BlizzCon 2017: World of Warcraft Battle for Azeroth expansion live Q&A liveblog

Ah, here we go again. It’s time for our final liveblog of BlizzCon 2017, and it’s the World of Warcraft Q&A. And they’re live questions, which means that there are going to be several questions about the new expansion (that will not be answered because all of the information that can be shared right now has been shared), several questions about lore (that will be laughed at), and several questions about when we’ll get Jaina’s hair (it does look nice).

At this point, who knows what could happen? They announced World of Warcraft: Classic. They could do anything. Blizzard badger don’t care, apparently. Of course, if you don’t want to watch all of that, why not just watch our liveblog down below? It’s still speeding along at a fair clip, and it’s what we’re doing here. You can catch up past the break if you missed the start.

Follow all of Massively OP’s coverage of BlizzCon 2017, Blizzard’s annual fan convention highlighting World of Warcraft, Diablo III, Overwatch, Hearthstone, Heroes of the Storm, and beyond!

Liveblog summary

Q: Will Warfronts be limited in availability, and how will rewards play into it? Will it be weekly? Etc.
A: War is difficult, it takes a lot of effort. There’s going to be some downtime before war breaks out; we’re looking at it more as an event-based system, albeit longer than invasions. Rewards, we’re looking at similar systems (invasion, timewalking), but we haven’t nailed it down. If you like doing it, you should be rewarded for it; if not, you shouldn’t be obligated.

Q: Basic reputations becoming account-wide?
A: There’s always a balance to strike between character-based or account-wide; if you had everything as an account-wide award, why would you need alts? Content-side access should be account-wide, you shouldn’t have to re-earn. But if you want a pattern or a helm, that should be worked on per character.

Q: Stat squish again? And is Anduin a paladin?
A: Anduin is a priest; he’s just a hero character. Anyone on the demo noticed that the numbers are smaller, and we’re doing another squish indeed. The one thing different is we’re squishing item levels, which “we should have done in Warlords.”

Q: With the new communities, what will that mean for cross-faction chat?
A: They’re still character-based, so no cross-faction chat. “I think we’re at war, right? The Alliance and the Horde are at war?”

Q: With the new level scaling, will health/heirlooms be affected?
A: A lot of work is being done to use item budgets correctly. It’s a mess and it’s complicated. One-shotting is kind of fun? But it degrades the leveling game, and it’s still being debated. Tuning and time will be required.

Q: Is there anything in the works to help with guild recruitment?
A: Nothing right now; what we really hope is to find social structures that have less friction to get into. Easier than starting a guild. It comes up every expansion.

Q: Generalized question about the Artifact system.
A: Designers liked the choices you got to make early on, and there were definite good things. The biggest takeaway? “I’m not sure if I like getting trillions of Artifact Power.” Artifacts meant you needed dozens of items in your bag, and we wanted progression to be flexible, but the amulet means you don’t have to clutter bags and don’t need to make rewards scale up; instead, they can just drop the amount to next level to keep upgrade.

Q: What was your thought process in bringing back raid buffs?
A: We liked them and thought they were cool. There was something cool about buffs going up. It wants to make you thankful that you brought such-and-such character.

Q: How do you feel about PvP templates and players who miss managing their stats?
A: We like the gameplay that talents provide; we like having less gap between top and lower players. The problem is when it turns on and off and how it interacts with the world; they solved an earlier problem by possibly taking away too many options. So they are looking into change things with the level scaling tech. They’re also re-evaluating the reward structure.

Q: Can we get some sort of rooting ability to prevent knockbacks?
A: There’s some weirdness there, but we’ve talked about making Death Knights have a special ability to do that.

Q: Titanforging in Battle for Azeroth?
A: Going to make tweaks, but not a fundamental change to the system; the goal is to have variability of rewards, so farm content and such should still have the possibility of surprise and joy. Extreme spikes and randomness, though, aren’t great, and the numbers need to be tweaked. However, it will not apply to Azerite-enabled slots.

