Paul: Hello, BlizzCon. Thank you for coming to the WoW Deep Dive panel. My name is Paul Kubit. Today we are going to dig a little bit deeper into some of the systems that define what goes into World of Warcraft: Shadowlands. A quick outline of what we are going to talk about. First, I am going to talk about Covenants: what they are, what they do; next I am going to talk about some of the changes that are coming to Leveling; next after that, Classes and the changes to your classes and the philosophies about what we are thinking about, and making those changes; and lastly, I am going to talk about Torghast and the Maw that surrounds it.
So without further ado, Covenants.
First, as you know, we are going to the Shadowlands. When you get there, you are going to quest through four different zones, and the context of those zones, you are going to learn about the four different covenants that rule over them.
And then when you get to max level, Level 60, you are going to get the opportunity to make a choice of one, and only one of these Covenants. Which one do you want to join.
Let’s review what these Covenants, and what they are all about. First up is the Kyrians. They are denizens of Bastion. They roam the Shadowlands to shuttle souls from the world of the living, to the world of the death. They are all about purity and humility and righteousness. Good stuff like that.
Next are the Necrolords. These guys, their role in the Shadowlands is to defend the plane against outside invaders. They are comprised of Abominations, Spies, Warlords. Very much a proto-Scourge vibe.
The Night Fae. These are the denizens of Ardenweald. Their business in the Shadowlands is to shepherd the Cycle of Life and Death. Whether a powerful Wild god, or a powerful character of nature dies and passes into the Shadowlands, the Night Fae will help bring them back to health, so they can return to the land of the Living again.
And lastly, the Venthyr. These guys live in Revendreth. Sounds like maybe we have some Venthyr fans. They are the punishers of the unworthy. If you were evil in life, sinful, or prideful and the like, you might get sent to Revendreth, and the Venthyr will bring you low so that you can be built back again as a functioning member of the Shadowlands.
There are a lot of factors that are involved in making this choice of which Covenant you want to join. Let’s discuss what those are.
First up, your Covenant Sanctum. This is a place you are going to be spending a lot of time — not unlike your Faction Hall that your class had when you were in Legion.
So think to yourself, why would you want to spend time in Shadowlands. Do I want to be in a glaring city in the sky? With the Necrolords, do I want to be in this big awesome looking skeletal statue of a warlord? Do I want to be in the glittering galaxies-surrounded veil in the middle of the forest? Or in a spooky vampire castle? The choice is yours.
Next big thing to consider, the abilities they are going to teach you. The first is a Covenant ability, which everyone in the Covenant learns — independent of your class.
This is a non-combat ability typicly, although you can use a lot of them in combat. I like to say it is a way that you can solve a problem without fighting it.
As an example, let’s take a loot at the Night Fae covenant ability: Soulshape. With this, you turn into a Spirit Fox. It gets you a short dash, and also during the duration, enemies ignore you. It lasts for 10 seconds, for as long as you want if you are in a rest area.
So there are a couple of applications here. You can use it to just run forward very quickly, you can use to skip a couple of creatures you don’t want fight for one reason or another; or you can just hang out as a fox.
One cool thing about this ability which isn’t reflected in the tooltip is that it is customizable. There is a number of different creatures in Ardenweald that you can choose to be.
So maybe you are more of a glimmerfly, more of a runestag; there may even be some rare prestige occurrences that you can unlock as part of your Covenant Campaign.
That is the Night Fae ability. Unburden is the Kyrian ability. It is playable in the showfloor. This is a much faster dash. You get 300% faster, lasts a little bit longer, but also you can use it to like float across canyons and things like that; and also it will reduce the radius at which enemies detect you, so you can sneak around things.
The Necrolords get Transcend the Flesh. This is one of my favorite new abilities where you pull out your soul out from your body, leaving your body behind, and you can walk around into the spirit world, and meanwhile your body stays behind and keeps doing whatever you were doing before, if you were just in town, or just standing around, if you were fighting a creature, it will kinda dumbly keep fighting it, maybe using one or two abilities, and you can do whatever you want.
You can fall down a cliff and not take any damage because you are a spirit, you can run behind a tree and pull your body back to you and confuse whoever you were fighting before. Lots of creative applications.
Lastly is Door of Shadows. The Venthyr ability. This is probably the most straightforward. Just pick a location and “poof” — within a couple of seconds you are there. Very similar to how Reaper teleports in Overwatch… Or Overwatch 2, if you are familiar with those games.
You are also going to learn a class ability. This fits in the intersection of what your Covenant is all about, and your class is all about. This is a way to solve problems by murdering them in a classic World of Warcraft ability.
It should feel kinda like your Artifact active abilities from a couple expansions past. As an example today, let’s look at the Kyrian mage ability: Radiant Spark.
So this ability does Arcane damage, independent of whatever your spec is. All mages will learn this if they join the Kyrian. It also deals damage over time; and during that window of 8 seconds, your next 4 attacks — the first one will do 25% additional damage, then 50%, then 75%, and then 100% additional damage. Let’s you pull off some really cool combos, if you can manage to fit those abilities in time.
