Author Archive

Ian Bates

World of Warcraft Writer and columnist for Blizzplanet. I am also known as The Red Shirt Guy (BlizzCon).

New Starting Pets for Hunters in the Shadowlands Alpha

The latest Shadowlands alpha build added something of particular interest to hunters. Most races received new starting pets! Some are just model or skin changes, while others like blood elves have an entirely new family for their first pet. As you can see above, the character creation screen is a little buggy, and none of the new pets actually work once you log on to your character. I’ll do my best to show what’s going on; but remember that things will likely change once the many glitches are ironed out.

First off, not every race has new pets. Mag’har orcs, Kul Tirans, Zandalari trolls, Highmountain tauren, goblins, dwarves, vulpera, and worgen all retain their old pets. Undead and Nightborne have their old pets, but the character creation screen is doing weird things which suggest they might be changed. Dark Iron dwarves and Mechagnomes have issues displaying their starting pets that persist from live servers. Night elves aren’t available in this build so their pet situation is up in the air.

The character creation screen is a mess for these new pets. For some reason there are two pets on top of each other, and sometimes they have missing or heavily distorted textures. The draenei and undead are the worst offenders:

New Mechagnome Customization Options in the Shadowlands Alpha!

One of the most exciting features in Shadowlands is the new character customization options. Previously, Blizzard’s said we were only getting updates to the “core” races. Allied races are out of luck for new stuff. Or are they? Probably, but on the alpha there’s been a surprising exception.

Mechagnomes received four new customization options in the latest (as of this writing) build. These are a new set of goggle type eye enhancements with variants for each mechagnome ear type.

What’s odd about these additions is that they sort of already exist on live servers. That’s probably why they’re being made fully available in Shadowlands.

Currently mechagnome characters will use this goggle eye appearance if they’re wearing helms that cover hair or facial features on other races.

You can’t select these options in the barbershop or have your character display them outside of equipping/transmogrifying certain helms… until now! (Technically until the Shadowlands pre-patch releases, but until now sounded cooler.)

The New Horde Race Summaries in Shadowlands are Causing a Kerfuffle

WARNING: THE FOLLOWING ARTICLE CONTAINS SPOILERS FOR WORLD OF WARCRAFT: SHADOWLANDS AND THE EXILE’S REACH STARTING ZONE. THIS INFORMATION IS TAKEN FROM THE ALPHA SERVERS AND DATAMINING AND THUS SHOULD BE CONSIDERED A WORK IN PROGRESS THAT CAN AND HOPEFULLY WILL CHANGE.

Dragon Isles Expansion Concept

It’s time for another of my fan expansion concepts. You may have noticed there’s been a lot of foreshadowing about Wrathion and the dragonflights in Battle for Azeroth. The most tantalizing piece is an island expedition quest (Unscarred Black Scale) that reveals Wrathion is searching for the Dragon Isles. For those unaware, the Dragon Isles were a scrapped zone north of Tirisfal Glades planned for vanilla WoW. They gained a level of infamy for their cool name and this really neat concept art. It may have been re-purposed into BfA’s own Shrine of the Storm:

Outside of the concept art and some other behind the scenes information (such as The World of Warcraft Diary by John Staats), the Dragon Isles have never been mentioned in lore and were assumed non-canon. BfA changed that. From the Unscarred Black Scale quest text, this official version of the Dragon Isles is actually related to the dragonflights. Whereas the old version was just a bunch of Old God temples based on sea creatures. Obviously the concept has changed and so for this expansion I started from scratch. Yes the nautilus temple is iconic, but at this point it really would just come off as Shrine of the Storms 2.0 and that wouldn’t work in the expansion immediately following it. Maybe it could show up in a patch.

I don’t have a name for the expansion this time. I wanted to call it World of Warcraft: Dragonsworn but that sounded too close to the Dragonborn expansion for Skyrim in my opinion. I’ve tried to follow the history of expansions sounding pretty out there story wise when first announced (no one tends to predict major side stories or in some cases even main stories for real expansions) so some of the story will be pretty out of left field. Mostly the return of a certain character. Read it after the jump.

Seven Unused Models in World of WarCraft’s Files

I love to search through the game’s models with WoW Model Viewer to learn more about the pieces that make up World of WarCraft. Over the years I’ve found some interesting discoveries inside. Fully (and in one instance partially) complete models that despite being finished are nowhere to be found in the live game. It’s fascinating to see what could have been, so I’ve picked out seven of these unused models (and one bonus, a cut character customization option) to share today. See them all after the read more button!

