WoW news

Shadowlands Interview Roundup

Sam Vostok Interview with Steve Danuser
Sam Vostok interviewed Steve Danuser on Shadowlands!

  • The anima in Shadowlands is different from the type used by the mogu. The anima that fuels the realms of death comes only from mortal souls.
  • Souls that die in the Shadowlands are lost forever. Our characters enter the Shadowlands alive, and so they have a tether to Azeroth that nudges them back to life when they die.
  • We will learn more about the effect that Frostmourne had on Uther’s soul as the story unfolds.
  • The emotions at play, on the part of both Uther and Arthas, combined with the cosmic forces of Light and Death that each of them represented, can have a profound effect upon the mortal soul.
  • The In-Between is a miasma of energies that separates the realms of the Shadowlands. Beings exist within it. Rumors speak of a few that have learned to navigate it.
  • New afterlives manifest to meet the needs of the Shadowlands. The creations of such realms is a subject that will be explored in content updates to the Shadowlands expansion.
  • The force of Order has influenced life on Azeroth, which is why living mortals perceive it the way they do. Without their tether to the mortal plane, the soul no longer has the same perception of time.
  • Undead souls are not damned to the Maw. Being raised can be seen as “damned,” but the Arbiter judges undead souls by their entirety.
  • The exact time that the Arbiter stopped judging souls and clues as to why will be revealed in an in-game cinematic that you can view in Oribos when the expansion launches.
  • When Ursoc was slain in the Emerald Nightmare, souls were still being judged by the Arbiter.
  • The presence of death was on Azeroth long before Ner’zhul became the Lich King. Perhaps one day we will learn more about what inspired the nerubians architecture.
  • Demons and other creatures not native to the Shadowlands can be seen in the Maldraxxus Theater of Pain. These are prisoners of the Necrolords as well as fodder provided by the brokers.
  • Maldraxxus exists to defend the Shadowlands from all threats. Sometimes this takes a more proactive approach, such as with the reveal of Draka on the demonic world in the Maldraxxus Afterlives video.
  • You will find clues to the Jailer’s point of view on the Lich King during your playthrough.
  • Mortal souls that cross over and are brought back do not appear to retain defined memories of what they experienced in the Shadowlands.
  • The Light that we find in Revendreth is the same Light we encounter in Azeroth.
  • Helya’s Realm touches upon the Shadowlands without being contained inside of it.
  • Anima is drawn from souls only after their mortal lives have ended.

Wowhead Interview with Ion Hazzikostas
Wowhead interviewed Ion Hazzikostas on Shadowlands.

  • Keystones will be reset in Shadowlands Season 1. You will obtain one by completing a mythic 0 on week 1 and have to raise it.
  • The team plans to conservatively tune covenant abilities and legendaries at launch. Any outliers will be dealt with, but they will try not to change the rankings of things.
  • Major changes to covenants would happen on patches. The team can reset Covenant switching cooldowns or reset the history of leaving a covenant to address these issues if needed.
  • Consumables that took the place of class buffs have been lessened to emphasize class utility and push away from class stacking.
  • You will catch up on renown faster the more you fall behind.
  • You will be viable within a few days of switching to a new covenant, and after a couple of weeks you should catch up.
  • Unlocking Transportation level 3 in your Covenant Sanctum will add a portal to Oribos to your sanctum.
  • There are no current plans for catch up for Soul Ash from Torghast.
  • Legendary patterns are not always 100% drop rates and depend on how repeatable the content is.
  • You cannot receive conduits from the great vault.
  • Conduit ranks are essentially just item level.
  • PvP rating will influence the item level of the conduits you receive from PvP.
  • 3 pieces of loot drop per boss in Mythic Castle Nathria.
  • It is believed that the raiding section of the great vault has a chance to offer weapon tokens from Nathria.
  • You will only receive loot options from the last two bosses of a raid in the raiding section of the great vault if you have killed the bosses at least once on that difficulty.
  • There are still no plans to bring back Master Loot.
  • Bolstering and Necrotic are not being changed. Mobs that are troublesome can just not apply the affix.
  • The Maw is in a much better place than it was a few months back.
  • There is a chance we will see Nathanos again in Shadowlands.
  • A week in the life of a player in Shadowlands will be 2 renown quests, covenant campaign chapters, and Torghast runs.
  • Daily you can do callings and typical content like PvP, raiding, and dungeons.
  • There are also a lot of option goals associated with your covenant.

