WoW: Warlords of Draenor
In the wake of Blizzcon, Hyper sat down with the dev team for the upcoming World of Warcraft expansion, Warlords of Draenor, in which players travel back in time to stop a newly formed Horde from invading Azeroth.
- Release Date: TBC
- Platform: PC
- Category: MMORPG
- Developer: Blizzard
Why was now the right time to’take World of Warcraft back to its roots, so to speak?
When we start discussing the goals for an upcoming expansion, one of the questions we ask ourselves is “What kinds of stories and settings have WoW players not experienced yet?” The savage history of the ores on Draenor is part of the bedrock of the Warcraft universe – these events gave rise to the Horde and the Alliance – but many current World of Warcraft players have never had a chance to be a part of these stories or meet these characters in the original Warcraft RTS games. Even if you don’t know who the seven Warlords of Draenor are, their legacy is embedded into the game – your realm might be named after Blackhand, or a spell might be named after Gul’dan. Now you get to meet these legends face-to-face and fight them axe-to-axe – and hopefully come away with an even greater appreciation of the world you’re fighting to save.
Why was the decision made not to include a new race or class in the expansion?
We don’t have any hard and fast rules for the kinds of features we include in each expansion – ultimately, our goal is to add whatever makes the most sense for the content we’re creating. In the case of Warlords of Draenor, we’re sending players to the homeworld of the ores and the planet where the Draenei civilization flourished, and players will really get to dig into the origins of those two races. Once we decided on that setting, it felt like the perfect time to revamp the original playable races’ art, which is something players have been requesting for a long time. Our art team is dedicated to making sure they capture the spirit of the original designs, and it’s been quite an epic undertaking.
As for a new class, we’ve said in the past we don’t want to add a new class in every expansion, or on a specific timetable. We’re happy with the diversity and range of classes and specs in the game right now, and we wanted to focus our efforts on features like Garrisons, revamping the questing experience, and making a lot of quality-of-life improvements for players, like overhauling a lot of the Ul. That said, if in an upcoming expansion we come up with a new class idea that brings something cool to the table and is a good fit thematically, we’d definitely consider it.
Could you give us some details on the new Trial of the Gladiator Arena system?
Trial of the Gladiator is a new PvP system designed for players interested in highly competitive and skilled Arena play. Similar to the Arena Pass system, we want players who enter the Trial of the Gladiator to be on equal footing gear-wise, so even if you haven’t earned a set of PvP gear, anyone can pick up gear, gems, and enchants specifically for use in Trial competition. While the Trial of the Gladiator is open all the time, rated play is only available on set days and times during the week. One of the reasons we do this is so the pool of players competing will be larger, making it easier to create good team skill match-ups while helping to reduce queue times. In between these designated times, the Trial will be a good way to practice your Arena skills without having to worry about getting the gear for it It’s also worth noting that players will still be able to participate in the current Arena ladder – the Trial of the Gladiator just gives players another way to engage in skilled Arena play.
What can players do with their Garrison and what role do they play in the grander scheme of the game?
The Garrison is an expandable, customizable base that each player will build and manage on Draenor, and one of the things we’re trying to capture is the spirit of ”base-building” from the original Warcraft RTS games. The gameplay centers around choosing which buildings and upgrades to build, and then recruiting followers to manage them and provide you with resources and rewards. For example, you might decide to build a Mine and then assign a follower with the Mining trait to work it, granting you resources to fuel other professions. You’ll recruit followers through a number of ways – for example, you might meet them in the story or spend some gold to hire a mercenary – and each will have its own set of traits that determine what they’re good at. You’ll also be able to send followers out on missions while you work on other tasks, and they’ll return with loot such as crafting resources or Garrison-specific resources to further build up your fortress. Your followers will also level up, and you can equip them with gear – both of which help determine how successful they are in missions.
In addition to serving as a player’s personal base of operations, the Garrison also serves an important role in the Warlords of Draenor story. You’re commissioned to build it by your faction, and it serves as your foothold in this dangerous world, as well as a way station for traveling characters. In terms of gameplay, the Garrison is closely tied to your crafting professions, and depending on how you build your Garrison, you’ll gain access to professions you normally wouldn’t with your character alone. The Garrison will also make your continuing adventures on Draenor more dynamic and interesting – for example, a follower might get captured while out on a mission, and you may have to head to a Dungeon to help him or her break free.
What is the purpose of the “item squish” and how will it work?
After nine years of expansions and content updates and all the new gear and power increases that come with those, the numbers for health, mana, and damage have started to grow a bit out of control, and they’re getting difficult to comprehend. “Item Squish” is our solution to address this issue, and it involves smoothing out the Item Level curve from level 1 to 90, as well as smoothing out enemy and boss health and stats to match. Primarily this means reducing the stats on gear in this level range, and making it so the stat jump between previous content tiers isn’t as large as it was originally. In practice, everything you can do today will still be possible after the squish – you’ll simply see lower numbers for health, mana, damage, and so on that are easier to understand. The percentage damage any given spell or ability does to an enemy or player will be very similar, and player power will still be in line with what it is now. Item Squish also allows us to provide a smoother leveling experience.
How will the changes of stats, such as the removal of hit and dodge effect the game?
Our goal with the stat changes coming in Warlords is to provide players with more interesting choices when it comes to stats on gear. To that end, we’re retiring secondary stats such as Hit and Expertise, which don’t really require players to make an interesting decision – often there’s a “right” number to hit, and players just try to hit it While we like the idea of tanks avoiding attacks as a mechanic, Dodge and Parry haven’t proven to be an interesting enough gearing strategy, so we’re retiring those and moving to a new secondary stat we call Bonus Armor that covers anyone who’d like to boost their ability to mitigate damage. Speaking generally, with the shift to dynamic primary stats, our goal for secondary stats like these is to differentiate (as much as we can) pieces that occupy the same gear slot allowing for player customization and spec differentiation.
Can you give us some details of the new tertiary “fun stats” and if/how they will affect play?
Absolutely! In Warlords of Draenor, weapon and armor pieces that drop will have a chance to have any of three additional properties: “Warforged,” which would be higher Item level than normal; gem sockets; or tertiary stats. Tertiary stats include extra Movement Speed, Life Steal, Avoidance to
AoE damage, and more. The goal of these is to make itemization more exciting, as the chances of an item dropping with one of these additional properties will be fairly rare. It will also help give the process of looking for loot more longevity – while you may have gotten those gloves you needed a couple weeks ago, there’s now a chance that an even better version of those gloves might drop the next time you fight that same boss… if you’re lucky.
Why the decision to move to a dynamic primary stat on armour? Are you concerned that the dynamic stats may cause problems when it comes to raid group loot allocation?
The goal of dynamic primary stats is to make pieces of gear more universal, so groups will encounter drops they can actually use more often – and hopefully do a lot less disenchanting of really class- or spec-specific gear (like Intellect plate, which is only useful to Paladins – and pretty un-fun to find if there’s not a Paladin in the group). Gear will still provide benefits to different classes or specs based on their secondary stats, which aren’t dynamic. For example, one piece of gear might provide the secondary stat Spirit which is useful only to healers, and another may provide the secondary stat Bonus Armor, which is really only useful to tanks.