World of Warcraft’s next expansion is called Dragonflight, WoW Classic Wrath launches this year


(We’re updating with the big announcements at the end of this post.)

Today’s the day, folks: As promised, Blizzard will be taking the wraps off World of Warcraft’s next expansion. And this reveal is quite belated, as we’d normally have expected this announcement to have arrived last fall, but as our readers are surely aware, the last few years have been chaotic for Activision-Blizzard, given its still-boiling discrimination scandal, Microsoft buyout, and the severe depression in revenues and players for Blizzard itself. In other words, today isn’t just about an expansion but about selling the gaming industry on the future of Blizzard as a studio, and we’ll be on hand to chronicle it.

Our readers have surely already seen all the leaks and have their own predictions, but we’ll soon find out which ones were real and which ones were dirty fake-outs. The presentation begins at noon EDT; you can watch along with us below. We’ll be updating the post with pertinent highlights as the event rolls on.

Notes from the show
John Hight, Ion Hazzikostas, and Holly Longdale on deck for the prerecorded intro. Hazzikostas repeats things he’s previously said about rethinking WoW’s systems and assumptions and listening to players who want to play WoW the way they want to play, including cross-faction play. Longdale addresses the “fresh start” movement in WoW Classic and how Blizzard made it a formal thing.

The cinematic reveals that the expansion is indeed called Dragonflight.

  • It’ll boast a new playable race, the dracthyr, who can play a unique hero class called the Evoker, which has two specs, ranged DPS or healer, and the use of mail armor. Only dracthyr can be evokers and vice versa.
  • There are five zones: a starter zone (for the new hero race/class) and four standard leveling zones in the Dragon Isles; that’ll get players up to level 70. There are dungeons and raids on deck too, but no details on those today. The zones are the Waking Shores, Ohn’ahran Plains, The Azure Span, Thaldraszus, and Forbidden Reach.
  • Hazzikostas says to expect revamps for everything from talents to crafting. The UI in particular will get a redesign, while crafting will allow players to become a “master crafter” making “items that are in demand” with a new work order system.
  • Dragon-riding will also be a thing that is separate from basic flying mounts. Players will get customizable dragon mounts from the beginning, but you’ll work your skills up through gameplay.

We have no release date, though Hight says to expect alpha information soon. There is a beta opt-in on the official splash page.

Press release: IRVINE, Calif.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Apr. 19, 2022– Following a period of calamity for the world of Azeroth, long-forgotten forces are stirring in the mythical Dragon Isles, the ancestral home of dragonkind. Today, Blizzard Entertainment announced World of Warcraft®: Dragonflight, the upcoming expansion for the company’s critically acclaimed massively multiplayer online role-playing game, which welcomes players into a new era of high-fantasy adventure.

The dragons of Azeroth have played a central role in the world’s affairs, guiding the mortal races and influencing events with their considerable power—occasionally for their own ends. As their sacred broodlands reawaken, the dragons will call on the heroes of the Alliance and Horde to help reckon with the threats and mysteries that are beginning to surface. Reemerging after eons of dormancy and ready to join the fight are the powerful dracthyr Evokers, World of Warcraft’s first ever combination race and class.

Depending on the class specialization they choose, dracthyr Evokers can assail enemies from range as a damage dealer using breath, fang, and claw, or aid and bolster their allies as a healer by means of the more mystical gifts of dragonkind. Players who create dracthyr Evokers will be able to design both the draconic avatars that they embody in battle, and the humanoid Visage forms they use to interact with the denizens of Azeroth. Dracthyr Evokers begin the game at level 58, with a unique starting questline, and they can choose to align with either the Alliance or Horde.

In addition to their cunning and power, Azeroth’s dragons are known for their aerial agility—fittingly, all players will be able to learn the art of Dragonriding, unlocking a new dynamic form of flight along with a drake companion that can be customized in appearance and trained to soar through the sky more effectively as players progress through the expansion. Dragonflight will also bring the most extensive updates to World of Warcraft’s talent and profession systems since the game first launched, providing players with new levels of freedom and depth in how they define their characters.

“Players have been eager to revisit World of Warcraft’s high-fantasy roots, and they’re going to find just that in Dragonflight, with a deeper exploration of Warcraft®’s iconic dragons and a thrilling adventure into their legendary homeland,” said Mike Ybarra, President of Blizzard Entertainment. “We’re also completely overhauling many of the game’s underlying systems to ensure that WoW® continues to offer the type of experience that players expect not just with this expansion but for many years to come.”

