I summarized the three-pages of developer interview-and-update content that got dumped within minutes of each other on WoWhead for my guild to try and make digesting the information easier.
I'm gonna post it here in case anyone is interested in that sort of thing. If not, yell at me I guess.
I. SHADOWLANDS DESIGN
EXPANSION DESIGN – Will feel more linear than Battle for Azeroth. – Feel they can tell a braoder progressive narrative when zones are encountered in specific order. – Non-Linear world = lost sense of accomplishment to be strong enough to enter a zone. – Warfronts, Islands, and Visions were experiments that will see iteration in Shadowlands (Torghast). – Tuning is one of the last things to be done before launch, and frequently continues on after. – BFA was light on tuning and critizied for it. – Covenants currently criticized for lack of tuning. Ability is only part of the whole package. – Alts choose their Covenants immediately. – Leveling up in Torghast? – Whichever content you choose, you can play with ANY OTHER PLAYER. Small portion of campaign linked strictly to covenant. – Free to choose which activities you want to increase your personal power (RP when). – BfA brought back zones like Uldum and Vale. Shadowlands will be more self-contained. – Want to expose everyone to wide variety of things to do, but not force them to do things they don't like. – Original starting experiences weren't designed for new players in mind. Exile's Reach highlights things that reflects the game's current mentality. – Horde is in for a period of rebuilding, moving to leadership council. More stories to tell about factions rebuilding, but not the focus for the start of Shadowlands. – There are no plans to have mini-questlines to explain the presence of sub-races in Shadowlands, like High Elves or Sandfury Trolls.
CLASS DESIGN – No new Class. Too important to be just a patch. Must be an expension feature. – No new race/class combos. – Survival Hunters will stay Melee. Blizzard doesn't want them to feel like melee strength compromises core hunter fantasy, though. – Certain classes may feel underpowered until Conduits or Legendaries are in. – Team is thinking about class-specific customization.
CUSTOMIZATION – Character customization improvements are an ongoing system, they are never done. – Always looking at customization options, and looking at feedback. – Art team tries to make choices that are appropriate for the race. – Humans were a big push. – Burn options on Night Elves are specifically to tell the story of surviving Teldrassil. – Potential for more options in the future, but working vigoriously to get the majority in at ship. – Can't discuss future plans. – High Elves are in the game but aren't represented by players. Blood Elves were "the closest". – Blue eyes is a chance to bring Blood Elves and Void Elves back to their roots. – Absolutely considered "high elf" customizations. – Bald haircuts were not planned originally. – Designers make use of tools for current and future content, so not likely to see many old-world NPCs updated with new options. – Can certainly expect to see these tools in future places.
LOOT – "Let loot be loot" – Exact quantities of loot are still evolving.
– For M+, it will be one item from the end-of-run chest that is repeatable. – Continuing with personal loot and tradeability. – Master Looter abuse feels heightened in a scarcity.
FLYING – You can't fly at launch. – Probably never in the Maw. – Pathfinding tied to Renown.
II. PRE-PATCH – 4-6 weeks before Expansion Release – Level Squish in full effect. – Inspired by Scourge event from WotLK – Story of how Heroes of Azeroth are gathering in Icecrown. – Liveblog next week about what is and isn't going away. – Corruption is going away 9.0 pre-patch. – Essences and Azerite Armor will continue to work, but not in the Shadowlands.
III. THE SHADOWLANDS
MORE ZONES – Infiniate spaces in the Shadowlands that souls go to. May see more in later patches.
THE MAW – Why do we go into the Maw? – Fantasy: Correcting a cosmic wrong by rescuing souls that should not be there. – Gameplay: You need souls to increase Renown. Certain parts of Soulbinds require Renown. – First visit is via quest after choosing Covenant. – Currency is Stygia – Up to half is lost when you die. – How to balance that for War Mode is being considered. – Used to buy things from Broker Van'ari – Time spent in maw will be roughly 25-30 minutes. – 40 if you're super careful. – Won't need to do it every day. Maybe 2-3 times a week. – Eye of the Jailer Debuff – Jailer keeps watch on you as you do activities. – World Quests, killing Rares, looting things. – As bar fills up, threat levels increase. The more senpai notices you, the more threats he throws at you. – 5 levels of threats. – Threat levels are reset daily. – Current plan is to go back to Covenant Sanctum and spend some Anima. – In Alpha, you can talk to Ven'ari to have threat levels reset and simulate a new day. – It should be possible to clear your debuff to play with a friend when they log on. – Broker Van'ari is the one friendly face in the Maw. – Expands Torghast Anima powers. – Lots of cool toys to sell. Some will effect Torghast. – Sandbox experience, like Mechagon. A clear direction will not be given to you. – You are not welcome here. – They want this area to feel deadly and dangerous. – Mounting and running through danger can actually be the best defense, so they want to find ways around that. – Maw is very large and some spaces are empty. Considering adding flight paths or fast travel. – If the final decision is no mounts, then there will never be mounts. – Likely never be able to fly in the Maw. – Mounting maybe adds Jailor mechanics. – Regular mobs have loot, because looting things is fun. – Some areas are not meant to be explored too early, and debuffs will tell you if you shouldn't be there yet. – Might be reasons to return to empty areas that are more rewarding. – World Quests don't show up on the map, but on the mini-map. – Will be going in blind on your first few visits. – The more you explore, the more familiar with it you will be, and will create your own routes through it. – Broker Vin'ari may sell cool items like something that shows nearby objectives. – Will not just be another zone of world quests. – Plans for it after 9.0.
