Ely Cannon: So, with all our storytelling in each new game that we release we’re going to make choices specific to the story we want to tell. That seemed like a really good choice with BfA, but it doesn’t necessarily set a tone for anything we’ll do in the future. In the case of N’zoth, that surprise ending was the right choice. Here in Shadowlands, we’re making this story as poignant and as fun to experience as possible.
Johnny Cash: The Jailer is absolutely one of the primary antagonists of the expansion. He is a significant person we’re going to have to deal with at some point, right. But as far as how that story all comes together, who’s X boss in Y raid, that’s something I don’t want to spoil because I think all the fun is getting there.
Ely Cannon: I don’t think we want to get too serialised in the way we tell stories either, right, we always want to tell the right story and tell it at the right times.
Ely Cannon: I mean, there’s certainly a ‘power’ element that we’ve talked about, and that’s going to play a part in the gameplay of Shadowlands. But beyond Shadowlands, there’s quite a few things that you’ll take along with you. There are so many systems in so many parts of the game itself that are wrapped up in your Covenant choice, whether that’s cosmetics or mounts or pets – all these wonderful things you can collect and take beyond Shadowlands with you. I think there’s value beyond the expansion for that reason specifically.
Johnny Cash: Part of the reason for wanting to limit Covenants to Shadowlands, which players will be enjoying for many months, is that it lets us do a lot more with the system. The moment that something has to persist forever, we are much more limited in the amount of power we can offer players, the amount of utility we can offer, all those sorts of things.
Over the years, as we saw with the old talent tree system, it begins to stack up to something that becomes pretty unwieldy. So, letting us say ‘okay, Azerite items are now gone’, we have all this new space we can explore and do cool new things in, and not have to worry about those things confounding each other and fighting for players’ attention.
I think actually Torghast is a good example of kind of a microcosm of that, where the power you have only persists for the run you’re on. The power you gain in Torghast is extreme, and something we could never do even within the confines of a whole expansion normally.
But at the end of the day, I understand your point and as we have in the past with these systems, we’re of course open to the idea of letting things persist forward. No, you’re not going to bring your Soulbinds with you through adventures beyond the Shadowlands, but if you look at something like the Mage Phoenix ability from Legion from the Fire Mage artefact, that was something where the player response was really strong, with people saying, ‘we love this ability, the Fire Mage rotation would not feel correct without it, we can’t live without this ability,’ and we agreed and so it’s a talent now.
Those are always case-by-case discussions based on where the community is, and where we want a class to be. It’s not to say that nothing you see in Shadowlands will ever persist beyond it; we’re saying all of it isn’t going to. We want to make good choices for the health of the game. So, if there’s an ability that people are really passionate about, and a few years down the line, they’re like ‘oh, if I can’t be a Death Knight without Soulshape, I don’t even want to play anymore,’ we’ll have that conversation.