World of Warcraft: Battle for Azeroth is about to release its last major expansion update. Visions of N’Zoth (also known as patch 8.3) will be released on January 14.
This update is adding a lot, like the new Ny’alotha raid. This causes players to unite to fight the old god N’Zoth and put an end to the history of Battle for Azeroth. It also presents two new Allied races, the Vulpera type fox and Mechagnomes of half machine. In addition to all that, players can fight through corrupt versions of the main cities Stormwind and Orgrimmar in the new Horrific Visions, which support one to five players.
Visions of N’Zoth presents a tempting update to bring back WoW fans who have spent most of their time in Classic. World of Warcraft Classic was launched in August, allowing people to revisit the previous days of the MMORPG. But 8.3 has to do with the future, and I talked with senior game producer Mike Bybee and lead narrative designer Steve Danuser about this massive update.
Back from the past
GamesBeat: For someone who has been playing WoW Classic since its release, like me, what is your release to come back and see Visions of N’Zoth when it launches?
Mike Bybee: For me personally, I would say that one of the things that modern WoW has that is fun and exciting is a lot of compelling stories linked to systems that are very specific. For example, the Visions of N’Zoth update has a great narrative arc that you can play from the first moment when you log in to the patch as a top-level character. There are lots of excellent gaming systems that relate to N & # 39; Zoth and the corruption of the ancient gods, including elements that are corrupt and corrupt scenarios that you can run alone or with your friends, or dungeons that N & # 39; It has corrupted. Zoth All these things come together in a really interesting way that makes the whole update feel fresh and new.
Steve Danuser: As you explore the Classic, many of the Classic's dungeons actually focused on things that were under the influence of the Ancient Gods. Things like Ahn’Qiraj. The ancient gods were one of the great threats of that original world. We have addressed it over the years. Things like Ulduar during the Wrath of the Lich King. But this is the opportunity to really face the last of those four original ancient gods that threatened the world. In a way, Visions of N’Zoth attracts threats where we lay the first bases during the Classic timeline. It's great to pay many of those stories with this great villain that threatens the world.
GamesBeat: N’Zoth is a great villain. Why not make the expansion a direct expansion of N & # 39; Zoth, instead of making fun of him from the beginning?
Goodbye: One of the interesting things about working at WoW is that we can play with the long stories. Battle for Azeroth was more than just the expansion of N’Zoth. There was a lot of narrative about the Horde and Alliance sides, tons of great stories that we could share with the players, with which people were really excited. And it is also an ancient expansion of gods. It was fun to be able to do it: instead of just one and that's it, here's the story, we could stretch it over time and bring people with us and get them excited, ask them and compromise them. Hopefully, they are now very satisfied with the end of that story.
Danuser: We discuss different ways and ideas on how to tell the story of N’Zoth, but one of the things we really feel is that, for a villain like N’Zoth, this update feels like a horror story, in a way. There is a monster theme. Sometimes, monsters are more frightening when you get them in small concentrated doses, rather than a story that goes on for a much longer experience. In this way, we want to give you a full version of N & # 39; Zoth, where you will see his influence, his tendrils, literally and figuratively weaving around the world and changing places that mean a lot to our heroes, that's great and convincing. way to tell your story and make it look like there's a lot at stake.
When you finally get to Ny’alotha and see what madness lurks inside him and what he wants the world to change, that's a powerful thing to see. That might not have been so cool and amazing if it were diluted during a longer experience. We believe this is an excellent way to tell your story.
GamesBeat: Now that the war campaign is over, will we see the two factions cooperate more with each other?
Danuser: The Battle for Azeroth was about these two sides fighting for the destiny of the world and really shaping what their future would be. Although we have seen them together to face the threat of Azshara, in Rise of Azshara, and now the Visions of N & # 39; Zoth manifesting and threatening Azeroth as a whole, out of necessity they had to put that truce on the table. and leave the fight aside. But many of those things that have developed in recent years, and in previous years, in terms of the conflict between the Horde and the Alliance, those will not disappear.