ORIBOS – Exists in the center of the Shadowlands, but the other zones aren't necessarily nearby. You use a gateway to get there.
IV. SHADOWLANDS SYSTEMS
TORGHAST – NO KEYS – Learned a lot from Visions (surprise surprise). – Anima Powers to prevent Tanks and Healers from switching specs. – Dynamic Spawns from Islands informed replayable design of Torghast. – Lots of different floor layouts and dynamic spawns – Unique mini-map – May have different modes in future. Maybe leaderboards. – Difficulty will be tweaked so later floors don't feel easier. – Sawtooth Scaling: Difficulty scales faster on each floor, with every 6th being a step down. – Enemies scale better with your power. – Torghast Tutorial will make you unlock 36 floors and will be account wide.
ANIMA – Catch-up informed by Coaelescing Visions. Likely applied to Anima rewards.
CALLINGS – Basically the Emmissaries.
COVENANTS – Set up to be a different choice than Specs or Talents. – Intended to be part of your identity. – Should be similar to choosing which class to play. – Q: Which covenent is better? A: Depends. – Going to a dungeon? PIck AoE conduits and soulbinds. – There should be specific areas that certain Covenants are better at a particular fight or PvP situation. – They want to avoid "If you do Mythic+, choose this Covenant". – If a covenant shines because it's particularly good at a boss fight that has a lot of movement or emphasis on single-target DPS, that's fine. Means it might be weaker at fights without those things. – It's okay if people choose their covenant for optimization or for RP or cosmetic reasons. – Switching covenents if you regret it will be easy. – Switching back will be difficult– you broke their trust and have to earn that back. – Penalty not determined yet. – Week-and-a-half/two weeks. Not final. – Something that can be done between raid seasons. – Difficult to do so you won't be incentivized to swap weekly for raids or Mythic+, or between bosses. – Abilities and Soulbinds used everywhere. – Even in PVP, but will be tuned accordingly. Disabling them is the last thing they want to do. – Covenant Rewards system still in works.
a. SOULBINDS – Changing freely is intended. Switching requires being in Sanctum. Will cost (minimal) Anima. – Not yet known how difficult it will be to unlock Traits. – Cannot unlock all traits in a Soulbind. – Traits follow a path that go top-to-bottom, player determining their path along the way. – Paths can fork. – Soulbinds and traits can be easily swapped anywhere. – Soulbinds can be reset, but Conduits will remain.
CONDUITS - Straightforward modification to class abilities. Think gems, not relics. - Replacing it will destroy the existing one. - Still being actively discussed. - Only changed when you really need to. - Sources not final. - Drops where loot drops - Won't compete with loot tables like relics did. - If it's super beneficial in PvP, will probably be from PvP. - Same for dungeons. - Spec-specific, remaining even when swapping specs. - Three types of sockets: - Potency: Throughput bonus - Finesse: Utility bonus - Endurance: Defensive bonus - Stacking might be intentional. - Can only put Potency Conduit in Potency slot. - Conduits can be placed in inactive sockets. - Condutis remain socketed even if Soulbind isn't active.
b. RENOWN – Weekly objective – Wanted something that resembles more of a 'soft cap'. – Go into the Maw and rescuing souls, or collecting Anima – Not an open-ended Grind – Will have catch-up system implemented right away. – Some method (quest, daily calling), that requires effort (not free). – Pathfinder is tied to Renown.
c. SANCTUM – Tied to many systems. – Accessible in first week, but paced out not to feel overwhelming. – Upgrades uses four different resources: – Reservoir Anima, obtained from non-Maw activities. – Sanctum Arisen, Architect, and Anima-Weaver– not sure where we get these. Probably the Maw. – Anima is deposited, turning collected Anima into Reservoir Anima. – Four different things to upgrade by spending resources: – Transport Network – Anima Conductor – Adventures Upgrades – Sanctum-Specific Features – Kyrian: Path of Ascension – Necrolords: Abomination Factory – Venthyr: Ember Court – Night Fae: Queen's Conservatory
d. MISSIONS – Fueled by Reservoir Anima. – Tied to covenant – Turn-based, not just time. – Less RNG, more tactical ability management. – Adventurers (champions) have stats that level up.
