WoWNov 4, 2017 1:48 pm CT

BlizzCon 2017: What is the Heart of Azeroth?

One of the big new systems coming in with Battle for Azeroth is the Heart of Azeroth. It combines elements of the legendary and Artifact systems we’ve seen in Legion, allowing for players to customize their characters by infusing the Artifact necklace with power. But what power, and how will we be customizing ourselves? And what is the Heart of Azeroth? Where do we get it, and what are we meant to be doing with it?

Azerite

In Battle for Azeroth, our planet is wounded, and leeching a substance called Azerite all over the world’s surface. Azerite is essentially raw magic — the lifeblood of a Titan. It’s incredibly powerful, which is why the Alliance and Horde are fighting over it. But Speaker for Azeroth Magni Bronzebeard isn’t interested in these squabbles. He wants to heal the planet and he has a way for you to help him.

The Heart of Azeroth is this method — it’s a gift from Azeroth herself. The Artifact necklace will automatically drink up the Azerite you gather — no clicking on objects required. Over time it grows in power, returning that essential life back to the wounded world. As it does so, it also unlocks powerful abilities that can be used to customize various armor pieces you’re wearing. Edited to Add: The slots upgradable are the helm, shoulders and chest.

The Heart of Azeroth provides

The way the Heart works is similar to the basic idea of the Netherlight Crucible. But instead of applying those buffs to your Artifact Relics, the Heart applies them to armor you’re wearing. Each armor piece will have predetermined traits that can be unlocked with the Heart as you collect more Azerite. Those traits will be shared across Normal, Heroic and Mythic versions of those armor pieces. If you have a Normal hat from Battle for Azeroth’s first raid, the Heroic and Mythic version you get will have the same traits.

Traits are arranged in rings, with the easiest ring of traits to activate and choose from being the first tier, and so on. In the example above, there are four traits to choose from once you’ve unlocked the first ring, four traits on the second ring, and progressively so until you’ve unlocked all the rings on an item.

Every piece of armor you get that can be upgraded will have unlockable traits. They can all be buffed via the Heart. It’s sort of like the Artifact trait system, but smaller and more diversified. Traits start off weaker and get more powerful as you unlock their rings. They involve choices that might not be about power per se — a choice between being able to move faster and take less damage was given as an example in yesterday’s Systems panel. The goal is to allow players to customize their characters to suit their playstyle.

The future soon

It seems like a good balance between the way Artifacts and legendaries came to utterly dominate character choice in Legion and still wanting new systems that allow players to make meaningful decisions about who and what they are and what they can do. An alternate progression path past the leveling system similar to the old Path of the Titans system proposed way back in Cataclysm, ultimately. It’ll be interesting to see how it shakes out once we know more about it.

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