World of Warcraft Expansion Reveal
[serene orchestral music] [ominous orchestral music] [somber choral music] [mystical orchestral music] [ominous orchestral music] [epic choral music] [serene orchestral music] [serene orchestral music] [epic orchestral music] [snarls] [roaring] For the Alliance! For the Horde! [murloc jabbers] [cheering] [music crescendos] For Azeroth! Hi, everyone. I'm John Hight, General Manager for Warcraft. And with me today are my friends Ion Hazzikostas, who is the Game Director for World of Warcraft, and Holly Longdale, who leads up the production team for WoW Classic. I really appreciate you tuning in. I know we're really excited to be able to give you updates on what's happening in World of Warcraft.
But first, I want to thank our community for all the feedback you've given us this year, and especially our Community Council. You've helped shape and influence the updates we've done recently and what you're going to see in the upcoming year. I mean, really, for Shadowlands in particular, the story of the last nine months or so of this expansion is all about the community, and it's shaped by what we've been hearing from them, and us realizing as a team that we just, collectively, needed to do a better job of making sure the community felt heard.
So that led us to the changes we made in 9.1.5. But, also, really re-examining some of the assumptions and foundations of World of Warcraft, about things like character investment and mains versus alts, or how catch-up should work, or the appropriate role of friction in our systems. And I think 9.1.5 represented a step
in the direction of letting players have more freedom to play World of Warcraft the way they want to play it. And we really built our Eternity's End content update from the ground up around those principles. What are some of the things that the community said that influenced your decisions for Eternity's End? Things like the method and pacing of acquisition of the Covenant Legendary item, tons of tuning. And I think, every step of the way, we were listening to make sure that we were carrying forward those lessons learned in the course of 9.1.5, into Eternity's End and beyond.
So, WoW Classic really came about because of the community. Yeah, they continue to help guide and support us as Classic evolves. World of Warcraft has always been about the world and the players that inhabit it, and we are, in a lot of ways, curators and caretakers of that journey and of that experience. And so, once this Classic community formed and grew, we had to listen to them.
It's this tide of listening to the community and paying attention to what is a good experience for our players now. And where we really saw a sea change in this idea is with our Season of Mastery realm, which is a season of fresh-start Classic. Initially, we were talking about it like it was going to be like a fresh start.
"Let's try this experiment in a season. It will be about a year long." Then, when the community found out about it, we started seeing this upswell.
Yeah, the team just took that idea and ran with it, and turned what started out as a small community project into this Soul of Iron system that became a centerpiece of Season of Mastery, and a whole new opt-in hardcore mode that we've seen communities built around. Lots of, you know, thrilling victory and painful defeat. Five hours. I made it five hours.
Yeah. And it continues. Like in Burning Crusade Classic, we wanted to balance the Paladin Seals between Horde and Alliance, so we made an addition there.
We wouldn't have gotten there without the community's input. So, influence from the community. You've got another update, and a pretty significant, controversial change for this.
Yeah, cross-faction play, coming in 9.2.5, which is on our Public Test Realm now as a big centerpiece. -Ion, cross-faction! -Yeah.
You're breaking with a 17-year tradition. Yeah, it was not an easily made decision by any means, I know, and I think this is another one of those areas where, really, we tried to take to heart community feedback and requests, and ask ourselves, as a team, whether there's a way to accommodate such an earnestly held desire and still feel like we're being true to the roots of the game. I think players desire to play with their friends who might prefer a different faction, or to play with the faction that they more closely identify with, even though their raid group is elsewhere.
It's really important for me. I play a lot of alts, and I love absorbing the story for each race, and having that ability to play with all of my friends across factions is fantastic. At the end of the day, the battle cry is, "For the Horde." It's not against the Alliance. It's not, "Death to the Alliance."
It's about pride in one's faction. I think there's a way to preserve that and even strengthen that, while giving players the ability to make the same choice we've seen the greatest heroes make time and time again. I can't wait to do this. I'm seeing a lot of my friends that I never knew had a max-level character in the other faction suddenly come out of the woodwork. And then, with these cross-faction groups, many of them will dive into something new that we're doing to kind of cap off Shadowlands.
A Season 4. Kind of a remix, a little bit of a greatest hits, revisiting all of our raid zones across the expansion, bringing in some familiar, older favorites into the Mythic+ rotation. And we recognize this is kind of a closing chapter, a little bit of a send-off to Shadowlands. As everyone gets ready for what happens next and what will come next, we want a fun new challenge for everyone to sink their teeth into. Really cool stuff for modern WoW players.
I'm super excited about the gear upgrades you're gonna give me, and the chance to go back and play some of those awesome raids. There's a lot to explore. Very exciting. For our next adventure in World of Warcraft, we're gonna go back to Azeroth. Yes. And we're going to a space with high fantasy.
I mean, our fans have asked for this for a long time. This has been the foundation of much of the lore of WoW. So, without further ado, let's watch the cinematic. [ominous orchestral music] [muffled whirring] [Alexstrasza] The world has been sundered. It cries out in pain. We must go to its aid.
We entrust our ancestral home to you, the Watchers. [dial clicks] Let the land slumber, hidden even from our own eyes. You will feel our return in the waking of the land. Then you must light the Beacon of Tyrhold, lest the path home be lost to us... forever.
[dramatic choral music crescendos] [rumbling] [serene orchestral music] [dramatic orchestral music builds] [dial clicks] [beacon whirring] [rumbling] [dramatic orchestral music builds] [energy crackling] [stone cracking] [somber piano music] [wind whooshing] [soaring orchestral music] [dragons screeching] [roars] [Alexstrasza] The world is healing... but her fate is yet uncertain. [screeches] Together, we shall be Azeroth's protectors once again. Here, the new age of dragons shall begin.
