BlizzCon 2019 - Shadowlands, Diablo IV, Overwatch 2, Hearthstone: Descent of Dragons, and more!

BlizzCon 2019 - Developer Interview
We sat down with Michael Bybee and Patrick Magruder to talk about Shadowlands!

Flying
  • Flying will work similar to previous expansions, with a variation of Pathfinder.

PvP
  • The team is still deciding on changes to the PvP Honor system and rewards.
  • The zones scaling for your alts that level out of order presents an interesting challenge when it comes to PvP and War Mode on. The team is working on making it fun and interesting.

Leveling
  • The team is working hard to make sure the flow of the new leveling experience makes sense.
  • Between the new player zone and Battle for Azeroth, the team is adding an interstitial experience. A new player might learn how to navigate a city, find flight masters, choose your spec, and getting a mount.
  • If you're going to be sending new and existing players into Battle for Azeroth, it makes a lot of sense for them to have a mount.
  • The team is still talking about what level getting Mage Portals is appropriate. It doesn't make sense for players to be suddenly restricted from things they used to be able to do.
  • If you aren't in Chromie time, zones will only scale up to the cap for that expansion. You can still level that way though!
  • If you want to go back to Pandaria and farm for transmog or rares, you wouldn't want the zone scaling, so you need Chromie Time to scale it.
  • Players will be scaled down in level in a natural way, keeping in mind the expansion milestones, such as being level 100 at the end of Warlords.
  • There will not be a stat squish. It's very important that players feel just as powerful when they log in to play the expansion.

Covenants
  • It will be expensive to change Covenants. They aren't sharing the details at this time, but it's intended to be a significant choice. This is why you get to experience each Covenant. You'll probably be starting over from the beginning.
  • The team isn't sure if the transmog and mounts from Covenants will be restricted to the character that earned it or if alts can use it yet.
  • As the expansion progresses, there will be probably be other Covenant rewards.
  • Covenant abilities might get other cosmetic choices, similar to the fox one.
  • There will be reputations, but it might be in a different form.
  • Covenants won't operate the way you are used to reputations operating. There won't be a bar to fill to Exalted, it'll be a much more involved process. You are forming a relationship with this Covenant and individual characters in it to use the Soulbinding system.

Weekly Loot Chest
  • There will be a tremendous number of factors that influence the weekly loot choice.
  • Factors include how far you made it in a tower run, what Mythics did you do, what dungeons did you run, what World Quests did you do, what did you do in PvP, and many more.

Customization
  • The team sat down to talk about what would be cool for Shadowlands and the theme of player agency came up as the cool idea.
  • Covenants, loot chest, and new leveling system were all features for that idea. This time they took the art team time that would have gone towards a new race or class and spent it on character customization.
  • There will be a tremendous breadth of choices available for most, if not all, of the other races.
  • The team could have added more skin colors long ago, but representing more of humanity for Humans took subtle face changes and time from the art team to do right.
  • All races will get some cosmetic features, not just Humans.
  • The team started by asking what additional options they would like to see in the existing races. Lots of discussion internally about customization options that people wanted.
  • Allied Races had a story, "Why is this group joining us?"
  • Dark Iron dwarves look different, but there are other Dwarves that we haven't seen much of yet, and we should have because they are all Dwarves.

Engine and Data
  • The engine team is working on taking advantage of RTX.
  • The team strongly believes that the more machines that can run WoW, the better. At the same time they want to embrace modern technologies such as ray tracing, multi threading, and DX12.
  • The team's focus isn't to make it hard to datamine, their focus is to make the game as efficient as possible. Strings are big and numbers are small.
  • The team went to great lengths to make sure addon authors had access to things they needed. You can look up sounds by name and such. They did trip up a couple of times, but will fix it.

