With the level squish making all currently level 120 character turn to 50, and all expansions scaling up to 50, will suddenly old content, like Hogger, be challenging for my now-120 character?
That's a good question, we're going to figure out a lot of details as we go through. Our intent is that, if you have already progressed all the way through a lot of the content in BFA, Hogger shouldn't 1-shot you.
Are there plans for spell customizations?
For this specific expansion, the focus will be on spells that classes received when aligned with a Covenant. Currently, we aren't at the point of redoing any spells, we're focusing on the Covenant spells. Each class with have unique effects for all their Covenant spells.
Are you able to, and how will be the character transition between Azeroth and the Shadowlands? Is there a portal like in previous expansions, or is there a new way to do that?
Yes, we want to have the player to be able to transition between Shadowlands and Azeroth. The player is Azeroth's champion, so thematically there's a reason for it. In practice, it would be an inconvenience otherwise. We don't even want to put the player in a position of "sorry, I'm in the Shadowlands and can't come back".
With the level squish and earning one ability per level and so on, was that decision made based on Classic, was there an inspiration on Classic?
That's a good question. A lot of those decisions were made way before Classic launched. We've been talking about the level squish for a long time and the motivation behind it was, as a new player, you look at your friends and they have that number 120 in front of their name when they log in, that's very intimidating. If I wanna go get my heritage armor, it is still a very intimidating route. The game has received many levels over the year and that's something we wanted to do was make these levels matter. When going from 10 to 50, you will be picking up talents, picking up spells, unlocking the content. The other aspect of level squish si that, over the years, leveling became a tourist game, because when you get to an expansion, you can't ever stay too long in it, so you never get to see those stories unfold, be completed. So the other thing we wanted to do was to let players play through an expansion and actually finish it before out leveling it. That was very important to us, because there is really a story for each expansion, and we want to let players see that.
With these new customizations, will we see improvements to customizations for Allied Races as well? What about Death Knight customizations?
So, with new character customization, we are focusing mainly in the original races, not allied races. we are able to apply new customizations to them, like separate the eyes from the rest of the models, with the help of the Technical team, so you have more options to choose from. We are not touching Allied Races at this time, we are focusing on the main races. There are no plans to expanding custom DK customization at this point.
Can you explain more about the legendary powers and about the legendary items that you can craft.
In the center of the Maw, sits the Jailer's tower, Torghast, which is this rogue-like dungeon that you want to try to go as far as you can until Torghast defeats you and sends you all the way back out for you to try again or to be done with it. The things you're going to pull out of Torghast, you're going to take these runes to a runecrafter, a mysterious runecrafter, and they will be able to help you customize a legendary of your choice for a slot of your choice. So if it is boots that you want, you can craft legendary boots, you assign power to them, maybe secondary abilities. We are still refining a lot of this, but we want to give players the agency to craft the legendary that they want for the slot that they want.
So the secondary abilities will be like Legion legendaries, that they affect your rotation and talents?
TBD, but we are definitely leaning towards 'legendaries matter', having this legendary be important to you. We want you to want to go and craft it and upgrade it.
Torghast seem to be procedurally generated, or created from a number of different options, how does that work?]
We have a lot of different technologies that we have done independently over the years, like Garrisons or Islands, that we had the ability to procedurally spawn things. We have learned a lot of lessons from the players and a lot from the technology itself. So with Torghast, the levels themselves are handcrafted to maintain the 'Warcraft feel', we think that's very important aesthetically to players, but there's dozens or hundreds of different floors that you can potentially see and things spawns differently. There may be a treasure chest, containing a boon, that we can talk about later, which are these power-ups that will help you, that will only work inside Torghast for that run, which might be in the middle of a hallway. You might see the same hallway again three weeks later but with a completely different spawn of creatures, no chest. There's an element of "I don't know what's going to be around the next corner" is going to be there every time you go through. The experience itself, the art is handcrafted, but the gameplay itself will be completely different every time you go through.
What will keep players coming back to Torghast over the course of the expansion? For instance, if my object is to make a certain legendary, and I finish that in the first tier of the expansion, am I going to able to upgrade it to a higher level at the end of the expansion?