Q: What are you going to do about an archaic, lackluster character creation system?
A: It feels like we haven’t been responding to that, and the reason is that we knew we’d be doing allied races – we wanted to look at what we were doing with those before adding more to the existing races. So now it can be improved and expanded on – more character creation options. “Posture?” Yes, that’s being added. Upright or hunched-over orcs are a choice!

Q: Why do so many bosses have holes in the ceiling of their arenas?
A: Functionally, it means no camera collision. Aesthetically, it’s nice to tie those into real-world locations. When it makes sense, we do it. There’s no one reason.

Q: Is Jaina actually a good guy?
A: Jaina’s complicated, like any other character. She’s got a lot of regret over past decisions – responsible for the death of her father, for what the Horde is today, for Stratholme, at Undercity. Break all of those things apart, and you have a very damaged character; we’re going to explore those decisions and try to understand what’s wrong. No, she’s not evil; she’s conflicted.

Q: What are your plans for starting around Teldrassil/Undercity and starting zones?
A: Starting zones aren’t going to change. Time flows by level, still. You’ll still start in Deathknell, and then we’ll see what happens later; once you get to that point, the land around you will change.

Q: How do we avoid forcing people to farm for titanforged gears?
A: We already touched on this; often, it’s items that are a little out of budget. It’s a lengthy and building process, and we had issues with secondary stat balance; that’s hard to fix mid-expansion.

Q: Alleria seems to be able to shift between void and high elf form; can players shift?
A: It’s not a metamorphosis, but they absolutely have a void form. We don’t want you to be voided the entire time. It’s still being tweaked (it might work like Worgen).

Q: Once the expansion’s out, when will we be flying?
A: About the same as Legion, we’re happy with how that system played out overall.

Q: With the new dungeon scaling, can we get Mythic keystones in the old world?
A: It’s an interesting idea with some sort of timewalking keystone.

Q: What’s the future for mobile apps?
A: We’re fans of it; staying in touch on the go is valuable. We want to keep building on it. It’s not necessarily the most convenient thing, though, so we’d like to build on it in the future.

Q: How do you keep factions balanced in this expansion?
A: We’ve made lots of changes over the years to help address things, but ultimately, just play what you want to play.

Q: As more timewalking events have been added, it gets longer and longer for specific timewalking events. Will there be any sort of consolidation?
A: Some consolidation; there’s some value to looking forward to the future and have a short time window. We’ll probably add Warlords timewalking during the expansion; we might add in open-world events, too.

Q: What are your plans for Legendaries?
A: We have Azerite armor, which already kind of does what those do, so we’re not taking that forward. (Lots of cheering here.) We looked at the ones people liked and took lessons from those as well in Azerite upgrades.

Q: Quest log size limit increase?
A: The hard part is that we have lots of quests that end up in your log that don’t need to be there; you accumulate them, and that needs to be removed. Adding more quests makes it hard to track all of them; we’d rather you not have so many quests you don’t want to do.

Q: More space in the default backpack?
A: We’re very close to letting you increase your backpack size! Authenticators will increase your backpack size, it seems.

Q: Will bugs/exploits from vanilla be fixed in WoW: Classic?
A: This is going to take longer than you think, and some of that is about talking about what players want. The heading is to recreate the 1-60 experience as you remember it, and how things worked during the two years when it was fresh. Should UBRS be a 5-player and 10-player or just 5-player?

Q: Different raid bosses for the different factions?
A: Definitely different stories and/or reasons, obviously. The bosses and the places are what they are, but the reasons are different. There’s no reason why faction conflict can’t play out in a raid setting; it’s a cool place to explore.

Q: When are we going to see an increase to our friend list?
A: We did! It used to be 100 people! One of the challenges is working on how to fix this. It’s complicated, but it’s being worked on.

Q: If I unlock Nightborne heritage armor, can I transmog it on my blood elf?
A: No. It’s unique for that allied race. It’s for them only.

