World of Warcraft (WoW 8.0.1): Battle For Azeroth (BFA)
World of Warcraft: Battle for Azeroth is the seventh expansion pack for the massively multiplayer online role-playing game (MMORPG) World of Warcraft, following Legion. It was announced at BlizzCon on November 3, 2017. In contrast to previous expansions, which went live at midnight in each time zone, Battle for Azeroth had a simultaneous release for all regions, corresponding to midnight Central European Summer Time on August 14, 2018.
In addition to raising the level cap from 110 to 120, the expansion introduces the Kul Tiras and Zandalar continents and four allied races for both the Alliance and the Horde, while also adding dungeons and raids, warfronts, and uncharted islands.
War of the Thorns
At the end of Legion, the titan Sargeras was imprisoned, but not before he plunged his sword into the planet Azeroth. This not only devastated a massive area (much of the desert zone of Silithus is now cracked and scorched), but badly wounded the gestating titan inside. While the heroes managed to ablate the worst of the damage (at the cost of the majority of their artifact weapons' mythic power), the world is still wounded and bleeding a substance called "Azerite," which has great magical potential. The Horde Warchief, Sylvanas Windrunner, attempts to consolidate Horde power on Kalimdor and gain a monopoly on Azerite (which is primarily found at the southern end of the continent). Her campaign to do so formed a pre-launch event for the expansion and ends with the major Night Elf holdings on the continent seized or (in the case of their capital city of Darnassus) annihilated.
Battle for Lordaeron
The Alliance makes a retaliatory strike against her home base, the Undercity, which was formerly the human capital of Lordaeron. This succeeds in driving the Horde out, but before leaving Sylvanas saturates the area with disease and toxins that render it uninhabitable. With this tit-for-tat military exchange, the Horde has almost complete control over Kalimdor, while the Alliance has near-total dominion over the Eastern Kingdoms. With further conflict inevitable, Battle for Azeroth takes the two factions to the continents of Kul Tiras and Zandalar to recruit new allies in order to turn the tides of war.
Return of the Lord Admiral
In Kul Tiras, the Alliance's initial attempt to gain the nation's assistance ends disastrously when Katherine Proudmoore, Lord Admiral of Kul Tiras and mother to Archmage Jaina Proudmoore, not only refuses the Alliance's request for aid but also orders Jaina arrested and exiled for her role in the death of her father, Daelin Proudmoore, in the aftermath of the Third War. It quickly becomes apparent that Kul Tiras has become mired in corruption and outside threats, so Anduin and Genn Greymane send Alliance Champions to aid the Kul Tirans and earn their trust. Aiding them in this quest are Flynn Fairwind, a "retired" privateer, and Taelia Fordragon, the idealistic daughter of Bolvar Fordragon, former High Lord of Stormwind and current Lich King of the Undead Scourge. The Alliance is successfully able to earn the trust of Kul Tiras by combating the pirates of the traitorous Ashvane Trading Company in Tiragarde Sound, the Naga and corrupted agents of Queen Azshara in Stormsong Valley, and the occult forces of the ancient, ghostly warlord Gorak Tul in Drustvar. After these threats are defeated, Katherine is left despondent at her inability to lead her people, and resolves to help the Alliance find Jaina and reconcile with her.
The Alliance eventually track Jaina to the prison island of Fate's End, where Gorak Tul, having survived the events of Drustvar, has kidnapped her and is tormenting her with visions of her past failures. The Alliance champions and Katherine destroy Gorak Tul once and for all and rescue Jaina, who is finally able to let go of the hate, anger and obsession with the past that defined her ever since the destruction of Theramore. The Alliance and Proudmoores then unite to defend the capital city of Boralus from a massive pirate siege, after which Jaina is named Lord Admiral and pledges Kul Tiras' navy to the Alliance.
