Blizzard Entertainment revealed the latest expansion for their mega-MMORPG World of Warcraft, the high-fantasy Dragonflight, last night. It has an Azeroth-load of dragons in it. That is all.
Well, not all, because Blizzard also showed off that Wrath of the Lich King is coming to World of Warcraft Classic later this year. WoW, it’s not just the economy that feels like 2008.
Dragonflight raises the level cap to 70 and drags the action back from the Shadowlands to Azeroth’s Dragon Isles, which is where all the dragons come from. Best tell Daenerys. Apparently, 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”.
Blizzard says they're “completely overhauling” World of Warcraft’s systems as part of the expansion. This overhaul concentrates on WoW’s talent and profession systems, intended to give players options that matter at any level and a new profession specialisation system and tools. The UI is receiving a zhuzh to make it more customisable too. Watch out for that one on Wordle. Dragonflight is also introducing the game’s first combination of race and class, dracthyr Evokers.
Dracthyr Evokers start the game at level 58 and have the option to specialise as ranged DPS or using their dragon superpowers to heal allies. They get their own starting questline and can align with Alliance or Horde. Probably the best part of being a drachthyr Evoker is becoming a bloody great dragon in battle. You’ll be able to appear in humanoid form the rest of the time though, so don’t worry about scaring everyone witless.
Even if you’re not a dragon person, Dragonflight is bringing in the opportunity for every player to fly on the back of a Dragon Isles drake through a new skill-based aerial movement system. Drakes are customisable and can develop to fly faster, so the hot rod scene in WoW is about to really take off. There’s no concrete release date for Dragonflight yet.
Meanwhile, Wrath of the Lich King Classic is heading back to chilly Northrend. Arthas Menethil will be snuggled up in his dodgy citadel and, presumably, still listening to Bleeding Love by Leona Lewis. It’ll be complimentary to anyone with an active subscription. Blizzard are calling this one a fine-tuning of the original that’s bringing achievements to WoW Classic, along with retro raids like Naxxramas and antediluvian dungeons like Azjol-Nerub.
World of Warcraft’s first hero class, Death Knights, will return too. Death Knights are open to Alliance and Horde and usually need a character already at level 55 or more. Howevs, Blizzard are planning a content update before Wrath of the Lich King’s release that will let anyone make a Death Knight without any of the level restrictions. There’ll be a paid option to boost your character to level 70 ready for Northrend before launch but no details yet about how much that will cost.
Is it really a game reveal if one came out 14 years ago? Regardless, you can watch both games getting their big reveals in the video above.
Christos Reid felt WoW’s last expansion, Shadowlands, revivified the experience during its beta in 2020. Despite calling it a “lore-heavy expansion”, he thought Shadowlands was “a storyline I can actually get my friends to dive into now, rather than a wall of expected knowledge and antiquated onboarding that would quickly dull their excitement”. It became the fastest selling PC game ever, according to Blizzard.
RPS co-founder Alec loved Wrath of the Lich King waaaaaaay back in 2008, saying it “was a superficially cynical expansion for an MMO that seemed fatally tired - yet it turned out to directly address half the stuff we've been complaining about WoW for over the last few years.” Will it make anyone’s Christmas this year?
Activision Blizzard remain embedded in legal challenges and reports alleging an environment of discrimination and harrassment for workers. That's all in the midst of Microsoft acquiring the company for $69 billion (£50 billion), too. Blizzard Entertainment head Mike Ybarra expressed committment to fostering change this year, though company parents ActiBlizz have still seen staff walkouts over ongoing welfare concerns.