War is something that deeply affects cultures. We will see the themes and repercussions of what happened in Battle for Azeroth on a character level, through these legendary characters that inhabit our world, and the cultures and regions and factions that inhabit it. There will be much to deal with in the long term with the events that happened in Battle for Azeroth and some of the choices that were made. It will not be an easy road for many of these characters.
GamesBeat: One of the most interesting criticisms in history that I have seen is that the Horde is becoming too easy for some of the atrocities they have committed, especially at the beginning of the war. Will there be more than one settling of accounts along the way?
Danuser: I don't want to get into too much spoiler territory, but you'll see, in the later stages of Visions of N & # 39; Zoth, later in history, you'll see the perspectives of world leaders and how they are joining. At first it may seem that the Horde under Sylvanas' leadership did very terrible things, and why are they not held responsible now? Well, you will see some different perspectives on this from the side of the Alliance. You may see Anduin, someone who has fought for peace throughout his life, to have an opinion about it, while someone like Tyrande, whose culture was devastated by what Sylvanas did, will have much more difficulty accepting some of these things. That is definitely: those differences in the way the various Alliance leaders, and some of the Horde leaders, see what happened, will be key to some of the stories in the future.
GamesBeat: What is the biggest goal for this patch? Is it about finishing a story, or is it about making a transition from the narrative to the Shadowlands?
Goodbye: I think there are many goals with this content update. In terms of the history of the ancient gods, there is definitely: we are bringing everything that happened in the behind-the-scenes war campaign, giving players what we hope is a really satisfactory conclusion for that element, while we always look to the future. . One of the best things about this game is that the story continues. There are new characters that you are shocked, but we are always trying to make sure that players understand that the world is bigger than a moment or a person. There are always things that continue beyond that.
Danuser: One thing we have tried to do is evolve our narration with WoW. The previous expansions were very independent experiences. Burning Crusade began and concluded. It seemed that we closed that book and then opened the next one for Wrath of the Lich King. In more recent expansions, we have deliberately established threads that continue. Events in Pandaria led to Warlords of Draenor. The warlords led a lot to the Legion. That is a trend we want to continue.
While Visions of N’Zoth closes many of the main themes of Battle for Azeroth, there are still many threads that we are carrying out from this expansion that will lead forward. We believe it is a convincing way to tell the story of this living and breathing world that has these very identifiable characters that so many players have come to love and care about. This is a great opportunity to tell your story and share your perspectives on the world of Azeroth and the kingdoms beyond.
GamesBeat: We are getting the Vulpera as an allied race, which is a new type of character race that you presented before the launch of Battle for Azeroth. Did you plan on being one all the time?
Goodbye: I think the best way to describe it is an ongoing conversation. When we entered Battle for Azeroth, we knew we wanted to make the concept of allied races, and we talked a lot about the different races that made sense. As we built one allied race after another, we learned things that worked well and didn't work well. We also began to receive comments from players about what they wanted to see. It was a combination of all those factors while we united them. I can tell you that Vulpera as an allied race was something that the team really wanted from the beginning, and they were very passionate. We are very excited to see it in nature. Personally, I am very excited to play vulpera. I've been playing Alliance for the most part recently, but I've been trying to convince my friends to switch to Horde so I can play vulpera. I have not succeeded yet, but that is the plan.
Danuser: To see how the fans held on to the Vulpera from the beginning, there was a lot of love for them and their caravans and alpacas and all that. The aesthetics of the Vulpera was something that people loved from day one. Being able to take that as a playable option is something that the team is very excited about. Many of them wanted this as an option, and we think it's a good time to do it.
GamesBeat: Many of the other Allied races are variants of an existing race with which we are familiar, such as Dark Iron Dwarves, Void Elves, things like that. Was it more challenging to create a more unique race?
