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PC Gamer Interview with Game Director Ion Hazzikostas

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PC Gamer also had the opportunity to talk to Game Director Ion Hazzikostas about lessons learned from the mistakes of Battle for Azeroth and Ion also hinted that Patch 8.2 should be up on Public Test Realms fairly soon.

Check out the full article here and don't forget to also check out Ion's preview interview with Buffed.de here.

Interview Highlights

  • Not too long after this interview, we're going to have a huge Patch 8.2 info dump and Public Test Realms up and then, they're going to talk about Rise of Azshara in more detail. In the meantime, you can find out more about everything that's coming in Patch 8.2 in this post.
  • Patch 8.2 is going to bring two new separate outside zones-- Nazjatar & Mechagon.
  • A new avenue of progression will be implemented into the Heart of Azeroth itself in Rise of Azshara, allowing you to unlock new active and passive powers as you level it up.
  • Re-earning access to traits whenever you get a new tier of gear will be completely gone in Patch 8.2. All Azerite powers will be immediately unlocked when you earn a new piece of Azerite gear.
  • Ion's proud of what the team has done to improve the Azerite system. The first round of changes came with the introduction of the fifth ring in Tides of Vengeance to make individual traits more accessible and add customization. Forcing you to re-earn the things you already had was beyond the scope of Tides of Vengeance for a solution and it's something they're fixing in Rise of Azshara.
  • Legion Artifacts had tons of customization, but it was very frontloaded. Once players unlocked all Artifact traits, the system grew linear with only small incremental upgrades (infinite Concordance) and with the Azerite system they wanted to fix an alternate advancement at max level, which sounded great on paper, but the execution has seen a lot of negative feedback.
  • Azerite traits were playtested internally, but they didn't give players enough chance to test them out on Beta, so they missed out on important data that would help tune the system before launch.
  • There are always two sides to every coin. On one hand, there are players who want to unlock flying right away at max level; others don't want flying at all, so they came up with the current system, where flying is introduced not immediately, but later in the expansion.
  • Portal rooms have been introduced to provide more convenience and they are going to reintroduce the Caverns of Time portal soon.
  • Ion admits they need to be more willing than they've been to make permanent additions to the game, because they're exciting for players (not constantly come up with new systems when older worked out just fine).
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Here's the question about flying: Will it be something you can use in Mechagon/Nazjaar?   

Otherwise the "Compromise" is a flat out lie and red herring, and they're only willing to give flying to out of date/irrelevant zones just like in Legion.

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22 minutes ago, Migol said:

Here's the question about flying: Will it be something you can use in Mechagon/Nazjaar?   

This is a really interesting question. Hopefully, it won't end up like Argus, without flying.

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29 minutes ago, Migol said:

Here's the question about flying: Will it be something you can use in Mechagon/Nazjaar?   

Otherwise the "Compromise" is a flat out lie and red herring, and they're only willing to give flying to out of date/irrelevant zones just like in Legion.

I'm a firm believer that flying is one of the worst concepts they added to the game. The thing were running into more and more now a days is people who don't have the time to play a RPG but want the game to adapt to them. Flying is just another one of those things that takes away from the epic feeling of a giant world, and player interaction. Also plenty of flight paths in convenient locations in modern wow. The compromise is that they are even putting it back in the game. If you recall in Warlords, they planned to scrap flying entirely.

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59 minutes ago, Nightwinds said:

I'm a firm believer that flying is one of the worst concepts they added to the game.

I agree. As awesome as it is to ride dragons, and as well implemented it has been in zones like Stormpeaks or the high level areas in Outland, the impact on gameplay flying had was very detrimental. World PvP is just a mess in zones where you can fly, you either get divebombed out of nowhere (preferably by a shaman who then just pushes you off a cliff) or you both just hover awkwardly in front of each other. And like you said, it makes the game feel much smaller and less exciting to explore.

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1 hour ago, Nightwinds said:

I'm a firm believer that flying is one of the worst concepts they added to the game. The thing were running into more and more now a days is people who don't have the time to play a RPG but want the game to adapt to them. Flying is just another one of those things that takes away from the epic feeling of a giant world, and player interaction. Also plenty of flight paths in convenient locations in modern wow. The compromise is that they are even putting it back in the game. If you recall in Warlords, they planned to scrap flying entirely.