Torghast, the Maw, and Alts
  • Torghast is based on your participation. It'll be influenced by the gear that you get doing it. As you do runs, you will build legendary items. As your gear gets stronger from raids, Mythic+, and other sources, you'll become more powerful, go deeper in Torghast, and get more stuff.
  • If your alt hasn't geared up, you won't get very far in Torghast.
  • There may be some things that you can craft for your alts that are meaningful. Being able to target stats when crafting should be helpful.
  • World Quests will be unlocked at Level 50 for alts.
  • Covenant campaign starts at 60 for all characters.
  • There will be outdoor gameplay in the Maw, but not regular story quests like the Suramar campaign.
  • Anima is used for a lot of things. It will be used to help power your Covenant. It represents the mana behind Shadowlands.
  • The intent is that the Maw will remain challenging throughout the expansion, you shouldn't outgear it. One of the things players really liked about Classic is the outdoor challenge. The Maw should have increased challenge and fun!
  • Torghast is the only source of runes for the legendary items.
  • Torghast abilities can be tied into your Covenant.

Raids and Titanforging
  • No big changes to raid structure coming.
  • The team isn't sure if Titanforging will be in Shadowlands. They are closely monitoring the Visions of N'zoth system.

Covenants and Soulbinds
  • You'll go to the Covenant sanctum to interact with your Soulbinds. Spend anima to improve your relationship with them and increase their power. Covenants will be a great source of cosmetics.
  • In Legion, you built up the area in Suramar from a empty, hollow, lifeless space, to one filled with people and hope. The same kind of change will be reflected in your Covenant.
  • You can change the Soulbind you are bound to and the talents in their tree.
  • The Soulbind has not only a talent tree, but also a socket like choice.

Tier Sets
  • Will tier sets return? Maybe. The team likes the tier sets a lot, but made the choice to go away from them in Battle for Azeroth because it doesn't make sense for the story anymore. They were great in Legion because it was such a class focused expansion, but Battle for Azeroth changed to a faction focused expansion, so the armor sets were more faction or raid oriented.
  • Shadowlands is a Covenant focused expansion, so lots of things will double down on that. It doesn't mean that they are or are not doing the class tier sets.
This article was originally published in forum thread: BlizzCon 2019 - Developer Interview started by chaud View original post
Comments 165 Comments
  1. Actaeix's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by marcusblood View Post
    "If you want to go back to Pandaria and farm for transmog or rares, you wouldn't want the zone scaling, so you need Chromie Time to scale it."

    What does this mean? That I have to toggle something to farm xmog?
    No it means the complete opposite, if you're farming transmog in Pandaria you don't want it to scale to your level, "so you need Chromie Time to scale it." if you do want it to scale your level for whatever reason.
  1. BasedRix's Avatar
    I really can't get behind Blizzard's reasoning for no tier sets. They existed for every single major raid in the game for the first what, 20 tiers? Suddenly it's a thematic clash? Tier sets just fun to get because people like to represent the class they are playing with some cool class themed gear, and because it gives other builds and talents a time to shine based on the tier bonuses. I have never EVER once in my entire time playing WoW for almost a decade complained about tier sets. There have been some set bonuses that have been kinda lackluster, but I'd take a lackluster tier set bonus over no tier set any damn day of the week.

    Look, I get that there are lots of class themed armor sets in the game already... unless you are a Demon Hunter, or even a Monk. Bring tier sets back, please. I don't care if some other feature has to suffer for it because of the time spent. Even if it's only a couple per expansion.
  1. eschatological's Avatar
    Torghast is based on your participation. It'll be influenced by the gear that you get doing it. As you do runs, you will build legendary items. As your gear gets stronger from raids, Mythic+, and other sources, you'll become more powerful, go deeper in Torghast, and get more stuff.

    If your alt hasn't geared up, you won't get very far in Torghast.
    I don't get how they can tout Torghast as "endgame progression," potentially "solo endgame progression," and then suggest you won't get very far in it unless you're farming a ton of shit outside it. Like, what're the points of its rewards?

    Does it just become another lockout to do every week? Mythic raid for 12-15 hours a week, then a M+15, then a Torghast run as far as you can go based on the loot you got elsewhere? Literally wtf.

    Torghast, to me, should be able to fuel its own progression with its own drops. I can understand limiting and eventually getting to diminishing returns on how much loot drops in a week, say, but suggesting that your skill won't matter if you don't have enough gear makes the whole "alt-friendly" label on the expansion a bit diminished.

