungeon was earlier in the expansion. For players who dislike Mythic dungeons, such as myself, there will likely be a fair amount of waiting involved; this particular dungeon apparently won’t be available on Heroic difficulty until a later patch.

Finally, the ability to unlock the use of flying mounts in Kul Tiras and Zandalar will be added in Patch 8.2 as the second part of the “Battle for Azeroth Pathfinder” achievement. I cannot stress enough how much I’m looking forward to finally being able to fly in Battle for Azeroth content. Simultaneously, though, I feel that this may well prove to be another case of my personal disinterest in jumping through the necessary hoops preventing me from unlocking flying for quite some time.

Honestly, although I’ve been burned out on Battle for Azeroth content and even World of Warcraft as a whole a fair few times since Battle for Azeroth launched, I’m starting to feel that time has flown by because players will soon be able to fly in the newest expansion’s content. I remember how much of a grind the “Draenor Pathfinder” achievement was to unlock. I also had to enlist a significant amount of help from a close friend in unlocking flying within Legion content. Regardless, I’m sure I’ll end up unlocking the ability to fly eventually; after all, unlocking flying in Warlords of Draenor and Legion content made me enjoy those expansions significantly more.

There you have it, folks! Because I consider myself something of an “Azeroth correspondent” for Phenixx Gaming, I felt it was only my civic duty to provide you with some degree of information, as well as my own two cents, about the content slated to arrive with the Rise of Azshara patch. I’m certainly looking forward to most aspects of this patch, and I hope it lives up to your own expectations as well.

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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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