Sylvanas was Behind the Wrathgate?!

World of WarCraft lore discussion has been set aflame (see what I did there?) over the past few days, following Eurogamer’s interview with Alex Afrasiabi. The interview itself is about the divide of opinions on Sylvanas and her future in Battle for Azeroth. What’s caused the frenzy of confusion and speculation is this one line from Alex:

“I’ve heard these discussions on the internet about ‘she’s going off the rails’, but is she? I’ve been writing Sylvanas personally since 2006, and this is pretty much – the Wrathgate and the Blight and the Forsaken – in character. Those were all under Sylvanas’ orders. What we’re seeing now is an escalation of the plans Sylvanas has, clearly, and we’re in the middle of that.”

The Wrathgate being under Sylvanas’ orders, rather than part of Burning Legion aligned coup that followed, hugely changes one of the most beloved moments in WoW’s history. Is this a misunderstanding? It wouldn’t be the first time Alex Afrasiabi misspoke during an interview. Or was he correct? It’s not the first time Blizzard’s suggested Sylvanas had more to do with the Wrathgate than she let on. I’ll be looking into the implications behind this and various theories below.

The 8.1 Darkshore Quests are Really Bad

I hate being negative. I especially hate it with just how toxic the community has gotten on places like MMO-Champion, the story forums, or Reddit. However the Darkshore questline, as it exists on the 8.1 PTR, has such bad writing feel I need to bring the issues with it to light. When I say bad writing, I don’t mean the normal “I dislike the story they are telling and/or believe the plot decisions and characterizations are bad,” bad writing, which is always to at least a partial degree subjective. I mean the writing is bad in a structural, mechanical sense. The quest text and spoken dialogue is completely at odds with what’s being shown. This is mostly the case for the Alliance quests, but the Horde version has issues as well. Originally I intended to release this after 8.1 goes live, as there are at least three missing cinematics which could provide some context. After some discussions on twitter, I’ve become convinced that releasing this now would be more useful. I doubt there’s enough time for Blizzard to implement any feedback on these quests, much of the voice acting is done and that’s typically the last thing they do once everything else is locked in, but perhaps it could be helpful input for future content. Let’s dive in.

Warning: the following contains heavy spoilers for Patch 8.1.

Sylvanas Windrunner’s Fate, Discussion and Predictions

Battle for Azeroth is officially live! While we explore Kul Tiras and Zandalar, further the war campaign, and recruit new allied races, the question of what fate has in store for the Horde’s Warchief hangs in the air. After how the Burning of Teldrassil turned out, the discussion over Sylvanas and what’s become of the Horde under her rule has been, to pardon the pun, heated. I won’t dwell on the controversy much because the discussion quickly became vitriolic towards Blizzard’s writers (especially Christie Golden) in a way that was far too similar to the worst portions of the Star Wars fandom. Instead let’s look at the story itself and where I think it might be taking Sylvanas.

Battle for Azeroth’s Mission Table is Chock-Full of Lore Development

Since its introduction in Warlords of Draenor, the mission table has been one of the most contentious features in the game. In fact, for both Legion and Battle for Azeroth, developers have mentioned in interviews that they heavily considered scrapping the system only to keep it around anyway. But in Battle for Azeroth, the mission table has a greater purpose, one that at least to lore fanatics, will be invaluable. Recent datamining from WoWhead and MMO-Champion revealed the text for most of level 120 missions, and instead of just being based around stuff we did while leveling, these missions reveal how the war is progressing in the Eastern Kingdoms and Kalimdor. It’s essentially a way to keep the old world’s stories updated without having to do a Cataclysm-style revamp. Read on past the jump to see what these new missions reveal, some of the stuff happening in EK and Kalimdor is pretty out there!

Future Allied Race Speculation

After that pessimistic last article of mine, I feel it would be a good idea to discuss something more positive. So let’s take a look at one of Battle for Azeroth‘s most interesting features, the Allied Race system. Essentially a way to add playable races that would otherwise be too similar to existing ones opens the door to many potential races I would never have thought to be made playable. Then there is the fact that Blizzard said the six allied races coming are just the beginning. It’s unclear, at least to me, whether they meant additional allied races will be added during Battle for Azeroth‘s patch cycle, or if allied races will be something we can expect as a core feature of any future expansion like new regular races or classes. Either way, there are a tons of potential candidates worth speculating on.

So read on past the jump to see my predictions for what allied races we could see in the future.

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