[roars] [epic orchestral music crescendos] -Dragons! -Dragons. This is so cool. -No one saw it coming. -No one saw it coming. Carefully kept secret.
But, seriously, I mean, what did we just see there? [Ion] The awakening of the Dragon Isles. The return of dragons. The dawn of a new age. We've seen Wrathion searching for his father's legacy, searching for the Dragon Isles.
There's a reason he hasn't been able to find them, until now. The beacon going off, is that summoning the dragons? [Ion] It is removing the concealment that hid the Dragon Isles from the world, but also beckoning the dragons back urgently in a time of need. I assume, a pretty good variety of locales within the Dragon Isles? Yes.
The Dragon Isles, as standard for a WoW expansion, consist of five zones - four standard leveling zones, and a new starter zone, that we'll get to in a second. Can you talk a little bit about how the team found ways to thread the dragon Aspects throughout the environments? The Dragon Isles are a place that is lush and primal, bursting with elemental energy. As Azeroth herself reawakens, those primal forces are expressed throughout the environment, whether it's magma activity, volcanic activity, whether it's the icy wastes of the Azure Span. And each one of those has a connection to a dragonflight that we've seen before. It's gonna be an amazing place for players to arrive at and explore.
Alright, you know what I'm gonna ask. -Yes. OK. So... -C-c-can I be a dragon? Let's start getting into some features here, and what Dragonflight means for you, as well as just a place. So, first off, yes, we have an all-new playable race.
The Dracthyr race. Yeah. [Ion] This is a drakonid, draconic race, but dragons in Warcraft have the ability to take on a humanoid form. What classes can they be? They have unique abilities as, literally, a dragon. That doesn't quite fit any of our existing classes.
And so, what we're doing is, this is not just a new race, but it's also a new class. Adding a new race to Warcraft, and not just an allied race, is something that we don't do lightly. But telling this expansion, this story so focused around dragons, felt like the perfect time for it.
So, if you are a Dracthyr, you will be the Evoker class. Dracthyr can only be Evokers, Evokers can only be Dracthyr. And the reason why only a Dracthyr can be an Evoker is that an Evoker is really combining the ability to call upon the magic of the different Aspects, with the unique physical gifts that a Dracthyr has. The ability to actually take flight and do an Onyxia-style strafing deep breath over the battlefield, land on the other side, knock everyone back with a wing buffet, and then unleash your magical abilities. Yes, please. [Ion] The Evoker has two specializations.
They're a hybrid of either ranged DPS or healer. And they wear mail armor. We figured, with the new hero classes we've added over the years, we have enough melee - we don't need more of those, and also probably don't need any more leather wearers.
The raid leaders are gonna love you for that. [Ion] This is definitely a hero class. So, that means, like the Death Knights before them, or Demon Hunters, they'll be starting at level 58. And they're gonna have a new starter zone. So they'll have a different journey into the Dragon Isles, as opposed to the rest of us that are sailing there from other parts of Azeroth.
Can you talk a little bit about the customizations? Like, what is going to be able to identify my Dracthyr character? Basically, anything and everything. Skin color, hair color, jewelry, tattoos, other adornments. You can make this character the expression of your identity.
-New zone, new class, new race. -Yep. Tell us about some of the system updates and the features. Of course, a new expansion brings with it new systems, new features. I think, in recent expansions, one of the things we've tended to do is really have these deep features that were closely tied to a specific expansion that would then get left behind as we moved on.
And we've heard loud and clear from players that it's kind of a bummer to start off every new expansion by leaving a large part of your character behind, a large part of your progression behind. So, this time around, what we're doing is really pouring all of our energy into permanent revamps, overhauls and improvements to World of Warcraft's core systems. Things like our progression systems. In this case, our talent system is something we want to completely revamp. We want to take a look at our UI.
We want to take a look at professions. So, with the talent revamp and the arrival of Classic, did you learn anything about how our talents work? I think seeing a new generation of players play with those talents and work through those talent trees really underscored some things that, frankly, we lost when we shifted to the Mists of Pandaria-style talents and beyond. A big piece of that was some of the granularity - the feeling of gaining a level and spending a point to customize your character, to make yourself a bit better in some specific way. But, also, you know, that sense of hybridity that you could have. That's something we've largely lost.
And so, the new talent system avoids directly pitting player power throughput choices directly against those utility hybrid choices, because we know there's always a right outcome there. And we also understand that there's a lot of strength in the flexibility of the modern talent system, to let players customize their talents for a particular encounter, or for dungeons versus PvP. We don't want to lose that. So, John, UI? Oh, my God! Yes! I've got this 30-inch monitor. Trying to keep track of where I am on the map, all my buffs, and over here, what's going on in chat, it has literally made my eyes go like this, so... Yep, and you're not alone in that.
We've made a lot of incremental changes and additions over the years, but, really, this is a revamp, this is an overhaul. And so, we're excited to really modernize the look and feel, while staying true to the origins of World of Warcraft. At the same time, we're not looking to take away the power-user customization there. Addons are still there if you want them.
But we want a much better default, out-of-the-box experience for all players, new and old alike. And can I reduce elements, remove elements, if I want to explore the world and see the beauty of Azeroth? When it comes to specific elements, as much as possible, we want to let players choose what to show and what to hide so that they can control it themselves. You mentioned professions.
I have a critical question about this. -Go on. -Can I wear a chef's hat? Yeah, I knew it. Our approach to professions in Dragonflight is really all about delivering on fantasy and identity as a crafter.
And so, if you want to be a serious blacksmith, a great leatherworker, we want to deliver the ability to invest time and energy into that. Become a master crafter. Be able to make items that are in demand.
