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, the War of Thorns, 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. 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.[4] 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.[4]
A "stat squish" and "item squish" was implemented to lower the numbers used in the game, e.g. a legendary item previously with a level of 1000 reduced to 265. Unique class-specific buffs are added back, i.e. mages' Arcane Brilliance and priests' Mark of Fortitude. Titanforging—a random event that raises the initial item level of an item gained via drops or rewards—is still in the game; however, if the item is one of those affected by the Heart of Azeroth, then that item cannot be titanforged.
Just before Battle for Azeroth goes live, you will want to log all of your characters out in the zone of Silithus so that you can acquire the quest to talk to Magni and obtain your Heart of Azeroth (refer to our Heart of Azeroth guide for more information about this item). This is the new artifact-type of piece of equipment that you will use for all of the Battle for Azeroth expansion. Once you acquire your permanent neck slot piece of equipment, get back to Stormwind or Orgrimmar to begin your scenario that leads into the introductory areas of Kul Tiras and Zandalar.
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