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Broken Isles – End-Game Systems

Ion: That was the world of the Broken Isles. So much to get through. We’ll talk about dungeons and raids, but before we get to that let’s talk a little bit about the gameplay and the systems of the Broken Isles themselves. As you went through an amazing tour of the world, you saw all the magical places you will be visiting, the land you are exploring, but one thing that was notably absent from what Gary and Julian talked about was what order you will be tackling these zones in. Right? Where do you start? Where do you end?

Over the years, over the course of a lot of the past expansions, we have taken a few different approaches to how we flow players to the zones. Sometimes you have a single starting zone like the Jade Forest in Pandaria, other times you have had choices like Vash’jir and Mount Hyjal, other times like in Warlords of Draenor it has been a faction thing where the Horde started in Frostfire Ridge and the Alliance started in Shadowmoon Valley.

So as we started thinking about and talking about the Broken Isles, we figured: “Alright, you are going to start out in the city of Dalaran (kinda your flying fortress, your base) from where you mount your assault with the Legion, and then you work your way clockwise around the zone, culminating in Suramar. Maybe getting two or two and a half levels each step of the way. So you probably hit 110 kinda late in Highmountain or Suramar.”



But while we were doing that, we started building the expansion with this in mind and this direction. While we were doing that, we were of course continuing to work on Warlords of Draenor, and to see how some of Warlords systems were playing out.



We were learning a lot more about how to make content and combat the scales. Now in our raids we have Flexible Raiding from 10 to 30 players. We have Time Walking — which we introduced in Patch 6.2, where we allow players to run all content regardless of their current power level. Even the Proving Grounds now actually uses a model where the things that you are fighting scales up to match your gear level.

So we were looking at how all that was playing out and started talking on our end: “Well, what would it look like if we extended that approach to the world as a whole, rather than just in instances?”

What does that mean potentially for the Broken Isles? Well, what if instead of starting in a zone and working your way counter or clockwise… if you wanted, you could do this:



Or what if you wanted to do this?



Or what if you wanted to do this?



In a world where the zone scales, all these things are possible. Wouldn’t that be cool?

So in the Broken Isles, exactly. It would be cool. That’s the answer. In the Broken Isles, there will be four level up zones that all scale flexibly. So if you wanted to start in Azsuna or Stormheim or Val’sharah or Highmountain, you can choose the path you want to take through the Broken Isles.

You can explore the world as you choose. You can carve your own path to victory and to defeat the Burning Legion. Your objective in each of these zones is to acquire the Titan relic from that zone, known as the Pillars of Creation, that is needed to seal up the Tomb of Sargeras — to stop the Legion invasion of our world.



So it doesn’t matter what zone you start in, you will have to go to all four. That’s basically how you can see approaching the expansion. You start one level, move on to the next. Eventually, all roads still lead to Suramar.

Suramar is a fixed level, max level 110 zone. The entire zone exists for players who have already been through all the zones, who have reached the maximum level of 110, and that’s where your journey will come to its conclusion. At least for now.

One of the great things of flexibility also does is it makes is so much easier to play with your friends. It removes the barrier of level — to just jump in and quest in the outer world.

Let’s say the expansion comes out, you head up Azsuna and Stormheim, you are maybe level 105-106, your friend has gone to Highmountain, he’s likely at level 102. You both logon. You’d like to quest together. Today that’s impossible, but in Legion you can both go to (let’s say) Val’sharah to which neither of you have previously been, adventure alongside each other, have a great time playing all-new content, and it will all just work.

So one question you are all probably asking: How? How does this work? A couple of key details … first off, we are not scaling you down. We are not nerfing you. As you walk around, your stats aren’t going to suddenly be depressed to match the level of the zone that you are in, we are scaling the world around you.

This is seemlessly integrated into the UI, into the field of combat, if it takes you 12-15 seconds as level 102 player to kill a level 102 boar, it will probably take you the exact same amount of time (give or take) as a level 106 player to kill that boar. So it should all work.