Interact with the community. One of the big pieces we want to do to support that is a new work order system, to have a bit more convenience than just spam in trade chat all day. But if you're not yourself a blacksmith, but you have a bunch of mats and you want them forged into a great sword, you can put that work order up, list your mats, offer a commission, and a skilled blacksmith can come along and make you the weapon of your dreams.
I think we left out one thing, though. You can be a Dracthyr, go to Dragon Isles. -Can I have a dragon? -[Holly] Oh. What's the fantasy of dragons if not soaring over the lands? And so we're really excited to introduce a feature we're calling dragon riding. It's dynamic, with everything from momentum to dive-bombs, with the ability to just build that speed up and feel the world rushing past you in a way that should be much more exciting than traditional flight that we've made available in the past, but that's also available for players through a customizable dragon mount right from the start.
So, this is a skill you learn over time, right, to become an awesome dragon rider? [Ion] Yes, you'll be able to sort of upgrade aspects of your flight, but you will have this new form of flight from the start. And the dragon companion that you have is, of course, very thoroughly customizable, which is a new thing for us for mounts. This is not just a generic dragon that everyone has, but a drake that is yours. What do you want its scales to look like? Horns, the shape of its head, other attachments, armor pieces and more - take your pick.
This is so cool. So, yeah, the Dragonflight expansion is going to see players leveling to 70, going to the all-new continent of the Dragon Isles, which consists of five zones - four standard leveling zones, and a new starter zone for our Dracthyr class, as well as a range of systems revamps, such as a new talent system, an overhaul and update to our UI, and an entirely fresh look at professions, with more depth than ever before. Also, getting around the Dragon Isles is gonna come in the form of dragon riding, which lets you customize and upgrade your own mount so that you can fly, in a sense, from the start. And, of course, as with any new expansion, we have a new set of dungeons, a raid, and much more to come. We also have an Alpha that will be starting up in the future.
Check our website for more information, and keep an eye out for those opt-in sign-ups if you want to help us test out Dragonflight and give us feedback to make it better. We do have a deep dive that follows this, so, please, stay around. Classic players, we haven't forgotten about you. You can probably guess where we're gonna go next.
One of the all-time favorite expansions for World of Warcraft. Let's watch the cinematic. [voices overlapping indistinctly] [cackling laughter] [Putress] Did you think we had forgotten? Did you think we had forgiven? [Tirion Fordring] Have you learned nothing, boy? [Darion Mograine] I want to fight! I can sit idle no longer! [Mal'Ganis] Your journey has just begun, young prince. [Uther] You are not my king yet, boy.
[Jaina Proudmoore] I can't watch you do this. [Yogg-Saron] Give in to your fear. [Tirion Fordring] ...Argent Crusade...
[Arthas] The blood of your father, of your people... [Bolvar Fordragon] ...will pay for all the lives you've stolen... [King Terenas] My son. The day you were born, the very forests of Lordaeron whispered the name...
Arthas. [epic orchestral music] When my days have come to an end... [Sindragosa roars] ...you shall be king. [ominous orchestral music] [ice cracking] [haunting choral singing] It's just incredible, isn't it? Every time I see the cinematic, I get chills.
No pun intended. I do, I get chills. As you saw, Wrath of the Lich King Classic is coming this year. It brings back so many memories. When you see that cinematic, what do you remember from Wrath of the Lich King? Any time you want to talk about undead frozen dragons, how can you not go back to Sindragosa as the source? That was the first expansion I played with my youngest son, so I can remember, on that platform, black goo and, you know, chunks of ice falling off, and having to repeat that battle with the Lich King. But when we finally downed him, it was such an incredible moment.
He jumped out of his room and I jumped out of my office. We were like, "Yeah! We did it!" So, it's a very lasting tale for me. [Holly] Mm-hmm. So, as you know, with this expansion, you will, in pre-patch, be able to play the Death Knight.
They will start at level 55. You don't need a high-level character to make a Death Knight, so everyone will be able to make one. We're excited to give players some time before Wrath officially launches to get geared up and ready to jump into Northrend with everybody else. And there are so many zones and areas to explore in Northrend.
I want us to talk about some of our favorites. So, for me, Grizzly Hills has a very special place in my heart. The music was some of the best I've experienced in World of Warcraft. I still make my way all the way up to Storm Peaks to try and find the Time-Lost Proto-Drake, and have yet to get it.
Got to say Dragonblight. The wide-open nature of the zone, Wyrmrest Temple in the center of it. It's an unforgettable expansion, as both a developer and a player, in kind of making that transition from one to the other. Now let's talk about some changes. So, one thing we looked at is Dungeon Finder. And it feels like, how we envisioned Classic, Dungeon Finder is not a good fit for our community.
That was kind of the first step that may have eroded some of that social fabric. Now, as people have gone through the experience of going back to vanilla, rebuilding those groups, relying on each other, not wanting a random participant just to show up and then leave - yeah, that makes total sense. But, today, you can do that in Shadowlands. You can do that in Dragonflight. It's a self-selected group of people who specifically want that different experience.
Let's make sure we continue to give them that. That leads right into Arena Teams in Burning Crusade Classic. So, we've listened to the community and we removed that, because individual raiding is preferable and a better experience for them than Arena Teams. Also with Wrath of the Lich King, Barbershop, which allows you to customize your character. We're going to be adding a few more options that were not existing when Wrath launched. But also, there's another side of this, where we are not going to charge a real money fee.
It was a paid character customization fee, right? It seems the right thing to do that that just be available in-game for gold and we add more options to it, right? It's like spell batching, in a sense. There's a lot of technical advancements. And it's not about the philosophy of what makes Classic Classic, and what brings people together. It's just, "What's the better experience? And let's not artificially restrict something that we can provide a better version of just for the sake of nostalgia," and we're happy to say this is one of those cases. So, Wrath.
