World of Warcraft Hazzikostas Q&A covers Azerite Armor, class balance, and Siege of Zuldazar

    
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Yesterday, World of Warcraft Game Director Ion Hazzikostas sat down for another live Q&A session on Twitch. The list of player-submitted questions was extensive, but perhaps not surprisingly, many of them focused on Azerite Armor, which has been the subject of much contention among the community, alongside a handful of other topics, including Warfronts, the upcoming Siege of Zuldazar raid, and tank and healer class balance.

For example, Blizzard apparently believes that Azerite trait restrictions improve gameplay by providing options, and they’re still hunting for a “middle ground” solution to the way Azerite gear is acquired from Mythic+ raiding. Here’s WoWhead’s recap of some of the motivation behind the system’s changes:

“Azerite Armor is a lot less rigid than other items such as weapons. If you’re swapping for DPS to Tank, you’ll need to get a whole new set of weapons and trinkets, compared to Azerite Armor where you just need to go to the Reforger and swap your traits. If you’re changing your specs often, there’s always the generic traits if you don’t want to respec often. It should be just a few % less effective. Unless you’re pushing World Firsts, you can just use a 370 rather than a 385 but it should get better as the availability of Azerite Armor should increase. If you look back compared to Legion, it’s much easier to swap between specs now but they still want to preserve a benefit to someone who mains an Assassination rogue versus a rogue who swaps to it whenever they feel its best.”

And if the Q&A stream isn’t enough Battle for Azeroth information for you, Hazzikostas also recently sat down with the folks at Forbes for a post-mortem interview. In it, Hazzikostas goes into detail about the trials and tribulations of Battle for Azeroth’s launch, addresses some of the common player criticisms of the expansion, and gives players a look at what the dev team is focusing on going forward. In addition, Community Manager Lore dropped by the forums yesterday to remind players that on Friday, October 12th, members of the WoW dev team will be dropping by the PTR to test the new Darkshore Warfront that will be coming to the game in the Tides of Vengeance update, and players are encouraged to join the fight and provide feedback on the new content before it goes live.

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kalech

Blizzard: Azerite gear is so flexible, you dont need to change gear between specs!
Also Blizzard: You should keep multiple sets of azerite gear.

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Paragon Lost

The whole Azerite armor system sucks ass for those of us who play multiple specs and multiple classes. :/ The randomness of the armor means planning out things is really not possible.

p.s: Anyone know why my wife’s night elf rogue seems to be earning more experience than my night elf druid? Both happen to be Alchemist as well. We’re playing them together and not solo so they should stay on par. We’re confused.

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Briar Grey

Mystery solved…I was doing more pet battles than he was. Didn’t realize they gave exp.

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Sorenthaz

BfA is basically the epitome of everything wrong with Blizzard’s design choices while simultaneously being one of the better expansions as far as story goes. Azerite Armor is making up for the loss of: Legion Legendaries, Legion Artifacts, Glyphs, WoD’s Draenor Perks, the previous two Talent systems, and the loss of regular Gem sockets.

Note how a lot of that stuff was ripped out of the game over the years since Cataclysm at the end of 2010.

Not only that but they have gutted the original Garrison system down to a state that isn’t even enjoyable or really worth using, unlike the Order Hall system before it. The only reason to use the mission board or w/e nowadays is for the sake of reputation and, if you really want, passive Azerite. Gold isn’t worth it whatsoever because Blizz decided giving out lots of gold from passion missions was a bad idea and they seem like they finally realize there’s been an inflation problem that they’re now trying to forcibly deflate.

It’s a mess from a mechanics/design standpoint in all honesty. It doesn’t feel fun, and everything has been streamlined to a point where RNG is the only flipping carrot on a stick anymore because Blizzard doesn’t know how else to keep folks playing content when it’s too easy to get gear out of it for minimal effort. They’ve designed themselves into a corner that they don’t know how to get out of because they can’t think outside of their limited box anymore.

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Sorenthaz

And essentially instead of playing an expansion that added onto Legion, we instead are playing an expansion that removed things from Legion and then gave us a botched job on a replacement. It’s basically like BfA is Legion 0.5 and then maybe 1.5 in a few areas, but really nothing feels significantly improved/better, and a lot of things just feel straight up worse.

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Paragon Lost

“And essentially instead of playing an expansion that added onto Legion, we instead are playing an expansion that removed things”

^ That sums it up. A strange expansion.

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Paragon Lost

A really odd additional thing about the Legendary item system is that they just totally turned if off. Totally abandonment and deletion basically. They’ve never done both at once that I can recall. :/

So basically if you level up another character or if you had a few that were still leveling through the content they’ve lost out on that mechanics system. Really surprised me on that one.

The game over all feels like a mess.

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rafterman74

Yeah, outside of the leveling experience and the art it’s a garbage expansion.

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NecroFox4

At the end of Cataclysm, they took away the Talent system we’d had for 8 years. They replaced it with a system that significantly reduced player choice, by eliminating most of the customization options for play style. We went from 3 Talent trees per class, full of many options to build your character how you wanted, to an overly-simplified system that created mostly “cookie cutter” classes for all who played. Two Ret Pallies could have totally different talent selections, and still play almost exactly the same, due to the lack of uniqueness in the system.

And they took away the Glyph system entirely with Legion, though it had been significantly neutered since Wrath.

Over the past 14 years, Blizzard has systematically removed many of the avenues of character customization. They have distilled all classes down to the point that characters of the same class are essentially carbon copies of each other. They did so for many reasons, but the overarching theme has been “balance”. They’ve made progression bland, and created a game where every character is identical at end-game. There is no room for different play styles or customized class builds.

