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Vanion Interview with Game Director Ion Hazzikostas

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Vanion recently interviewed Game Director Ion Hazzikostas about the current state of the game, itemization, and more.

If you're fluent in German, you can read the original interview here.

Interview Highlights

Current State of the Game & Community Backlash

  • The World of Warcraft developer team cares deeply about the community. All 300 people working on the game are out there on Reddit, Twitter, the official forums, and fan sites reading all the comments.
  • People feel like there's a scheme they love that they have a deep connection to and there's something about it that's going in a direction that they don't like that's frustrating to them. They find themselves not looking forward to logging in the way they used to and lash out comes from a place of emotion and that's a testament to the deep connection people have to World of Warcraft as a game and it's a challenge for them to fix it.
  • World of Warcraft has so many diverse audiences and play styles that exist and coexist within Azeroth. When players accuse them of being out of touch, it's not that they don't understand their concerns, they're also trying to keep in mind another half-dozen groups of players who may want the game to be different and often directly opposing things. They're also thinking about the long-term future and how those systems and changes are going to play out in the long run. Players have every right to just focus on their own experience.
  • Internet in general is a place that's become a bit more polarized and prone to extreme viewpoints and it's more about getting anger and opinions out there and less about finding common ground and looking for places of agreement and you can see that across a wide range fo subjects. All of those things have culminated  in the situation that we see.
  • We have a very bright future ahead of us with the majority of Battle for Azeroth's patch content still to come. If you think back to this time in Legion there was much more to follow.
  • Power progression and gear matter, but they want the game to remain accessible to people who are joining a bit later or who are coming back. In the Burning Crusade, guilds complained bitterly about having to go back and get people attuned in Serpentshrine and Tempest Keep. When they wanted to recruit a new raider or someone was coming back, they had to go back and do content that was irrelevant to them. Those were major hurdles that made it much harder to recruit and get into raiding as a whole.
  • In Tides of Vengeance, the team made some great improvements to the systems and rewards that  we saw at expansion launch.

Class Design

  • They don't think classes have too many abilities nowadays. The team is open to adding baseline abilities where it makes sense.

Class Identity

  • Legion focused on class identity, that's why there were Order Halls. We don't have anything like that in Battle for Azeroth, because the expansion is about faction identity. They're also exploring racial identity with the introduction of Heritage Armor. Class identity remains important, it's just not the central focus of the expansion. They focus on improving the visual fidelity of classes (new Holy Paladin spells in Tides of Vengeance).

Itemization

  • On the raid and dungeon side, there's definitely a place for  a new currency, similar to Nethershards or Veiled Argunite we had in Legion.

Patch 8.1.5

  • The Crucible of Storms is a bridge between Battle of Dazar'alor and Rise of Azshara and the raid content that's coming in the patch. It will open not too long after Patch 8.1.5 goes live. The item level on that isn't quite final yet. It's only a two-boss raid, Trial of Valor dropped slightly better gear than Emerald Nightmare in Legion, so they're going to look at the average item level of active raiders to determine the item level of rewards in the new raid.

Patch 8.2 (Rise of Azshara)

  • Azerite Armor pieces will be fully unlocked in Rise of Azshara and there will be a different avenue of progression in the Heart of Azeroth.
  • Mechagon is a second smaller zone than Nazjatar, which is the main zone for Rise of Azshara. There's a Mechadungeon that is similar to Karazhan. They will have more information to share after Patch 8.1.5 is off the PTR.

Raid Timing

  • Battle of Dazar'alor opened last week, because of the holiday season and that was just a timing issue. It's very likely that in Rise of Azshara and the next tier will see the raid open immediately after the patch, maybe just a couple of week after, so there won't be this large gap.

Mage Tower

  • They're definitely not done with that type of solo content and they want to do it again.

Professions

  • The most successful crafting professions in World of Warcraft have always been the ones that sell consumables (Alchemy ,Enchanting), other professions are a challenge and they need to strike a balance between crafted and raid gear.
  • They see professions as an area with a ton of opportunity for improvement.

Rare Spawns & Treasure Chests

  • They agree that treasure chests are somewhat dull in Battle for Azeroth, they'd like to improve upon them in Rise of Azshara. Rares are also too easy to kill, but that's a side effect of cross-realm groups. There hasn't been a true "rare mob" since Warlords of Draenor. 

Warfronts

  • The current difficulty on live can be compared to LFR.
  • The gist of Heroic Warfronts is to create the Normal raid experience that a group of friends can do together. They're still not going to be a challenge for a Mythic raid group. They want to make it a more involved coordinated experience.
  • No new Warfront is planned for Rise of Azshara, but Heroic Warfronts are going to fill that vacuum.
  • Datamined Barrens Warfront references were only for internal testing. They never made it to Alpha.

VOD

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14 hours ago, Stan said:

Internet in general is a place that's become a bit more polarized and prone to extreme viewpoints and it's more about getting anger and opinions out there and less about finding common ground and looking for places of agreement and you can see that across a wide range fo subjects. All of those things have culminated  in the situation that we see. 

So it's our fault ?
image.thumb.png.084ac5524782cf2154cb6c1d6778a72b.png

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4 minutes ago, Haheisenberg said:

 

So it's our fault ?
 

Watch the video  - he spends the first couple minutes saying that they did make mistakes and are trying to fix them BUT there are some issues that have been overblown.

I agree with him. Youtuber trolls like asmongold sell themselves by making big deals about "issues" in the game. 

Does BFA have issues? Absolutely. Is it a fun expansion that is challenging and keeps me entertained? Absolutely. 

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2 hours ago, ThomasC said:

Watch the video  - he spends the first couple minutes saying that they did make mistakes and are trying to fix them BUT there are some issues that have been overblown.

I agree with him. Youtuber trolls like asmongold sell themselves by making big deals about "issues" in the game. 

Does BFA have issues? Absolutely. Is it a fun expansion that is challenging and keeps me entertained? Absolutely. 

I was impressed the first time he said they fucked up and apologised (start of BfA "you deserve better"). It doesn't really work like this the 5th time. Most of what asmongold says is true. Having issues is understandable, multiplying them with every "fix" just can't be ignored forever.

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22 minutes ago, Haheisenberg said:

I was impressed the first time he said they fucked up and apologised (start of BfA "you deserve better"). It doesn't really work like this the 5th time. Most of what asmongold says is true. Having issues is understandable, multiplying them with every "fix" just can't be ignored forever.

I hear you, but my experience has been different than some of the squeaky wheels. I play a fair amount at a fairly high level and havent had any issues that have made me crazy or enraged. Some things, like obviously not tested affixes in certain dungeons are annoying, but overall Ive really enjoyed this expansion to be honest.

I think people need to chill out and keep things in perspective. Every expansion will have issues or poorly thought out system or maybe just a feature that doesnt interest you. legion did when it first launched, WoD was a nightmare, etc. 

If you are looking for some  good (and in my opinion accurate) reviews and news on WoW and Blizzard, check out Taliesin and Evitel do games on youtube. They can be a little weird, but their commentary is balanced and on point. 

 

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Good interview, BfA started on the wrong foot but things are slowly improved as we go, looking forward to the Naga raid and Mech dungeon!

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