06Nov

BlizzCon 2019 World of Warcraft: Shadowlands Panel Transcript

SYSTEMS AND REWARDS

Ok. So, I talked a lot about content. Let’s talk a little bit about systems. Again, I’m going to touch on some things briefly here that we’re going to get into greater detail about tomorrow at the Deep Dive. But first off, as we’ve thought about all of these things, our core philosophy, a central pillar has been we want to increase player agency, we want to give all of you, a feeling of more control over your destiny. Whether that’s in how you play your class, or if its in how you chase the rewards that you want.

We’ve heard a lot of your feedback, we’ve been hearing this for a while, and it hasn’t fallen on deaf ears, I promise. I want to give a few examples of how this philosophy is influencing some of our decisions and we’ll have many more to follow. Now, big expansion systems and the nuances of how loot works; these are things we are going to keep iterating on over the course of development. So I don’t have a fully fleshed out answer to provide right now; but I want to give you a direction of how we’re thinking.

PROFESSIONS

So one simple example, first: professions. So right now if you are a leatherworker, or blacksmith, or a tailor, and you want to make a pair of legs for yourself to wear using Raid materials, you probably have a couple of stats in mind. Let’s say you want Crit Haste pants; and so you’re crafting, and whoops… you got mastery/versatility pants; and you craft, and craft and salvage and craft until you get the ones you want. Why does it have to be that way? What if you could take a Crit Gem and a Haste Gem and add them as optional materials to your craft and be guaranteed to get a crafted item with a secondary stat you want?

(Cheering starts)

So, that’s a small example, I realize, you know, not fixing professions, but we also do very much want to make the armor crafting professions relevant in a deeper way in endgame.

The weekly loot chest, ok. Is there any more hated example of RNG in World of Warcraft today? Right, you’ve done your mythic keystone, you’ve filled your conquest bar, you go to open this chest and you’re pulling from a loot table that has like, a 100+ items and hoping that you get the item that you want and the slot that you want, with the stats that you want; and hopefully it has sockets, and Warforges, or even Titanforges, and then maybe you can wear it. And most of the time, after the first few weeks of the season, you’re probably walking away disappointed; and that sucks. Because the point of us to having a major reward moment, it’s a payoff for something that you did in the past week; and because of randomness, that’s falling short; and it’s an example of randomness gone too far.

Randomness can be healthy, but there are places where it really is excessive. We’re looking at pulling that back where possible. So what if instead of the loot chest, there were some other device, some contraption that measured the things that you’ve done that had some sense of how many dungeons you’ve done, of what difficulty, or what your PvP rating was, or what bosses you bonus-rolled; and it could instead materialize or create one of a list of items; and instead of clicking the chest and it spitting out a random item… You see 5 or 6 options to choose among; and you could pick the one that you wanted most.

(Cheering starts)

That’s the kind of thing we’re aiming for; with also some universally relevant fallback options if you don’t like any of those items so that you always at least feel like you’ve made some progress towards some goal instead of walking away disappointed.

LEGENDARIES

Legendaries. So, ok! Here’s the thing: Legion Legendaries were super fun. They were exciting items that transformed your gameplay. 99% of the complaints that we heard about Legion Legendaries were in how they were obtained. Having the power of last bracers was awesome. It made you play differently as a Fire Mage and it was strong. Having Prydaz, when the other Fire Mage in your Raid group had the power of last bracers and having nothing you could do to change that did not feel awesome. So, we want to bring Legendaries back in Shadowlands; but rather than have them be randomly obtained, we want them to be something that you can work towards actually crafting through your work in Torghast.

(Cheering resumes)

When you are earning access to Legendary powers, and then building the Legendary that suits your gameplay style, working towards that goal, and once you accomplish it, picking the next goal you want to work towards and doing so.

CLASSES

Last: Classes. So, (cheers) this is a little bit different from agency in other ways, but we’ve moved in the last few years pretty heavily away from broad class identity to a point where an Arcane Mage and a Fire Mage may have more that sets them apart then they have in common; and when you all picked the character you wanted to make, whether it was a week ago or 15 years ago, you chose to be a hunter, or a rogue, or a priest for some specific reason.

Not a marks hunter or a subtlety rogue, or a discipline priest; and increasingly, that’s been overly compartmentalized in ways that have restricted your ability to play the class in the way you might want to play the class. So we’re going to talk about this a lot tomorrow at our Deep Dive panel; and this means, in some cases, we’re taking abilities that have become spec specific and bringing them back to being class wide; and other cases it means returning abilities that were taken away altogether. And so… (cheers)… talking about this, so showing this at length tomorrow at our Deep Dive panel will be my colleague Brian Holinka, or as I like to call him, Holinka the Unpruner.