Goodbye: There are definitely some challenges. It may be a minor problem, but the boots, for example, did you know that we have to fit every pair of boots that have been made to make sure they fit all Vulpera feet? With the quadriceps and the way their feet work, we had to make sure it worked for all of them, and that was a bit challenging. But, again, that is part of the things we learned to improve as we go through all these allied races. There were some challenges and some things we did that were not as challenging as we thought.
Danuser: We also considered when the time was right to present some of these careers. When you had something like the Mag & # 39; har Orcs, for example, they are a warrior race. The Horde was looking to increase their numbers for this war, so it made sense to go look for them from the beginning and make them a central part of, hey, we need bodies in the front, and these people would be incredible soldiers, so let's do that. While something that the Vulpera would not have made so much sense from the beginning, because as amazing as they may be, they are probably not what you think first when you think of the frontline soldiers for this effort.
But following a world that has changed and has seen the repercussions of the war and is bringing something new to the table, the Visions of N’Zoth update made perfect sense to present them at this time. Mechagnomes are a similar thing. They were not essential to the battle part of BfA, but they really stood out in Mechagon, and people loved their history and appearance. It was a great turn in the gnome culture and allowed us to explore it further. It was a good time to make them a playable option as an allied race.
GamesBeat: Before this expansion, you would see players complain that certain racial leaders are not a prominent enough part of the story. With all these allied races, you have almost doubled the number of leaders and races that should be represented in history. Is that discouraging?
Danuser: From the point of view, we like to give each of these races and characters the right time to shine. We don't like to fit them into stories if they don't feel they should be part of it. We like to tell stories that seem to play with the strengths of these characters. One of the great joys of working at WoW is that we have this great palette, this huge list of characters and cultures to turn to to tell stories. In some of those stories, it makes sense to use the great brutal races or tell stories related to the elves and their many descendants. It's really about choosing the right moment and situation to use each of these heroes and these cultures and make it part of the world. The Vulpera, the Mechagnomes, simply give us more tools to play and more opportunities to tell different types of stories than we could have in the past.
GamesBeat: The Vulpera gets a lot of attention, but what would you say are some of the most interesting things about Mechagnomes?
Goodbye: Mechagnomes are fun. Simply, the way they look, the history, their background, their interest in modifying their bodies but maintaining the core of who they are, I think they are very interesting. One thing as to its appearance is different, when you put on the armor like a Mechagnome, there are certain parts of the armor that will not be displayed, because you still have the mechanical parts that you will avoid, and that changes the appearance of the character in comparison With any other character out there. That is interesting. For people who like the peculiar sensation of fun that the Mechagnomes bring, it is an excellent option.
Danuser: They stand out for themselves really well and have their own appearance, but they are also linked to some of the central stories that have been in WoW for a long time. His background is linked to the curse of the flesh, which is something that is relevant to the history of the Ancient Gods, no doubt. But it is something that changed many cultures in Azeroth and altered its history in many tangible ways. To see that story brought to this local struggle of father and son, this idea of, what does it mean to improve? How can you interpret that, in good and bad ways? It is a great fundamental story to tell, and being able to do it through this new culture that has been introduced has been a lot of fun. It gives us a perspective in which, if we had approached it through a different race, an existing one, it would not have come out in the same way. It may not have been so much fun.
Assaulting the ancient god
GamesBeat: Update 8.3 will have the new foray with Ny’Alotha. Is it challenging to design the last foray of an expansion?
Goodbye: It is definitely different. I was a little involved in the development of the raid for the last raid on Legion, and then I also worked on it with Ny’Alotha. What I can tell you is that the team really cares a lot about keeping the promise of expansion. Many times, when people gather to talk about these end-of-expansion attacks, the words I hear are: this has to be the most epic. He has accomplished everything we have been saying. You have to keep the story. I am surprised again and again how well these guys are doing in everything from art to bosses and the design of real encounters. Ny’Alotha has this amazing sky box from the rest of the Black Empire in the distance, with tentacles and ziggurats and all kinds of sinister things. You really feel that you are in another world. And then the boss fights are absolutely incredible. They are super fun to play and the art is great. The team does a phenomenal job. Yes, it is a challenge, and I am impressed by how we will unite.