We are still figuring out the details of it, but the ultimate goal is to have Torghast to be a place that you want to go back to, for player agency reasons. Even if you are satisfied with the state of your legendary at the moment, there are other reasons to go to Torghast, like there might be a really cool mount that I can only get from Torghast, so I want to make sure to do that. We are going to make sure that there are a lot of reasons to have players going back to it over the expansion.
Along with that, the choices that you're making when you're bringing those items to that runesmith, you get to decide what you want, so, your first time going through you will be looking to get one item, awesome, but later on you might need different elements from there, so you will need to go back there to find them, so you can go back there and craft it differently.
Can you repeat Torghast as many times as you want on the same day? is it a weekly lockout? Is it similar to the Withered Army Training scenario?
Currently, we're still thinking about it, TBD, but probably something similar to the Withered Training Scenario. In the end, we want it to be something that you may want to at least try to progress through once a week.
Since Covenants will have their base of operations, will we be sharing Covenants with the opposite faction? And will there be benefits in grouping with someone from the same Covenant or from a specific one?
Yes, Horde and Alliance, are a bit in an uneasy armistice right now back on Azeroth, and the Covenants have a whole other host of problems of their own, like, Anima, this mana of the SHadowlands is drying up, is extremely scarce. So the Covenants they care about that, they couldn't care less about the problems of some mortal world somewhere else in the Warcraft cosmos. So they are going to recruit Horde and Alliance to work together in the Covenant, we are going to create a sanctum that will be analogous to Class Halls in Legion, so those uneasy alliances will continue through that, similarly to what we had with the Order Halls in that capacity.
Particularly in Torghast, depending on which Covenant you chose, their powers will get magnified and there may be doors that only unlock to one Covenant, or you may need to use the teleportation ability to get across one area. We may have ways to have one person benefit their whole group, or maybe only that one person can take benefits from these, we are experimenting with that, but we are pretty excited about the possibility of what players can do.
When crafting the legendaries, will the special materials from them come from multiple sources, like M+, or raiding or PvP, or will it all come from Torghast?
Right now Torghast is your primary source to power your legendaries.
So the Helm of Domination. Before it existed, how was the balance between Azeroth and Shadowlands?
We are going to explore that in the Shadowlands storyline. We will meet people that are very good at crafting legendaries that may have had hand in and may be able to explain how all of that came to be.
Will you be able to add gem sockets to legendaries? And will gem slots still be randomized in Shadowlands?
Itemization is important to the team and we have been going through the feedback that we got throughout BFA in a variety of subjects, including sockets, but it is a little bit early to talk exactly about how they will work. But we want professions to feel very important again, including Jewelcrafting.
It seems like all zones in the Shadowlands will be instanced from each other, so you can't fly from one zone to the other. Is that going to influence the way that flying will be unlocked later in the expansion? Like, "I maxxed out my Covenant, now they gave me a flying license!"?
There will still be a transportation system going between zones. We are still figuring out how flying is going to work when it is unlocked, so TBD. But when going from the main city to a zone there is a taxi system there, so there won't be teleporting.
Will there be a new Death Knight starting experience for the Allied Races?
Their story will be towards Bolvar, because we don't want to affect the original races' lore. So, this time around, there is this special in-game cinematic from Bolvar sort of talking to the Allied Race, asking them to join us and work with us.
When you die in Azeroth you go to the Shadowlands, but what happens when you die in the Shadowlands? I know in the demo you become a wraith, not yourself, so I was wondering what happens there.
Not the right people to ask lore questions. As far as effects, from what we understand it makes sense to have that unique death effect when you die as you get back to your body for Shadowlands.
With the focus moving to class identity instead of spec identity, how do you make classes like Priest, with sides of Light and Void, feel whole again?
I think that's a great question. We are still figuring out those concepts. For instance, I main a Death Knight and have been Blood for everything, dungeons, raids, world quest, everything, so I've been bugging the designer team about what will this change mean for me and they say that now class identifying abilities like Death Coil, Chains of Ice, or Death and Decay will be available for all specs. Similarly for all classes.
In all recent expansions, there has always been this feature that we have this amazing power and then, at the end of it, we lose it. Is this concept of 'borrowed power' still go on beyond Shadowlands?
I think it depends on the story that's been told. Currently, we want you to finish Battle for Azeroth with your necklace and then you can still carry it into the Shadowlands, but all its powers will be shut off. It all depends on what we are looking to do in an expansion. Like, in Shadowlands we have the Anima, the Mana for the Shadowlands, but it is scarce, so it is something we will learn about and obtain new abilities because of it. It all depends on the stories the designers are coming up with.
