BlizzCon 2019: Why World of Warcraft: Shadowlands isn’t adding a new class

    
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Can I come out yet?

If you were wondering why World of Warcraft wasn’t adding a new class with its upcoming Shadowlands expansion, you are definitely not alone. After all, it feels like time for one, especially seeing as the last new class, the Demon Hunter, came out two expansions ago.

The answer to this, as revealed to Polygon at BlizzCon, was that Blizzard made a deliberate choice to focus on greatly expanding character customization at the expense of a new class to play. Each of the races will be getting a slew of additional visual options that players can select when making their characters or at the in-game barber.

“We’ve done this before with Draenor, when we decided we were going to put a lot of effort into the characters themselves, and into the character models,” said technical director Frank Kowalkowski. “We did the HD character models for Warlords of Draenor. Similar to that. We’re focusing more on giving more character customization options.”

Senior Game Designer Paul Kubit added that possible new classes were always informed by setting and story: “Looking at the setting of the Shadowlands, there wasn’t a class that jumped out like the Demon Hunter did in the past with Legion for example. So a lot of our focus is more on building the world of the Shadowlands.”

Source: Polygon
Everything BlizzCon 2019

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Mick the Barbarian

As classes go, wouldn’t the necromancer have “jumped out”? But is the afterlife after all.

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Bruno Brito

Because, and this isn’t new, they wanna justify their reinvention of the wheel and fixing of mistakes as too much work for a new class.

“It’s not our focus right now, we’re focusing on the core classes that integrate our game” or some bs like that.

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Fang GWJ

You know, a Sylvanas inspired Banshee class would be a good choice…
Just sayin’
Powers:
Wails – conal aoe, damage, drains, debuffs
Dreads – anti auras
Phasing – physical damage reduction with vulnerability to magic, stealth teleporting
Shadow Chains- the chains from the video that weaken and damage
Archery? – void arrows, more?

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Bruno Brito

You mean a Dark Ranger.

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Sorenthaz

Looking at the setting of the Shadowlands, there wasn’t a class that jumped out like the Demon Hunter did in the past with Legion for example.

Necromancer, but I’m guessing they’re still on the “overlaps too much with Death Knight” mentality for that one.

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Axetwin .

And/or the Warlock.

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Sorenthaz

Yeah pretty much. I could see a Necromancer hero class being dual spec like Demon Hunters are, i.e. one’s the snowbally summon DPS you’d expect and the other is a Healer that basically sucks up life force from enemies and transfers it to allies.

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Carebear

I think they regret that every class have 3 specs… they could sell a single spec as a new class like FFXIV and have 2 new classes each expansion… and people would celebrate!

I think wow have more than enough classes, thats not the problem of the game.

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Richard de Leon III

Considering Northrends involvement and the themed afterlife, I would think Necromancer would be screaming at them…..

But I wouldve settled for 4th specs for everyone, I still want to make a lightning mage…

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rosieposie

A necromancer? Good Sir, we can’t sell THAT to China!

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Jaymes Buckman

A class that raised dead minions? Like a death knight? Which also exists in China?

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Christmas Dog

Necromancer basically already exists in the form of Unholy DKs. Their ability set is all about raising and empowering dead minions to fight for them.

Granted, that doesn’t mean it’s out of the question — Blizzard literally cut WoD Demonology warlock to shreds, and then pasted the exact same mechanics onto Demon Hunter the very next expansion. So while it’s possible, I really don’t see Necromancer ever making an appearance in WoW as a playable class.

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Avaera

So the limiting factor here is visual artists?

Because some of them spent the time making new eye/hair/skin colour variants… There isn’t enough in the team to handle animating a new class as well?

I’m calling bullpoop on that answer.

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Koshelkin

It’s Blizzard. They could hire enough artists to make 20 new classes if they wanted to. I didn’t expect anything else than an evasive answer, though.

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jealouspirate

The sense I get from Shadowlands is that Blizzard knows they bit off more than they could chew in BfA and are taking a step back, being more conservative, and polishing “core” systems/classes. That is a good idea, as far as I’m concerned.

BfA introduced a LOT of new features (The neck, Azerite powers, Islands, Warfronts, etc), and they basically all flopped. They will be gone forever and nobody will miss them. They all felt half-baked. I think it’s smart for Blizzard to introduce fewer features in Shadowlands and focus on making sure what they do release is really good.

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Louie

“They will be gone forever and nobody will miss them”

Am I crazy or is this not true for almost every single new system introduced in a WoW expac since WoD?

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Galaji

Off the top of my head,
Mythic raids were introduced in WoD and are still in use.
Mythic+ keystones/dungons were introduced in Legion and still in use.
Emissary and World quests were introduced in Legion and are still in use.
The Mage Tower from Legion is a heavy inspiration for the 8.3 visions instances or whatever they are calling them.

I think it is just easier to recall the ones that were large and failed. The ones that work feel like a natural part of the game.

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Mailvaltar

Wait, what?

They are talking only about cosmetics here, right? Not giving more choice in how to play the existing classes, just how they look?

They’re doing that instead of designing a new class?

How about using some of the bajillion dollars they’ve made with their game and do both?

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jealouspirate

They are also giving people more choice in how they play their classes.

1) A lot of old abilities that were removed are returning, and many spec-specific abilities will now be baseline.
2) The covenant system introduces 4 new class specific abilities for you to choose from, totalling 48 new class abilities total.
3) The Soulbind system introduces a whole new talent tree for your class with all new abilities/effects.

I think what they meant in this interview was more about the big “Headline” feature. Each expansion often has a big new “thing”, like a new race or class. This expansion’s big hook is dramatically improved character customization, which is something people have been wanting for quite a long time.

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Utakata

Better CC is always nice and welcomed. And a good one can really set the tone of the game. But I wouldn’t make the main feature of a game or expansion. Rather to augment the main features that go into a game…even in something like City of Heroes.

So if main feature of this expansion is more choices in rolling a new character, you gonna start losing players after the kill 10 rats reality of “Is that it?” sets after the n00b zone. Just saying.

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Koshelkin

a.k.a. moving backwards to move forward. better late than never, though.

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Utakata

To note, that last inquiry really begs the question with them, doesn’t it? O.o

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Koshelkin

Considering the limited choices you have at character creation atm, it’s not a bad idea to have more options. Multiply this over the existing races and you have alot of work on your hand. A new class would have fit excellently to the new leveling experience they’re introducing, though. I still have classes to try out in WoW but Blizzard wouldn’t make a mistake to reconsider their stance on this.

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Tenthyr Adi

Honestly, out of a lot of their waffling, these are not terrible points.

I would much rather they fix the systems of all the existing classes anyway, before tossing a new one in. (Not that I honestly expect even that to happen by this point…)