VG24/7 Interview with Johnny Cash and Ely Cannon
VG24/7 interviewed WoW’s Assistant Lead Quest Designer Johnny Cash and Art Director Ely Cannon about how the team has been spending its extra month on the game.

  • Most of the delay spent a considerable amount of time making sure that they added additional polish that people expect from a WoW expansion, but one specific thing to touch on was the Covenant systems.
  • There was a lot of feedback both externally and internally about the balance of certain Covenant abilities and Soulbind traits and so more tuning was needed before launch.
  • Just a few weeks ago, major changes were made to the Soulbind trees to put abilities closer to the top so that your choice gave you something that made you feel powerful right away.
  • Covid wasn’t necessarily the reason for the delay. The team just wanted more time to get it right.
  • The team tried to make sure the story was accessible to new players, but also give extra context to players who know the greater lore of WoW.
  • The team plans to continue to add new customization options in the future because the response has been so positive.
  • Humans were just the starting point to give better representation. If they got humans right, they knew they could extend it to other races.
  • The WoW community is very diverse, and Shadowlands has strived to introduce characters that are diverse as well, such as Pelagos being the Shadowlands version of a trans character.
  • The team has tried hard to make Covenant choice have distinct advantages and multiple opportunities to shine. An example is Night Fae providing Death Knights with a mobility cooldown, but this is not necessarily a benefit on fights that don’t require high mobility. The Kyrian vial could provide more utility on fights that don’t require movement.
  • The moment a system has to persist forever, it becomes much more limited in the amount of power they can offer players, and the amount of utility they can offer.
  • The team has tried to make sure that Covenant choice rewards, such as cosmetics extend, way beyond Shadowlands as to not make it entirely feel like an expansion only feature.

WindowsCentral Interview with Ion Hazzikostas
WindowsCentral interviewed game director Ion Hazzikostas on Shadowlands!

  • Sylvanas’s arc has already strayed much from Garrosh’s and will only differ more as the story progresses. As Shadowlands continues to unfold, talk of parallels between these two characters and their narratives will diminish steadily over time.
  • One of the things that the team consciously loved about the storytelling is the integration of cinematic storytelling and gameplay storytelling in BfA.
  • There should be a whole bunch of really cool cutscenes and cinematics that the world will be seeing in the next two to three weeks. Ion thinks it’s some of the cinematic team’s coolest work yet.
  • Shadowlands gets back towards larger epic narratives that are focused on existential threats, the efforts of heroes, villains, and ourselves operating alongside them to try to overcome those.
  • Shadowlands will tell a cohesive story with intertwining covenant narratives.
  • Much of the story will function like Draenor, where we mostly stayed in a different area. However, certain areas will use the old world as necessary, such as the Night Fae campaign sending you to Drustvar to learn more about the history of the Drust.
  • Vol’jin’s inclusion in the story wasn’t necessarily a response to player feedback, but just the team knowing that his arc still had room to expand.
  • Ion would like to formally repudiate the philosophy of “bring the player not the class.” He thinks that was something that was articulated a dozen years ago in a very different time. The game itself has moved very far from the problems that statement was trying to address.
  • The team has tried to emphasize that your class should matter. Having a well-rounded group is healthier.
  • Trying to make players more social and less optimized is something no one has been able to crack in modern day. However, if you spend hours getting declined from groups because of your spec then you are completely justified in blaming Blizzard.
  • The team has tried to shift the answer of what is best to “it depends’” as much as possible by making certain specs or classes excel in something more than others.
  • Torghast will be limited to 3 layers at launch until Season 1 starts. Layers 4-6 will open with the raid and 7-8 will come with the mythic difficulty on week 2 of season 1.
  • The team is not trying to move away from raid skips. Nathria has one.
  • The goal of Shadowlands is only to build on the systems available at launch and not add new systems over the expansion.
  • There is no Flight Master’s Whistle in Shadowlands. This feature was added in Legion as a response to emissaries such as the Kirin Tor one sending you to multiple locations. Callings in Shadowlands focus on one zone and area.
  • The team has also moved away from reputation being required to unlock flying. They want to have flying earned, likely in the next major content patch after launch, by completing the covenant campaign.
  • The delay was worth it. The team was able to address weaknesses in the end game progression loop and the Maw, as well as polish and balance.