The level cap's being increased to level 80, so we'll be introducing a level-70 boost so players who want to get in with their friends, or just explore Northrend right away, will be able to do that. You can't apply it to a Death Knight, but you will be able to use it otherwise. And, of course, we have inscription, a whole new profession, so we're really excited about that. Yeah, and as we continue this road to Wrath, we're going to be looking to getting a lot more feedback on Beta, and we'll make changes as we need to.
It's such an exciting time to be playing World of Warcraft. We have the return of Wrath of the Lich King for Classic fans, and taking us somewhere new with Dragonflight. We're so excited to be able to bring these adventures to you. Don't forget, there's a deep dive on Dragonflight, where you're going to get a lot more information. Thank you so much for spending this time with us, and we'll see you in Azeroth. And we'll see you in Northrend.
And in the Dragon Isles. [dramatic percussive music] Hi there. Welcome to the Dragonflight Deep Dive. -I'm Steve Danuser. -And I'm Terran Gregory. Starting it off, we're gonna talk about the setting and the story of Dragonflight. We've got this great expansion, exciting pre-render trailer that everyone just watched. So, let's talk about the setting for Dragonflight, the Dragon Isles.
The Dragon Isles have been known for a long time in Warcraft history as a mysterious place where the dragons came from long ago. We never knew more than that. We're going to this place that is kind of the broodlands of all the dragonflights, the place where they nested, where they built their civilization. The Dragon Isles was the center of the dragons' kingdom when the world was young and the mortal races were just starting to form kingdoms of their own.
But when the Legion invaded for that War of the Ancients, that sundering that resulted from the explosion of the Well of Eternity broke the world. [Terran] Literal sundering of the continents of Azeroth. And because of the breaking of the world, that magic kind of drained away, and the land went dormant, so they had to leave the Dragon Isles behind. And as we saw in the pre-render, they left behind some Titan Watchers to look over the land. And when, someday, they hoped that elemental energy would resurge once again and draw the dragons home and reestablish their kingdom.
And that's when the message goes out to the flights, and they feel it in their bones. Now it's the time for the sky to light up with the colors of the Aspects once again, and for Alexstrasza and the others to come home. But the land has changed a lot in all these thousands of years they've been away, and some very old threats have awakened as well. We're looking into the culture of dragons as they exist in Warcraft.
Dragons as we know them today were very different in the early past, the early history of Azeroth. They were much more primitive, much more savage, what we now know as proto-dragons. And then some of the dragons were empowered to become the Aspects. The green flight, red flight, blue flight, bronze flight, black flight, each with unique powers, and each with the ability to protect the world in different ways. These pillars of draconic power appointed to defend Azeroth from threats within and without.
Dragons used that power both for good, in the case of most of the Aspects, but also for nefarious reasons, in the case of the black dragonflights, led by Neltharion, who would become Deathwing. [Terran] And what we will find in Dragonflight is that some of these ancient divisions run deep. And so it begs the question, where do we go from here? If this is an opportunity to reclaim their legacy, to be the protectors, as the cinematic mentioned, that they once were. To do that, they're going to need the help of our heroes, our players, to come to the Dragon Isles with them and face some of these reawakening challenges. Because it's not just that this land is peacefully waiting for the dragons to return and reclaim it.
There's those old enemies that have awakened as well. Yeah. One of those being a race of kind of elemental half-giants, the Djaradin. [Terran] The Dragon Isles isn't just populated by dragons or just by the Djaradin. There's also many other occupants in the Dragon Isles that have been here either just recently or for a while, including a fan favorite coming back, the Tuskarr. [Steve] That's gonna be awesome.
We've got other cultures there as well in the Dragon Isles. We're gonna find out about a civilization of Centaurs that predates the ones that arose on Kalimdor much later. And some of our favorite characters that we've seen over the last few expansions, such as Wrathion. [Steve] And whether he is ready to step up into a leadership role, or if there are other alternatives out there that would be better suited to the job of being the Aspect of the black dragonflight. I think one thing the players are gonna be really excited about this expansion is the new playable race, the Dracthyr. [Steve] That's right.
And this is something that Neltharion, before he was Deathwing, before he went full crazy World dragon, that he put into motion. Neltharion saw those primalists that were kind of breaking away from the Aspects and what they wanted. And so, in those first experiments, he took the essence of dragons - their strength, their nobility, their wisdom - and he combined it with that scrappiness, that adaptability that the mortal races had. And he wanted to use that to create the ideal soldier in his mind, the Dracthyr. Exploration is really one of the key themes of this expansion. We're gonna be going to this ancient place that the dragons left behind long ago.
So we've made these huge zones with all kinds of places to delve into and find little treasures and little secrets tucked away. It's gonna be a lot of fun for players to be exploring these landscapes. And there's so much architectural history, and how clearly aspirational was the kingdom of the dragons, and how they lost so much. And the themes of trying to return to that, to try to find your legacy, to try to figure out who you were before everything went awry. But there's questions, you know? Thematic questions of, what does it mean to be true to your legacy? Are we going to repeat the mistakes of the past? The dragons have had to learn those lessons just like the mortal kingdoms have had to.
And I think that's one of the reasons why the dragons see this now as the time that they have to return, and they have to step up once again as protectors of Azeroth. We're helping the dragons because the dragons have helped us in the past, too. So, by using the Explorers' League and the Reliquary together, that allows us to delve into some of that history.
And when I look, you know, upon the Dragon Isles in all of its visual splendor, I get so excited for the prospect of a truly Azerothian adventure, alongside Kalecgos, along with Wrathion, Ebenhorn, with Ysera's daughter, Merithra, as each one of them is trying to find their own flights. I am taken by the exploration and the potential for adventure, and just new horizons within this world. There's going to be old stories from that time past, that history that only the dragons knew for the longest time. We're gonna be able to explore that. It really feels like just a breath of fresh air.
