World of Warcraft’s newest expansion, Battle for Azeroth, is launching worldwide on 14 August. That’s less than a month away. Are you excited? I am. A lot of people flock to World of Warcraft at the beginning of every expansion, and I’m sure BFA will be no different – but I think, if you’re intending to play Battle for Azeroth, you shouldn’t wait. You pick up the game now. Yes, right now, right this minute. Here’s why.

1. All you need is a subscription

I’ve been playing WoW long enough to remember having to buy every part of the game I wanted to play – the base game for levels 1-60, the Burning Crusade expansion for Outlands and levels 61-70, and so on and so forth. At some point, Blizzard came up with the Battle Chest – which would always include the base game and all expansions up to the most recent one. Blizzard’s just done away with that. Now, all you need to play up to the end of Legion content is a subscription. You’ll still need to buy Battle for Azeroth if you want to level past 110, but even without it, that’s a lot of content, making now the perfect time to try out WoW if you never have before.

2. That head start

Patch 8.0 has brought with it all of Battle for Azeroth’s changes to classes, and while, for the most part, they’ve focussed on tweaks rather than complete overhauls, the changes are still significant enough to mean it might take a few days to get used to your new rotation, and to the way tanking and healing, in particular, have changed overall. When Battle for Azeroth launches, you’ll want to explore those sweet, new zones (believe me, I know, I’ve seen them). The last thing you’re going to want is constantly feeling the need to pop back to major cities so that you can change your talents, find yourself sitting at a training dummy all day, or worry about being kicked from dungeon groups because you’re too confused to heal properly.

3. The War of Thorns

Remember that little matter that is the fact that Teldrassil’s going to be burned to the ground and we still don’t know who did it? Well, the quests leading up to the Burning of Teldrassil are all part of the pre-patch event that begins on 25 July (24 for US players), which means they will no longer be available once BFA starts. And, while I might usually tell you it’s not really that big a deal – you can always watch the quests (and the cinematic we’re all still waiting for) on YouTube, if you miss this pre-patch event, it also means you miss your chance to get this:

Remember this? The mount that has candles, actual lit candles on it? Of course you do.

The War-Torn Reins of the Undercity Plaguebat is the reward for completing the Horde side of the War of Thorns campaign, a campaign that’s only starting next week, which means you’ll have an extremely narrow window in which to get this magnificent thing. Completing the Alliance side of the campaign rewards the Smouldering Reins of the Teldrassil Hippogryph – a nice enough mount, for a hippogryph, but it can’t hold a candle to the Plaguebat. A candle. Well, my mom thinks I’m funny.

4. Communities and guilds

Okay, at the time of writing, communities still haven’t been fixed, but they’re coming pretty soon. Communities are a new, realm-wide system that’s a sort of in-game version of Discord and should make finding like-minded WoW players to chat with and play with a lot easier. They’re a really cool idea and probably worth checking out. You know. Once they’re working.

If you’re hoping to do any content in BFA that requires being in a decent guild, such as raiding, and you’re not in a guild already, now is the time to try find one. A lot of really great guilds are recruiting in preparation for BFA at the moment. Once BFA launches, they’ll probably be too busy playing the game to focus that much on recruiting, just as you’ll be too busy playing the game to want to focus too much on finding the right guild for you.

5. Allied races

If you had plans to play an Allied race, such as a Nightborne or a Void Elf in Battle for Azeroth, but you didn’t have the reputation requirements and were hoping they’d be removed with the launch of the expansion, you might want to rethink your plan. The official Twitter account for Warcraft devs has confirmed that there are no plans to change Allied race unlock requirements. Which means, if you still don’t that rep, you’ve got a lot of grinding to do – so the sooner you get on that, the better.

6. Legendaries

They might not be level 1000 anymore, but Legion’s legendary gear is still pretty useful, and you can choose which ones you want to buy now. You can also go pick up a free legendary right this minute – if you log in now with any level 110 character and check the Mythic Challenges Chest in your order hall, you’ll find 1000 Wakening Essences – exactly the amount you need for a new legendary, whether you’ve done a mythic dungeon this week or not. If you’ve progressed far enough in your Class Order Hall campaign, you can equip two legendaries, and the pre-patch brought a ton of new ways to farm the Wakening Essence you need to buy that second one. Combine that with your Heart of Azeroth in BFA, and gear-wise you’ll be pretty set – at least until level 115 (Legion legendary effects are disabled at level 116). Good gear at the beginning of an expansion is great, because it makes levelling just that much easier.

Protip: Don’t choose a neck legendary, because your Heart of Azeroth will take that spot. You might also want to avoid gear that uses the head, shoulders and chest slots, because those are the slots that Azerite gear uses, but that gear is only really important a level 110, so don’t worry about that too much.

7. Your local barber’s a chiropractor now

Technically this last one isn’t really a reason why you absolutely have to start playing now for most people, but it would probably be reason enough for me. The barber shop has some new options. You can finally change your skin colour, your male orcs can stand up straight and – my personal favourite – your Blood Elf can have golden eyes.

Which, it turns out, don’t actually look as good as the green eyes did. The idea is cool though.

The golden eye thing actually has some lore behind it. Blood Elves have green eyes for the same reason orcs have green skin: it’s a natural side effect of hanging around fel magic too much. At the end of the Burning Crusade, Blood Elves were given a new Sunwell, which is apparently helping to cleanse the taint of fel magic from the elves, replacing the green with gold. Unfortunately, Blizzard did get a bit lazy here. There’s no new “eyes” option in the Barber Shop menu. To change your beloved Belf’s eyes gold, you have to change their face, and there are only three faces with golden eyes to choose from.

Still, upright orcs, right? That’s pretty damn cool.

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