    I wonder if the dev team realizes that if you're in any way late to the expansion, or want to get an alt raid ready, or you want to switch classes in your raid, you have to beg, cajole, and plead with your guild mates to help you through m+ at a level they don't want to do, and do raids they don't want to do like normal and heroic. Mainly because they already have enough to do on their mains to keep up-to-date.

    Give me Torghast as a method to gear up my alts! Mythic raids are already very skill-based and barely gear dependent once you get to a minimum threshold. Don't tell me I'll have to go through the same old slog to gear up alts just so I have the privilege of having one more lockout to do in Torghast per week, to maybe get a minimal upgrade at the end of 40 floors or something.
  1. crusadernero's Avatar
    Better keep talking down titanforging, or else they will have it in Shadowlands.

    I was kind of meh at first with this xpac reveal, same feeling like I had with Pandaria. Back then I figured it was because I knew so little about the place beforehand, just as now. Turned out that Pandaria was a great xpac that I liked very much, so the same might happen here.

    All new land. New lore, new characters/models etc. Its not the good old legion, horde VS alliance, a angry dragon or the scourge as focus point.

    So I have hopes!
  1. kamuimac's Avatar
    so basickly "if you want to farm transmog Chromie will effectively scale you to 130 level because we are lazy cheap c...nts who had idiotic idea and now realise that implementation will be a nightmare so we put in panic button (Chromie) which will revert all change we are doing"

    /slowclap .

    what a briliant team

    - - - Updated - - -

    Quote Originally Posted by eschatological View Post
    I don't get how they can tout Torghast as "endgame progression," potentially "solo endgame progression," and then suggest you won't get very far in it unless you're farming a ton of shit outside it. Like, what're the points of its rewards?

    Does it just become another lockout to do every week? Mythic raid for 12-15 hours a week, then a M+15, then a Torghast run as far as you can go based on the loot you got elsewhere? Literally wtf.

    Torghast, to me, should be able to fuel its own progression with its own drops. I can understand limiting and eventually getting to diminishing returns on how much loot drops in a week, say, but suggesting that your skill won't matter if you don't have enough gear makes the whole "alt-friendly" label on the expansion a bit diminished.

    I wonder if the dev team realizes that if you're in any way late to the expansion, or want to get an alt raid ready, or you want to switch classes in your raid, you have to beg, cajole, and plead with your guild mates to help you through m+ at a level they don't want to do, and do raids they don't want to do like normal and heroic. Mainly because they already have enough to do on their mains to keep up-to-date.

    Give me Torghast as a method to gear up my alts! Mythic raids are already very skill-based and barely gear dependent once you get to a minimum threshold. Don't tell me I'll have to go through the same old slog to gear up alts just so I have the privilege of having one more lockout to do in Torghast per week, to maybe get a minimal upgrade at the end of 40 floors or something.
    Torgast will be the most boosted place in whole history of wow

    you know why ? because content scales 1-5 people without cap on itlv like chalenge modes had - meaning 4 boosters in mythic raiding gear can effectively run anyone through it and gear him up in no time.

    another brilliant idea that will render all raid modes besides mythic and mythic + usless

    how devs dont see it ?
  1. Qnubi's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by eschatological View Post
    I don't get how they can tout Torghast as "endgame progression," potentially "solo endgame progression," and then suggest you won't get very far in it unless you're farming a ton of shit outside it. Like, what're the points of its rewards?

    Does it just become another lockout to do every week? Mythic raid for 12-15 hours a week, then a M+15, then a Torghast run as far as you can go based on the loot you got elsewhere? Literally wtf.
    That's why we have a thriving boosting community on retail. The Devs are feeding this kinda behavior. Probably because it encourages token purchases.