Our goal here, for someone who isn’t at BlizzCon, who isn’t following along with the latest news about the game, reading the patch notes, they are just excited to play the new WoW expansion — they should be able to buy the game hop in and go questing, and not even necessarily know that anything is different. It should just feel like the WoW questing experience you are used to; except for a whole lot of freedom.

Now, of course, the itemizations in the zones as we do this have to follow suit though. If you are level 102, you are getting appropriate quest rewards to your level. The same if you are level 107. Don’t worry. The scaling doesn’t go all the way to max level. So you aren’t going to be desincentivized like skip all the quests and come back and do them at max level. Just play the game. They will be fine.

And of course, alongside all this, your artifact is something that is continually growing in power, and that’s keeping you ahead of the power curve.



So you will be stronger at level 108 than when you were at 102, thanks to your artifact which is of course the key to success against the Burning Legion; and throughout the individual zones there are still going to be some max-only creatures to keep you on your toes. The equivalent of the Fel Reaver wandering around, or that really scary demon base that doesn’t scale. You are going to need to wait to come back at max level to tackle that.

So that is level up in the Broken Isles. Now what about end-game? What happens when you hit max level? How are you going to make use of this space?

Now, again over the years, over the course of expansions you had a lot of different approaches we have taken to this system, this problem, this type of content. So for those of you who have played back in Wrath of the Lich King, you are probably familiar with this fellow. You probably spent quite a number of days doing his bidding. You did that, so you could buy this stuff so you wouldn’t walk around with unenchanted shoulders and that was kinda important; and then once you were done (once you were revered or exalted, whatever your goal was) you probably weren’t going back to do these dailies anymore.


For the dailies in Mists of Pandaria, Lao Softfoot got stuck in his cage. In a pretty regular basis, you may have rescued this exact guy from this exact cage dozens of times. You did it as part of a sprawling network of daily quest content that told advanced stories. That’s what we did in Mists of Pandaria.



More recently in Warlords of Draenor, of course, you have your command table choice in a daily basis deciding where you want to go. It is a single quest that’s given to you, but you get to choose your path — whether you want to go to one place or another, and there are various ways to complete your objectives.



So that brings us to “Legion.” Our core goal for Legion outdoor in-game gameplay is to deliver the best of both worlds. Taking the best of Warlords of Draenor and Mists of Pandaria. We want to keep the player freedom. The ability that we had in Warlords of Draenor to choose where you wanted to go, to choose how you wanted to complete your objective in a given day.



We also wanted to keep that free-form gameplay in certain areas where you could choose multiple routes to complete your objective; but we wanted to imbue it with that sense of purpose and storytelling that we had in Mists of Pandaria — where there was a clear reason for your actions, a clear point to what you were doing, to what you were accomplishing, the enemies you were defeating, the allies you were making, the bonds you were forging with those allies.

All of these things served to advance the story once you had reached max level, and that’s something that is essential for us to do a better job with. Now while we want freedom and flexibility, we also want a sense of structure so that you have some idea where to begin, where to end, what you probably should be doing; but we wanted to liberate that sense of structure without the sense of compulsioness that sometimes come along with these dailies, where it feels like when you miss a single day, you are falling behind, and you feel obligated to login even if that wasn’t what you were looking for to do in that evening.

Finally, one new thing that never could have been a bullet point before today is that because the Broken Isles are flexible, we can make use of the entire continent of the Broken Isles for in-game outdoor gameplay. We don’t need to limit you to a little small section of the zone like it is the way in the Valley of the Four Winds in Pandaria, there was the Hozen Plateau, and that was pretty much the only max-level place in that entire zone except for the farm. This time around, we can make you use all of it.