Now we're gonna turn things over to some of our colleagues, who will take you on that deep dive into the locations and the features of Dragonflight. [dramatic orchestral music] Hello. I'm Stephanie. -I'm Josh. -I'm Jackie. And I'm Gary.
We're part of the teams that are building the first two zones that you'll encounter in the Dragon Isles - the Waking Shore and the Ohn'ahran Plains. [birds chirping] The very first zone in Dragonflight that you're going to come to is the Waking Shores. It's wild, untamed land. It's waking up around you, too, and the elements are just going crazy.
The art team, again, has hit it out of the park. [Josh] You'll see a lava mountain flowing in through the beach, giant proto-dragons swooping down, gobbling up members of your expedition. We have such rife opportunities to show elementals rising up because of the crazy magic that's flying around. One thing I love is just how you get to the Dragon Isles. You're going to get on your boat in Stormwind or Orgrimmar, and the first thing you do is sail between the dragon ruin architectures. The boats come right alongside each other.
You can jump from one boat to the other and start causing havoc on the other faction's boat. For those who love PvP, this is a great opportunity for War Mode. It's a free-for-all. It's gonna be great.
[laughter] But it's OK. There's an innkeeper on the beach. So, if you're in that situation and you don't want to be in War Mode anymore, you can just hop out right there. The Reliquary and the Explorers' League are working together. The Horde and Alliance are sending an expedition together.
It's not the military. It's not the soldiers. This is the scientists, the settlers exploring this new land. It's a lot more optimistic in tone.
One of my favorite things about the Waking Shores is the red dragonflight, led by Queen Alexstrasza, the Life-Binder. They have the mandate of nurturing and protecting all life, which means Horde and Alliance, Gorlocs, Trolls - everybody. So, they take that duty seriously. When the Horde and the Alliance come to the Waking Shores, they want to be there to help guide the people through the new land and welcome them.
But they're not the only one in the Waking Shores. We have the ancestral home of the black dragonflight there, too, which has fallen on tough times since Deathwing's descent. And so Wrathion's coming over to the Isles with us. He's gonna try and come to terms with the state of the dragonflight, which is a few loyal Drakonids and Dragonspawn trying to hold their ground. What can the future of the dragonflight be if it's just Wrathion? It's not just the dragons that are coming back to the Dragon Isles, but also their long-time rival, the Djaradin.
[Stephanie] I love the Djaradin. They're half-giants that wield the power of magma. And when the Waking Shores and the Dragon Isles went to slumber, they also slumbered. They're back now, and they are ready to raise chaos. Yeah, they're massive. They're riding giant lava mammoths, parading around, just stomping on your face.
And they were the enemies of the dragonflight for so long. They fought against the red dragonflight, hunted dragons, and they're really taking this opportunity to rise up. As the red dragonflight have the mandate of nurturing life, they don't want to just stomp out the Djaradin completely. But they want to make sure that they don't have the power to affect those around them negatively, to make sure they don't go on a rampage and destroy the ecosystem that has been created here. Those are awesome things in the Waking Shores, but, Steph, there really is only one right answer for the best thing in Waking Shores, right? -What? -This is true. -Ducks. -[ducks quacking]
[Josh] We finally have those webbed-feet hooligans in our game. We cracked the technology. We've got them in. [Jackie] They can fly.
-You should be proud. -Thank you. It's gonna be awesome. [Stephanie] The Ohn'ahran Plains come after the Waking Shores.
It's so breathtaking at first glance. The Ohn'ahran Plains are big, wide-open plains. And they player's going to be constricted a little bit, and then you see this big contrast of the zone. We don't always get that opportunity, that cinematic moment, where the player can have a framed view when they see this area. You come out and you've got that postcard shot of the plains, and then you see this giant fire proto-dragon breathing fire, and a herd of Centaur harpoon down the proto-dragon and crash him to the ground. The first thing you get to do is go help them kill the proto-dragon.
How cool is that? Who is Ohn'ahra? Ohn'ahra is the Wild God of the Wind, and she's appeared before as this big spirit eagle. She's the one who guided the Centaur to the Dragon Isles many, many years ago. She blessed them, took their caravan across, and then showed them the plains. [Gary] How fun at the beginning of this expansion was exploring the culture of the Centaur? [Jackie] The Centaur are these mighty, awesome hunters that, back when they first came to the Dragon Isles, they fought the green dragons all day long.
Eventually, they realized that, "We're strong, you're strong. Maybe we should stop decimating each other's people. We'll make peace, make an agreement. You guys hang out in the groves and the Centaur will hang out in the plains." But now, the dragons have been gone for 10,000 years. And the Centaur have come so far since then.
And they've been here, and they've been existing and developing their culture. They all came over as one clan, led by the mighty Maru Con'tira, and they founded a new life here. So, if you want to get across, you have to follow their rules and traditions. You have to earn their trust.
You are the first outsiders to come in generations upon generations. The Centaur might rule the open plains, but the green dragons make their home in the groves. And those groves are absolutely gorgeous. And how great a job it is that we have, where I can take all of this beautiful artwork and build these beautiful fantasy groves. High fantasy.
We want to do lots of things with an open plain, and we want to be creative with that. But we're restraining ourselves by letting the zone sing, letting the horizon tell the story. We couldn't have done that in vanilla WoW. [Jackie] No, definitely not. The zones are so big and you can see so far, especially in Ohn'ahran Plains, so we talked to the engineers, and we actually increased that distance.
It spurs you on to want to adventure and look through the zone and explore everything. The interesting thing for me is we have all these conflicts with the dragonflights. There's missing dragons, there's battles, there's so much crazy stuff happening. But that's not really all we're doing.
