Skip to main content

BlizzCon 2017 Day 1: Warcraft Gameplay and Systems

Posted 2 years, 6 months ago by Preston.

It's Day 1 of BlizzCon 2017! Everyone is expecting some big World of Warcraft news, and I'm here to provide an overview of it. Expect a gallery of slides from the Virtual Ticket stream as well as any additional insight I can provide. If you have any thoughts or feedback, please leave a comment below or tweet @PrestonDvorak.

Expect tons of spoilers ahead! If you want even more coverage, stop back tomorrow for my coverage of the Day 2 World of Warcraft panels. If you're itching for some more information, check out my Day 1: Opening Ceremony and What's Next for Warcraft article, or all of the BlizzCon articles.

Table of Contents

Island Expeditions

  • Main source of Azerite
    • From cracks occurring all across Azeroth, bleeding gold/blue substance, crystallizes into Azerite
    • Like discovering Uranium, incredibly powerful, but unsure what it can do
    • Locating Azerite
      • Find uncharted islands, Kul Tirans and Zandalari will help
      • Not all islands are undefended, locals will fight to keep control of Azerite
      • 3-player scenarios, role agnostic
        • Uses knowledge from rares spawns and open world content
      • 15-20 minutes long
      • Goals is to obtain Azerite
      • Azerite from nodes and chests, Azerite infused creatures, quest givers, and powerful bosses
  • Dynamic Replayability
    • You and your friends arrive on island
    • Island occupied by hozen, guarding Azerite
    • Find a starfish you can throw at an enemy to stun them
    • Shrine you can click on to gain a buff, also comes with a debuff you can't remove until it expires
      • Extra damage, but reduced armor
    • Large crab guarding Azerite, more difficult enemy with larger reward
    • Endless possibilities on how to handle the scenario
    • Island Features: creatures, capture points, chests and nodes, questgivers, consumables and shrines, variables start locations, caves, ships, portals, and more
    • Scenario is different every time, but is generated in a way that still tells a story based on what's there
  • When you arrive on an island, so does the other faction
    • Team of three AI players, PvP option available
    • Other faction takes Azerite, decreasing your overall haul
    • Creates a time pressure
    • Faction Champions will feel unique to play against, and feel like they have personalities
    • New AI not able to be kited away, has tactical ability usage, knowledge of map objectives, allowing for strategic decision making
    • AI difficulties: Normal, Heroic, Mythic
  • Two islands so far
    • Un'gol Ruins
    • Havenswood

Heart of Azeroth, Azerite Armor

  • Players given Heart of Azeroth by Magni Bronzebeard
  • Focal point of character progression, much like Artifact Weapons
  • Heart of Azeroth is empowered by Azerite, and in turn also empowers Azerite Armor
    • Azerite comes from quests, PvP, dungeons, island expeditions, and more
    • Automatically applied to the Heart, no items to click
  • Azerite Armor
    • Contains four tiers of power-ups, multiple choices in the first three tiers, tiers are not random
      • Gear has the same layout as item level increases, but power-ups are more powerful
    • Each tier has a similar theme (i.e. survivability)
      • Example, choose between Ghost Wolf speed upon taking damage versus better Astral Shift
    • Heart of Azeroth never changes, so no progression setback with new gear


Tell the story of war on the home land, unlike Island Expeditions which tell the story of skirmishes abroad.

  • 20-player cooperative instanced scenarios, Alliance versus Horde, all out war, RTS feel
  • The State of Eastern Kingdom, Warfront: Stromgarde
    • Undercity in ruins
    • Alliance have control over Eastern Kingdoms, Arathi Highlands is key to stopping them
    • Alliance: Undercity isn't defensible, threat of Horde remains, must cut off Silvermoon City
    • Horde: Must make a stand, prevent Alliance from building up, Undercity is launching point for Gilneas attacks
  • How Warfronts will play out
    • First step: Alliance build Town Hall, Horde build Great Hall
    • Second step: gather resources, take territory, build your base
      • Personally contribute resources to the building you want to build
    • Third step: build your army, lead them into battle, kill enemy commander
    • Variables: random commanders, battle events, different war technologies researched outside Warfronts

Social Features

  • Guilds are working well overall
  • Want to make it easier to communicate and connect, lots of separate social structures not always taking place inside one guild
  • Voice integrated into Warcraft
    • Same Voice used in Overwatch
    • New name pop-up near chat frame to see who's talking
  • WoW Communities
    • Character-specific groups
    • Cross-server
    • Can be in multiple groups at once, and in your guild
    • Voice integrated
    • Similar management features to guilds
      • Roles, calendar management, member roster
  • Text chat history being added to the game, able to see history of all community chats
  • New for guilds too: voice integration, chat history
  • Groups available in game

Comment on BlizzCon 2017 Day 1: Warcraft Gameplay and Systems