Wrath Classic Developer Interview with Community Council - Item Level Squish, PvP, Faction Balance
Blizzard held a group interview with Community Council members yesterday, August 25th, covering Item Level squish in Trial of the Crusader, PvP, Wintergrasp, and Faction Balance. Josh Greenfield (Classic Producer), Randy Jordan (Community Manager), Kris Zierhut (Technical Designer), and Ana Resendez (Lead Software Engineer) all joined the group discussion from Blizzard.
Image from the World of Warcraft
Patch 3.2 Trailer "Call of the Crusader"
Item level Squish for Trial of the Crusader and Icecrown Citadel
: The Item level Squish is just an idea, something Blizzard is exploring, which is mentioned multiple times in the article below. Nothing is confirmed to be changing.
There has been a lot of discussion regarding raid lockouts for Wrath of the Lich King Classic, but Blizzard did finally confirm that
10-man Raids and 25-man Raids will not share a lockout
, but Normal and Heroic versions of raids will. On the topic regarding lockouts, Josh Greenfield said, "The idea, the intent, is for players to be able to choose a difficulty per boss. We can't promise that we will be able to do that for Trial of the Crusader, but we will try. TOC wasn't designed for that, so there are challenges."
From Blizzard's perspective and community sentiment, many players feel that Ulduar was one of the most beloved raids from the original Wrath of the Lich King, unfortunately the gear that was released in
Patch 3.2 Call of the Crusader
, was way more powerful than Ulduar's gear. Because of that, many players just stopped raiding Ulduar entirely, and Blizzard doesn't want that to happen again. This time around for Classic, Blizzard wants to give Ulduar more time to shine.
A new raid tier being released and making the entire previous tier's gear obsolete is a paradigm that kind of started with Trial of the Crusader, in some aspects. One of the ideas Blizzard is exploring is the possibility of reducing the item level on gear from Trial of the Crusader, so that this doesn't happen. Kris Zierhut had this to say, "When TOC came out, there basically was no point to go to Ulduar anymore. The idea right now is basically to take all of the TOC gear and drop them about 13 item levels, so that items from Hardmode Ulduar are just a little bit better than TOC Normal. But items that drop in TOC Hardmodes are better than what drops in Ulduar."
Kris Zierhut continued, "What we want is something like what happened in Burning Crusade Classic, where players were still going into Serpentshrine Cavern and Tempest Keep at the same time Black Temple was out. There's a lot of different activity across different levels, so that everyone was able to play different things and run their alts. It was sort of a vibrant ecosystem of raids.
Whereas if we don't do any changes to Trial of the Crusader, the moment it comes out in Wrath Classic people stop raiding Ulduar. Eventually, people might be a little bored for a few months, asking "When is ICC coming?" because there just isn't enough going on." As for PvP Gladiator gear in Season 7, it would likely also see a reduction in item level, to match that of Trial of the Crusader. Looking back on it, the power level from Season 6 to Season 7 is quite drastic, likely because the PvP gear had to stay on par with the new raid gear. In a way, Blizzard thinks lowering the item level on PvP gear will be healthier for the game, as the transition into a new arena season won't be as large a spike in player power.
As for Icecrown Citadel, this also means those item levels will also need to be shrunk down, to keep everything in check. Kris Zierhut had this to say, thinking about how raiders will react to ICC with reduced item levels, "We think that will actually make ICC much more enjoyable for hardcore raiders, while also making the relevance of the raid last longer."
Kris Zierhut continued, "Looking back on the original Wrath of the Lich King, Trial of the Crusader was never even planned, neither were Heroic Modes, so the power creep on gear went way higher than what was initially expected. Class balancing kind of broke a bit because the combat rating on gear got so high. In a way, bringing the item level down on gear will actually help with class balance in general."
In regards to Class Balance, Blizzard stated that Patch 3.3.5's balance was heavily influenced by Arena. Kris Zierhut went on to explain, "As for Death Knights, they went out the door - they were way too overpowered. Players kept finding new ways to make Death Knights more powerful than we intended, and I don't think any of the nerfs to Death Knights over Wrath of the Lich King were ever unjustified. And I'm worried they will be too strong again in Wrath Classic, players will probably find new ways to make them too strong. We will be watching class balance closely, and my perspective is we should just let it be, unless a class is pushed out entirely and the community says 'this class is complete junk, we don't even bring them anymore' and then I think we should take a look at it"
PvP, Engineering, and Wintergrasp
One of the requested features for Arena in Wrath of the Lich King is the possibility of using
in the first arena season of Wrath Classic. During the original expansion, Engineering items were eventually removed from use in the Arena, and some players have a nostalgic memory of the time these items were allowed. Ana Resendez explained, "On the topic of PvP and Arena Gear, our thoughts at the moment are looking at the first season, allowing it to be original as possible. For example, items from Engineering will be allowed in the Arena and some players have some nostalgia around these items. We will be monitoring it and watching how players approach this and possibly change it for later seasons."
On the topic of Wintergrasp, Ana Resendez continued, "For Wintergrasp, there will be multiple instances of the battleground region wide, taking place simultaneously, so as long as one player in a faction on a realm wins in their battleground, the entire realm will have access to Vault of Archavon. It is possible that both sides will win on a realm, which would give both sides access at the same time."
Faction Balance and Realm Populations
Approaching Wrath Classic, one of the most talked about and hot button topics within the community is faction balance. Regarding this, many players often times want their realm and faction to be as large as possible, to create a frictionless environment for finding partners in arena or finding groups for dungeons and raids. But at the same time, players also want a large number of the opposing faction, so they can engage in World PvP. The only problem is, those same players typically want to win the majority of their fights. Which likely means they never want to be outnumbered.
This creates a weird situation where Blizzard has a difficult problem to solve. Josh Greenfield said, "Instead of trying to twist players arms and force them to move to certain servers, we'd like to try a design solution to this. Essentially, the idea is that if you are the underdog faction, you have a massive bonus. Something like 50% increased honor, 20% increased experience, 10% bonus reputation, loot bags from quests, or whatever. What we really want to lean into is if a realm achieves a certain level of faction balance, both factions get the reward. Or maybe both factions get the reward
and it's doubled
." Blizzard stressed that they think the right approach to fixing faction balance would be a reward based system.
As for rolling out a significant system described above, Josh Greenfield continued, "We'd probably want to start this idea by starting small, such as doing a demo of this concept on a smaller population realm first, before putting it on one of the "mega" servers that are 99% skewed one faction." And lastly, many players have already invested money in transferring their characters from realm to realm, so Blizzard would try to implement this in a way that would be driven by tree realm transfers, where transfers are only opened in smaller windows.
Earlier today, Blizzard announced the names of the
two new Fresh Start realms
launching alongside the Pre-Patch. Josh Greenfield continued the conversation around faction balance, stating "We also want to open as few Fresh Start realms as possible, because by adding choice to the realms, the community could easily say 'Okay this is the Horde realm and this is the Alliance realm', so we are looking to add as few Fresh Start realms as possible, maybe even one per region." And Blizzard believes in doing so, they give the Fresh Start realms the best chance to have faction balance.
Wrath of the Lich King Classic
launches on September 26th, 2022
and if you are interested in playing Wrath of the Lich King Classic,
Pre-Patch and Fresh Start Realms will begin on August 30th
, so now is the best time to start playing!
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