There's so much extra, fun activities for people to do. The greatest thing is that you need to figure out exactly what's going on, and help solve all the problems that are sprouting up everywhere. We're just really excited to tell a story that's grounded in Azeroth and exploration. There's so much more to talk about. But now we're gonna have some folks talking about the next two zones that players are gonna experience in the Dragon Isles.
[suspenseful orchestral music] Hello, everyone. My name is Kate. -I'm Kristy. -I'm Kate. I'm Sean. We're going to talk today about Thaldrazus and the Azure Span. Azure Span is gonna be the third zone that players adventure through, and it's one of our biggest zones that we've done in Dragonflight, maybe even to date.
We knew it was gonna be the largest visual elevation change, and it really started with this great concept art. When we were first taking a look at the design, we kept coming back to one of our favorite Wrath zones, which was Grizzly Hills, and we really wanted to take that but WoW-ify it more. I don't know if you've ever been up to the Bay Area, but in the morning, that coastal fog comes in and dips down into the redwoods, and that sun shines through.
That's really what we wanted to encapsulate with this forest. Not only do we have redwoods, but we've got all different types of trees. Eventually, it will break open into this wide-open tundra that's just golden and red, and you'll reach up to another level of elevation where you get to see the snow. The majority of the zone is covered in snow and ice. We have giant frozen waterfalls, ice rivers as far as the eye can see. And, Sean, I know, in the forests, we can expect our first creatures.
We have a small group that lives there called the Gnolls. These Gnolls are all throughout the forest in Azure Span. They've made this their home. Some Gnolls have strange magic.
We're gonna find out what exactly that's about. Snow Gnolls, or as I call them, the Snolls, up in the winter area. And regular Gnolls that are around the forest area. So then we go into the big, open tundra, where we meet our second group, the Tuskarr. It's going to be neat to explore their culture more. -And those kids are adorable. -I absolutely love the Tuskarr.
All my downtime is probably just me hanging out with the Tuskarr. [Sean] It's been a while since we've seen them. We remember the Tuskarr from Wrath of the Lich King. They're also getting a cool up-res for their models, along with expanding their culture. So, there are gonna be male Tuskarr, female Tuskarr, Tuskarr kids. So, we're gonna fight alongside them, which includes help from a certain group of dragons - the blue dragons.
We're gonna follow the story of Kalecgos, our blue dragon buddy from the Kirin Tor, and he's gonna be adventuring into Sindragosa's archives. It's a giant zone. There's a lot of surprises. When we're done there, we head over to Thaldrazus. Thaldrazus.
[Kristy] It's really incredible, because you will be going through some of the previous zones and seeing a lot of ruins for the dragon buildings. But when you get to Thaldrazus, everything is perfectly intact, it's beautiful, it's pristine. It is the seat of power for all five dragonflights, and home of the dragons.
It feels that way with the huge vertical mountains. We've got these great cave systems where you may end up finding little dragon hordes. My favorite dragonflight right now is the bronze.
They've got a really cool area in Thaldrazus. And their magic is time. There's so many cool story hooks that we could dig into there.
There are so many cool gameplay options. And we have a little bit of an adventure for players. -It's going to be fun. -I can't wait.
We really wanted it to feel like their old stomping grounds. One of the really cool features is going to be the main city and player hub for this expansion, Valdrakon. It is a culmination of all of the dragons' efforts to put together what a city would look like.
So, we ended up having a bunch of really fun, small vignettes where you see that the blue dragonflight is hosting a public library, and the red and green dragonflights both have their own separate gardens. We will also have some convenience services for players, including an Auction House in the city, which will be really nice if you're looking for more exotic wares. The thing that really sold me on Thaldrazus was the initial concept art we got of Tyrhold. -[Kate M] Oh, yeah. -[Kristy] Wow.
And this is a 10,000-year-old Titan technological marvel. Tyrhold has these awesome aqueducts that actually come out from the structure, all the way to the city across the valley. And in the cinematic, there's just this amazing shot where you see Alexstrasza swoop under one of them, and there's splashes of water cresting across her wings.
So, when players are flying around themselves, they get to have their Alexstrasza moment. What an incredible place, and filled with so much history. [Kate B] Tyrhold was built by Tyr. He was a Titan keeper back in the day who helped the Aspects fight Galakrond.
And when they settled on the Dragon Isles, he built this facility. And even though Tyr's gone, the dragons have held him in reverence. But that was 10,000 years ago, and they've let the Titans maintain the place. An incredible amount of history has happened since then. Flights have been nearly wiped out.
There have been invasions, betrayals. Aspects have died. And these are the kind of things that leave marks on a society. So, now they're all back here, and they're all here together.
As we were designing the zone and the city itself, we're figuring out, "How do we tell those stories?" at the same time as making sure that this is a really convenient place for players to go and, you know, go shopping, as they tend to do. So much adventuring happening on the Dragon Isles. It's so cool. As a player, you probably don't have your own dragon wings. You are going to learn the art of dragon riding. [Kate B] It's so vertical, and I'm just excited to dive off the tops of towers and swoop under things.
It's one of the things that we're about to learn about next. [epic orchestral music] -Hi. I'm Jake. -I'm Andy. -I'm Kali. -And I'm Graham.
And I'm really excited to talk to you guys today about the Dracthyr Evoker, our new race and class coming in Dragonflight. We're here to talk about not only the Evoker, but also dragon riding, which is our exciting expression into the exploration of the Dragon Isles. We knew, with a dragon-themed expansion, we wanted to let you play a dragon. Not a big dragon, Alexstrasza-size.
That would be tough to fit into raids. -Sorry, Jake. I know. -[Jake] It's fine. But a draconic humanoid.