We are going to use Mage for our other examples as well. If a mage joins the Necrolords, they will get Contagion Bolt. It has kinda the same a similar container to Radiant Spark, but plays a lot differently. It deals Shadow damage, which is correct for a mage in this case; and in this case, your next damaging attacks will splash plague damage to nearby enemies.
So if you want to have another AOE button in your rotation, you might consider joining the Necrolords with your mage.
The Night Fae have a completely different one. This is Shifting Power. They are all about balancing energies within the forest, and you get to do this by kinda pulling energy out from the ground, channel over 3 seconds — every second you channel will grant you haste so that you can use it as a self-buff, and it also damages enemies nearby.
And lastly, the Venthyr have Mirrors of Torment. So the Venthyr, in their soul, they use mirrors to kinda reflect the sun’s light and punish their enemies. You can use to punish your enemies by drawing the Venthyr– it makes three mirrors rotate around your target, and they can’t do anything: cast a spell, or use an ability. They will be rooted and take damage.
Stepping a little bit back. Story time. Soulbinds. Within the story of the Shadowlands, any two characters can choose to bind their souls together. This can be the result of a powerful friendship, a romantic relationship, or just very close brothers and sisters in arms.
But when these two characters choose to go through this ritual, each one will get some power from the other one. When you are in a Covenant, you get to bind your soul to characters as well.
Here are some you might find too in the Venthyr covenant. On the left you will see Theotar, the Mad Duke. If I bind myself to him, a passive ability I might gain is Arrogance. Basically, I deal more crit to creatures with less Health percentage than me, because ha-ha, I am better than you.
Nadjia, the Mistblade — she is more of an offensive, a regular with the sword, and so she will increase your parry rating if you bind with her. If you don’t know how to parry, she will teach you how to parry.
ALLIES WITH BENEFITS
The point here is that this is a way to unlock new power over time. After you get to maximum level, you will continue to increase your character’s power by increasing your relationship with these characters.
You can also customize your relationship and the power that they give you with a new item type called Conduits.
Here is an early look at what the UI might look like in-game. This is Theotar’s ability.
You can see at the top, up there, that’s Arrogance. That’s why I get that ability. I have a choice for another ability if I don’t like this one.
Here in the middle, this is a Conduit — where I have chosen to put in a Survivability ability, which gives me DR damage reduction at lower health.
Alternately I can put in this ability, which improves my healing.
So without getting into too much detail, the point here is to give you a system that allows you to Soulbind that best suits you. You should be able to choose these for whatever reason you like.
Maybe you like the way that Theotar’s ability feels; maybe you think that Nadjia’s is better because she is higher damage throughput; maybe it is just the way that Theotar looks: he has this ripping 8-pack that he is representing. Those are all valid reasons to be able to choose; and you should be able to do so.
You can also switch Soulbinds fairly easily. As easily as switching talents. Just pop a talent to remove whatever, and you can switch your Soulbinds to counter a particular challenge; and of course, these are big characters that have rich inner-life, and you are going to learn a lot about them as you adventure with them in the Shadowlands.
I would like to point out these are not necessarily bodyguards. The nature of the Soulbind is that you get their power, even if they are far far away. So you are not going to have them follow you around all the time.
In addition, you will often get a lot of cool stuff. There are weapons and armor which really reflect the status of what your Covenant is about, including Backpack-styled cloaks. We call them Backpack-styled… but really it is cloaks that aren’t just a piece of cloth; and I will show you some examples in a moment.
There is a mount, which is upgradeable. This is one of the prime ways that you can show how far you have really pressed your relationship with your Covenant.
There is World benefits. In the case of Maldraxxus, with the Necrolords, you can build your own Abomination. We call it build-a-bom internally, where you kinda put together a head, and arms, and weapons, and he will follow you around as a bodyguard in that zone — as a perk of being a Necrolord. Other Covenants will get different perks; and I would be remissive if I didn’t mention that there is a full Covenant Campaign which kinda defines your end-game story — depending of which Covenant you have joined.
Let’s take a look at some of those armor sets. These are the four Plate Sets: Kyrians, Necrolords, Night Fae, and Venthyr.
Some back attachments. There is a wings look for the Kyrians. This is one of their sigils in one of their temples; and lastly, kinda like a halo-ish shield look.
There are a lot of factors that go into making this choice, and you should consider these factors before you make it. I do want to point out that it is possible to change your Covenant if you feel like you have made a mistake, or you want to find out someone new; but it will take some time to build up your relationship with your new allies.
Before I leave, I want to try something out. I know you have limited information; but I am going to kinda call up the names of each of the four Covenants. I want to get some data as to like what you guys are vibing on. So first I am going to go with Kyrians. Kyrians, where are you at?
Necrolords. Let me hear you. Me. Paul here. I am a Necrolord.
(Audience: louder Wooo!!!)
Night Fae where are you at?
And lastly, if you are a Venthyr, say: Blah!
(Audience: very loud Blah!!!)
Alright. Up next, my close friend and colleague Kevin Martens is going to talk about the changes to leveling in the future of World of Warcraft.
NEXT: NEW LEVELING FLOW
|BLIZZCON 2019 WORLD OF WARCRAFT: SHADOWLANDS DEEP DIVE PANEL TRANSCRIPT
|2. New Leveling Flow
|3. Class Philosophy
|4. Torghast and The Maw
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