Battle of Dazar'alor
Meanwhile, in Zandalar, the Horde seeks to earn the trust of King Rastakhan so they can use his legendary Golden Fleet against the Alliance. To this end, they assist Rastakhan and his court in dealing with local threats in Zuldazar, fight maniacal Blood Trolls in Nazmir, and face off with serpentine Old God cultists in Vol'dun. Throughout their journey, the Horde gradually learns about an eldritch being known as G'huun, an artificial Old God accidentally created by the Titans and the patron deity of the Blood Trolls. The Blood Trolls and the Faithless Sethekk seek to free G'huun from his prison of Uldir so they can use him to rule Azeroth, and to this end they resurrect G'huun's champion, the C'thrax Mythrax, to destroy Uldir's seal. Rastakhan's own chief adviser, the prophet Zul, is revealed to be the Blood Trolls' secret leader and launches an armed revolt against Rastakhan. With the Horde champions' help, Rastakhan is able to defeat Zul and his forces, but not before Mythrax destroys Uldir's seal. With the seal broken, G'huun's full power begins to manifest. Champions of both the Horde and the Alliance venture deep within Uldir and face G'huun's champions, including Mythrax and a resurrected Zul, before finally slaying the Blood God himself.
With G'huun's threat eliminated, the Horde and Alliance return their focus to the war. While the Horde procures the Scepter of the Tides, a legendary artifact capable of controlling the seas, the Alliance dismantles a potential alliance between Sylvanas and the vampiric San'lyan Elves. The Alliance begins to gear up for a preemptive strike against Zandalar, with the goal of crippling the Golden Fleet before it can be used against the Alliance and driving a wedge between the Zandalari and the Horde. Eventually, the Alliance finishes its preparations and launches an attack on the Zandalari capital of Dazar'alor, their goal being to sever the budding alliance between the Zandalari and the Horde by dismantling the Golden Fleet and capturing King Rastakhan. Despite Anduin and Jaina's desire to capture him alive, Rastakhan is overwhelmed by the power of his pact with the loa Bwonsamdi, and the Alliance champions are forced to slay him. Enraged by Rastakhan's death, Horde champions launch a vicious counterattack on the withdrawing Alliance forces, which ends with both Jaina and High Tinkerer Mekkatorque gravely wounded.
Battle for Darkshore
Meanwhile, Tyrande Whisperwind and Malfurion Stormrage grow impatient regarding liberating Darkshore from the Horde's control, ultimately choosing to begin the offensive on their own, against Anduin's advice. In order to maximize their chances, Tyrande undergoes a ritual to turn herself into the Night Warrior, the avatar of Elune's most wrathful and warlike aspects. To counter this, Sylvanas orders several Night Elven heroes who fell in the Burning of Teldrassil to be raised as Dark Rangers to bolster her forces.
As the battle for Darkshore begins, both the Alliance and Horde are blindsided by a new development: High Overlord Varok Saurfang, who had been defeated and captured in the Battle of Lordearon, has suddenly escaped Alliance captivity and is on the run. Sylvanas sends Horde Champions to track Saurfang down, ostensibly to extract him. However, it quickly becomes apparent that the search party is in fact an assassination squad, as Sylvanas suspects Saurfang of colluding with the Alliance in an attempt to dethrone her. While some Horde champions choose to side with Saurfang and help him escape the assassins, other champions remain loyal to Sylvanas and report Saurfang's and the dissenting champions' treachery to her.
Dissension within the Horde
As the Alliance leadership debates their next move, Sylvanas, infuriated by the Horde's defeat, resurrects Jaina's long dead brother Derek Proudmoore as a Forsaken, an act that horrifies the surviving Horde leaders, with the intent to use him as a sleeper agent to destroy the Proudmoore family from within. Unable to tolerate Sylvanas' dishonorable tactics, Baine Bloodhoof turns against her and, with the help of Forsaken priest Arthur Zelling, smuggles Derek out of Horde territory with the intent of returning him to Jaina. While Derek is successfully returned to the Alliance, Baine's "treachery" is discovered by Sylvanas and her loyalists, resulting in Zelling being executed and Baine imprisoned. After escaping from Stormwind prison with Anduin's help, Saurfang travels to Nagrand in Outland to seek out the aid of Thrall, who went into hiding during the last invasion of the Burning Legion. After initially refusing to aid the Horde and remain in hiding with his family, Thrall is eventually convinced to fight after he and Saurfang are attacked by two Forsaken assassins sent by Sylvanas.