So, the Dracthyr, created by Neltharion. And, like our other hero classes, you get to choose if you want to start on the Horde or Alliance side on character creation. Let's talk a little bit about the Evoker, the class they can be. What's unique about it is, because the Dracthyr are created by an Aspect, they have the ability to wield the magic of all five dragonflights. So Evokers can take advantage of red, blue and bronze magic. And to show that, we created a visual, what we call a prismatic effect.
This prismatic effect is basically the coalescence of all their energy as they channel it into whatever spell they're going to cast. You have a red magic spell called Pyre. So, when you shoot it out of your mouth, it twirls in the air with all five of the dragonflights' magic as it turns into the red spell, before landing on your enemies and exploding, and hopefully burning them.
I'll take that one. Getting that vibe across that they use all five was important to us. But we did want to make sure that each specialization focused on two, because casting five different colors gets a bit messy. So, their damage-dealer specialization, their first of two, Devastation, mostly focuses on red and blue magic. Red being very fast and explosive, burning everything with Pyre. Whereas blue is more focused and overwhelming.
You can shoot a beam of energy out of your mouth to disintegrate one single enemy in front of you. There's a healer spec called Preservation. The healer spec is going to focus mostly on your green and your bronze magic. So, your green is going to be evocative of the Emerald Dream, your growth and your nurturing spells.
Then you have your bronze magic, which is going to be more Timey-Wimey, so you get to heal a wound faster. So, in addition to the visuals and the animation, which all make you feel very powerful, we really wanted the player to have a physical connection to the cast. We have a new type of spell called Empower, where, when you actually hold down the button on your keyboard, it charges up the spell. The longer you charge it up, it might do more damage or hit more targets, depending on the spell. But it gives you this really physical connection and control that's new for World of Warcraft and is feeling really good. We have some great animations. Thank you, Andy, your team.
You feel physical when you're casting your spells. You can actually fly around the battlefield and cast while you're flying. Raining fire and death from above. It's great! In addition to the gameplay, another part of feeling draconic is looking like a dragon. We talk about dragons breathing fire.
-You know what's actually fire? -What's fire? -These customizations. -Oh, my goodness. -But, no, they're really cool. -They're awesome. [Kali] Because you have both your draconic form and your humanoid form, and the customization options for both of them are amazing. They're very good. -What about color? -[Jake] Tell us about colors. [Graham] You can do a lot of matching.
So, your visage form can have scales that are the same color as your Dracthyr form. But my favorite, super-favorite part of customization for the visage form... -[Graham] Mm-hmm. -Hair.
-Oh, man. Hair. -Yeah. Because I can actually do this in-game. The tech is here. We finally have the tech. As players make their way through each of the areas of the Dragon Isles, they'll partner up with the dragonflights to move through the air as they've never done before.
You'll notice I did not say "flying", because flying has a very specific meaning for World of Warcraft. And we're talking about something new called dragon riding. And as the players are honing their dragon-riding skills, they'll get to see all-new animations that go along with the different look and feel of the drakes. We're aiming to shake up movement with this new system, providing players with a deeper immersion, with forces like momentum and gravity. We knew that for Dragonflight we were gonna have the opportunity to show players a whole new set of Dragon Isle drakes, completely unique from all the other things they've seen in World of Warcraft. And so, we wanted to come up with a movement system that would add that sense of physics, weight, and gravity, like you were mentioning.
We knew it was gonna take a huge team effort. Not just animation, but it was gonna take effects, it was gonna take the engineering team, who we rely on heavily. And that, combined with some new animations, really helps to lend that feeling of physics as you move through the air in ways that you haven't before. And the icing on the cake is gonna be some really cool effects that we've added on top of all of that. So, for example, when you start hitting maximum velocity, you're gonna see contrails coming off the edges of the wings.
And then, as you do your rolls and spirals, you build up more and more speed, there's going to be some screen effects on the display to indicate that you're reaching maximum velocity, which really adds to the overall kind of immersion and the sense of reality. As players make their way through the Dragon Isles, they'll discover new cosmetic options to fine-tune their Dragon Isle drakes' appearances. Things like snoots, horns, tails, elusive Dragon Isle drake armor, and more. Can I have spikes? -Definitely. -OK. We want to provide players with all-new skills to play with, as those who can use their momentum well can reach higher heights and bring on new, more difficult challenges. We just have so many new, gorgeous options to choose from, and I'm just so excited for all of them.
I'm excited for the whole thing. It's been fun to work on, but I can't wait to actually get in the game, play it with you guys. I can't wait to fly around Dragon Isles. It's gonna be great. Next up, you're going to hear about the talent revamp and the UI changes coming in Dragonflight.
[whimsical music] -Hello. My name is Brian. -I'm Crash. -I'm J. -And I'm Laura. We are very excited to share we are finally revamping the WoW HUD UI. And it is also time for a major revamp to talents and specializations. I have a big question for the group. How long do you think it took for us to finally revamp the WoW HUD? My guess is, like, 15 years.
-Close. Eighteen years. -Eighteen years. -Eighteen years. -Wow. You know, technology has changed a lot since we made the UI back in 2004. Now you have bigger monitors, and us, we have better dev tools to work with, so it makes sense to have the revamp right now. Also, if you look at the game today, the art evolved beautifully over the years.
And if you look at the HUD, the HUD looks like it got frozen in time. [Crash] So, when we approached this, we wanted to create a layout experience that players could customize, move things around, adjust it to fit their needs. Addons today, they do a lot for player customization. The downside is that not everybody uses them. It's about time that everybody has the opportunity to use them, that they become a part of the base UI. Yeah, and we are working very closely with our user research team to make sure we are hitting the goals that our player needs.
It allowed us to add new functionality, to improve accessibility in a lot of areas, and, on top of that, we are going to be improving the art. [Laura] Yeah, so, the art update, it's a big part of this project. The UI that we have today has a lot of charm and personality, and the player has been using that for 18 years. So, with that in mind, we want to respect the players who really like the current UI, but do a modern take on it, removing the clutter and giving more visibility for your gameplay. So, the new mini map, it looks bigger, and the health bar is also much bigger.