Q: What classes for allied races?
A: They’re allied, not sub-races; there’s no connection or a parent race. In essence, it’s like adding a new race; we’ll err on the side of combining as many options as possible. The matrices for the first four (no Zandalari/Dark Irons) are on the website.

For reference:

  • Highmountain Tauren: Warrior, Druid, Monk, Hunter, Shaman
  • Lightforged Draenei: Warrior, Mage, Priest, Paladin, Hunter
  • Nightborne/Void Elf: Warrior, Rogue, Mage, Warlock, Priest, Hunter, Monk

That’s not a typo at the end; both Nightborne and Void Elves have identical class options.

Q: Are Warfronts going to be longer or faster experiences?
A: Some of that is to be determined at this point; a little bit longer than dungeons, probably. Testing will find it.

Q: If I’m trying to farm a level 63 shoulder, I have to go hunt level 63 enemies. How is loot/drop rate changing with the level scaling?
A: We’re still figuring out; for this, our philosophy is that if something dropped it before, it drops it now.

Q: Are the continents really changing this much?
A: Fiction will be in place; the Exodar and Silvermoon will become final bastions.

Q: What will happen to Demon Hunters?
A: They’re just going to be hunters? (No.) No, ultimately, they’re elves, and they’re doing what they do to protect the world. That threat hasn’t really gone away, and they will continue to be demon hunters. And we’ll probably see demons again…

Q: Why are the Nightborne with the Horde and the Void Elves Alliance?
A: Play through the quests! That is explicitly explained there.

Another question about open PvP flagging, which is the same answer we had before; create an incentive without making it too lucrative.

Q: Updated Worgen/Goblins?
A: Not for 8.0, but they are being worked on right now. They’re really not happy with female worgen, so they’re really changing those up a bit.

Q: Can we trade consumables cross-realm?
A: We’re looking for a way to do it without causing weird economy issues.

Q: More character slots?
A: Uh. Yeah? Okay. Along with allied races, we want to let you just make a new character.

Q: How/when do we sign up for beta?
A: You can check the website and you can opt in and get updates on when testing starts. (No dates announced yet.)

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72 Comments on "BlizzCon 2017: World of Warcraft Battle for Azeroth expansion live Q&A liveblog"

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Ashfyn Ninegold

Q: Why are the Nightborne with the Horde and the Void Elves Alliance?
A: Play through the quests! That is explicitly explained there.

Wrong answer! But thank you for playing. The correct answer is “we’ve always preferred horde over Alliance and this is just more of the same.”

Reader
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Ironweakness

“If everything was account wide, why have alts”— um, that’s exactly why I want everything to be account wide, to give me more incentive to play alts. That way I don’t lose overall progress if I chose to play a different character. Either they are being obtuse on purpose (which rings true for a lot of these answers so I’m not ruling that out) or they have really misunderstood the appeal to account wide rewards.

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Ashfyn Ninegold

Yes, that was the parental “because” answer.

Reader
Schmidt.Capela

Yep. That answer points to them seeing alts as some kind of hardcore trophy, something for players to parade in front of others to tell how “better” a player they are.

Some people might see alts like that, but I really doubt that is how most of the alt-loving players see them.

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thirtymil

I would have liked to have seen a few more difficult questions – don’t know if the questions were heavily curated or not, but how about…

– The xpac seems heavily focused on PvP and grinding Azerite. Anything new for, say, RPers or other people who like to play the game a little differently?
– Likewise, where’s the space for solo players in the new xpac? All the major advertised content is 3-player and 20-player.
– Have you considered streamlining a lot of the bolt-on systems that keep getting adding and instead making the whole game feel and play a little more coherently?
– You said you were pleased with how flying worked out based on how many people achieved it and talked about how people should feel like they’ve explored the world fully first – yet for Legion one of the requirements was a raid. Is that intended to be the model for BfA?
– This xpac seems a little weak on lore and plot, and really seems intended to get people to redo the old (level scaled) content on a new alt as one of the new races. Is this really just a plan to keep people paying their subs for longer into those ‘seasonal dips’ your investor meetings talk about?
– That bug in Legion where the opening scenario for Stormheim almost always fails to load, is that ever going to be fixed? Because when you hit that every time on every alt, that’s a big problem for a AAA title to have and it’s still not fixed. Sorry, is this just for questions about the new xpac?
– Any news on player housing?
– How are the subscriber numbers these days?