Do Soulbind talents change based on class or spec or are they the same for everyone?
So the customization from Soulbind come from spaces in the talent tree that you can fill in called conduits. The system is a little bit like the Relics from Artifacts in Legion. There are a couple of things that you can put in each talent slot, so you are going to be able to customize it based on your role or class.
What is the motivation to do daily activities now that Artifact Power won't be a thing anymore?
There are other rewards in World Quests that are not only AP that motivate players to complete them. We are looking at the World Quest system and we're going to overhaul it, we're calling it World Quests 2.0. More when beta release.
Was 60 always the target level for the level squish or did the team try to work with other caps like 70 or 80?
It's a good question. Yeah, that number is something we played around with in conjunction with our other goals. Make the levels matter, and can we finally get cohesive stories to be told, at the expansion-level. If we squished it down to 80, that’s a lot of levels to go through for an expansion. The pacing felt right at 50.
We had forced personal loot and trade restrictions in BFA, what is feedback on that like? Any tweaks for that system?
We get feedback! Internally and externally. Itemization is very important to the team and we're not ready to share how we are going forward with that.
Soulbind system. What are the design goals? Do players swap between different soul binds and is there any punishment for doing that? Beyond the high-level ability that you get, are the trees unique per soulbind?
Soulbind is as simple as changing your talents. There’s one that gives you a passive ability with a critical chance, Arrogance, if you have more health than your enemy, which you might want on a Patchwerk fight. We want players to experiment with soulbinds, we think that it will give you another level for player agency.
Soulbind - is it going o work like the Essence system where you have a library of ones you choose between, or consumables you add and then you destroy.
Soulbinds also have conduits which are similar on how relics worked in Legion, that you can slot special abilities in. In terms of conduits they work similar to relics, you’ll slot them into soulbinds, which will consume them.
Are there going to be any more BFA expansion features moving forward like Warfronts?
Warfronts are a uniquely BFA thing, as well as Islands. They were about the Battle for Azeroth, as such the features will remain in Battle for Azeroth and not move forward.
Will the level cap keep increasing after 9.0?
Well, we have a few years to figure it out, I'm pretty sure we will be a lot smarter, hopefully, when the time for that decision comes!
The leveling time from 10-50 have been shortened in general, how long will it take now?
We are trying to make sure that when you choose what expansion you want to play through, you will be able to level from 10-50 solely in that expansion. Note that you're not locked to one expansion, if in the middle of it you decide you want to go to another expansion, you can totally do that.
Since that's the case, will you normalize experience between expansions or will everyone just level in WoD?
We want the pacing to be fairly similar between expansions, so there will be some balancing there, yes.
Going into the level squish, once you hit level 10, will players on alts be able to fly at that point?
Much like today, once you reach whatever level we set flying at and if you were able to fly in that expansion when passing through it, you should be able to fly in it after the squish. We're still ironing out the details about what level flying will be.
What are plans for Profession materials with the level squish?
Something we need to figure out. This mostly impacts the more vanilla content where you have a wider array of materials.
Faction imbalance has been a problem both in high-end PvE and PvP for a while now. With the end of the Fourth War, will we see any loosening of the faction barrier or any solutions for the imbalance?
Horde and Alliance are currently in what we call an uneasy armistice. We don’t have any plans to break the faction barriers anytime soon, as that is the core of World of Warcraft.
Covenant system high-level goals - is there the idea that it will grow with us for the entirety of the expansion? As patch content comes in, will things like new cosmetics or abilities be added?
It is the main feature of the expansion - so it’s something they will definitely keep adding too. We’re not at that point to know where we’re really headed with it. Each covenant will have a "Covenant campaign". It is a system that we can grow, with things like more soulbinds.
With the level squish, it is unlikely that new players will attain the necessary reputation for many Allied Races as they won't be questing in those zones anymore. Are there any plans to make the Allied Race unlocks easier in any way?
We are currently looking into that, but we don't have anything to share right now.
How extensive are Covenant sanctums? Can we find an auction house or profession trainers there?