(audience laughs)

LEVELING

Ok, and to go kind of quickly since we don’t have too much time left, but… Leveling. So, you may notice that I’ve said max-level a whole bunch of times in this presentation, and I haven’t said a number. And some of you who made it to our demo may have noticed, “What the heck, I’m level 50.” You’re level 50. (Cheering starts) So, existing 120 characters are 50, everything scales smoothly in between, and you will level from 50 to 60 in the Shadowlands.

Why are we doing this? Why these numbers? Ultimately, it’s about making the experience better paced. We have hundreds of hours of content that we’ve built into the game over the last 15 years, we don’t want it to take hundreds of hours to get to max level. We want to speed up the rate at which you level to get into endgame, and give you more freedom and options in how you do that. But if you’re getting a level literally every 10 minutes along the way, that starts to feel a bit silly. So, this number allows us to better match the content that we have that should be experienced on the way to max-level, and also get back to a place where every level, every time you fill that bar, gives you something because this is an RPG, and that’s what levels should do.

(Cheering starts)

So, we also have a brand-new “New Player” zone to show off some of the best of modern World of Warcraft to new players and on your Alts, we want to give you the option to play through the storyline of any single expansion in its entirety to get you from 1 to 50. If you want to play through Pandaria, play through the whole thing and then go to Shadowlands.

(Cheering)

CHARACTER CUSTOMIZATION

Ok, a different type of agency. Agency of self-expression. Want to talk a little about visual character customization, character appearances, right like, everyone here, you have this powerful connection to your WoW character.

I’ve seen people spend way too long messing with hairstyles, picking the exact look, the exact facial expression because that’s your avatar in the game, that’s your connection to the world. We always want to do better there, we always want to increase the fidelity, we want to give more options. And so, in recent expansions we’ve done things like add allied races, or improve the combat animations.

This time around, our focus is on improving the customization available to the original World of Warcraft races. Now what I want to share with you, I want to share with you a few examples of a work in progress from a few WoW races, but the idea here is just to give more options than ever before so that you can actually look and feel, like how you want to feel, and different from the others around you who play the exact same race. So let’s take a look at some of what’s in-store.

Trolls: So, for Trolls, we want to give a few options for different skin colors, hair colors, hair styles, tusk shapes, piercings, body paints, tattoos, and also amazing things like the ability to set your eye color different from the look of your face. (Cheering) Because, I don’t know, it’s 2020, and the technology is finally there. What can I say? (Laughing)

Dwarves: Similarly, you want that Wildhammer look, go for it. Different skin colors, hair colors and more.

Maybe you play an undead. A forsaken. (Cheering) And you don’t want all of your bony parts sticking out of your flesh, or maybe you do. Up to you.

And last, but certainly not least, in my examples: Humans. Perhaps, (audience awes at what is onscreen), perhaps you play as a human in World of Warcraft and wish that you could play a character that looks and feels a little bit more like you. We agree. (Clapping) And so this is the tip of the iceberg, we have many more examples to come; and this is something really that’s an endless process of improvement for us, but this is a first step.

Finally, one more small thing: I mentioned earlier that Bolvar and his Death Knights are very important to this battle that awaits us; and so what better time than to bolster the ranks of Death Knights, than now? So, in Shadowlands, everyone can be a Death Knight: Pandaren, Kul Tirans, Zandalari, Mechagnome, Vulpera… go nuts.

Alright, that’s all I got for now. Thank you so much for joining me on this whirlwind tour of Shadowlands. Lots more information tomorrow. So right here tomorrow, we’ll have our Deep Dive panel at 11:15am, just before noon; and then Q&A and developer’s tales later in the day.

Enjoy BlizzCon, have a wonderful weekend. I love you all!

WORLD OF WARCRAFT: WHAT'S NEXT PANEL TRANSCRIPT
1. Intro to the Shadowlands2. Zones3. Covenants4. Oribos & The Maw
5. Pre-Shadowlands World Event6. Alt Characters7. Dungeons & Raids8. Systems & Rewards
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BlizzCon 2019 Panel Transcripts

Tomas Hernandez is owner of Blizzplanet.com since 2003. I post news about World of Warcraft, StarCraft II, Diablo III, Hearthstone, Overwatch, Heroes of the Storm, Blizzard Careers, and the Warcraft film. Blizzplanet is a leading fansite covering news about upcoming Blizzard Entertainment licensed products. I also post previews and reviews. I have interviewed book writers and Blizzard game developers. I was previously an employee of the OGaming Network (2003), and IncGamers (2008-2010). I was a guest newsposter for GosuGamers (World of Warcraft) a few years ago and for Diablofans.com (formerly Diablo3.com) ***Fans who would love to watch Blizzard-related panels and appreciate our efforts can support Blizzplanet's patreon in a monthly-basis, or a one-time basis. Our staff are volunteer fans like you. Your donations will help us travel to all the Blizzard events we attend year-round to bring you the latest interview with the developers, photos, and panel videos (where allowed).