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Sera Claus⚢

“The xpac seems heavily focused on PvP ”

I’ve been seeing this sentiment a lot of the last few days and I don’t understand where it’s coming from. The story of this xpac is obviously the hostilities between the Horde and Alliance, but it’s still almost entirely done via PvE. There doesn’t seem to be anything being added that forces people to actually fight other people. Warfronts, which sound like a pvp mode, are actually PvE ONLY. Island hopping has a PvP option, but also has a normal/heroic/mythic option. If you’re a PvPer the only new thing you get this xpac is a single battleground and 3v3 Arenas that also have NPCs in them. What is making people think this xpac is PvP focused?

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Schmidt.Capela

IMHO the name and setting, plus the added bonuses for flagging yourself for world PvP.

velimirius
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velimirius

Q: How do you keep factions balanced in this expansion?
A: We’ve made lots of changes over the years to help address things, but ultimately, just play what you want to play.

In other words, you are getting

Spoiler
gangbanged.

Reader
Schmidt.Capela

Might get even worse.

Players are now getting a bonus for flagging for PvP. So, what is the most effective way of getting this bonus without having to waste time in PvP?

Simple. Transfer to the winning faction in an unbalanced server.

Reader
Utakata

Only interesting gem for me out of this is…

” It feels like we haven’t been responding to that, and the reason is that we knew we’d be doing allied races – we wanted to look at what we were doing with those before adding more to the existing races. So now it can be improved and expanded on – more character creation options. “Posture?” Yes, that’s being added. Upright or hunched-over orcs are a choice!”

…I’ll keep my pigtails hunched, thnkx. But as a veteran of the CoH character creator, this does come a very good news! <3

Celestia
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Celestia

Thanks for sharing this. Exciting stuff!

Reader
Jesse Schulkers

All I gotta ask… why isn’t there a difficulty switch for leveling? Want an easy glide? Easy. Go. 1-3 hit things. Want it hard? Switch to hard. Get a border on your character. Rewards go up and so does time to kill. Evens out leveling speed with this. GG. They could probably do this with their dynamic tech. I just hope they don’t get the idea of ‘mythic +’ing leveling.

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Tom R

Sort of have that as heirlooms. If you get a character kitted out, or even half kitted out in heirlooms you level way faster and just demolish everything.

It’s nice to power level, but it totally ruins the leveling dungeons for anybody interested in being challenged. Until like level 80ish a tank in heirloom gear almost never needs a single heal, also can dps things down on his own. The healer will just try to dps most of the dungeon just to not fall asleep.

I am definitely excited that I can do quests in a zone with out outleveling it in 5 quests now though.

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Sally Bowls

That makes a lot of sense and I bet a number of other players would like it.

Although, logically but not emotionally, this is not necessary. People can take off gear to make the leveling harder and slower. And gear acquired through leveling is worthless within minutes of acquiring it so there is no practical value in increased leveling rewards.

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Matthäus Wey

Thanks again for the fast update… that being said I’m really concerned about the release date. It seems like they are still in the middle of development figuring how basic system are going to work. :/

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Serrenity

What is release date? And a lot of what they are talking about it sounds like tweaks to implemented systems, which is a lot easier to develop than brand new systems. As long as main implementation of systems is done, tweaks are easy-peasy.

Theryl
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Theryl

AFAIK they haven’t announced one. If they follow their standard timeframe, we’re probably looking at late summer/early fall of 2018. If it comes out earlier, I’ll be pleasantly surprised.

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