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WoW Aims to Make Dragonflight Easier to Play

  • Game Rant speaks with World of Warcraft devs Patrick Dawson and Maria Hamilton on cross-faction guilds and quality-of-life in Embers of Neltharion.

    World of Warcraft recently announced Embers of Neltharion, the very first major content patch for Dragonflight. The new update brings players to a different subterranean zone called Zaralek Cavern, where they'll discover new allies, dangerous enemies, and long-forgotten strategies of Neltharion locked away in Aberrus, the 2nd raid in Dragonflight. However, one of the greatest features of arriving Embers of Neltharion may be the long-awaited capability to make cross-faction guilds in World of Warcraft.

    Game Rant spoke with production director Patrick Dawson and lead quest designer Maria Hamilton about a few of the things arriving in the Embers of Neltharion update for World of Warcraft. The developers gave players an idea of a few of the quality-of-life and gameplay features players could anticipate in the content patch. The features they displayed are just some of the ways World of Warcraft is making the sport easier to have fun with Embers of Neltharion.

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    Cross-Faction Guilds are Coming to World of Warcraft

    Last June, World of Warcraft pulled the ripcord and lastly added cross-faction gameplay in Shadowlands Patch 9.2.5. This unprecedented move allowed Alliance and Horde players to party together, clear most dungeons and raids and take part in PvP together. By doing so, World of Warcraft effectively doubled its player population overnight by simply allowing its previously-divided users to finally party together.

    In Embers of Neltharion, cross-faction play is reaching another level with cross-faction guilds. Soon, players can have Alliance and Horde characters within the same guild. “As the sport has evolved with time,” Dawson explained, “the capability to play with your pals is a thing that's been addressed diversely, but this is probably one of the most fundamental changes we’re making to that particular.” Though Shadowlands let players party and raid together, Dragonflight allows them to share their bank, chat, events, and all sorts of other functions for World of Warcraft guilds, no matter faction allegiance.

    “Cross-Faction Guilds are something we desired to feel normal and comfy, and never something you'd to jump through hoops to complete or that’s difficult by any means.”

    Cross-faction guilds continue to be in testing, however, the new feature is working well to date. Bank access, chat, and invites will work without issue, but World of Warcraft’s biggest fears with cross-faction guilds would be the unexpected problems. “This game wasn't developed with [cross-faction guilds] in your mind,” Dawson said, “so the difficulties we’re experiencing around it are mainly related to edge cases, stuff you don’t expect.” World of Warcraft is looking toward allowing players to try out this new feature within the Patch 10.1 Public Test Realm, which recently began rolling out its first builds.

    With cross-faction guilds finally visiting World of Warcraft, you will find only a few things left that players can’t do along with both Alliance and Horde players. The character of world PvP in World of Warcraft makes cross-faction play impossible. Likewise, characters associated with the Alliance and Horde still won’t have the ability to visit faction cities without NPCs attacking them. Perhaps at some point, players may have the capability to flag themselves as friendly using the opposing faction, allowing Horde players to go to Alliance cities and the other way around.

    Making Good Things from Dragonflight Even Better

    Embers of Neltharion appear to be building upon World of Warcraft’s philosophy of concentrating on evergreen content. Rather than concentrating on single-expansion World of Warcraft features like Garrisons, Dragonflight has concentrated its efforts on improving features it may carry forward indefinitely. Talent trees, UI improvements, and also the improvements to Shadowlands’ Renown system in Dragonflight are some of the well-received features.

    Among these functions, Dragonriding continues to be one of World of Warcraft’s most widely used. Unsurprisingly, Zaralek Cavern will add a lot of new content involving Dragonriding. “It’s not only new Dragonriding races that you can get in there,” Dawson said, “but there’s also new glyphs and customizations we’ll be offering too. But the glyphs are cool simply because they allow you to obtain newer and more effective abilities.” At least among these new abilities boosts the vigor players earn while flying at high speeds near a surface, which players could get in addition to the air brake ability unlocked using the upcoming Return to the Forbidden Reach patch.

    Dragonflight can also be adding a brand new Dragonriding Drake in Embers of Neltharion. Players will generate the lithe, cloud serpent-inspired Winding Slitherdrake as part of completing the Embers of Neltharion campaign for the very first time, after which they'll unlock it for their account. According to Dawson, the Winding Slitherdrake may have access to the customizations shared by all Dragonriding drakes in World of Warcraft in addition to newer and more effective options unique to them.

    Players can also get a much easier time improving their gear in Embers of Neltharion. While they'll still have the ability to get special gear drops from dungeons, raids, along with other content, World of Warcraft is simplifying the apparatus improvement process. World of Warcraft currencies like Valor and Storm Essences are now being combined right into a single one called Flintstones. This new currency is going to be obtainable through nearly every PvE activity, and it is used to upgrade the product level of gear. Likewise, Shadowflame Crests are a brand new reagent that can be accustomed to increase a bit of gear's maximum item level a, allowing further improvement with Flintstones.

    The countdown to Patch 10.1 officially begins when Patch 10.0.7 releases on March 21. It is too soon to have an official release date planned for Embers of Neltharion, but Dawson was keen to remind players that World of Warcraft includes a schedule to help keep. “We’re devoted to doing six content updates for that year,” he asserted. This aggressive release schedule is in a faster pace of computer was for Shadowlands, but World of Warcraft hopes to follow along with its roadmap and ensure players also have something new to complete in Dragonflight.

    “That’s quite a bit to complete, but that’s also more frequent too. You’re already seeing with Return to the Forbidden Reach that’s happening only 8 weeks after the prior one, which happened only 8 weeks after launch!”

    While that’s not even close to official confirmation, it will lay out an approximate agenda for when players might expect Embers of Neltharion to visit live. If Patch 10.1 launches 8 weeks after Patch 10.0.7, Zaralek Caverns will open on May 16, give or take one or two weeks. If it hopes to help keep its ambitious patch schedule outlined in World of Warcraft’s 2023 roadmap, it may have to launch around that point to leave space for the next three updates it's planned before the end of the season. Players can get to hear much more about Embers of Neltharion within the coming weeks leading up to its release - especially as players explore Zaralek Cavern around the World of Warcraft PTR.