On Friday 7th, our reporter Handclaw was at Gamescom 2015 and had the honor to have a World of Warcraft : Legion interview with both Tom Chilton (Game Director, Vice President) and Ion Hazzikostas (Lead Game Designer) about the content for the incoming expansion.
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Q: Will we be seeing an interstitial patch or dungeon after Fury of Hellfire, like how the Ruby Sanctum bridged Wrath and Cataclysm? Basically, how will the event, of the Legion, be introduced to us?
A: Tom Chilton: So, the legion will be introduced to us by an Event that takes place before the expansion launches, it will be the largest invasion of Azeroth we’ve seen. And in addition to that there will be a patch before that, that adds the flying that we are doing for Warlords, so as far as wrapping up Warlords content, there is the patch with flying and the mercenary mode; but then to introduce the next expansion and make that transition we have the Legion Invasion of the world.
A: Ion Hazzikostas: I think we found, like see in Ruby Sanctum, I think in practice Ruby Sanctum didn’t do a whole lot to bridge the gap between Wrath and Cataclysm. It was something that was entertaining for you like, one boss, you went in, we did for a week or so. And I think for guilds that were done with Icecrown, that finished to beat the Lich King it didn’t mean fully change what there was to do, and for guilds that were still working through Icecrown, it wasn’t really that relevant to them, it was actually kind of out of their league initially, so I think we focused mainly on making Legion as awesome as it can be and get it out to the players as soon as possible.
Q: In Warcraft II, Gul’dan raised the Broken Isles from the depths of the sea. Is the entire continent the Broken Isles?
A: Tom Chilton: Yes, essentially it is. We also saw in Warcraft 3, we saw the Broken Isles as the places to go to the Tomb of Sargeras, so that was in the campaign for Warcraft 3, so it is the same area.
Q: Have you identified problems about WoD’s storytelling? What are you doing to address those issues in this new expansion?
A : Tom Chilton: So, I would say the biggest problem, because there is a lot of Story in Warlords of Draenor, as we saw in the Story so far build up, but we don’t feel like we did well enough is to express that story through the in-game world content, you know, the chapter quest that we had for the different daily bonus objective areas were really not enough story-wise. So that’s something we want to do a better job of in 7.0, to have the story kinda develop in the outdoor world gameplay at level 110.
Q: For the lore fans, what’s the single biggest thing you want to tell them about this expansion?
A: Ion Hazzikostas: There is a lot for lore to cover, it’s kinda difficult to pick a single thing honestly. I mean, it’s really exciting to have an expansion that centers around the Burning Legion, there is much history there, and they really are that ultimate threat in the Warcraft Universe that was always looming over us. But, if I had to pick one thing, I would say, something that is a little bit different, is to see the Emerald Dream finally and to see the Emerald Nightmare it has turned into. To delve into some of these roots of Druidism and Nightelf Druidic Culture, it’s going to lead into the zone Val’Sharah and be involved in a dungeon and raid associated with it. We know that’s something people were asking for, that people were asking for year and years, and it’s great to finally have a chance to tell the Story to go there.
Q: Will we get an additional Toon slot now with the introduction of the new class?
A: Tom Chilton & Ion Hazzikostas: Yep.
Q: How will artifact weapons be handled for specs that use different weapon setups? (ie Titans Grip vs Single-Minded Fury, Dual-Wield vs 2h Frost).
A: Ion Hazzikostas: The kind of plan there is that there is one specific artifact per spec, so, using Frost Death-Knight as an example: Currently they can pick a single two-hander or they can dual wield. The artifact, is going to be two one-handed runeblades, so, that spec is going to be much more focused on dual wielding and Frost will be the Dual-wield spec in Legion and likely beyond, whereas Unholy will continue to use the two-handed Runeblade.
Q: As you drive towards having fewer buttons available to each player at any one time via pruning, how will you still provide existing classes with new and exciting abilities?