LEGENDARY CRAFTING – Acquisition is player-controlled, not entirely RNG. – Main ingredient is "Carcerus" – Must unlock the Runecarver in Torghast, then provide him materials.
– Requires a base item that comes from crafting professions, and two runes created by Scribes. – Recipe comes from known source in the world. – Recipes are account-wide. – Implying that the Runecarver created old Legendaries that somehow made it out of the Shadowlands. – Materials collected in Torghast. – When completing a high floor, you'll get the legendary materials for all floors below it. – No info on time investment. – Earned faster than Legion legendaries.
– Recipes with unlocks similar to Essences – You will know exactly what to do in order to unlock it. – Maybe equip more than one in future. – Legendaries can be pure power or have utility. Some will not pick utility legendaries at first and that's fine.
VI. PREVIOUS SYSTEMS
MYTHIC+ – New seasonal affixes that might hit Beta. – First one will be easier while people are still learning the dungeons. – Bursting and Volcanic will scale with level, instead of health. – Gear swapping limited to weapon-swapping.
PVP – If someone is only PvPing, you'll have 95% of power. – Slight edge for those who show mastery in multiple fields. – New Bastion Arena – Lag in Open World battles is a problem. Working on optimizations but this has been a problem since Wintergrasps in WOTLK. – Non-PVP required for PVP will be choosing covenant, setting up soulbind, and running Torghast for legendaries.
PROFESSIONS – Nothing new for Archaeology. Shadowlands isn't part of Azerothian history, it's their future. – Items should be meaningful, but not the best thing you're going to get.
WEEKLY CHEST – You will be rewarded for running more than one M+ dungeon a week to get more options in your chest.
– Multiple options for the Weekly Chest – One piece pulled from different options. Important currency if you don't like any. – Appearance changes, pets, and mounts may be part of chest.
TIMEWALKING – Legion Timewalking not at launch, but eventually.
TRANSMOGGING – Looking for artifacts to be usable in all specs. – Different Shoulder transmogs is a pursuit. Some shoulders designed as a pair intentionally, not always the same on each side. Clipping might occur. – Epic weapons to match covenant armor in Castle Nathria via a token.
HERITAGE ARMOR – Spotlight is at 50, last heard. – No plans for Heritage Weapons, but they think it's cool.
HEIRLOOMS – No more exp bonus. – Something will replace exp bonus that is still beneficial.
LFG UPDATES – Updated, but not at launch. – Used heavily for M+ Keystones, and will be updated to allow searching by dungeon and key level (hopefully).
STATS – Tertiary stats will proabably be about how it is now.
ISLAND EXPEDITIONS – May be soloable in future, like old LFR wings. Not sure how it'll be implemented.
HORRIFIC VISION EACHIEVEMENTS – No time pressure to speak of.
PET BATTLES – Dungeons are fun but not much broad appeal.
V. LORE AND WORLD
THE SHADOWLANDS – The Shadowlands is not just Azeroth's afterlife. – All worlds of the mortal realm.
THE JAILER – Stronger than the Titans.
THE PANTHEON OF DEATH – Covenant Leaders– the Winter Queen, the Archon, etc. – On par with Titans. – Lead and established the Shadowlands. The Arbiter is a member. – They "grease the wheels" of the Machine of Death.
THE FIRST ONES – Unfolds over the course of the expansion. – Referred to by Brokers in Oribos. – Tied to Pantheons (Titans) and Panteon of Death.
MOGRAINE THE ASHBRINGER – Mograine's new sword is Fatebringer.
THE NIGHT WARRIOR – Reverence to Elune is not unique to Azeroth. She is worshipped in other worlds. – Will encounter people who have been the Night Warrior on their world.
SYLVANAS – Loyalists are no longer loyal to her. – New truths about her motications uncovered. – Sylvanas will eventually tell us outright what she wants.
CALIA – Calia is a neutrla character. She is not leader of the Forsaken. – Has personal involvement with the specter of death, considering what happened to her father and brother. – Involved in Shadowlands for personal reasons, but not as a leader or representative.
COVENANTS – Not replacing Horde/Alliance. Covenants aren't exactly enemies of each other.
– They sometimes come into conflict with each other, and might be some PVP stuff that reflects that, but only when it makes sense.
MALDRAXXUS – Military might of the Shadowlands, fighting off those that shouldn't be there. – Light and Void "visitors" seen in Maldraxxus. – Celebrates who you were in flie and the accomplishments you had.
ARDENWEALD – Pulls quests from Legion because the storyline wouldn't make sense if you didn't experience them.
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