Blizzard has detailed World of Warcraft’s next expansion, Dragonflight, which will be taking adventurers on a journey to the long-lost Dragon Isles, and introducing a new playable race-class hybrid and flyable dragons along the way. Additionally, the developer has confirmed 2008’s Wrath of the Lich King expansion will come to World of Warcraft Classic later this year.
First, Dragonflight, which grants access to the long-hidden ancestral home of dragonkind, the Dragon Isles, recently reawakened following a period of calamity for Azeroth. This new region – described as lush and primal, bursting with elemental energy – will incorporate everything from icy wastes and magma areas to lush forests and vibrant coasts across its four standard areas (bringing the likes of new dungeons and raids) and new starting zone.
The Dragon Isles starting area is home to the Dracthyr Evokers, a new playable race-class hybrid that will begin their WoW journey at level 58 and can align with either the Horde or the Alliance. Evokers will have two customisable forms – their draconic avatars used in battle, plus humanoid forms deployed when interacting with Azeroth’s inhabitants – and, depending on players’ chosen class specialisations, can either focus on damage dealing or healing.
Visitors to the Dragon Isles can also acquire a customisable dragon as a companion, introducing a new skill-based flight system. The latter is designed to be “much more exciting” than previous mounts, and can be upgraded to increase the likes of flight speed and distance.
Alongside Dragonflight’s core new features, Blizzard is also promising improvements for some of World of Warcraft’s existing mechanics, including revamps for the game’s talent system, improved professions (with new tools including player-driven work orders, new profession equipment, and an all-new specialisation system), plus an updated UI.
There’s no launch window for Dragonflight just yet, but Blizzard says it’ll be holding an opt-in alpha ahead of release. In the meantime, you can get a more thorough look at the expansion’s additions across various deep-dive developer videos on the WoW YouTube channel.
Alongside the official unveiling of Dragonflight, Blizzard has also confirmed World of Warcraft Classic will be seeing a re-release of 2008 WoW expansion, the Wrath of the Lich King, later this year. In addition to its original content, which included the likes of new zones Borean Tundra or Howling Fjord, Blizzard is introducing an improved version of the Barber Shop, achievements, a boost to level 70 for those that didn’t play the Burning Crusade Classic, and personal arena ratings for PvP players. One thing that won’t be resurfacing, however, is the Dungeon Finder feature originally seen in patch 3.3.5, with Blizzard citing the community’s focus on “the importance of social bonds” as the reason behind its absence.
Dragonflight and WoW Classic’s Lich King expansion are, of course, the latest in a string of reveals from Activision in recent months – including its imminent Overwatch 2 beta, a new mobile Warcraft experience, and a new Blizzard-developed survival game – as the company attempts to put the last nine months of shocking allegations into its workplace culture behind it.
Following a State of California lawsuit filing last July, which described Activision Blizzard as a “breeding ground for harassment and discrimination against women”, almost immediately sending the publisher into crisis, CEO Bobby Kotick became the focus of a damning report claiming he was aware of sexual misconduct within the company “for years”. More recently, the parents of a former Activision Blizzard employee who committed suicide during a company retreat in 2017 launched a lawsuit suing the publisher for wrongful death, alleging the suicide was the result of sexual harassment by work colleagues.
Last month, a US district court judge said they were “prepared to approve” Activision Blizzard’s $18m USD settlement of a separate sexual harassment lawsuit filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission last year, despite objections from other parties, but events took a further dramatic turn earlier this month when the governor of California was accused of interfering to support Activision Blizzard in the state discrimination and harassment lawsuit that kickstarted the publisher’s woes.