A: Tom Chilton: So, we are going to make sure that the abilities that we do have are awesome, and really valuable to the players. In addition, we have things like the artifacts which will introduce new aspects of gameplay to the character classes. So that’s a whole new avenue for new gameplay for the classes that we are going to add. Then we also have the new Honor System. In PvP, you will have some additional abilities beyond that that are meant to be very specific for PvP. Because in the past, those were buttons that sometimes might have gotten cut because they were only useful in PVP that was sitting around on a lot of people’s action bars, but not really getting a whole lot of use. But now with the PVP Talent system, we can make sure that it is there for the audience that cares about it and likes it, but it’s not going to clutter up pretty much everyone else’s action bar.
Q: With the introduction of the Artifact system, are ordinary weapons or weapon transmog going to become obsolete, or are there plans to keep them relevant?
A: Ion Hazzikostas: In the timeframe of Legion, the Artifact will be pretty much the only weapon that you wield. So, everyone will get their artifact early on as their first step in their experience as they enter the Broken Isles as we need them to take on the Burning Legion. So it’s your only hope to success. As for transmog, the current thinking is if you want to transmog over your artifact if you don’t like Ashbringer and you want it to look like a Rusty Axe instead, you can do that. I would think you are crazy to do it, but there is no reason that you can’t.
But in terms of the Power Progression associated with weapons, that’s something that’s going to occur through a different kind of items that we didn’t talk about yesterday. But, your artifact is also going to have a number of “Relic Slots” and those Relics will determine its raw stats, like its DPS as a weapon, if you want spell power on it, how much strength and stamina it has. Those relics will also give the perks and modifiers to the traits on the weapon. And those will be obtained from more traditional sources like Quest rewards, Dungeon Boss drops, Raid Boss drops, so that’s going to be your item progression that makes your weapon slot grow more powerful through the expansion.
Q: We helped Draenor be free of the Iron Horde and the Burning Legion. Will Draenor’s forces help us in our quest to save Azeroth?
A: Tom Chilton: No, they really are going to stay in their own timeline and be part of their own story. The fight for Azeroth will be by the citizens of Azeroth.
A: Ion Hazzikostas: As you see in the very end of the cinematic after defeating Archimonde, they have a broken world to rebuild and that’s their main project and their own struggles.
Q: What role will Illidan have in this expansion?
A:Tom Chilton: That’s to be discovered. The Illidan storyline will carry through the entire expansion and that’s one of the main things players can look forward to explore and learn about.
Q: As of right now Demon Hunters seem to be Blood- and Night Elf only. Will this stay this way or might you open it up to other races?
A: Ion Hazzikostas: In Legion, certainly only elven races will be Demon hunters, part of it is, you aren’t just any demon hunter in general, you are a lead member of the Illidari, specifically the Demon Hunters that were in Illidan’s service at the Black Temple that you saw back in Outland, and that’s where your story begins.
Everything about Demon hunters as we’ve seen them and further described in Warcraft Lore, focuses on these two races, and that’s what makes sense for the story that we are telling.
So I think also that when players have been excited about playing a demon hunter when they were asking us for years, if we do them as a hero class, the fantasy of the demon hunter — what immediately comes to mind, is Illidan or the associated Blood Elves we saw in Burning Crusade. I don’t think anyone has this picture of a dwarven demon hunter in their heads. So I think that’s what we are focusing on and I think it’s the right choice for Legion.
Q: Are there bigger class changes planned for existing classes, like for Demonoloy Warlocks or given the melee artifact for Survival Hunter?
A: Tom Chilton: Definitely, pretty much every spec in the game is going to get some number of changes, some more than others, a great example would be the Survival Hunter.
Because, with the Survival Hunter, we are going to be attempting to make all the different Hunter specs far more distinct from each other. The Survival Hunter is going to be a melee spec with a pet, the Beastmaster Hunter is going to be ranged with a pet, and the Marksmanship Hunter is going to be ranged with no pet. So you will have some very distinct ways of playing the game as hunter.
We are going to be taking a similar approach to other specs in the game, too, really trying to make them more distinct than they were for a long time, and have very clear strengths and weaknesses, and identities.
