World of Warcraft game director Ion Hazzikostas says Blizzard knows it messed up with Warlords of Draenor, but believes that the Legion expansion can make it right.
This year's BlizzCon has concluded and by most accounts, it was another success for Blizzard Entertainment. The developer finally unveiled a new hero named Sombra for Overwatch and also pulled back the curtain on the Necromancer, a new playable class for Diablo 3. Blizzard's longtime flagship title, World of Warcraft, also received some love via a "What's Next" panel where game director Ion Hazzikostas took the stage to unveil Patch 7.2 The Tomb of Sargeras.
Blizzard developers and Hazzikostas in particular, have been adamant about World of Warcraft: Legion not having a content drought after release like the last expansion Warlords of Draenor did. To that end, Hazzikostas went over a long list of upcoming additions to the game, including a new raid, a new dungeon and new PvP content. The presentation seemed to go over well with WoW fans but that didn't stop Hazzikostas from going into further detail during an interview with Destructoid this weekend.
The game director said Blizzard learned a lot of valuable lessons from the failures of Draenor. He explained that Blizzard had wanted to start shipping new expansions on a faster timetable but ultimately admitted that was a mistake. He noted that the rush to create a new expansion ended up leaving a lot of players behind in Draenor.
"People change... People who were once hardcore raiders now have families, and might not have time to play as much as they did. They want casual content. So if you wanted to do dungeons, you were basically out of luck with Draenor. You only had a small pool of content to go with, and although we think we did a good job with our raids, we lost sight of just about everything else and just didn't deliver. Mistakes were made, that's a fact."
But Hazzikostas quickly pivoted to the new approach Blizzard is taking with Legion and noted that there is now content, like world quests, that is much easier for any player to go through at his or her own pace.
"World quests are a direct response to that...they're something that anyone can do at any time, and it's a brand new progression path for people to follow if they only have a certain amount of time per week to dedicate to the game," he said. "This is a complicit storytelling method that allows an additional way to play the game and it's something we're going to stick with basically for the life of the game. It's here to stay."
This year's BlizzCon wasn't the first time Blizzard demonstrated their new commitment to WoW in Legion. The developer released Patch 7.1, Return to Karazhan, just a few weeks ago. The patch brings back the popular Karazhan raid zone from the Burning Crusade era, only this time it's been re-created as a 5-man dungeon so it's even more accessible. Return to Karazhan was announced with a teaser trailer in late summer, about two weeks before the Legion launch, just so fans would know that more content was already on the way.
That's a far cry from what happened after the final patch in Warlords of Draenor. A new raid and outdoor zone were introduced in June 2015 but then players had to wait more than a year to get significant new content with Legion's arrival. Between the Karazhan patch and the upcoming plans for The Tomb of Sargeras and beyond, it's clear Blizzard is really trying to keep its promises to fans with frequent Legion updates. World of Warcraft may be a 12-year-old game but if the Irvine, California developer can keep this up, there are millions of former players who could still potentially return home to Azeroth.
World of Warcraft is out now on PC and Mac.