Dragonflight Pre-Launch Interview with Annie Fuchsia and Game Director Ion Hazzikostas
Swedish streamer Annie Fuchsia took the opportunity to interview World of Warcraft Game Director Ion Hazzikostas before the launch of Dragonflight, talking about the success of Season 4, pets, mounts, achievements, and more improvements coming in Dragonflight!
Watch the interview in full, or check out our highlights below!
Very happy overall with how Season 4 played out as a greatest hits of Shadowlands. The last raid tends to last a little too long before a new expansion releases, so going back to revisit older raids was a great way to shake things up, rather than just sit in Sepulcher for eight months.
Shadowlands season 4 was themed around the Progenitors, and they probably won't do that again, but revisiting the Dragonflight raids with some sort of a remix will probably happen again.
They love the idea of revisiting previous expansion raid content, but they're sensitive about doing so. Learning an old dungeon doesn't take much time, but relearning an entire raid can be much more involved and lead to a big difference between those who completed the raids when they were current and those who are basically restarting progression on a now shortened season schedule. It may be a little more stressful than they're aiming for with this type of content.
The team would like to keep expanding timewalking content, and that could be a way to revisit more raids in a lighter, stress-free way.
One area they failed in Season 4 was with outdoor focused players. Dungeon, PvP, and Raid players had a lot to look forward to this season, but outdoor players only had a rotating world boss and Zereth Mortis. In the future, they'd like to do more outdoor content so that there's meaningful progression for all players.
Season 4's account-wide portal rewards were a pleasant departure from character specific rewards from dungeons, but also somewhat inconsistent. Most cosmetic or utility rewards are account-wide now, but high end PvP and dungeon rewards have typically been exceptions, stemming from old challenge mode weapons and armor. The idea at the time was that the class you were on when you completed those achievements was important and a reflection of your mastery over that class, but a raid in an inherently larger cooperative endeavor. Admittedly, that reasoning is somewhat flimsy, and in some ways it's like this because it's always been like this, but it's something they may revisit, especially if they do these things more often.
The team is eager for community feedback. They want to hear what the new UI, auction house, and other updates are still missing and need addons to cover. The ability to view and interact with map coordinates is one that Ion already has in mind - it was never a part of the core game, but has become widespread.
On the other hand, they're less interested in adding fully informational or computational problem solving addons with the base UI - things like DBM and WeakAuras. The base UI should show when you get a rotational spell proc, but it shouldn't be automatically putting markers over targets heads or helping solve encounter problems.
No plans for WoW to come to console. Increased emphasis on controller support has been an effort of accessibility for people who have a harder time using the keyboard and mouse.
Bags should be a little cleaner in Dragonflight. They experienced the pain points of anima items as well, and will endeavor to be better about it, though one of the big things they've done in Dragonflight is add the new reagent bag, which should help with looting and sorting things out in the open world.
There are some dangling pet achievements that aren't actually obtainable within currently available collections, and that probably shouldn't happen. Even if they think later in the expansion they might reach those numbers, philosophically they shouldn't be adding achievements into the game until they're actually obtainable.
The mount achievement numbers are much lower, largely because they want them to be accessible to players who
collect every single mount. Some aren't obtainable anymore whatsoever, but they also don't want players to feel like they have to buy shop mounts in order to earn an achievement.
Mobile pet battles are something that Ion would love to see, but there are a number of technical challenges to deal with. For example, the current mobile app is a very different and doesn't render 3D features.
Shadowlands had a lot of mounts, partially due to the covenant system multiplying everything by four. They like recolors for aesthetic reasons, but at least try to keep them somewhat thematically consistent. They try to avoid too many recolors of very prestigious mounts in order to keep their uniqueness, at least until quite a bit of time has passed - there may be different colors of the
, but it's very clear that they all came from dungeon achievements. Ultimately, it's just about striking a balance between customization and recognition.
Dyes and other customization ideas come up a lot, but doesn't work with the way their items, mounts, and visual aspects work - either from an art or engineering perspective. WoW is known as a "painterly style" with multiple combined colors in different sections, rather than a solid green shoulderpad that can be swapped for a purple one. Because of the way it works, it'd be much more challenging than swapping one color with another. That said, they recognize players' desire for more customization and the team also wants to explore more depth and variety in whatever way they can achieve it.
Being able to relearn old, some unobtainable, recipes after switching professions a few times is something they'd like to do, but ultimately low priority compared to current work, such as on making new professions systems in Dragonflight. It isn't a "never going to happen" thing, but it is a "someday" thing.
It's very unlikely that unobtainable rewards like Gladiator or Keystone Master will come back. 99% of rewards in WoW are still obtainable after the content is no longer current, but there are a few things that are exclusive to finishing at the time. They don't want to expand that too much and make everything exclusive, but they're likely to preserve the ones that are.
They might do another
if there's another meme number which stands out, but remember that WoW is a T for Teen rated game!
The size of Battlegrounds is something that the team is looking and talking about a lot. Solo queue/solo shuffle is an experiment, and may expand into smaller scale 5 player BGs in the future. Stay tuned for future talks during Dragonflight.
Import/Export features for character customization (Dracthyr, Dragonriding, etc) comes up a lot, both for sharing with others, and realizing you spent 15 minutes customizing your look only to realize you picked the wrong faction and now have to start over! It's would be nice and is something they're going to look into.
Ion challenged the premise of the question "which Dragon Aspect would you rather be stranded on an island with," noting that they're dragons which can fly. Assuming there are invisible walls, his very serious and not at all coy answer is "the future leader of the black dragonflight."
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