    - - - Updated - - -

    Quote Originally Posted by kamuimac View Post

    how devs dont see it ?
    They see it in form of additional $. A token is worth more than a regular sub, more token purchases for gold is simply converting into more money for them (Blizz).
  1. heskel's Avatar
    This time they took the art team time that would have gone towards a new race or class and spent it on character customization.
    Are f*ing kidding me? How are some lousy customization options (which 70% of the players will cover with armor) a feature for a EXPANSION? Theyre at best something you throw in in a x.x.5 patch. what a load of bull. Thousands of developers and two years of time and this is one of the main "features"?
  1. Loveliest's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by jellmoo View Post
    How on earth can you be so ridiculously oblivious to the fact that the mechanic has been panned and panned heavily across a ton of different channels by the most passionate members of the playerbase? To the point that the devs themselves seem to understand that the RNG gearing system is a losing one. Until they become uncertain about whether to get rid of one of the worst offenders for some reason...
    Passionate does not make majority. The only people who see a negative impact are high end players and players who are easily swayed by watching streams of said players. For your average player, getting an iLvl upgrade is a good thing. Your average player doesn't have "BiS" lists.

    If you're being objective, all this yelling comes from the very end top players who don't like RNG because it means more effort for them and it brings "luck" into a race. Rest is propagated to look bad. You had RNG of drops way back too and nobody cried that RNG in drops is the worst thing ever. I had so many runs of DS hc at the time and I didn't see half my BiS items drop, HALF. We farmed the mount for the whole guild and I still didn't see any of the rings drop.
    So yeah... passion. That isn't passion, that's WORK for them. Method is a company now, it's not a guild of passionate people who do this for fun. Everything RNG is bad. And the rest are sheep who think it makes sense without realizing they were never fully BiS unless they had a shitton of luck or had geared funneled to them in end 1 year-long tiers.
  1. adako279's Avatar
    Covenants, loot chest, and new leveling system were all features for that idea. This time they took the art team time that would have gone towards a new race or class and spent it on character customization.

    Seriously? Who wanted cosmetics? Who?
  1. Hydra's Avatar
    Titanforging is literally one of the worst aspects of the game and it's not unanimous that it's going away? Yikes.
  1. micwini's Avatar
    I really dislike how a lot of the questions were already answered during the Q&A or in other interviews. A lot of wasted questions, i.e tiersets.
  1. Lurker1's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by Hydra View Post
    Titanforging is literally one of the worst aspects of the game and it's not unanimous that it's going away? Yikes.
    Lets be honest here by useing some logic if they get rid of it some players will be happy while others will be pissed then the other way around if it stays some players will be happy while others will be pissed the point is nomatter what they do blizzard can never win with players it's a lose lose situation here my guess is if they don't see enough players doing nzoth visions then titanforgeing is most likely returning if they do visions they might be able to remove it with not to much back lash.
  1. Malikath's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by Toby451 View Post
    How on earth can you be so ridiculously oblivious to the fact that millions of people play this game.
    because it's a lie to claim so without proof.
    with the 4chan leaker being confirmed by blizzcon i'd say WoW WAS sub 1mil att, classic probally brought it back up but not by that much.

    "Anima is used for a lot of things. It will be used to help power your Covenant. It represents the mana behind Shadowlands."
    >AP is gone

    they need to fire the entire modern staff, they're incompetent retards with overly-inflated egos.
  1. Pacster's Avatar
    How hard they try to pretend that this expansion will do stuff differently. Actually it's the same old with new names. All seems to be similar to stuff we already have been through. Lazy time sinks, this time brand new and much, much better! With strawberry flavor!

    And the Sylvannas storyline seems to be just one gigantic plot hole...
  1. La's Avatar
    Lmao @ their reasoning for tier sets. I always wondered what the reasoning was, but that's just absolutely hilarious that's the answer. Bruh. "Doesn't make sense for the story"? Surely you're not serious? How did they make sense in LITERALLY EVERY EXPANSION EVER before it, then? I'll tell you why, because it's a straight up lie, and you guys using the "This expansion is now Covenant themed" excuses you from having to make them in this expansion, and then the next expansion will be another excuse. Imagine using a feature to justify not adding in something like tier sets. Shit, a terrible expansion like BFA with all of its pruning could've used tier sets more than ANY other, and tier sets ARE CLASS IDENTITY, something you said you want to bring back! I mean, even Legion, who had class identity, legendaries, AND a massive artifact weapon STILL had tier sets! But hey, it sure is easy to design the same, more or less, looking armors for the different armor classes, like cloth/mail, than it is to design things for the different classes.