And then comes the AA system. They’ve tried to add back some of the customization they spent the last 6 years or so destroying. And they’re doing a right crap job of it. Don’t get too used to it, though, because AA will disappear overnight like our Artifacts from Legion.

This is one of the problems inherent in a vertical progression game. Every new expansion invalidates all the previous gear, rather than adding to it. WoW can’t fix this, that’s just how their game works. But they ‘could’ give us some room to customize our characters, instead of playing the cookie-cutter copies we have now.

World of Warcraft lost it’s soul at the end of Cataclysm.

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Bannex

I’m no fan of bfa but I disagree that the original talent trees had more customization. Sure you could decide to put 3 instead of 5 into crit chance but the reality was there were still metas.

Unfortunately, blizz’s answer isn’t to further diversify and give people more control. It was to remove nonsense and leave only major choices. This felt like a loss of customization even though it got rid of nominal point spenders.

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Sally Bowls

I agree. I remember going to a web site and there were very few common builds, differing by a point or two. Whereas today there are people respecing per raid boss, for M+, OW, pvp.

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Carebear

If you mean about cata then yes. Also keep in mind, that not everyone did raids back then. Sure there might was some talent builds for raid but the casual and the pvp player could really have the freedom to make unique and enjoyable playstyles.

Even in raids, we were 4 mages all with different builds. Ome arcane – fire, other full fire, other arcane -frost etc. All was good and viable, no one told us to respec into something specific

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Carebear

Cataclysm talents was bad, they dumped down the system and there were metas and cookie cutter builds.

But vanilla – woltk you really had choices to create unique playstyles… not just chose between and aoe or single damage talent.

Besides, a look at icy veins will tell you that neither now we have choice… there are still cookie cutter builds.

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Sorenthaz

It feels like Battle for Azeroth is basically the culmination of all of Blizzard’s design decisions since Cataclysm that involved further streamlining the game and whittling down player choice while trying to find ways to replace what they removed at the same time in a more controllable fashion.

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Koshelkin

You could go to the Reforger and swap to the trait which is suitable for your current spec but what if the traits you want for the 2 specs are on two different items? Now escalate that on all azerite armor pieces and it’s still alot of additional gear you need to carry around. Not sure why they think the Reforger is the answer here.

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Ironwu

Don’t forget the ever-increasing cost every time you change the spec. Insane. What is really strange is that they eventually learned to NOT charge for spec changes! How is it now a GOOD idea to do so???

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Venomlicious

This was my go to game for the last 14 years and now it just needs to go. WoD,Legion,Bfa have been the worst thing to happen to WoW and there is no way back.

Rip World of Warcraft

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Santiago Draco

It’s bad enough you need different weapons for spec swaps… that they don’t see just how f’d up it is to also need different AZ sets… they are blinded by their self admiration. The system sucks.

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Ashfyn Ninegold

I’m sticking with “in six months it will be playable.” By January it should be in good shape for a casual solo like me. More options and better on Azerite armor, faster Allied Race rep gain, weak classes buffed, warfronts sorted, etc.

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Utakata

They’e certainly in the “digging in” stage of this expansion currently. Hopefully, they can get to the “yeah, you guys might have a point” stage sooner. Not holding my breath though. /sigh

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Koshelkin

I’m actually telling myself to wait until the next expansion is announced before returning to this one.

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thirtymil

You could well be right. Blizzard usually accelerate things later on in an xpac’s life so it should work out quite well for you once they’ve fixed all the worst problems.

For me, on the other hand, their timing couldn’t be worse. Attrition from toxic groups combined with the arrival of AC Odyssey (i.e. open world adventuring without the toxic groups) and I’m finding it increasingly hard to view WoW as ‘the game I’ll go back to’ and very much more like ‘something to drop so I can free up time for all the other stuff I like the look of’.

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Giggilybits

Please tell me this guy is not going to design another expansion. Kudos to the guy who was lead on legion.

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Utakata

I think that was the same person. o.O

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Giggilybits

Really? Legion was so good. This expansion not so much. Has some redeeming qualities like quests and story seem pretty good on both sides but character progression next to nothing.

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Utakata

Sometimes they create masterpieces. Sometime they just shoot blanks. Been sorta that way since Cata. /shrug

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John Mynard

It’s important to remember that Blizz has two teams working on WoW. Legion WAS developed by a completely different set of folks for the most part. BfA was developed by the same team that worked over WoD.

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Ironwu

They seem to be totally blind to how bad the AA system actually is. Not going to rehash all the negatives (I see NO positives to AA), but if they do not right the AA ship soon, things are not going to go well. It is time to acknowledge that whoever designed AA has screwed the pooch.

It is time to remove all RNG blocks and costs to acquiring AA gear / changing AA specs and just move on to expanding what IS good in BFA.

At the end of Legion, you could get the exact Legendary gear desired with tokens, and leveling up Artifact weapons was fast and easy. They need to do the same with AA NOW, not wait until the end of BFA to do it.

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Venomlicious

That will never happen. They are trying to milk your time and you can’t milk with choices. I have played google play games with more choice then this. They need to scrap 80% of what has gone into or taken away in this game to make it playable.

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Ironwu

Agreed that it will not change until the end of BFA. I think they will pay the price for that inflexible stance. And, yes, there are so many more games out there with so much more flexibility in how you play and advance your characters.

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NecroFox4

Exactly right, Venomlicious. They want you hooked on that RNG. It’s like gambling; you keep paying money in your sub, they keep you hooked with the chance of getting something that isn’t hot garbage. They’re just milking this expac for all they can.

And at the end of BFA, they’ll just disappear all the AA overnight like they did with the Artifact weapons; they’ll be useless the millisecond you start new content. And then you get to rinse and repeat the entire RNG game again, for whatever mess they come up with next.