World of Warcraft: Dragonflight Features

  • Discover the Dragon Isles: In their journey to the new level cap of 70, players will explore the primordial wonder and ancient secrets of the Dragon Isles across four new zones—the Waking Shores, roiling with elemental power; the vast expanse of the Ohn’ahran Plains; the frosty peaks of the Azure Span; and the majestic spires and temples of Thaldraszus.
  • New Playable Race/Class Combo: Players will menace their foes (or empower their allies) as a dracthyr Evoker, WoW’s first ever race/class combo. They’ll design both humanoid and draconic forms, pick between the Alliance and Horde, and venture forth as a healer or ranged damage-dealer that harnesses the collective might of all dragonkind.
  • Soar Through the Skies: Dragonflight introduces Dragonriding, an all-new skill-based method of aerial movement that allows players to take to the skies on the back of their personal Dragon Isles Drake. Players will customize their drake as they progress through the expansion, collecting more appearance options and enabling them to fly farther and faster.
  • Talent System Revamp: The new talent system empowers players to make creative and flavorful talent choices without compromising their effectiveness—and most importantly, it gives them meaningful options at every level.
  • Improved Professions: Crafters rejoice! In Dragonflight, players who aspire to become renowned for their crafts will find a host of new features and tools to fuel their ambitions, including player-driven work orders, new profession equipment, and an all-new specialization system.
  • Updated UI: Dragonflight will refresh the World of Warcraft user interface, with improvements to the look and feel of the minimap and other elements, and new options for players to customize different aspects of the UI to their tastes.
And of course, WoW Classic is expanding to include Wrath of the Lich King. The video says it’s coming in 2022, so you won’t have long to wait. However, be warned: The dungeon finder isn’t in the cards.

Press release: IRVINE, Calif.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Apr. 19, 2022– From his grim citadel deep in the frozen continent of Northrend, the dreaded Lich King Arthas Menethil sets in motion his conquest of Azeroth, ushering in one of the most unforgettable sagas in Warcraft® history. Blizzard Entertainment today announced that World of Warcraft®: Wrath of the Lich King Classic™ is coming later this year, inviting players to experience anew an adventure that indelibly shaped the ongoing story of Warcraft. When it launches in 2022, this finely tuned rerelease of the smash-hit 2008 expansion will be available at no additional cost to all players with an active World of Warcraft subscription.

“We’re thrilled to revisit one of the most beloved eras in Warcraft history with Wrath of the Lich King Classic,” said Mike Ybarra, President of Blizzard Entertainment. “The original release of this expansion brought many improvements to the game, along with a timeless villain and an epic story. We’re taking care to preserve the authentic Classic experience for those looking to relive their glory days in Northrend—and deliver a worthy and accessible re-creation for those embarking on this vast adventure for the first time.”

Wrath of the Lich King Classic Features – Just as it shook up WoW® during its original release in 2008, Wrath of the Lich King Classic will thrill both veterans and newcomers with a host of paradigm-shifting features, including:

  • The Grim Frozen North: Players will begin their journey in one of two zones in Northrend—Borean Tundra or Howling Fjord—and experience some of the most epic vistas and beloved storylines in all of Warcraft before breaching the seat of the Lich King’s power in Icecrown.
  • The Rise of Death Knights: Available to both factions and starting at level 55, Death Knights—WoW’s first hero class—harness the powers of darkness to help combat the evil that threatens Azeroth.
  • New profession—Inscription: This new profession allows players to scribe mystical glyphs that alter the appearance and modify the properties of spells and abilities, as well as craft powerful trinkets and off-hand items.
  • Achievements Unlocked: Achievements are coming to WoW Classic, giving players a whole new set of rewards for their exploits and accomplishments.
    Dungeons & Raids: Relive seminal 5-player dungeons like Azjol-Nerub and the Culling of Stratholme, and lay siege to Naxxramas in a 10-player raid, an update of its original iteration as a 40-player raid in pre-expansion World of Warcraft.

Players will be able to create Death Knight characters during a content update prior to the launch of Wrath of the Lich King Classic. All players will be able to create their first Death Knight characters without any prerequisites or restrictions. (Creating subsequent Death Knight characters on a given server will require an existing character of level 55 or higher.)

Players without existing characters ready to take on the hazards of Northrend can take advantage of an optional level-70 character boost closer to Wrath of the Lich King Classic’s launch. Further details, including information around pricing and availability, will be announced at a later date.

Now moving into the deep-dive videos on Dragonflight.
That’s the basics, folks.  We note here that the Warcraft mobile game was not discussed at all.
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