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Dragonflight’s first big patch delves into World of Warcraft mysteries

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world of Warcraftlatest extension of, dragonflightThere’s some plot and political conflict running through the story of Patch 10.1, which debuted on Thursday. The Embers of Neltharion patch takes players to Jaralec Cavern and the Shadowd Crucible, an ancient laboratory where the one-time Neltharion – later corrupted to become the mad dragon aspect Deathwing – tinkered with experimental lifeforms and powerful artifacts.

The patch is also full of intrigue. there is succession-style story where Deathwing’s heirs compete to become the new aspect of Black Dragonflight. They’re under pressure from a sinister trio of elemental villains – who are the funniest warcraft There have been villains over the years – and in-game cinematics to help tell these tall tales. The designers have had to put a lot of thought into how to frame these cinematics, incorporate the player character, and capture the spirit of each hero and villain. Here’s how they handle that delicate balance.

setting the scene

dragonflight A well-received expansion by fans so far, and it utilizes cinematic styles and storytelling techniques established in previous battle for azeroth And shadowlands Expansion. Cinematics have been a part of the game since they were introduced in 2008 wrath of the Lich King, They are one of the most iterated features in the game, developing from a rare treat to a narrative staple. They also play an important role in storytelling dragonflightAnd Jaralec Cavern is no exception.

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“With the emergence of Avatar, there is certainly some burden [in the dragons’] history that needs to be addressed,” says Teran Gregory, Blizzard’s lead cinematic narrative director, in an interview with Play Gamez. “By going underground, we’re coming full circle for Black Dragonflight, which has a fraught history It was and is a very challenging path, with all the things that Nefarian and Deathwing have done and the legacy of Dragonflight that their descendants have. Heirs.

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A three-headed lava hydra in World of Warcraft: Dragonflight, waiting to strike at any player who ventures too close

Image: Blizzard Entertainment

events of dragonflightThe raid sets up our main plot (for now): we’re facing the Primalist dragons, a dirty little secret from the Dragonflight’s past. These villains are much smaller in scope than previous bosses, but they’re far more fun, and they’re full of personality every time they appear in a movie. It’s a relief to be able to avoid the mysteries, cliffhangers, and multi-pronged schemes that have become staples of previous warcraft Expansion. dragonflightThe straightforward set of opponents also gives Blizzard more time to tinker with the heroes and their new allies in the Cavern.

“When we figure out what we’re going to do in an expansion, we talk a lot about who the main characters are going to be and how they’re going to expand — and sometimes — and We talk about the new villains and new allies we’re going to bring in,” says Maria Hamilton, lead game designer. The team starts with the broad strokes, and then hones in on the specifics of each story.

“As we get down to the details, we start to see what really resonates with players, what are players interested in doing, what questions are they asking,” Hamilton says.

dragons and daddy issues

world of Warcraft MMOs and earlier real-time strategy Warcraft games have a long history, and some of that old history has been pulled to the fore. dragonflight, Black Dragonflight takes center stage, and their divided leadership takes foreground. After an expansion that saw characters like Anduin, Sylvanas, and Jaina take center stage, we’re now diving into a lesser-explored dynamic between the Abyssians, Ratheon, and Sabellian, led by Black Dragonflight. These seeds were sown back in burning Crusade And mists of Pandaria Expansion.

“For example, the opportunity to dive into the story of what happened to Abyssian, or what some fans may not realize is where Wrath came from and why he wasn’t touched by the Corruption or how young he is, Relatively speaking,” says Hamilton. Things get even more complicated with the addition of the Drakthir, a new player race that hearkens back to Neltharion’s experiments.

“We wanted to pace this story throughout dragonflightpatch content,” says Hamilton. “We’re seeing this disagreement between Scale Commander Sarkareth and Sundar Flame and Amberthal, who are trying to bring people together and not fight amongst themselves. They are part of this family of Black Dragons.”

A player swoops through Jaralec Cavern on his trusty dragon steed in World of Warcraft: Dragonflight

Image: Blizzard Entertainment

These characters must come across as human – or at least be related to humans, which is no easy feat, as most of them are dragons. “The expression of characterization within world of Warcraft It’s a big team effort,” says Gregory, who describes the MMO as a “handcrafted experience.” He adds, “It’s a lot of work from the concept art, the character art team, the prop team, the animation team, the cinematic team, many, many There is a confluence of teams. Then the cinematic designer can take advantage of the art designed by all the different collaborators, stitch it together, and create these displays using whatever is in the game.

one more challenge world of WarcraftThe narrative team faces the fact that games are often dataminded, with twists and turns revealed quickly and out of context. Sometimes, these are kept under wraps, encrypted until the player experiences them all at once. Other times, player feedback is worth the spoiler, as the developers have been able to use it to tweak issues, fix errors, and shore up weak points of the stories.

“all of this [test realm content] It’s important to make sure we’re having an ongoing dialogue and creating the best content we can, and players feel heard and are happy with the game they spend so much time on,” Gregory They say.

Players are now digging into the new patch, which went live on Wednesday, to see the full content. dragonflight It continues to climb above the benchmark set by the last two expansions. The refined cinematics definitely help, and as the patches roll out, we’ll see how Blizzard sets up the next chapter.

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