Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by
suggesting a diversity update.
World of Warcraft: The Battle for Azeroth
Suggest an Update
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 Warcrafton 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.
Let me start off by saying, the pictures used on this page do not capture what really sticks out in one specific zone. This means that one does not see certain things I am about to mention.
While the game is fun and cartoony, it also introduces a sect of troll blood cultists who are adorned with blood, drain people of their blood for sacrifices, harvest the flesh of a nature god, create abominations, cannibalize each other (not shown), are barely dressed (men and women), beat their men while the men are tied up (not explicitly shown), etc. There is so much blood in the zone they are from. It's low graphics, so it's not so bad if you aren't sensitive, but it is there, and I would be a liar if I denied its existence.
There's other instances of poorly clothed women outside of BfA as well, which would be prominent in the Demon Hunter class that takes one to the Legion expansion, wherein I spent half of the intro mission with women who wore fully exposed thongs in my face. While they aren't being overtly sexual, I can tell what the people who created these characters were thinking with.
There's also the social aspect of the game. The chat can be questionable, at times.
People may tell you to not let your child play Alliance on Moon Guard or Argent Dawn rp realms, because there is a joke in the WoW community that one should avoid Goldshire, because there are weirdly sexual players there, and that can be uncomfortable, or even dangerous if your teen is suggestible. Goldshire is near the main city of the alliance and the place where many new players will end up early on in the game.
The fans who played this game long ago are adults now, so they will be interacting with strangers who are adults. Keep that in mind before making your decision.
If your child plays on a free account, they will not surpass level 20, and they will not be able to see the chats from players who are 10 levels higher than them, but they will still be able to see the trade chat, which can at times also be a strange place. However, the chat can be hidden if they want it to be.
The game allow the characters to use flirt emotes, which may make parents and children feel awkward. They are largely meant in good humor, though some are a tiny bit suggestive. Some are more than suggestive. Example being one of the female troll flirts, which I will not post. It's not super bad, but I rather er on the side of caution.
Alcohol is also in the game. My worgen got some as a quest reward, which was odd. I was not having my characters drink alcohol at all, so he hasn't used them. You're never forced to use them, and besides it's in-game. If you have alcohol in the home, your children have seen it, so this being in the game won't do anything to them.
There is murder and death in cinematics, but they are not accompanied by blood. You see someone die on screen in a few. No one gets beheaded or visually bleeds out or anything, so it's fine. Though, there might be some that show someone in actual visible agony before their end. That was the Legion expansion, however.
The Amani battle bear does have severed heads hanging off of it, though... I only noticed that recently. They're not even skull, they have skin and hair. No blood, though. I never see anyone ride around on that mount. That mount is not a BfA mount either, but you're still able to unlock it by doing the Zul'aman dungeon. That's just one mount though, so I wouldn't consider severed shrunken heads the norm at all.
In general, this game focuses, not surprisingly, on war and will deal with themes surrounding it. There are political struggles, people losing loved ones, and most quests will have you fighting rather than partaking in any form of creative problem solving. It frankly can make for a bit of a boring and repetitive experience after a while. Fantasy racism is also a thing, as with most fantasy settings, but it's not handled very well. Characters will consistently talk down on other cultures and not get called out. There's a quest where you need to collect the heads of "lesser tribes" because the enforcer says violence is the only language they understand.
There's also in-game purchases, and they get advertised when you log in. The subscription is a bit much, in that it makes one feel obligated to put a lot of time into the game, so if your child has an addictive personality, best stick to free to play or even just single-player games. The game also comes with a terrible grind to get to later quest content and has too many daily and weekly missions that contribute to one feeling obligated to play it every day. So, for both children and adults who may have an addictive personality or hyperfocus for hours on things like this, it would not be recommended unless you know how to limit game time to the weekends.
I've seen some people say this game has great role models. It does not. They're not all bad, it's just not great. It's certainly not a huge part of the game. The closest one could get on the Horde side is the princess of the Zandalari, who talks a lot about protecting her people and defending those who can't defend themselves. She loves her people and prefers to solve things without violence.
Is there a great message? Absolutely not. Does it have a terrible message? No, not really. It's got no message.
The game starts off a little clunky, depending on your class, but it becomes easy enough to figure out. Later, they add another mechanic which is frustrating. The way trageting works can be very annoying.
There's barely any swearing, as far as I am aware. The violence outside of the blood tribe I mentioned isn't so bad. It's really just that isolated group.
If your child is the kind to share personal information, don't let them do any online games, frankly, until you have taught them not to share private information online.
While I have said all this, I went with 14+ because it's really dependent on the parents and the children, as well as the realm they might be playing on. Some people might be able to handle it at 12, others may need to be 16. However, I am not as apathetic or incensed about the game as some people seem to be.
In conclusion: It depends on you child, how you've raised them, the realm they are playing on, the locations they frequent, etc.
In short: BfA may have some things that are not the most appropriate for young teens. This doesn't mean all young teens can't handle it, as much as some people may think that's what this means.
Note about the violence part Common Sense has listed: The burning of Teldrassil (the tree) is not explicit, as far as I am aware.
The World of Warcraft is the titan of the MMO genre... and they know it.
I am a veteran WoW player, of over a decade of playtime. The recent expansion of BfA has been the worst in the 15 year history of WoW. There is very little content, and players are offered nothing but long boring grinds to achieve what is advertised - new playable allied races. Most content is "time-gated" behind barriers or reputation grinds. Grinds here, mean tons of time invested. As well, a lot of the gear that players obtain are no long purchasable with in-game currency, but are now randomly awarded to players through RNG (basically, in-game gambling on loot). This means that a player has no control over the loot they get, but have to get lucky to get pieces they need. You could get the same piece of gear, three weeks in a row. Whereas, if you could purchase gear, you could have at least saved towards the item you actually needed. For many kids, I do not feel this game is suitable while they are in school. My children will not be allowed to play this game, simply for the huge amounts of time it requires. In fact, anyone that lets a child play this game is being incredibly irresponsible. Yes, the game is easy enough for a child to play, but it is the amount of time that needs to be invested to play - that is the real issue. Even university kids should not play this game seriously, if they want to succeed. Trust me, I know this from personal experience. WoW was a much better game, but it has really fallen flat over the past year. I would definitely not recommend this game, in the current state. There are many other MMOs that are much better.
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?