Eurogamer Interview with John Hight and Morgan Day
Eurogamer interviewed John Hight and Morgan Day on Shadowlands and Fixing Endgame.

  • The team realized from feedback that the Azerite armor system was flawed, and essences were created as a new axis of progression. They knew at that point what they had gotten themselves into, and had to add systems to fix it.
  • The team realized that players need a sense of achievement with end-game systems and loops. Infinite progressions systems don’t scratch that itch. So they decided to move away from it in Shadowlands.
  • Soulbinds are much more defined, but not limiting. You will see clearly where you are going and the powers you will unlock with an end in sight.
  • The main delay for the expansion was to address balance issues caused by Covenant systems with having so many specs.
  • The team received feedback that Soulbinds didn’t seem impactful enough when chosen, and this is why they recently switched the final abilities of many to be the first thing you unlock.

SAGamer Interview with Frank Kowalkowski and Steve Danuser
SAGamer interviewed lead narrative designer Steve Danuser and technical director Frank Kowalkowski about Shadowlands.

  • Some areas of the team were ready for the October launch and so they used the extra time to give additional polish to their sections of the game, including working in a few little easter eggs.
  • Shadowlands introduces zones that are essentially all separate yet connected which creates a sense of scale to this plane of existence.
  • Sharding technology will hopefully address bottlenecks of so many players going through the same areas all at the same time. The game can recognize how many people are in an area and spin up a new shard for the zone.
  • The Horde leadership questline being removed in 9.0.1 was a bug and should be back with 9.0.2
  • The level squish and Chromie time had a lot of different teams working on it and has been an effort spanning several expansions.
  • WoW is an evolving game. Things such as ray tracing are added over time to keep it looking modern, and for this reason it is essentially a new game released with every expansion over time.
  • Torghast will continue to be expanded and evolved over the course of the expansion.
  • The goal of the story is to leave you with anticipation of what is to come with an exciting cliffhanger that evolves over time. They want you to look back at the end of the expansion and kind of see it as the different acts of a play that had their rising tensions and their climaxes and the denouement that comes at the end of it.
  • The sword in Azeroth is a big deal and something that is gonna have long-term implications.

Gamespot Interview with Johnny Cash
Gamespot interviewed assistant lead quest designer Johnny Cash on new customization in Shadowlands.

  • The focus of the new diverse customization options is available for human characters, but Blizzard is hoping to expand this to the game’s other races down the road.
  • In regards to Pelagos, Cash said the developers wanted to create a character who was a World of Warcraft expression of trans, and the team went to great lengths to ensure this was done appropriately.
  • At the end of the day they truly earnestly believe that Azeroth is a place for everyone and so there is a lot of effort in Shadowlands to make that more true than it’s ever been.

GamesIndustry Interview with John Hight and Morgan Day interviewed executive producer John Hight and lead game designer Morgan Day on how the World of Warcraft team is still building on its MMORPG 16 years after launch.

  • As you can imagine, changing everyone’s level and touching, essentially, every creature and spell that was ever made in World of Warcraft is what was required to make the level squish work, and it was a tremendous undertaking by the team.
  • They have seen an increase in the number of brand new players coming to the game since the pre-patch launched.
  • To Blizzard, each expansion is equivalent to a major game release and the team isn’t afraid to scrap features from previous expansions to keep the game from having far too much weight and complexity.
  • The team sometimes sets something in older zones and realizes that they are showing their age. Perhaps the whole game will be completely refreshed someday.
  • Hight says that while Classic was far more popular than anyone at Blizzard expected, they also have found that one version of World of Warcraft is not cannibalizing the other — rather, there’s not much of overlap at all between people swapping between the two, and both communities are healthy enough he feels comfortable releasing major content updates (such as upcoming raids) in both games around the same time.
  • The delay of Shadowlands, while not to be taken lightly, was something that Activision-Blizzard leadership ultimately had their back on.