Blizzard has just revealed the World of Warcraft: Dragonflight expansion, though ahead of its public unveiling, we got to ask a couple of questions to WoW developers regarding Dragonflight and its new race/class combo and Dragonriding.
Specifically, we got to chat with Production Director, Patrick Dawson as well as Lead UI Designer, Laura Sardinha in a roundtable discussion with other SEA gaming press. There, they were able to share some interesting info about how they developed the expansion’s two highlight features, as well as what players should expect upon release.
One of the questions we learned from Dawson and Sardinha is that Dragonriding was treated as a must-have for the team, even early into the game’s development.
“If you think about the Dragon isles itself, it’s the homeland of the dragons, and they’re massive,” said Sardinha. “So, the zones, they need to be really big to accommodate the dragons. And then you walk around by yourself in this huge zone with a lot of mountains and waterfalls and places that only dragons can bridge. So [Dragonriding] came to give players the ability to fly early on. That made a lot of sense for this expansion. It just fits well.”
“What’s a what’s a dragon expansion without flying right? That’s something that’s important [for us],” added Dawson.
As for how Dragonriding is implemented into the expansion, Dawson mentioned that, while the core of it is similar to traditional flying in WoW, the team did ensure that there are enough differences that make it unique.
“Historically, in the past, when we’ve added things like flying to the game, it usually comes near the end. And while this won’t be traditional flying as you know it, we wanted to make sure we really connected with that fantasy of soaring through the air, gaining momentum, really having flying feel more like a modern activity. It really hasn’t fundamentally changed in 17 years at this point, so this is a new take on what that might be. What it would it be like to do a dive bomb or a barrel roll. These are things that you can necessarily do with regular flying. So, this is something that was specific and cool for Dragon riding. It’s really been fun playing around with the physics of that and what that’s like. But then on top of that, the customizability, and the collection system of getting all these new ways to change your character and change your drake. This has been really rewarding [for us].”
Along with Dragonriding, the new dracthyr Evoker race/class combo is the big highlight of Dragonflight. While having dracthyrs be limited to the Evoker class may seem to make the new race limiting, the developers assured us that players will still have enough flexibility and not be pigeonholed into one playstyle. This is done thanks in part to the two forms that dracthyr can play as.
“Choosing a new race to bring this class to life allows us to go really deep with character customizations,” said Dawson. “We actually have, not just the dracthyr form which is heavily customizable so you can look like a Drake on the battlefield, but also your visage form, which is a more humanoid form which allows you to customize what kind of scales you might want to show him your character. There’s a lot of cool personalization you can do with that.”
Alongside the two forms for the dracthyr, the Evoker class also has two playstyles that players can choose between, depending on their preferred playsytle.
“When it comes to the gameplay of the class itself, that also is pretty dynamic. We’re introducing [Evoker] as a mid-range DPS class, as well as a healer spec that we have offered,” said Dawson. “We haven’t really done a lot of ranged DPS additions to the game with our recent classes, so we really wanted to have that ranged DPS healer. Plus, it really fits the fantasy of the of the Dragon soaring over the battlefield and and breathing fire throughout its enemies.”
Currently, there’s no word yet on the World of Warcraft: Dragonflight release date, though there will be pre-launch tests, with details to be announced soon.