Danuser: Each raid is special for us. We choose those places. We debate them. We talk about bosses. The amount of hours we spent talking about these things and planning and iterating on art and experience and what the fights will be, we couldn't calculate that amount for you. It is a great deal of affection and passion that applies to each and every one of them. But it is true that the end of the expansion incursion tends to unite many threads and close many of the stories that have accumulated over time. That was certainly true for Legion, and it is very true for Battle for Azeroth.
People have been waiting a long time to see what Ny’Alotha is and what N’Zoth really wants and what threat it represents. To be able to gather everything in this incredible place that looks so phenomenal, it seems that the book of chronicles that arose around you opened up and absorbed you. It is really amazing what our artists have been able to achieve here. Seeing that come alive and see how much passion everyone has poured into the whole team is something that gives us energy. We can't wait for fans to play it.
GamesBeat: What makes this raid stand out from some of the other raids?
Goodbye: There are some things in general. One thing is the raid structure. We return to the option where you can choose different routes. Another thing is the raid issues that have to do with people who have been their allies, who have been corrupted. That is something interesting that we have not been able to explore so much in past raids. And then I think that the end of the raid goes back to Cataclysm and the fight with Deathwing, where you really fight N & # 39; Zoth twice, in a very real way, because it's too big, too threatening, too ominous to be something that you can simply punch in the face several times and defeat. There are many dimensions in that encounter, and I love that we were able to explore that in different ways. So there are actually two different disparate encounters with N’Zoth in the raid. And honestly, to hit it again, I think art is phenomenal. Every person I've seen entering that raid the first time, the first thing they say is, wow. It just looks great.
Danuser: Many times with our bad boys, for these raids, we are infiltrating their den. We have discovered where they are and we are trying to eliminate their power base or whatever. Ny’Alotha is a very different concept. N’Zoth is inviting us in. He wants to show us what he thinks is a better future for our world, a better structure to build, a better pattern by which we, the champions of Azeroth, should move on. It is not like a typical bad guy trying to expel us. All about this is that we demonstrate our value to N’Zoth as this manic entity that wants to reshape reality. Instead of players being an impediment to that, they are actually part of their scheme. To see how to play in this really trivial and mind-blowing way, it is something that makes it stand out from other raids that have happened before.
GamesBeat: There are many other features in this expansion. Outside of what we talked about, can you tell me something new that excites you more?
Goodbye: I will just say, Horrific Visions, what we have done with it is very interesting. I have been able to see how this comes together. They have been working on it for a long time, and it has really reached a point where it feels very refined, very polished, very funny. It's one of these pieces of content: many WoW elements are things you do regularly. You do world missions. You do dungeons on a regular basis. One thing that is interesting about horrible visions is that you can do it yourself, or you can do it with friends. You can do it with five or two or three of you. It allows you to have that flexibility, so it is not stuck in a specific group size. At the same time, every time you do it, change. You can go further. You can unlock different skills. You can even reach a point where you can put on masks and make the experience even more difficult, to get better rewards. It has been created from scratch as a piece of repeatable content. More than anything else in this update, I'm super excited to see the horrible visions and make them over and over again and have a lot of fun with my friends.
Danuser: Finally, seeing Ny’Alotha come alive is a big part for me. That is something I have thought and written about, and planted seeds for a long time. In many ways, these content updates try to see things come true, things we have hinted at, planned or imagined. Seeing them come alive as something players can experience is very rewarding. This is very funny. Just seeing N’Zoth as a character has been such a memorable influence in our world for so long. See it manifest through these familiar places to threaten the Stormlands and Orgrimmar and the Valley and all this influence reshaping this world and what that could mean, and the impact it caused on the minds of these characters for which we care and want to fight – seeing what the repercussions of all that are, it will be a lot of fun from the perspective of the story. Whatever the result for Visions of N’Zoth, the threads will continue for a long time. It gives us some great stories to tell in the future.