 

So...don't fly!  You can RP walk around the whole world and it will feel even more epic and giant.  I accept that there are people that may like that.  But if I prefer to do something in game more than I like traveling somewhere to do that something, maybe I should be able to play the way I want to play as well?  It doesn't impact your slow RP walk across the continent in any way.  But don't ask me to play the game the way you enjoy, and I won't ask you to play the way I do.

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The problem is not whether we can fly or not but if we have anywhere to fly to or not. It wouldn't change much to me if I could fly to a dungeon not to mention I'd summon everyone so they don't have to fly themselves or I could get summoned myself. I didn't do a world quest for like four weeks. It's not even relevant to herbalists because the prices will drop because of flying. There is nothing to do in this game and flying won't fix it.

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3 hours ago, Nightwinds said:

Flying is just another one of those things that takes away from the epic feeling of a giant world, and player interaction. Also plenty of flight paths in convenient locations in modern wow. The compromise is that they are even putting it back in the game. If you recall in Warlords, they planned to scrap flying entirely.

I want to examine this actually for a moment. Flight paths are just... on rails flying. You can't meander, you can't explore on a flight path. You just end up seeing the same things every time.

Flying doesn't make the world smaller than flight paths. If anything, it makes the world feel BIGGER. Like let's think of this, most people just alt tab or afk when they're on a flight path, leading to just... Not seeing anything anyways. Where as if you have flying, you're more likely to be there (so you don't fly too far). You can stop, drop down for a rare you see. Maybe pick up a treasure? With flight paths you just can't do that. You're stuck on a rail, that you must wait for the end.

Saying that flying makes the world smaller is baffling, especially when we've been in an expansion long enough to have all the flight paths before flying anyways. So we've seen the zones, we've seen the flight paths (How many times can I take the flight path from the Great Seal down to dazar'alor omfg) so at this point flight paths just remove player agency. You take away choice for... what the trade off of being stuck to a set path?

 

"The thing were running into more and more now a days is people who don't have the time to play a RPG but want the game to adapt to them"

This is honestly a really bad argument. It just goes to show that flight paths are time wasted NOT playing the game. I really don't see how people wanting to spend more time playing the game, opposed to stuck on a flight path, makes the game better. As was said before if you like that, great. You can use flight paths and don't have to fly and no one is stopping you. But please don't say that people NEED to spend their time the way you want to play.

Edited by Aegrotat
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7 hours ago, MikeyD said:
 

So...don't fly!  You can RP walk around the whole world and it will feel even more epic and giant.  I accept that there are people that may like that.  But if I prefer to do something in game more than I like traveling somewhere to do that something, maybe I should be able to play the way I want to play as well?  It doesn't impact your slow RP walk across the continent in any way.  But don't ask me to play the game the way you enjoy, and I won't ask you to play the way I do.

I would still fly, it's more efficient. I'm not telling anyone to not fly, I just think it was a bad addition to begin with... The last bit of my statement simply said this is the compromise. People are acting like there is no compromise at all from blizz.

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10 hours ago, Stan said:

This is a really interesting question. Hopefully, it won't end up like Argus, without flying.

My understanding behind the lack of flying on Argus is because of how the zones were designed. There are two types of outdoor zones in WoW, the first is the stage set and the second is the movie town.

The stage set is something that looks good from one or two angles, but completely falls apart if you look at it from the side or behind. This is much easier to develop, but it means that you can't use it for flying because those mountains? They aren't mountains, they are a flat texture that gives the illusion of depth.

The second type is the most common now, the movie town, where they actually build everything, it takes a hell of a lot more time, but give you more options to work with later.

They obviously could have built Argus to work with flying but it would have taken much longer and people really don't like content droughts.

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4 hours ago, tkioz said:

My understanding behind the lack of flying on Argus is because of how the zones were designed. There are two types of outdoor zones in WoW, the first is the stage set and the second is the movie town.

