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Shadowlands Is Apparently Early in Development

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Shadowlands is apparently super early in development and based on the discussions Preach had with the developers, he thinks the game will release in January 2021.

Check out our BlizzCon 2019 Content Hub for the latest news!

Highlights

  • Although Preach thinks the game could be out in January 2021, this is likely false, because the pre-order states the game will release on or before December 2020.
  • Gearing for the next expansion is not set in stone just yet, Blizzard's awaiting player feedback on the new 8.3 Corrupted Items System which is the new decision-maker of which direction they're going to go with in Shadowlands.
  • Although it's too early to talk about Covenants, Ion confirmed there will be a BiS one.
  • Tier Sets aren't coming back, because they think they can achieve Tier Bonuses with the new Covenant system which is better structured.
  • If Covenants end up being unbalanced it will be difficult to swap between them.
  • Shadowlands will be alt friendly allowing you to skip a lot of stuff from the beginning.
  • It seems Battle for Azeroth's last tier will be year-long. We're still in for Patch 8.3 and 8.3.5.

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Best time for Blizz to take their time and rework things from the ground up, with WoW Classic as an alternative with a solid roadmap for the next year and 8.3 having a lot of features that, at least, look like they could be pretty fun to repeat on alts.

This is the only thing I'm worried about from that video:

Quote

If Covenants end up being unbalanced it will be difficult to swap between them.

Imbalanced powers + difficult to swap is a big problem, because it means that if you choose the wrong thing..you could be "screwed", basically like Legion legendaries.

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I just don't understand why they keep revisiting these expansion sandbox systems. They spend a whole expansion just balancing, and reworking it just to get it to function.

The heart of Azeroth was so bad it killed the whole expansion. I mean, there was more to it than that, but it was the catalyst. 

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38 minutes ago, Seksi said:

Imbalanced powers + difficult to swap is a big problem, because it means that if you choose the wrong thing..you could be "screwed", basically like Legion legendaries.

Yes and if you do, you have to put in alot, like ALOT time and effort. I would imagine the same amount of time as if new Hearth of Azeroth levels being released. Only the wicked, 14 hours+ people will have it in a time with doing all avaible worldquests every day and all lockouts of instances and raids and grinding island expeditions. 

If so, it would be definitely bad for Blizzard, since alot people take such things serious enough to quit the game again.

Edited by Baharok

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1 hour ago, Seksi said:

Imbalanced powers + difficult to swap is a big problem, because it means that if you choose the wrong thing..you could be "screwed", basically like Legion legendaries.

Especially when that balance is a subject to change, someone might pick his Covenant based on what is the most optimal for his class, but then balance will change and suddenly he is stuck with worse abilities. If getting reputation and changing Covenants is going to be heavily timegated (well, as usual like with a lot of stuff in this game), then people will be pissed, as it makes whole system simply annoying. I would rather see these differences in abilities as cosmetic effects (and they will be gone anyway, after Shadowlands is over, like other expansion-only features), also not sure about restoring some of the old abilities for classes from previous expansions (like how they are going to be balanced, if there is going to be too much clutter of very situational abilities/spells etc.).

Release date seems reasonable, usually they release expansion every 2 years, or a little more than that. I wonder if next patch will be enough for people to stay.

Edited by Arcling

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I can't really agree with Preach on this one - sticking to a strict schedule doesn't necessarily means it's rushed. Previous expansions did also show that the Beta testing phase is more or less useless, they have to launch the game on live in order to get actual feedback on how things worked out. Of course, 9.0 and the expansion launch will be a catastrophe given the level of class rework we've been promised, but it would be chaotic even if the game would launch in Dec/Jan. I think a Q3 launch is safe - calculating with an August release doesn't simply gives the developers a bit of healthy pressure and adrenaline boost to try and stick with the deadline, but it also disencourages them from trying to create too big systems and too complicated mechanics that would end up as unfinished failures.

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Blizz did state that changing covenants would be like changing from aldor to scryer or vice versa. This is going to be a huge pain. The normal power creep changes the dynamic on builds as an expansion goes on. Combine that with the rebalancing that goes on for mythic plus, anything deemed an exploit, and pvp and there is going to be a lot of hard feelings for this system.

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3 hours ago, Seksi said:

Best time for Blizz to take their time and rework things from the ground up, with WoW Classic as an alternative with a solid roadmap for the next year and 8.3 having a lot of features that, at least, look like they could be pretty fun to repeat on alts.