    It isn't like you couldn't simply have tier bonuses, which is what I want, I don't particularly care about the appearance sets, as drops you insert into your armor, since Blizzard seems to have a hardon for such things these days. Reality is, I have a feeling they'd just make set bonuses...terrible and barely change gameplay like they used to. That was the great thing about them, they often changed up how you played your spec a little bit, which made every tier a bit refreshing gameplay wise. But by all means if you want to rely on the system of gameplay from BFA, which was widely regarded as bad, by all means.
  1. THC BANDIT's Avatar
    Goddamnit was it so hard to squeeze the 2 Handed Frost DK question in?
    ASK THEM WHERE THE FUCK 2H FROST IS
  1. Puremallace's Avatar
    It will be expensive to change Covenants.

    ^ I have said this a few times but this is a massive mistake that they will regret. They know absolutely nothing about their playerbase and if you pick the wrong Covenant then you have voluntarily gimped your class and are asking to be carried.

    I cannot put into words how much this should be a major red flag equivalent to Legion legendary's or Azerite. It is very predictable how they want this to work vs how it will actually work. If you think you have a choice in what Covenant you go with you don't.

    Worse yet once they nerf the most popular Covenant abilities you will have your entire playerbase stuck in a Covenant that will be expensive to swap out of.
  1. Diggsworth's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by adako279 View Post
    Covenants, loot chest, and new leveling system were all features for that idea. This time they took the art team time that would have gone towards a new race or class and spent it on character customization.

    Seriously? Who wanted cosmetics? Who?
    Listen.
    You already have characters, don't you?
    What could you possibly do with new ones?

    - - - Updated - - -

    Quote Originally Posted by Gourami View Post
    so they are not making new class in favor for some dwarf tattoos and asian looking humans. cool
    Yeah, but that's good!

    Think about, more customization, less work.
    Don't be greedy.
  1. Thelyron's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by lordjust View Post
    The current scaling and level brackets stay, so classic is scaling up to lvl60, TBC and WotLK scales up to lvl80, MoP to lvl90, WoD to lvl100 and Legion to 110. If you talk to Chromie you get teleported into another version of the expansion where everything scales up to lvl50. If you take the portal in Orgrimmar for example and go to Jade Forrest or vale of eternal blossom, everything will be lvl60. But if you talk to Chromie Jade Forrest will be caled down to lvl10-15 or so and vale of eternal blossom will be something like lvl40.

    They want to use the existing scaling tech they have so when a new expansion comes out they can either increase the max level or put the new expansion into the lvl 10-50 bracket and let us again level up to 60. That way they can get level speed and endgame power progression under control and create a coherent story progression for new player. New player will always be an adventurer that survived a ship crash on an oger infested island, gets recognized by it's faction for his/her heroism and then gets thrown into the last expansion.
    How the hell would that even work? Legion scales to 110 when 110 won't even be a level that exists?
  1. unbound's Avatar
    So Covenants is basically the Legion artifact weapon with a grind that is pretty much the same, but different (driven by quests or AP not actually called AP this time) so that Blizz PR can claim it is something new and exciting.

    I honestly don't understand how anyone is excited by this expansion.

    Flying - Same old thing (maybe they'll change the name)
    PvP - Not sure they'll change much if anything, but level squish has impacts
    Leveling - Squish has impacts, otherwise it is largely the same thing you have today
    Covenants - Legion Artifact weapon without the weapon
    Weekly Loot Chest - Same old thing with a few mods
    Customization - More elements of Dress Up Sally being added
    Engine and Data - Will be slightly prettier than before (aka same as previous expansions)
    Torghast, the Maw, and Alts - Randomly generated dungeon so Blizz doesn't have to put any effort into it...so 20 minutes into it, you'll be seeing the same areas over and over and over and over again.
    Raids and Titanforging - Same old thing
    Covenants and Soulbinds - Literally pointing out that this is Legion all over again
    Tier Sets - Maybe they'll do the same thing as Legion, or maybe they'll do the same thing as BfA

    But let's not forget all the highlights!

    - Only 5 new zones
    - Only 8 dungeons total
    - Different class halls...er, Sanctums for each Covenant

Site Navigation