The stage set is something that looks good from one or two angles, but completely falls apart if you look at it from the side or behind. This is much easier to develop, but it means that you can't use it for flying because those mountains? They aren't mountains, they are a flat texture that gives the illusion of depth.

The second type is the most common now, the movie town, where they actually build everything, it takes a hell of a lot more time, but give you more options to work with later.

They obviously could have built Argus to work with flying but it would have taken much longer and people really don't like content droughts.

Argus would have been designed and built long before it was released so they could have built it for flying if they so desired without creating a content drought.

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17 hours ago, Migol said:

Here's the question about flying: Will it be something you can use in Mechagon/Nazjaar?   

Otherwise the "Compromise" is a flat out lie and red herring, and they're only willing to give flying to out of date/irrelevant zones just like in Legion.

Given that they compared Mechagon to Timeless Isle and it's an indoors settings anyways...probably no.
Now Nazjatar may be a bit different - we've seen flying mounts obtaianable from the area, but it's kind of weird to just fly around in a dry seabed, so I think we will be able to fly in that zone, even though we may need special mounts or an introduction quest to do that. Or as it was with Broken Shore: you will be able to fly there, but since the zone reputations are part of the flying achievement you will surely explore the area on foot first.

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18 hours ago, Aegrotat said:

Flight paths are just... on rails flying. You can't meander, you can't explore on a flight path. You just end up seeing the same things every time.

Exactly this, which leads to...

18 hours ago, Aegrotat said:

most people just alt tab or afk when they're on a flight path

 

Don't get me wrong, flight paths are essential to immersion. What better way is there to explore the world than to discover all the "checkpoints"? You venture out and perhaps overcome obstacles (this is when PVE/PVP servers really dictated your in-game experiences), find the flight path, and you've now achieved progression (or at least what felt like progression).

In my opinion, flying was one of the most FUN concepts they've ever implemented into the game! Generally speaking if flying mounts has left you with a negative impression, I am going to take a guess that you played on a PVP realm/play in Warmode, where getting jumped by someone who just flies away is indeed truly annoying and made for unappealing gameplay.

But the core of the problem being is the different systems that have come about as a result of reworking the flight system from one expansion to the next. Ion himself admitted that there have been systems in place that weren't broken and didn't need fixing, I wonder if he feels this way in regards to having replaced purchasing flight for gold to the Pathfinder system? He isn't wrong that there are players who want flight immediately and some who don't want it at all.

So basically, flight paths/Pathfinder are a time-gating system. That seemingly trivial amount of extra time that the flight path costs you as you meander and circle around doesn't seem like much, but, it does add up. And in the end, it takes you just that much longer to get to where you go; keeping you involved in and playing the game.

For example, let's take the Argent Tournament grounds from WOTLK. You zone in to Northrend and there is a flight path directly from Dalaran to the grounds. Okay, so just a "quick" flight from point A to point B. Well, the flight path actually takes you longer than if you were to mount up and fly there yourself, even flying you in a complete circle around the grounds.

 

I don't typically make these kinds of posts, but having been one of those guys that has played the game since Vanilla, observing the different approaches that have occurred throughout the game's history, flight is one thing that I thoroughly enjoy and the Pathfinder system is one thing that I thoroughly dislike.

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12 hours ago, tkioz said:

They obviously could have built Argus to work with flying but it would have taken much longer and people really don't like content droughts.

Sadly, this is the reason we might never see a rework of Draenei/Blood Elf starting zones. My main issue with Argus was how cramped everything felt, you couldn't travel from objective to another one without pulling extra mobs. I think they are going to stick with these bonus/final zones not having flying because they are way smaller, and to increase time players have to spend there. Timeless Isle could have flying, at least there doesn't appear to be a visible untextured or flat area anywhere, but it was designed like that for people to engage on the ground. Nazjatar zone is going to serve the same purpose as Isle of Quel'Danas, Isle of Thunder, Timeless Isle, Argus etc., so they will never bring flying there.

Personally, I have nothing against flying mounts. Sure, it reduces chance of meeting people on the ground, but part of that fault also lies in that there are no objectives in zones to fight over, other stuff for larger amounts of players to engage into etc.