This is the only thing I'm worried about from that video:

Imbalanced powers + difficult to swap is a big problem, because it means that if you choose the wrong thing..you could be "screwed", basically like Legion legendaries.

That is exactly the point though .  To make people farm and farm and grind like they did with legendaries. That way  = lot of  time to get what you want = more subs  + the people will constantly have the feel of "content" by having something to do.  The structure works for them so it makes sense to repeat since people allow them to.

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I do worry for a December launch, not exactly a good time for it for the developers at least. I'd get at least a week, maybe 2 off so good for me, but any issues may be slow to be resolved, or slower than normal at least. 

So far, I've been hyped for SL, only for each feature to get explained and unhyped, bit of a rollercoaster ride of emotions, shall wait until I see it to make a proper judgement but for now, very cautious optimism is all I have... BfA is set for a WoD style ending then, almost a year (if all goes to plan) of waiting for the improvement to come, can't wait...

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I'm being somewhat optimistic with this new expansion.  Just waiting for more info and the start of alpha and beta testing to see the final results.  I don't care for an early release date as long as features have been tested thoroughly and not be untouched when the expansion goes live.  I am glad that this expansion will be alt friendly where I don't have to undergo the tedious grind like now with BFA and time gated Essences/AP collecting.  Players have the right to be doubtful and worrisome because we as a whole don't want another repeat of BFA.

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Going to be a brutal year for guild leaders.   

Many guilds are already hurting in attendance due to Classic's release, the overall poor quality of BFA, and the lack of low pop realm mergers and such making recruiting difficult.     Now on top of that we have a year long wait?    Assuming the Nzoth raid lasts 3 or so months content wise, that's a long time to be in a content drought and try to keep everything running; I thought the planning since Legion was to space out the patches to avoid this happening?

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3 hours ago, Mozaiq said:

I just don't understand why they keep revisiting these expansion sandbox systems. They spend a whole expansion just balancing, and reworking it just to get it to function.

The heart of Azeroth was so bad it killed the whole expansion. I mean, there was more to it than that, but it was the catalyst. 

It is for two reasons:

1)They want to give players new stuff to pursue, new traits/abilities to be excited about, etc. Naturally, this is pretty key to a lot of players' excitement.

2)They cannot simply stack expansion after expansion after expansion of exciting, impactful additions. The power creep and sheer bloat of abilities and passives would dramatically warp the game and make balance/design impossible, and the complexity of all these different types of gear/abilities would be daunting for new/returning players as well, or frankly almost anyone. You can argue about *when* this actually becomes a problem, but it does eventually become a huge problem.


This is a fundamental problem of MMO expansions: You want to give something for players to grow into, but you can't grow forever. The first expansions are no problem, because generally there's room to grow and some things to hack down before a game gets their classes solidified. But past a point, the devs have to do something else.

There are generally three solutions to this:

1)Horizontal growth. GW2(and ESO, iirc) focus on adding more options that you can acquire, which are alternatives to previous options rather than something you add on top.

2)Vertical growth via swap-out. This is what WoW does: make a temporary structure for growth, then replace most of it with a new structure next expansion. You get the vertical growth of early expansions, while also being tenable.

3)Reworks for some, nothing for others. This is essentially like the first few expansions- you decide to take some things away and add new ones in exchange, or you just do nothing to a class. You could either argue that FFXIV is doing this or that it is simply in the early expansions stage. In Shadowbringers, some classes dont really get anything new at all(Red Mage) while others lose some abilities and in exchange get some new exciting ones(Scholar, Ninja,  etc). While they aren't MMOs, fighting games essentially follow this model.

Now, in response to this you could argue that WoW/FFXIV/whatever remove abilities too aggressively and they could've kept a lot more, but the exact degree of "How many abilities should classes have?" isnt the point, it just kicks the can down the road- at some point, you can't keep adding things without removing things.

 

MMORPGs want players to have constant reasons to keep playing, and want to infinitely enable the growth aspects of normal RPGs, and so have to do some really weird things and have some really weird contradictions in order to achieve those goals.

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On 11/12/2019 at 8:24 AM, breck said:

Blizz did state that changing covenants would be like changing from aldor to scryer or vice versa. This is going to be a huge pain. The normal power creep changes the dynamic on builds as an expansion goes on. Combine that with the rebalancing that goes on for mythic plus, anything deemed an exploit, and pvp and there is going to be a lot of hard feelings for this system.

You make a good point, hadn't thought of that.

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