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WoWMay 8, 2018 10:00 am CT

Production director John Hight discusses Battle for Azeroth

The folks at PC Gamer recently did an interview with World of Warcraft production director John Hight about the upcoming Battle for Azeroth expansion you may have heard rumors about. I kid, it’s all anyone is talking about and we’re all starved for more details. So thanks to the folks at PC Gamer and Mr. Hight, we now have a new interview to poke and prod and pour over endlessly scrutinizing it for every scrap of information we can glean.

What did Mr. Hight say in this interview? I think it’s safe to say that there will be spoilers for Battle for Azeroth from here on out, so if you’re not interested in knowing anything about said expansion, read no further. Seriously.

Guys, I’m not kidding. We’re going to have spoilers. You have been warned.

Why does the Alliance fight?

One of the fascinating things in this interview is Mr. Hight’s focus on the Alliance’s motivations for war. We know that Sylvanas attacks first, driving deep into Ashenvale and Darkshore before finally burning Teldrassil. Only afterwards does the Alliance attack Lordaeron. But Mr. Hight definitely focused on the Alliance in this reply.

Now that that big enemy has been defeated, I think the Alliance are returning to a point where they can explore that thinking of, ‘We felt betrayed, we lost our king’. And, of course, Anduin is coming into his own as a young man – he certainly misses the presence of his father, but he recognises his responsibility as king, and one of the first things on his mind is to get some redemption for what happened.

A lot of players have speculated about who was ultimately behind the Alliance’s drive into Lordaeron. A lot of us have felt that it must be Genn. But this answer definitely points to a change in Anduin’s behavior going into Battle for Azeroth. The new King of Stormwind may be more like his father than anyone had previously thought. Especially now that he’s had time to brood on Varian’s death, and the Horde’s role in it.

That’s interesting because it hints that while Teldrassil might be the pretext for the war, once it gets rolling, the Alliance may turn out to be the more aggressive of the two factions. Years and years of Horde aggression paid back in kind for once. I think both Horde and Alliance players might enjoy it if the Alliance are the aggressors for once.

Legion, Battle for Azeroth and beyond

It’s also pointed out yet again that they plan their expansions out well in advance. Hight uses the phrase “two or three expansions ahead.” So what we’re looking at in Battle for Azeroth is absolutely something they knew they were doing well before Legion was even out yet. And that means they know what they’re likely going to do after the coming expansion is finished.

Another point that interested me was how Battle for Azeroth is going to depart from Legion in terms of storytelling. Due to the nature of the threat to all of Azeroth in Legion, by necessity there were not too many faction based deviations from the story you experience. Alliance or Horde, with the exception of some of Stormheim, you basically got the same quests and the same story. That’s not the case this time, not at all.

In Legion, you had the choice to go to whatever levelling zone you wanted, but whether you were Horde or Alliance you experienced a lot of the same content, and the majority of the content was designed so that it could be played by either faction. But in Battle for Azeroth, there are distinct storylines for the Horde and for the Alliance.

Players from each faction eventually go to explore the other faction’s zones. They do so as intruders, and the stories they experience there are very different. There’s a great deal of variance between them. That’s an interesting way to make use of the faction conflict without forcing players into PVP. When you go to the Zandalari zones as an Alliance player, you’re there as an enemy agent plotting against the Horde and their new allies and the story changes accordingly. Same for Horde who go to Kul Tiras. You still get to see and explore those zones, but you do so in a completely different way.

Our Allies, ourselves

Another intersting tidbit came in the discussion of Allied Races. I was surprised to find out they already have the Allied Races all planned out. They may go back and come up with more later. But for right now, they know which ones they’re going to include in the near future. They haven’t included all of them in the files yet because they’re aware of how well dataminers like the folks at Wowhead do their jobs. But they know internally who we’re getting next. Another point that he made, however, made me feel quite hopeful for the future. When asked if the team paid attention to what players are speculating about Allied Races:

Oh yeah, definitely, it’s actually a lot of fun. There are even cases of people speculating about something they’ve seen in Hearthstone and being positive it’ll pop up in WoW. But you know, sometimes the chatter influences us itself. The decision to put in Dark Iron Dwarves was very much based on players saying for years that they’ve wanted to play that particular look of dwarf, and have been very disappointed that we never gave it to them.

So if you’re desperate for the Horde to get playable Naga, now’s the time to get people talking about it, it seems.

There’s a lot more detail to discover in PC Gamer’s interview with production director John Hight, so head on over and take a read if you’re looking for more news about Battle for Azeroth. 

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