Edited by Arcling
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21 hours ago, Calysia said:

Argus would have been designed and built long before it was released so they could have built it for flying if they so desired without creating a content drought.

I don't think you understand just how long it takes to do what you are asking, nor do I think you understand design pipelines and planning. Making those zones capable of flying would have added two-three months at very least, and the content we had at the time was already getting stale.

I think the main problem with flying is that Blizzard has stopped designing around it, like they did in TBC/Wrath.

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On 4/4/2019 at 9:27 PM, Arcling said:

Nazjatar zone is going to serve the same purpose as Isle of Quel'Danas, Isle of Thunder, Timeless Isle, Argus etc., so they will never bring flying there.

well, Watcher just confirmed flying for Nazjatar and Mechagon in a Polygon interview.

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2 hours ago, jinsu2301 said:

well, Watcher just confirmed flying for Nazjatar and Mechagon in a Polygon interview.

That's good then! Perhaps in another location, if there is one for patch after this.

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      Here's everything we know so far about the Corrupted items system coming in Visions of N'Zoth.
    • By Stan
      Visions of N'Zoth is Battle for Azeroth's final major content patch, where we take the battle to N'Zoth himself and visit Ny'alotha. Our hub covers everything you need to know about Patch 8.3 and helps you stay on track if you haven't been playing the game for a while.
      Patch 8.3 Release Date
      Blizzard revealed after BlizzCon that Patch 8.3 will go live in January 2020.
      Game Director Ion Hazzikostas talked about Visions of N'Zoth in the latest Content Preview on October 7. We learned pretty much everything about the new patch, and in the following section, you're going to find its main features:
      Assaults
      Invasions return to the game once more, and this time, they're called Assaults. The Vale of Eternal Blossoms and Uldum will be periodically under assault by N'Zoth's forces, and your goal is to drive them back by completing quests and interacting with various objectives to complete the "emissary." Blizzard uses technology and everything they've learned from Mechagon and Nazjatar in this new iteration of Assaults to ensure dynamic replayability. Assaults are mandatory if you want to enter Horrific Visions.
      Initial Preview of Assaults in Visions of N'Zoth Horrific Visions
      Described as alternate realities where N'Zoth's power is ascendant, these are 1-5 player "scenarios" of Stormwind and Orgrimmar, where you need to complete various objectives for rewards. Horrific Visions revolve around a new mechanic called Sanity, which starts draining as soon as you enter a Horrific Vision. Your goal is to complete as many side objectives as possible and defeating the mini-boss before your Sanity is completely depleted.
      To help you with that, we've got Wrathion with a new Legendary Cloak and a Titanic Research Archive for Horrific Visions with perks that gradually trivialize the feature. You will be also able to buy various items from Wrathion after completing the Black Empire intro questline.
      Wrathion Selling Various Items in Patch 8.3 Ny'alotha, the Waking City
      We will be facing N'Zoth in Ny'alotha, the new twelve-boss raid located in Uldum. It comes with a raid skip quest after you defeat the first boss.
      Check out the sets you will be able to obtain in the new raid:
      Ny'alotha Cloth Sets Preview Ny'alotha Leather Sets Preview Ny'alotha Mail Sets Preview Ny'alotha Plate Sets Preview In the raid, we find out N'Zoth's true size and interesting loot which revolves around Corruption:
      Corrupted Weapons from Ny'alotha, the Waking City We've also covered the continuation of the story in Patch 8.3 and what happens in the raid in the articles below:
      New Forsaken Leadership in Patch 8.3 (Spoilers) Azshara's Bargain and the Key to Defeating N'Zoth (Spoilers) I'lgynoth's Whispers in Patch 8.3 (Analysis) Tyrande Whisperwind VO (Patch 8.3) N'Zoth's in-game model has been updated multiple times and you can check out N'Zoth's VO as well if you're interested what the Old God has to say based on the latest sound files.
