The gameplay and systems panel is always very important to World of Warcraft. You found out long ago (well, a few hours ago) about the existence of World of Warcraft: Battle for Azeroth, and now you have to find out how long it is down that leveling road. And, for that matter, what will be along the way. Dungeons and quests, sure, but how many? What sort of mechanics will they include? How will classes play? Do Rogues get swirly balls back?
Yeah, that one’s just trolling. You’re never getting swirly balls again.
Fortunately, all of these questions are going to be addressed, at least in passing, by this BlizzCon 2017 panel. So let’s find out more about the mechanics that we’ve got now, what’s coming around the bend, and what will be here in the future as we sit through another liveblogging session. As always, catch up past the break!
Island Expeditions are up first. They’re being described like puzzles, where every time you go into them with your merry little crew of three, they have different bits – different enemies, different buffs and debuffs, different difficulties, different objectives, different loot, different AI activities, different modes of combat. It’s not exactly procedural generation, but there’s an element of randomness and unpredictability that’s intended to feel dynamic and repeatable. It’s basically radio/newspaper missions from City of Heroes.
Heart of Azeroth next. It’s basically a new progression system: As you play content in the game, you gather azerite, which levels up (automatically) your Heart, allowing you to awaken latent abilities in individual pieces of armor. Think of it sort of like a build-your-own legendary item. The choices you make are supposed to make sense against one another; you pick your favorite one, not just go for raw power.
Warfronts now. Warfronts are all about war in the homeland. They’re 20-man co-op raids, faction-based. It’s a pretty cool throwback to Warcraft RTS fantasy, as you’ll be collecting resources and indirectly ordering peons to build up your base, then you’ll need to defend it too. Lots of cheers for the rebuilt Stromgarde Keep!
Social systems next. Battlenet voice is coming to WoW. They’re also introducing “communities,” which basically looks like cross-server multi-guilding chat channels. There’s a new guild panel too that basically looks like Discord.