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World of Warcraft: Legion – A Chat with Ion Hazzikostas


August 30th. There's only a little over a week until the release of new new expansion for WoW. The game has been ramping up for the return of one of the Warcraft universe's more fearsome enemies, the Burning Legion.

Blizzard announced a few days ago that they are already working hard on upcoming content, with Patch 7.1 bringing Kharazan back as a five-man dungeon. Other features were highlighted when we were shown the extended preview of Legion; at Gamescom 2016, though, I had the chance to participate in a Q&A session with Assistant Game Director Ion Hazzikostas in order to learn more about the expansion and the upcoming updates.

Could you expand on the role of the Demon Hunter? It's the new hero class that can also be used as a tank as well as functioning as a damage dealer. How could this could affect other classes?

There are multiple classes that can co-exist and function as the same role within the game. We see the demon hunter as broadening the possibilities. The one thing we've done with the demon hunter is decide to give them only two specializations, rather than the three or four that other classes have. We felt that there's this offensive of defensive side of them and wanted to focus on the fantasy of the demon hunter as a hybrid master of the blade who also uses fel magic to fight the demons who power he draws from. Within that there's the defensive and offensive components.

Will there be any lasting changes to Azeroth? In Cataclysm the whole world was turned upside down. This time the demons are coming for us, will there be any consequences?

Of course consequences. Whereas the Cataclysm really was a fundamental transformation back in our third expansion in 2010, we revamped and redid the entire old world and levels one to sixty. Our demon invasion events that we currently have going on are a more limited scope advanced feature. Those are going away August 30th. The general idea is to give those playing now on the eve of the expansion something special to do as a limited time event. Those themselves aren't going to permanently change, things like demon invasions may return and take other forms in the future.

The lore of the Demon Invasion is huge, what effects will this have on the characters. How big will the body count will be?

In the initial quest series leading up to the events of Legion, some of which are playable on the live servers today, there are some major casualties. The leaders of both factions are lost to the battle against the legion. They're not going to be the only ones we lose. At the same time, we want to be mindful that we're not killing off characters left and right. That will have to be seen as the story unfolds, but certainly nobody is safe.

Could you expand on the new PVP system and why you actually changed it?

There's a couple of major changes coming to PVP in Legion. First off, in the past PVP was very item dependent. The stronger the items you got the stronger you were at fighting other players. Rather than serving as a progression system the way gear does in the rest of the game, gear in PVP felt like more a limiting factor. It felt like you had to reach a certain level in order to compete on even terms with the others. Every new player who tried out PVP for the first time, or wanted to get back into it, had a very tough experience losing over and over again until they could claw their way up to the right gear level. That's not a very inviting or welcoming system.

The first main change is massively reducing the impact of gear and stats. Players come in with fixed stat templates and the gear they have can slightly increase or decrease that. We still want gear to have some meaning, but we're basically dividing the impact by ten.

What that did was reduce the complexity, customization and progression of the system. We want those to exist, so we've replaced the old increasing your stats with an Honor system that lets players earn specific PVP only talents. As they level their Honor from level one to fifty, they can traverse through a tree, unlock additional options and customize their characters and PVP.  Once you reach Honor level fifty, you can choose to prestige and go back to level one but unlocks permanent bonuses. Mostly cosmetic, not power, rewards, that are there for players who want to keep progressing and work towards a goal that rewards time investment.