      Rewards Updates
      Visions of N'Zoth comes with two new factions, six new Essences, a brand new Mythic Season, a new Seasonal affix, Profession updates, and more that we'll cover soon. On top of that, Essences from Mechagon and Nazjatar will be easier to acquire for alts. You can also add your own sockets to gear which currently does not have any, and more.
      Add Sockets to Your Gear in Patch 8.3 Heart of Azeroth will have a new Minor slot, two Stamina nodes, the maximum level increased to 85 (was 70). Coming in a later PTR update, Blizzard will be adding an infinite progression slot to aid you against N'Zoth's corruption at max level.
      New Factions
      Uldum and Vale of Eternal Blossoms will be under attack by N'Zoth's forces and both zones host new factions. You'll learn more about the Rajani in Pandaria and Uldum Accord resides in Ramkahen.
      Rajani & Uldum Accord Overview New Allied Races: Vulpera & Mechagnomes
      Another pair of Allied Races will become available in Visions of N'Zoth. Alliance players will be able to recruit Mechagnomes, and their Horde counterpart are the Vulpera of Vol'dun.
      Official Mechagnomes & Vulpera Preview Mechagnomes & Vulpera Racials Mechagnomes & Vulpera Unlock Requirements Vulpera Heritage Armor Preview Mechagnome Heritage Armor Preview Mechagnome & Vulpera Dance Animations Vulpera Tidbits: Racial Mount, Shaman Totems, Hunter Pet New Heritage Armor: Goblins & Worgen
      Goblins and Worgen received new models and animations in Patch 8.2.5, but no Heritage Armor, which is added in Patch 8.3.
      Goblin & Worgen Heritage Armor Sets Preview Auction House Overhaul
      The Auction House will be completely revamped. No more lag caused by the system being clogged with single stacks. Stackable items are no longer purchased or sold in stacks; copper is no longer displayed in the Auction House, but used for calculations. If you regularly forget the name of goods, you can create a shopping list, and more!
      Auction House Revamp Preview The Alternative of Titanforging
      The Corrupted Items System is the alternative to Warforging and Titanforging in Patch 8.3. Items that would Warforge/Titanforge will drop with a +Corruption stat which grants side effects at various Corruption Levels.
      Everything We Know About the Corrupted Items System So Far Cleansing Corrupted Items Class Changes
      No patch would be complete without some class changes, and you can find all class changes planned for Visions of N'Zoth here.
      Allied Race & Pandaren Death Knights
      We found encrypted sound files of Bolvar and Mograine together with Death Knight creature textures for Allied Races and the Pandaren, and new Death Knight Swords of the Ebon Blade.It was confirmed at BlizzCon that all races will be able to roll Death Knights in Patch 8.3. The new Allied Races Death Knights will have a slightly updated starting experience similar to intros of Allied Races.
      Decrypted Bolvar & Darion Mograine Sound Files Improved Eye Glow for Night Elves and Death Knights Mythic Season 4 Season
      A brand new Season awaits in Visions of N'Zoth and players will be able to earn a title and a mount!
      New Mythic Season 4 Achievements & Rewards Quaking Affix Changes New Mounts
      As usual, with every content update, multiple mounts are coming with placeholder descriptions, sources, and whatnot.
      Alpaca Mounts - Presumably, new reputation mounts available for purchase at Exalted. Chalcedony Cloud Serpent - A new recolor of the existing serpent, possibly tied to the Assault on Vale. N'Zoth Serpent - New Stormsong Valley Rare Mount from the Adherent of the Abyss. Aqir Flying Mount Ahead of the Curve N'Zoth Mount: Uncorrupted Voidwing Mythic N'Zoth Mount (Ny'alotha Allseer), Glory of the Ny'alotha Raider (Wriggling Parasite) Island Expedition Vendors
      In Patch 8.3, you will be able to purchase Island-specific and Invasion-specific crates for Dubloons.
      New Dubloon Vendors Selling Island Expedition and Invasion Crates 3 New World Bosses
      Blizzard is adding three new world bosses to the game, which drop item level 445 loot.
      New World Bosses in Visions of N'Zoth Miscellaneous
      Other minor things planned for Patch 8.3 include:
      A new PvP event where players can serve N'Zoth, similar to Talon's Vengeance. Heroic difficulty for the Darkshore Warfront. Division of Operation: Mechagon into two wings, each with Heroic and Mythic Keystone difficulties. Darkmoon Arcade, allowing you to play your favorite mini-games at the Darkmoon Faire. Deepwind Gorge updated to be a capture point map. New Battle Pets and Pet Battle Dungeon - Blackrock Depths. New Story Quests: Rise of N'Zoth ...and more! We'll be periodically updating this hub with more details!
      Vision of N'zoth is the final major content patch of BfA, and here's our hub with everything you need to know.
    • By Stan
      In this week's 8.3 PTR build, five new Corrupted weapons have been added to the game.
      These include:
      Devastation's Hour (2H-Sword); Qwor N'lyeth (Polearm); Shard of the Black Empire (1H-Dagger); Shgla'yos, Astral Malignity (1H-Sword); Unguent Caress (Fist Weapon). Corrupted Weapons in Patch 8.3
      Certain weapons from Ny'alotha come with a static +25 Corruption Stat Increase and Benthic-like effects. You can learn more about the Corrupted Items System in our preview.
      Weapon Effect Description An'zig Vra Devour Vitality Your autoattacks bite into the target's soul, dealing 2% of your health in damage and healing you for that amount. Devastation's Hour Twilight Devastation Your attacks have a chance to trigger a beam of Twilight Devastation, dealing damage equal to 5% of your health to all enemies in front of you.
      Eyestalk of Il'gynoth Ineffable Truth Your Spells and Abilities have a chance to show you the Ineffable Truth, increasing the rate your cooldowns recover by 20% for 12 sec. Faralos, Empire's Dream Searing Flames Your damaging abilities build stacks of Searing Flames. When you reach 30 stacks, exhale a Searing Breath, dealing damage equal to 5% of your health to all targets in front of you. Mar'kowa, the Mindpiercer Flash of Insight Your mind's true potential is unlocked, causing your spells to grant you flashes of insight. Gain between 1% and 8% Intellect at all times. Qwor N'lyeth Echoing Void Your damaging abilities build the Echoing Void. Each time it builds, Echoing Void has a chance to collapse, dealing 1% of your Health as Shadow damage to all nearby enemies every 1 sec until no stacks remain. Shard of the Black Empire Twisted Appendage Your attacks have a chance to spawn a tentacle which Mind Flays your target for [ 3,110 + 25% of Spell Power ] Shadow damage every second for 10 sec. Shgla'yos, Astral Malignity Infinite Stars Your spells and abilities have a chance to strike a nearby enemy with an Infinite Star, dealing [ 60% of Spell Power ] Arcane damage and increasing their damage taken from your Infinite Stars by 25%, stacking up to 10 times. Sk'shuul Vaz Obsidian Skin Gain Obsidian Skin, increasing your Armor by 5%. Every 100% of your Max Health lost, explode with Obsidian Destruction, dealing Shadow damage equal to 1,000% of your Armor to all enemies within 20 yds. Unguent Caress Lash of the Void Your attacks have a chance to lash your target with a living tentacle, dealing [ 30% of Attack Power ] Shadow damage and snaring them by 30% for 6 sec. Vorzz Yoq'al Void Ritual Gain Void Ritual, giving your spells and abilities a chance to increase all secondary stats by 10 every sec for 20 sec. This chance is increased if at least 2 nearby allies also have Void Ritual. Whispering Eldritch Bow Whispered Truths Your auto-shots reduce the remaining cooldown of a random Hunter ability by 1.0 sec. Check out our Visions of N'Zoth Hub for the latest Patch 8.3 news!
    • By Stan
      Wrathion will be selling three items in Patch 8.3 that you can purchase with the new currencies.

      Once you complete the introductory questline for Horrific Visions you can talk to Wrathion in the Chamber of Heart and buy the following items:
      Vessel of Horrific Visions for 1,000 Coalescing Visions. The item is required to enter Horrific Visions. Gouged Eye of N'Zoth for 25,000 Corrupted Mementos. The item can be used to add a socket to an item of your choice which currently does not have one. Wicked Swarmer (Aqir mount) for 100,000 Corrupted Mementos. Note that the cost of items is not final and may change at any time.

      Check out our Patch 8.3 Content Hub for the latest news!
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