A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that World of Warcraft: The Battle for Azeroth is an expansion for the blockbuster fantasy MMORPG (massively multiplayer online role-playing game) World of Warcraft on Windows and Mac computers. The basic game is now free, but the expansion has to be paid for, and players must pay a monthly subscription fee to play it. The expansion's theme involves all-out war between the game's two main factions and represents some of the bloodiest and most disturbing imagery of the series. In-game movies and scenarios show things like blood sacrifices, dead bodies, and a tree full of women and children being burned. Most quests reward players for killing animals, monsters, or people. There's a tavern in every town, and player characters can buy alcohol, drinking until their characters are drunk. Dialogue occasionally contains mild language like "damn" or "bastard," and female characters often wear revealing outfits. In-game chat (and voice chat) often contains inappropriate language and commentary, though players can turn it off.
What's it about?
WORLD OF WARCRAFT: THE BATTLE FOR AZEROTH is the narrative follow-up to previous expansion The Burning Legion and involves the aftermath of its catastrophic events. Previously allied against a common enemy, the Alliance and the Horde are once again at odds. Boosting their natural hatred of each other is the appearance of a valuable new magical resource called Azerite, because this strange substance significantly enhances the power of its owner's weapons. While the Alliance is willing to fight for it using conventional means, the newly minuted Horde war chief, Sylvanas Windrunner, goes out of her way to demonstrate that she's willing to take the conflict to new levels of savagery. New player-versus-player rules let both Horde and Alliance explore the storyline in the same areas, and the expansion offers lots of new features, including a higher level cap (120), two new continents to explore, six new playable Allied races to unlock, a new Heart of Azeroth gear system, new three-player Island Expeditions, new PvE battlegrounds called Warfronts, and countless new items.
Is it any good?
Clear your schedule, and get the snacks and comfy chair ready: You're gonna be here a while, even if you're going to go through some dark gameplay. No matter which side you take, there's a lot to do in World of Warcraft: The Battle for Azeroth, and once you get over the shock of the intro cutscene (no spoilers!), you'll find your work's cut out for you. If you're Horde, you start in Zandalar, ancestral home of the trolls; if you're Alliance, you start in the seafaring kingdom of Kul Tiras. Both are amazing places, full of mystifying voodoo magic and rollicking piratey fun (respectively) and both are a blast to explore. You're given a magical stone called The Heart of Azeroth and are told to power it up by completing missions. Why do you want to do this? Because the stronger it is, the better your new Azerite-powered gear becomes, and the more skills it grants you. Though not tremendously different from previous gear systems (socketing, artifacts, etc.), the Azerite system plays well into the expansion's overall narrative, and its skill-choosing interface makes unlocking new skills fun and satisfying.
Even more fun and satisfying are the story-rich quests. There's some real cleverness at work in the longer quests and in the weird random adventures you encounter just by exploring. Beyond that, the visuals of places like the seafaring city of Tiragarde Sound and the spooky ruins of Zuldar are awesome. Add to that some really beautiful musical themes and you've got an experience you'll want to wring every minute from. (Power levelers beware; speeding through every area means you're missing a lot of good stuff.) For players tough enough to brave new dungeons, the spooky halls of Waycrest Manor and the plague-ridden expanses of the Underrot (among others) offer spectacular scenery and cool new rewards. And though critics could argue World of Warcraft: The Battle for Azeroth's simple cartoony graphics and repetitive old-school "collect and kill" missions reveal the game's age, role-playing game lovers will find it holds its own with any other massively multiplayer online game, and proves Blizzard still has plenty of entertaining tricks up its sleeve.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about violence in video games. Is the impact of the violence in World of Warcraft: The Battle for Azeroth affected by the unrealistic creatures and settings of the game, or is it intensified by the fantasy scenes of violence and death?
Have you seen news stories about civilians being hurt through military action? Why are civilians frequently in the line of fire, even though they're not fighting in the middle of battles?
- Platforms: Mac, Windows
- Price: $49.99
- Pricing structure: Paid (Deluxe edition with exclusive digital items available for $69.99.)
- Available online? Available online
- Developer: Blizzard Entertainment
- Release date: August 13, 2018
- Genre: Massively Multiplayer Online Game (MMOG)
- Topics: Magic and Fantasy, Adventures, Monsters, Ghosts, and Vampires
- ESRB rating: T for Blood and Gore, Crude Humor, Mild Language, Suggestive Themes, Use of Alcohol, Violence
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.