If you look at the action bars in the bottom menus, they have less headframes, and it can really open up your gameplay, so you don't have a lot of your UI in front of you. And, of course, we want to find iconic pieces from the current HUD, but we want to bring it back in a nice way, so we, for sure, updated the Gryphons. They look so nice now.
And the Horde, don't worry, we got you. You're gonna have your version as well. Let's talk about the edit mode. We are putting a mode in that will let players move various HUD elements around on the screen.
So, I'm able to move the mini map, say, from the right corner all the way over to the left corner? If I want to bring action bars from the bottom more in the center by my character, those are things I'll be able to do? Absolutely. Each of those components will have various sets of options that you'll be able to work with. They'll be able to save it, edit it, copy it, name it. Also, it will remember which spec you're in.
So, if you are someone who jumps around a lot, as you switch, it will switch to whatever HUD layout you have for that spec. This is an ongoing project. We're gonna keep working on it. So we really want to hear back from you. [Brian] A project that we're all excited about that we've been collaborating on is something that's pretty UI-intensive, and that's the talent system. It hadn't changed in a long time, like you said before.
And we really started with, "How can we have players have more choice over what their character has?" As you level up, we give you a new spell or a new ability, something that kind of makes you stronger. But it's determined by the designers. We decide the order.
Yeah, we started looking for a system that would give players a much wider set of options. And after looking at all those things, what we really returned back to was the idea of trees. But it's actually two trees. We have a class tree that offers different class utility, and then we have a spec tree that is focused on performing your role, whether that's damage, tank, or healing. Can I just jump in and say that I, personally, am super excited about having trees come back? There's a big nostalgia hit for me. As we said, we have these two trees because we feel like picking a specialization is a really important part of your World of Warcraft character now.
So we want to make sure that when you choose that, it kind of affects the tree in some way. As soon as you open your talent tree, you'll see something new. The class side will have some abilities filled out for free, just kind of starting you off in that spec you've chosen. Then you have your first point to spend in the class tree, which could be something related to that spec or role, or something from elsewhere in the class. There's a lot of things that we can do here, and part of that is encouraging players to perhaps make combinations that they've never really been able to see in the game before.
This is an opportunity to put a lot more art and fantasy in the actual talent UI itself. You have seen that a lot through most recent expansions, but not the base UI. We want you to be able to tinker with it. We want you to be able to make a lot of changes at a lot of times, and not necessarily have to commit. The power really is coming back to the player. It's not something we want people to feel locked into, so one of the things that we'll be preserving is the ability to change these talents at the same kind of frequency that you do now.
[J] Yeah, the old-school players, when you see trees this time, just think, "Yeah, I'll go from my raid night to my arena match and figure out what I think is the best for both of those." That's a process we want to make really fluid, so we're building a save/load feature that lets you create your build, name it, save it, and then load it up very quickly and freely. Talents were really about the breadth of options. We've made all these cool things over the years, but when are they at their coolest? It's when players can hold the building blocks of what can make up their class, their spec, and put them together in a way that works for them.
So, these are really cool features that we've been working long and hard on, and we're very excited about them. It's just an early preview of the things we've been doing. We can't wait to see the reaction you have to them.
Please reach out to us and let us know your thoughts on them. Next up, we're gonna talk about professions in Dragonflight. [whimsical music] -Hi. I'm Joanna. -And I'm Eric. We're gonna talk about our plans for professions in Dragonflight. Professions have been a staple of World of Warcraft forever. They've seen lots of cool incremental updates over their life.
For Dragonflight, we want to do something different. We really want to rethink professions and make them part of your identity as a player, if that's what you want. We really want to make sure that professions feel fun and relevant across all levels of gameplay. That brings us to our first update - something that we're calling Crafting Orders. If you want something crafted for you, but you don't have the skill or the right profession to do it for yourself, you can have it crafted through a Crafting Order.
You can basically browse any of the recipes that can be crafted, pick the one you want for yourself, and then you include some or all of the reagents needed for the recipe, including ones that only you can get your hands on. You can find someone in person to do it right in front of you, for you, or you can also go to an NPC and, using an Auction House-like interface, send the order out. If you're doing this, you can pick, do you want to send the order to anyone? Sort of a public order. Or do you want to only send it to your guild? Or to a specific other player? Maybe it's a friend who you know will craft the item well for you. If you are really dedicated to your craft, you're gonna be the best at what you do. One of the coolest things about this is the item you had crafted can also be soulbound.
In the past, you could only get your hands on crafted soulbound items by having that profession yourself. Now anyone can have them crafted for them, which is really neat, and really expands the number of items that we can provide that are really powerful, because everyone can have them crafted in the Crafting Order system. This is also really cool because it means, as a crafter, you can start building your client base.
People are gonna come back to you to get certain items. Maybe you're the best at making it, or you always throw in something extra. You're also gonna be leveling up your profession. It's gonna be really great. So, the first time you go to craft, you'll notice a lot of different things. But probably the biggest is the introduction of quality, both to your crafted items and your gathered reagents.
Quality works in a pretty simple way. If you craft something that's higher quality, it's gonna be better. For a piece of gear, that means a higher item level.
If it's, for instance, a potion, that might mean a more powerful effect at a higher quality. [Joanna] And we're doing a lot of new things in the UI. We've put a lot of work into it to make sure that the professions feel really special and unique.
Another thing you might notice in the crafting UI, that's new, is the introduction of stats, specifically to your professions, both crafting and gathering. This is another major input into quality. Probably the biggest source of your ability to craft items at a higher quality is through crafting specializations. We've had crafting specializatio