So bringing all that together, what does that mean? What we want to do in Legion is have a system of outdoor world quests constantly ongoing, constantly shuffling so that everytime you login your map is littered with multiple objectives, various types of gameplay, varied reasons, varied rewards, and you can choose what you want to do, which zone you want to go to, how you want to approach tackling the outdoor world. Each one of these icons that you see on the map represents a world quest — an objective that you can just go to.



This is not necessarily a quest given to you, and there is a reward that is plainly visible there. These will be available for a short period of time. They will vary wildly from maybe just a few hours for a simple objective like this that gives you Artifact Power, and you aren’t going to miss it if it is gone; to an entire week for something that is rare or more epic in terms of its reward.

We want to get away from a strict daily schedule and get more into an organic sense where you can come and go; and there is always can be something new and exciting waiting for you when you login. So let’s talk a little bit more about this.

So really the hallmark of this system as we see it is: variety. We want to overwhelm you with choices. We want to overwhelm you with options. A way to looking at this is actually kinda like the Garrison Missions that your followers get to do in Warlords, you as a player get to do in Legion.



You can login, see this incredible list of things, decide what rewards you value, what content you want to tackle, and this is a wrap we can really use to cover virtually everything we are doing in the outdoor world in Legion.

A lot of these are going to be tied to specific factions, the reputations that you have met as you have adventured through the world — whether you are aiding your Night Fallen allies in Suramar. or the Highmountain tauren, or other factions; and also let’s us do types of gameplays like (for example) PvP Objectives. Maybe if you are a Horde player, some of these objectives would be Alliance-held towers that you can assault, where you have the quest of killing a few NPCs there. Of course, going there is going to flag you for PvP, so it is up to you if you want to do that or not. Your call.

Similarly, our existing world raid bosses can be actually wrapped around this system as something that comes along and sticks around for 7 days, and gives you an awesome epic reward, to then be replaced by something else, as they all cycle through.

Professions, Gatherers, if you are a miner, if you are a herbalist, you might have access to unique outdoor objectives that are specific to your gathering skill that let you interact with the world in a way that others can’t; and finally this wrapper gives us a chance to bring back some of that fun mini-game gameplay to think back to gnomebliteration, rolling around crushing thousands of gnomes in Uldum, or Roll Club — basically lots of things that involve rolling, that was the rolling down the Great Wall in Valley of Eternal Blossoms. All those can be free-form adventures, free-form objectives that you are going to tumble into, and experience.

What is the structure for this? How is this actually going to work from a player’s experience perspective? Of course, this map of Objectives– that map by the way, we want to have consistent for the entire region so the entirety of North America will basically have the same objective. So you don’t have to be server hoping, trying to find the one that you want, but you can always play with your friends in other servers because you all have the same goals. What we see here is your Class Order Halls.



This is the Paladin Class Order Hall where in a regular basis emissaries of the different factions of the Broken Isles will come to visit you to request your assistance; because they are in need of your assistance as one of the great champions of the world, and when you accept their quest they are asking you to go out and do some objectives on behalf of their faction.

Now, the Valkyr emissary from Stormheim (for example) may ask you to do 5 Valkyr-related objectives; but actually it’s probably going to be 10 or even a dozen options. So you can look at the map and pick the types of gameplay and pick the types of rewards that you like the most, and pick those for how you are going to satisfy her request.

You might also notice the quest markers over their heads. They are not blue. They are gold. That’s because these aren’t strictly daily quests. These emissaries will come to your Order Hall, but they will stick around for a few days. So if you haven’t attended them eventually they will kinda get bored and frustrated and wander off; but if you haven’t login in a couple of days, you have a few more of them waiting for you. You can think of them more of the way of quests for games like Hearthstone or Heroes of the Storm where even if you don’t login for a few days, there is still going to be something there waiting for you next time you login. It is that freedom without the sense of pressure or obligation.


Browse these pages:Backstory OverviewCinematic and StorytellingDemon Hunter IntroThe Broken Isles
SuramarEnd-Game SystemsDungeons & Raids