Sanctums are similar to Class Order Halls from Legion, so you can expect to find the same type of NPCs there. However, we still have Oribos, which is the main city of the expansion, which, using the same Legion comparison, would be similar to Dalaran, the place that you find more diverse NPCs like trainers. Khadgar asked if he could move Dalaran there for us, but we already had Oribos there, so there wasn't a need for it.
All the colors in Bastion are muted, what is the design process?
Still working with lighting there, it’s not final, but it’s meant to be glorious and serene. It’s Warcraft’s version of Heaven.
Any class effect that you think would be drastically changed?
Not the right group to ask, we’re not the sim runners! We’re invested in player and class fantasy, which is why we’re unprunning abilities.
Will there be any unlock process behind the new customizations coming in Shadowlands?
No, all the customizations come unlocked. Soon as they are available you will be able to visit your barbershop and get them on your character.
Humans are getting a lot of customization options, but other newer races have very similar faces? Any plans?
Humans will have the most regarding the geometry on the face for ethnic representation. What you saw in the panel image is just the beginning, they need a lot more work applied to them. We’re looking at what each race needs to add more fun options to the player, like the option for the Undead to have no bones showing.
Will we see any prestige unlocks in Shadowlands? Similar to Night Warrior customization
Only max-level thing is related to the Covenant, which is back levels with 3 tier upgrades and armor. But that’s the only thing related to character appearance.
Will there be a mission table for the covenant?
We’re exploring options in that space. It’s been 3 expansions since we’ve been provided content along those lines.
Are there any plans to improve the guild interface?
Updates are coming in terms of helping people find and advertise guilds.
How will old character boosts work after the level squish?
We need to figure out the exact level range for boosts, we don't have any details about them yet.
When a character gets boosts, there’s no good system for them to familiarize themselves with abilities/specs, are there any plans to fix that?
We did add a trial system in Legion where you could try before choosing. Probably keep something like that.
With the Mythic+ cache having options in Shadowlands, will something similar come to bonus rolls?
Still discussing what bonus rolls might provide, and how it could tie into the new chest system. Still figuring out how to give players a choice on those rewards.
When talking about Covenant Mounts, what type of upgrades will we be able to have in them? Will they eventually fly, gain vendors, or will it all be cosmetic?
Currently, the Covenant mount upgrades are purely aesthetic. The first one maybe has a saddle, and as you progress, it gets more armor and the highest level with wings and everything on it, so you can brag about it to everyone. We made sure on the art side that it compliments the Covenant armor and back armor as a complete package.
Whenever you work on a new expansion, you develop new tools internally? Any technology that you did for Shadowlands that you wanted to do previously?
Yes! On the technology side, we’ve been improving shadows for more details and more realistic shadows. Dungeon and building artists are doing more interesting lighting, like spotlights with textures. In Revendreth, there are stained glass windows and gothic structures, and they put spotlights on them, so as you run under them it looks like the sun is coming through. Little details like that help the world feel alive.
Speaking of Revendreth, one challenge we made was, if you look at the art gallery, we have this postcard of a castle. Hey, what if that was the entire zone - a castle? So we tried to figure that out what the pieces necessarily would be to create a gigantic castle? We figured that out, handed it off to level design, and made it work. It was great to have that collaboration, based on someone just yelling it out at a meeting.
One Covenant has a transforming shape-shifting ability with prestige skins, will other covenants have something similar?
It will be different per covenant, they’ll each have a special ability, and as you’re progressing, you’ll get stronger and stronger, as well as when you’re getting into Torgast, those abilities get even bigger with those boons. Right now, we’re at the early stages, we’re mindful about performance when it comes to special visual effects, so we don't have much to share.
We saw the backpack is a reward from RAF< and now we have wing cloaks. Any other item slots that could have far-out things?
In BFA we had armor 2.0 which added more bits like around the hips. This time around, we’re focusing on the back attachment. We dabbled with it in the Recruit a Friend armor as our first test, and then we added one in 8.3 as well. That’s a foundation, now we’re playing more with it.
Any plans to bring back the mobile auction house?
Not in the immediate future.
Mount Equipment designed the water strider problem. Any new pieces being discussed?
There are some being discussed, but none that we can share right now.
Pet Battle Dungeons in Shadowlands?
That's a Jeremy question. But we know Jeremy has some things related to pets up his sleeve in Shadowlands so stay tuned.