A: Ion Hazzikostas: I mean, for the Demonology Warlock players have wondered: “Wait. if Demonhunters get Metamorphosis, what is going to happen to us?” And the answer there is that the Demology Warlocks in Legion and beyond are going to be more focused and returning to their roots as Masters of summoning and controlling other demons. And that’s where their power lies in all way back during Vanilla or Burning Crusade, the Demonology Talent tree was full of talents that increased your pets health and damage, that let you summon a felguard, and they were really focused around that. And overtime they drifted more and more over one ability, Metamorphosis, at the expense of what was their core identity. So, as we look at the Warlock Class in Legion, the Affliction Warlock is the master of Dots, and they put all those curses and afflictions on you that slowly rot you away; the Destruction Warlock has bursty damage, commanding fel flame, and destructive magic, while the Demonologist is almost the beastmaster version of Warlock, it is the Warlock that really wants to specialize in pets and use minions to enhance his abilities.
Q: It has been stated that there will be improvements to social interaction. Can you elaborate?
A: Tom Chilton: So, there is somethings we are actively working on, for example, when you have a friend that joins a queue (for let’s say Dungeon Finder, or the Raid Finder) who want to be able to notify other people that “Hey, your friend is joining the queue, would you like to join up with them?” and then you can easily click that button and kinda get together with your friends more easily than you did before.
We also have some ideas for how to improve communication among groups, so that players can have … you know, a lot of players have a group of friends that they raid with, and in addition, they have a group of friends they PvP with (things like that), we would like to make communication with groups like that better and more streamlined and have more power.
So, there are a lot of different ideas that we have, and we have some different things that are in progress, but more details will be coming as we do more work on those.
Q: Will past legendary items, like Shadowmorne, Val’anir, Atiesh or the Fangs of the Father reappear as artifact weapons or become transmogable?
A: Tom Chilton: Those are two very separate questions. No, they won’t be artifacts. They will stay legendaries, and artifacts are kind of a different thing. They are really not the same thing like a legendary.
But it’s possible that in the future some of those will be transmogable, although probably not the ones that you can just go and farm all the time. It’s more likely to be the ones that are only available for a limited time, like the Mists of Pandaria cloaks, but we’ll see.
Q: From the way Class Orders sort of sound, they almost resemble a sort of Garrisons 2.0. Can you offer some further examples as to how Class Orders will differ from Garrisons and promote your character to explore the open world, instead of being stapled to your Order’s location at all times?
A: Ion Hazzikostas: Absolutely, in many ways, Class Orders are not Garrisons 2.0, they are a very different sort of feature that have a very different sort of purpose in the world of the game. It’s not a personal space, it’s a shared space with other members of your class, like a private club house that only paladins can go into, only rogues can go into, in the sewers of Dalaran for example.
The other changes that includes more interaction, have to do with differences between the follower system missions in Warlords, and what Champions are going to be in Legion going forward.
As mentioned in the presentation, you have many more followers, doing less of an impact, but beyond that I think that the core philosophy that we’ve learned from the Garrisons as they played out, was that, often it didn’t feel great, having your followers doing things instead of you, going out on adventures and killing some great beast and bringing the reward back to you with no interaction on your own part.
It also competed with other kinds of content, every garrison mission where your follower brought back a piece of loot, gave you less reason and less incentive to want to go out into the world and get apexis crystals, run a dungeon, or do LFR, or whatever other source of loot you might have, because the Garrisons provided an easier access to that same reward.
In Legion, we really want to focus the champions on unlocking content for you, or complimenting content that you otherwise do in the outdoor world, so you might send someone out on a scouting mission in a zone, where they will uncover a threat or a hidden treasure, and when you go there, you might fight along side them or not, and reclaim that yourself. Or perhaps you assign them to patrol a zone, and while you are there you are adventuring in that zone, you’ll get bonuses to your combat or the rewards that you are getting, so, they are powerful, they are enhancing your gameplay experience, but they are not denying you the incentive to do content.
Q: During the presentation we saw new customization, will they be available for playable characters? For example: the moose tauren.
A: Well, surely all the stuff we saw for the demon hunter customization will be available. But, maybe someday it’s possible to do moose horns on your tauren, but we don’t have any plans for that right now.