World of Warcraft: Its very name defines the MMORPG genre. Despite coming so late in the genre, it has assumed the position of the most prominent MMORPG by being the most successful, after many a stalled attempt. Coalescing from the ashes of Blizzard’s real-time strategy offerings like Starcraft and Diablo, and starting out life as an intended Warhammer spin-off, World of Warcraft has become its own genre, having its own conventions, an insulated fan base, and endless spin-offs of its own. You can play in Blizzard’s playground all your life and never see and do it all.

So here’s a state-of-the-Warcraft look at where we are and where we could soon be heading.

World of Warcraft is showing its age

It’s kind of inevitable: It’s just past its 15th anniversary (older versions in the Warcraft franchise date back to early DOS). It’s been through seven expansions and going on eight. WOW technical director Patrick Dawson has mentioned that it’s becoming very challenging to support legacy content with each new patch. Even though Ragnaros and Onyxia are ancient history to most players, you still have to account for new players and even veterans who want to re-visit those areas.

There’s a “stat squish.”

Stats, those statistic numbers that show up on details for everything from item levels to health pools. The numbers just keep getting longer when they could stand to be more concise, so don’t panic when you suddenly see a smaller number on something; your armor is still just as good, it’s just on a smaller scale.

Worlds have scaling now

In the past, you’d go raid a dungeon and then have one of two results: Either the area was too difficult and you ended up with loot that was too high level to use, or the area was too easy and you likewise got loot that was useless junk you’d only sell. Now the game will be more accommodating to your current level. This is great news, because it means that an area will be profitable to play for any level – within reason, of course.

Battle for Azeroth is upon us!

The new expansion has been touted as a massively ambitious overhaul for the game, while also bringing a shift in focus back to good old fashioned Alliance-vs-Horde warfare. There’s four allied races for each side, plus two new continents (Kul Tiras and Zandalar), a couple of new play modes, and more. Everybody’s busy grinding through the new content now.

At the same time, Blizzard has shown a bit of jaded resignation towards its notoriously grouchy fanbase. Nobody ever seems to be happy about any one change, and the community itself has made a name for itself as spoiled among gaming fans (but there are worse examples, we assure you). Nevertheless, WOW continues to soldier on , keeping and attracting more players in its base than any other MMORPG in history. They must be doing something right.