We sat down with Ion Hazzikostas, World of Warcraft's Lead Game Designer, to talk about their highly anticipated expansion Legion at BlizzCon. Most of the questions we had for him came out of the panel he gave immediately following opening ceremonies, clarifying some of the remarks he'd made.
Our first question was why Blizzard chose to go with a gun for Beast Master Hunters instead of a bow. Hazzikostas said they wanted to create unique weapons and backstories and cover the gamut of the various types of weapons. With two ranged Hunter specs, one of them was going to be primarily bow/crossbow and the other was going to be a gun. He added that players can transmog the artifact weapons to look like other things, so if a BM Hunter wanted to be seen wielding a bow, he or she could make that happen. Next, we looked at some specs changing which kind of weapons they could wield, such as Guardian Druid not getting a visible weapon due to often being in bear form but gaining the ability to alter the look of that bear form. Hazzikostas explained that in some cases, such as Frost Death Knight, they knew going into it that the spec was being redesigned to some extent and that informed their decision to give Frost DKs twin runeblades rather than a single two-hand weapon. He continued to say that players would acquire their artifact weapons early on in the expansion shortly after the Broken Isles experience and going to Dalaran. Some would acquire their weapon and then found their class hall, some will go more hand-in-hand and do both at the same time.
Turning to the leveling experience, due to how the four main zones in Legion were more level-agnostic, we wanted to know how that would work out in terms of doing quests. Could players join up with their friends in the middle of the zone story to pick up there? Hazzikostas explained that if two players of differing levels who hadn't started a zone story go to that zone, they can start it together and quest happily. However, for times when one player has already started a zone's arc, there is still some sense of story flow and prerequisites, so a friend helping out won't be able to complete some quests. We also discussed how the level scaling will work for the Legion dungeons, and Hazzikostas said that things will scale within Legion's levels so that will help with queuing.
Next up, we looked at player love for drake and dragon mounts, and Hazzikostas confirmed that they made sense for Legion and its design, so that when flying is added, new ones will be there in some fashion.
We also asked about premades in PVP, and Hazzikostas said that players will still be able to queue for PVP as a party but not as a raid. He explained they pulled raid-queuing from battlegrounds and Ashran because it wasn't very fun for anyone on the wrong end of a raid-versus-solo queued players’ situation.
Our next question involved class halls and players grouped up together who were different classes. Hazzikostas informed us that the order halls were intended to be more of a secret clubhouse, so other classes would not be able to go there. He added that they wouldn't be like garrisons in that there wouldn't be a lot of utilities there like guild bank or auction house, and that players would get teleport spells like the Death Knight's Death Gate, so they won't be away from their friends for very long in any given play session. Order halls are not instanced, so players will see others of their class and that's intended to help with the fantasy of being part of a singular class identity.
We also asked about expanding Timewalking, but Hazzikostas pointed out that when 7.0 comes around, players are more likely to be doing all the new content first, so going to Tempest Keep isn't going to be on the front burner for them for example. He added that pre-Wrath dungeons and raids were never created with an LFR difficulty, so they'd have to go back and create one and make it work for pugs.
Turning to the run-up to Legion, Hazzikostas told us that Patch 6.2.3 is coming out very soon that will expand Timewalking and other dungeon gameplay but that there will also be a pre-patch leading up to the launch of Legion which will grant access to the Demon Hunter class for those who preorder and begin the story elements that will prelude the invasion of the Burning Legion. We brought up the notion of a content drought between now and the launch of Legion next summer, and Hazzikostas pointed out that they were aware of the concern, but that the best thing they can do to solve that problem is to finish Legion to a high degree of quality as fast as they can. We also discussed how Warlords of Draenor didn't have as robust a post-launch content update with 6.1, but Hazzikostas assured us that they're already deep in talks about what 7.1 will entail, hinting that it will be bigger than 6.1 and more ambitious.
Finally, we asked about the moose. We wanted to know how long of a timeframe players would have to defeat Heroic or Mythic Archimonde in order to begin the questline. Hazzikostas said that it will become available with patch 6.2.3 and run until 7.0. Everyone in the raid who hasn't completed the quest will get a Piece of Chaos drop to take to the druids of Moonglade and will obtain the flying moose mount after a short sequence. When we mentioned that would be a very long time, Hazzikostas said hopefully not a very long time, implying 7.0 might be coming sooner than players expect.
That was it for our interview. There were certainly some interesting insights into the philosophy behind Legion and what to expect.