Sometime later, Lor'themar Theron, Regent Lord of the Blood Elves, learns that Baine will soon be put to death for his actions against Sylvanas. Unwilling to allow this, Lor'themar enlists Horde champions to find Baine and save him from execution. As the loyalist Horde champions rush to report Lor'themar's "treason" to Nathanos Blightcaller, the rebel Horde champions meet up with Saurfang and Thrall to rescue Baine, who is being held in Garrosh Hellscream's former Underhold. As they arrive, they receive unexpected backup from Jaina, Spymaster Mathias Shaw, and Alliance champions, who also seek to rescue Baine as Anduin believes his survival to be critical to eventual peace between the Horde and the Alliance. The combined forces fight their way through Sylvanas' forces and successfully extract Baine to Thunder Bluff. In the aftermath, as Thrall bitterly notes how every attempted reconciliation between the Alliance and the Horde ultimately ended in complete failure, Jaina assures him that this time, there is hope for true change after how much they have all changed.
Rise of Azshara
Meanwhile, the Shrine of Storms in Stormsong Valley, which had laid dormant after Alliance champions had routed Queen Azshara's forces there, suddenly begins brimming with new activity. Xal'atath, an Old God-touched dagger that had played a role in the war against the Burning Legion, is found by the champions of Alliance and Horde. Xal'atath compels them to deliver powerful relics to N'Zoth, the last Old God and patron of Queen Azshara, who challenges the champions to test their mettle against his champions in the deepest parts of the Shrine. The champions reluctantly accept N'Zoth's challenge and reclaim the relics to defeat his champions. In the aftermath of the battle, to the champions' shock, the spirit that had once inhabited Xal'atath is gone, having been freed by N'Zoth. Horde Champions decide to bring the now inert dagger to Sylvanas, much to the Alliance's concern.
Later, Sylvanas sends Nathanos Blightcaller, Lor'themar Theron, and Thalyssra out to sea with the remnants of the Horde fleet for unknown purposes. Hearing of this, the Alliance sends its own fleet led by Jaina and Genn Greymane to pursue them. However, in the middle of the pursuit, Queen Azshara uses the Tidestone to reveal the underwater Naga capital Nazjatar, trapping both the Horde and Alliance fleets and forcing them to work together to survive against the Naga onslaught. Working with Alliance and Horde Champions, they are able to retake the Tidestone and use it to open the way to Azshara's palace.
Under the leadership of Lor'themar and Jaina, Horde and Alliance champions breach Azshara's palace, fighting their way through her strongest servants before finally confronting the Naga Queen herself, who suddenly steals the Heart of Azeroth, an artifact Horde and Alliance champions have been using in an attempt to heal Azeroth after Sargeras had plunged his sword into the planet, and uses its accumulated power to break N'Zoth's seal. After a titanic battle, Azshara is defeated, but before the champions can finish her off, N'Zoth breaks free of his prison and pulls Azshara into the Void, ominously declaring that "all eyes shall be opened". Realizing that the war between the Alliance and the Horde has all along been a distraction from N'Zoth's master plan, Jaina and Lor'themar resolve to overthrow Sylvanas, then unite their forces for a final stand against the Old God.
