Blizzard has announced its long-awaited 10.0 expansion, Dragonflight. Following dozens of rumors, theories, and outright leaks, the developer has confirmed that for World of Warcraft’s ninth expansion, we’ll be heading to the mythical Dragon Isles, a landmass lost to Azeroth for 10,000 years.
Dragonflight introduces the first race class combo – the Dracthyr Evoker and a new method to traverse the skies of Azeroth – the Dragon Ride. But the expansion doesn’t just add new toys, it brings a much-needed overhaul to older World of Warcraft systems. Progression will be revamped, with a new talent system designed to replace the “borrowed power” approach of recent expansions; a crafting overhaul gives gathering and production skills some much-needed love; and a comprehensive HUD update, the first in World of Warcraft’s 18-year history, sees the MMO user interface brought up to modern standards.
There are dragons
The Dragon Isles are a place of primordial wonder, focusing on the elemental forces, ancient secrets, and flights of prismatic dragons we’ve encountered throughout World of Warcraft’s long history. Game director Ion Hazzikostas claims that the new continent is one of the largest landmasses the development team has ever created.
Nestled northeast of Azeroth, the Dragon Isles have been inaccessible for 10,000 years. Naturally, the emphasis is on exploration in this expansion – you’ll come into contact with races that haven’t been bothered by outsiders for generations. Native Centaurs, Gnolls, and Tuskarr are all present, along with a new breed of newly awakened elemental half-giants called Djaradin, whose animosity towards dragons will play into the story.
The Dragon Isles are home to four new areas: the Shores of Awakening, the Azure Reach, Thaldraszus – home to the core expansion city of Valdrakken – and the Plains of Ohn’ahran, a location so vast that the team had to increase the game’s draw distance so you can experience its full, hilly vistas. The new landmass features diverse environments dotted with icy wastes, verdant lands, volcanic rocks, and sandy shores.
The stakes will be lower in this expansion, Hazzikostas tells us. There is no great threat to Azeroth in Dragonflight; instead, as in Mists of Pandaria, it’s a story of discovery. We travel to the islands not to fight some big bad box-art boss, but rather because the dragons have asked for our help. Hazzikostas confirms that fan-favorite characters such as Khadgar, Tyrande, and Wrathion will be in attendance.
we are dragons
It would be a bad dragon expansion if we couldn’t play together. Advertised as a “hero class” similar to death knights and demon hunters, the new Dracthyr race starts at level 58 on a unique starting area located off the Dragon Isles. They are a bipedal race of dragon-humanoid hybrids with two forms, a more traditional draconid form and a “face” form that more closely resembles elves and men.
Dracthyr is locked to the new Evoker class, which includes both a damage and healer spec, using the whimsy and aesthetic of Warcraft’s prismatic dragonflights when casting spells. They are the first class to have the “reinforcement” ability to charge spells for extra weight and can be cast while flying briefly to cross the battlefield. Hazzikostas describes the class as a ranged variant of the Legion Demon Hunter, focusing on combat mobility.
Dracthyr’s humanoid and dragon forms will take advantage of World of Warcraft’s latest advancements in character customization, with jewelry, horns, scales, hair (including ombre color fades), and more.
In the past, Blizzard has struggled with the appearance of armor on its most beastly races, like worgen or tauren, but the team may have fixed that issue. “In their humanoid face forms, you’ll be able to wear the full set of armor you normally wear,” says Hazzikostas. “And unlike worgen, who can’t be in their human form during combat, we’re looking for players to show off their humanoid forms during combat.
“Although, of course, abilities like deep breath or flapping wings will require you to be in your dragon form. We want to allow some armor carryover, although yes, mounting armor is unlikely “a helm on the dragon’s head happens. Something like shoulder pads or having that direct carry over is much more likely, and something the team is actively working on right now.”
Dracthyr will be available at the start of the Dragonflight pre-patch with pre-purchase of the expansion, and you will choose when creating them to be Horde or Alliance, although unlike Pandarans choosing their faction for story reasons, players of Dracthyr will simply encounter that faction first depending on their choice.
Cross the islands
In Dragonflight, the team rides dragons, a new form of flight that will be limited to the Dragon Islands, at least initially. You will be able to increase its power, like a skill, during the expansion.
Rather than traditional World of Warcraft flight, in which players hover listlessly towards their destination, dragonriding emphasizes momentum and gravity. It also lets you create rolls, spirals, and speed changes as you hover in the sky. Hazzikostas says the current team design is limited by a stamina bar, which you can upgrade as you progress.
At the start of the expansion, you’ll choose a dragon to befriend from a slew of different options, and you can further customize your mount as you discover upgrades and skins around the islands. While the team thinks exploring the new continent on foot is the most satisfying way to experience Dragonflight’s new areas, there’s a promising level of verticality to the new expansion’s environments that you’ll only fully appreciate since the airs.
Blizzard has been criticized for tying player power to certain expansion-specific MacGuffins – like artifact weapons in Legion, the Heart of Azeroth in Battle for Azeroth, or covenants in Shadowlands. It’s something you level up over the course of the story, only to throw it away at the start of the next patch cycle. It has been referred to as a “borrowed power” by the community and, according to Hazzikostas, was put in place to fill in the gaps left by the new talent system adopted in Mists of Pandaria.
In Dragonflight, Blizzard is returning to a talent tree system that will allow you to customize aspects of your class and specs with the points you earn when leveling up. Hazzikostas says Blizzard is also considering a method to earn points after reaching the level cap, but hasn’t decided if that’s the right way to go. The new system allows you to freely redeem points and even create builds for different scenarios, such as one for PvP, one for Raid Night, and one for Mythic+. The team is aiming for zero borrowed power items beyond gears and level sets.
Blizzard is also overhauling professions and giving the UI a much-needed update. Goods quality – which leads to higher item level gear or better potion effects, for example – will now be a big factor, and you can specialize in a profession to hone your craft. The example given was of blacksmiths focusing on crafting weapons or armor. You’ll also be able to equip craft-specific gear in new slots to show off your skills as a master craftsman to the world.
For the many players who don’t want to commit to professions, the new crafting order system allows you to request an item once you have the necessary materials, and can even be limited to crafters on your crafting list. friends or your guild. Soulbound items can also be crafted by other players for the first time.
It’s not just the Profession UI that’s getting an overhaul: Blizzard is updating the 18-year-old World of Warcraft UI to include features previously only available in Additional modules. Early screenshots look like the popular ElvUI add-on, with the team promising a highly customizable system that will focus players’ attention on the game in front of them, rather than the health bars and cooldowns hidden around the corner. the screen.
While the simultaneously announced Wrath of the Lich King Classic is set to launch in 2022, Dragonflight has no set release date. This is apparently due to learning from the repeated delays of Covid-19 and working remotely. A playable alpha and beta are on the way, which you can sign up for through the Blizzard site, though beyond “ASAP” the timelines for these two releases and the final release are being kept under wraps for now.
It will be a tough wait, the systems that need to be overhauled in Dragonflight have had to be maintained for years, knowing that they are just on the horizon is going to be hard to bear.