At Blizzcon we sat down with Ray Cobo, lead producer, and Patrick Magruder to discuss all elements of the Battle for Azeroth and a brief excitement for World of Warcraft Classic. The team has spent a lot of time going back to Warcraft’s history. The Horde and Alliance are back at it and fighting over new zones with Warfronts and Island exploration. We’ll try to go through everything we asked as best we can.
So, we started with the Survival Hunter and if melee might be going away with the artifact system ending. The team was not 100% on any decisions here. What they did explain is that with artifacts leaving, you are going to transition into Azurite collection. So you’ll be boosting up your powers that infuse in an amulet. You will ultimately get new armor: chest, helm, and shoulders, that you can customize with abilities to tweak your character the way you want. They are happy with how classes are right now, but tweaking the system will be much more malleable by the players.
Legion was the high fantasy portion expansion and there are a lot of parts they feel worked very well. The five-button rotation is a great example. They wanted to see a return to early Warcraft with Battle and so this expansion calls back to Warcraft 3. You will have six big zones to explore and once you max level you can cross over into the other faction’s zones to explore. Where you had Garrisons and Order Halls, you will now build up around the battle rejoining you to your faction and bringing some pride back into the game.
Warfronts are a big part of that and build on Warcraft’s fun. It is a 20-player event which leads you on a zone to assault the other faction in PvE. It plays similar to some RTS elements like seeing buildings grow and having players work together to beat peons into working again. The whole event is shown through the eyes of the Warcraft player working together with their team to win the day. You gather resources, build an army, and attack the opposition. One feature Ray and Pat were very excited about with tech trees unlocking as players work. You have to choose your areas of expertise which will work best for your team.
Islands is a very different experience where you play in a three-player group. The island has a very high AI which will play against you on different levels. You can explore and race for Azorite. Factions on the island will be against you, or possibly unlikely allies. The best part is you can play islands against PVE or PVP them as well. Working against another three-player team that you may simply have to battle. Things like zombie pirates or blood trolls that may need your help.
Another very popular topic is how the team is breaking up PvP and PvE servers. So now instead of having dedicated servers you will be able to join as PvE or PvP and be placed in areas of the same. Many PvP players who have suffered on their servers might want a break. The team is also looking into rewards for PvP because of the higher risk. This gives them a great opportunity to maintain a solid balance in rewards.
Our last quick topic was level scaling which is very popular. Players will now be able to go into zones where they want to level up. It is not as free as something like in Elder Scrolls Online, however it does allow you to go from the classic world over to Lich King to level, skipping Burning Crusade altogether. So leveling in the expansions will be much more free for players. You are no longer bound to a linear system which confines players. It also applies to zones within the expansions. So skipping a zone now will be much easier.
Warcraft has a ton coming this next year. The team has a lot of work on vanilla WoW but it is in the works. They are actually hiring for the project. For now, we have Battle for Azeroth to look forward too. The expansion will bring back a lot of realm pride and excitement for players. Thanks to Ray and Patrick for covering so many diverse topics.