Heroes of Azeroth
With their numbers dwindling, the remaining Horde and Alliance leaders decide to regroup in Dustwallow Marsh. Anduin, Saurfang, Jaina, Thrall, the Horde champion Rexxar, Lor'themar, Mayla Highmountain, and Zekhan rally their remaining soldiers for one final stand against Sylvanas. Though Saurfang is hesitant, the Alliance king assures him that their fight isn't just to protect themselves, but also to protect Azeroth. The combined forces march upon the gates of Orgrimmar, the Horde capital. When they arrive, they are met with dozens of Forsaken guards ready to defend their queen. Saurfang calls out Sylvanas in a challenge of Mak'gora, a fight to the death for the leadership of the Horde. With Thrall's blessing and Anduin's legendary blade Shalamayne, Saurfang fights one on one against Sylvanas but is hopelessly outmatched. As she prepares to finish him, Sylvanas mocks the old soldier, claiming that all hope dies with him. Saurfang retorts that while she destroyed many things, she never destroyed hope. He manages to land a single blow before an enraged Sylvanas kills him with a blast of unknown dark magic. Before she escapes alone, she declares that she never truly cared for the Horde and saw them all as pawns to her own personal gains, losing the trust of her soldiers.
While a memorial is held in Saurfang's honor, Sylvanas regroups with her remaining loyalist champions at Windrunner Spire and prepares for her bargains with Azshara, N'Zoth, and Death to bear fruit.
Visions of N'Zoth
As the Alliance and the Horde both prepare for N'Zoth's invasion, they agree to an armistice, officially bringing their war to an end. Tyrande, however, refuses to be satisfied until Sylvanas is dead, which worries Anduin and Shandris Feathermoon. Meanwhile, the Horde leaders agree to retire the title of Warchief in favor of a council filled with representatives of each Horde race. For his role in starting the war and for his continued black market dealings in Azerite, Jastor Gallywix is ousted as Trade Prince of the Bilgewater Cartel Goblins and replaced with Gazlowe of Ratchet.
Sometime later, Wrathion, son of Deathwing, arrives in Stormwind, offering to help against N'Zoth as an advisor. Despite his fury over how Wrathion began the chain of events that led to the Burning Legion's Third Invasion and subsequently Varian's death, Anduin agrees to accept his aid. Wrathion explains that N'zoth, after being freed during the battle against Azshara, has taken refuge in his otherworldly city Ny'alotha, and now seeks to forcibly merge it and Azeroth in order to recreate the Black Empire. To stop him, Wrathion proposes to create a magical cloak for champions of the Horde and Alliance that will allow them to enter Ny'alotha and defeat N'Zoth without the risk of corruption. As the champions of the Alliance and Horde work to both complete the cloak and prepare for the final battle, N'Zoth's forces begin launching raids across Azeroth, seeking to bring all that they can under their master's thrall.
Eventually, the Alliance and Horde champions lay siege of Ny'alotha, defeating N'Zoth's mightiest servants before confronting the Old God himself. Despite a titanic battle, N'Zoth's corruption proves too powerful and is on the verge of taking full control over the Champions. However, at the last moment, Azeroth's Titan Soul herself intervenes and grants the champions a surge of power, allowing them to overcome N'Zoth's corruption and destroy him and Ny'alotha once and for all.
As Azeroth returns to a period of relative peace, in Icecrown, Bolvar realizes that the final battle against Sylvanas is close at hand, and so begins raising a new generation of Death Knights to serve as his vanguard against the Banshee Queen.
Enter the Shadowlands
With her pieces in place, Sylvanas travels to Northrend and confronts the Lich King, Bolvar Fordragon, atop Icecrown Citadel. She easily disposes of the Scourge forces and takes charge against the Lich King. With her newfound dark magic, she binds him in chains and takes off the crown, claiming Fordragon to be unfit to wear it. Bolvar warns her that putting on the crown will imprison her forever, but she retorts that simply existing in this world is her prison. Instead of placing the crown on her head, she pulls it apart and snaps it in two, causing the sky to shatter above the Citadel, revealing a portal to the Shadowlands, the land of the dead.