Legion Q&A with Ion Hazzikostas

June 21, 2016 9:13 pm Published by

The weekly Legion Q&A kicks off with Ion Hazzikostas!

Assistant Game Director Ion “Watcher” Hazzikostas kicked off the first week of World of Warcraft: Legion Q&A. He was once the Lead Encounter Designer for dungeons and raids but has since moved on to help with overseeing the majority of the game’s development. His primary responsibilities included contributing to the overall vision of the game.

There is no scheduled release time for Patch 7.0.3 at this time. The pre-patch will be along the same lines of previous expansion with it going live a number of weeks in advance.

Will personal loot be tradable (within your raid) if you’ve already acquired that loot before?

Yes, and improvement on personal loot. In Legion, if players get an item from a boss with personal loot on that isn’t an upgrade or is a duplicate, it will be tradeable.

What happened to making leveling as a healer better?

Healers have been improved in Legion with sustainable damage thanks to Artifact Traits. The goal is to not have healers do as much damage as damage roles, but to have them on the get through zones at the same reasonable speed.

What is the plan for preventing major content droughts going forward – particularly at the end of an expansion?

It’s a priority for the development team, but a difficult question to answer. In the past, they tried to have expansion turn around faster, however, time is required to go into making quality expansions with polish. Especially with the new systems and classes being added.

Legion will have a lot more patch content that will keep players busier as the next thing is worked on.

Will Blizzard be sticking with a tighter release schedule from expansion to expansion as was announced at BlizzCon? I think it was one per year?

Yearly expansions are not the best thing for Warcraft players. They need time to explore the world and developers to make a satisfying expansion.

Are you still planning on releasing Thal’dranath in a later patch?

This was an elven ruined island that had been shown in earlier maps but has since gone away. The concept was heavy fel-presence, but this is found elsewhere in the Broken Isles. A better idea came up and there will be other cool places to explore in later patches.

Will you continue to add content to Suramar during Legion?

Yes, this ties in with polishing out an expansion as there are stories that need to be told and fleshed out. Warlords of Draenor was a lot of lost opportunities with finishing out the tales of the Draenor denizens.

What is the design reason for implementing BOP (bind on pickup) crafting materials instead of BOA (bind on account) if the profession you gather it from is unable to use it?

There will be more ways to get Blood of Sargeras that will be accessible for all players. The idea is to give market power to the crafters with BOP materials. This will be vastly different from the Garrison self-sufficient concept from Warlords.

Next week’s Q&A will focus on Professions and Senior Game Designer Paul Kubit will go into more detail.

People give feedback wanting LESS random, why did you decide to make more random drops i.e. PvP gear or Legendary pieces?

There’s two sides of the spectrum for loot. One side, you grind reputation and currency and finish X, you get the item as certainty. The opposite end allows for surprise and excitement rather than a structured gear set up.

Randomness did not work out very well for PvP gear in past expansions meant you dropped in competitiveness. But now PvP is balanced separately and gear is less important. However, PvP gear won’t be useless in the rest of the Warcraft experience.

There have been suggestions about “rng protection” for farming legendary item drops in Legion. Will it be possible to target legendaries, and can you tell us anything about this?

Legendaries are meant to be random and capture the spirit of World Drops from early Warcraft. There will be bad-luck protection and the team is going to cut off the super-unlucky tail of that bell curve. Targeting for legendaries will not be part of the system at launch, but it could be something for later in the expansion.

Why did you decide to allow legendary items to be active for the first few weeks of Mythic raid progression? Are you not concerned with the effects that could have on competitive Mythic progression race?

Blizzard wants players to be able to use as many of their tools as possible, and that includes legendaries. However, legendaries will have a limit of 1 to protect against extreme luck swings. The items will be powerful, but won’t be out of line with other power disparities. The winner of the race will be based on skill/dedication, not on random item luck like experienced in past results.

Are you going to release pristine servers so veterans like myself can enjoy the game again? I do NOT mean legacy. I beg you, Blizz.

The pristine server was an idea to understand what the community wanted/missed, but the idea was not aimed at the core legacy server audience—ones that want old talent trees, totem acquisition questline. It was more focused on the social aspect of the game, content speed. Might not require its own unique server and instead will be put into the current game.

Pristine server idea isn’t necessarily dead, but don’t anticipate it in the near future. But the team is learning from the discussion that will help improve the base game for everyone.

How do you foresee the management of alts during Legion? Will you make the highest level of Artifact Knowledge apply to alts or something or do you expect players to invest twice the time for two characters?

Legion will be the most alt-friendly expansion because of the diversity and replayability of content. Players will be able to play through different zone paths, Order Campaigns, Class Halls, and the Artifacts themselves.

However, Artifact Knowledge is not account-wide. It will only apply to all artifacts on one character. As a catch-up mechanic, each week that passes after the expansion launches, the speed up rate at which Artifact Knowledge can be gained (ex: early research could take 5 days, then it would go down to 4, 3, 2, etc.).

Many of us run a second spec for our raid teams. Could you clarify how “catch-up” mechanics will operate in order to allow us to maintain a viable second spec with its associated artifact power and abilities?

There will be several dozen levels to go through with Artifact Knowledge. Players will get increasingly large bonuses for Artifact Power gained, but the cost will go up the farther into the Artifact Knowledge goes.

For example, if a player focuses on their main role/spec’s primary weapon and they’re 20 traits in and have a certain knowledge level, they can determine if they want to buy 1 trait on their main weapon or 5 traits on the alt one that is lagging behind.

By switching between the different Artifacts players may have to make some sacrifices. But there is a reward value for players who dedicate themselves 100% to one spec. This will be different for those used to playing multiple specs.

Any plans to allow daggers and/or fist weapons to transmog with 1h swords, axes, maces?

There are still no plans to allow it, it’s mostly due to the animation constraints. However, some Artifact Weapon skins unlock a different weapon type.

Will Valor and Valor Upgrades be returning in Legion?

No plans right now for Valor, but it could make a return at the end of expansion. Valor Upgrades can sometimes get in the way and complicate choices as players progress through raid tiers.

What is the fate of Time-walking dungeons and all the weekly calendar events? If time-walking is gone, will we no longer be able to collect the rewards from them?

Time-walking will be expanded moving forward, so it is definitely not going away. They’ll be changed up a little bit to reflect Legion’s focus. That being said, they’ll go on a brief hiatus to give players a chance to explore at the start of the expansion and will return around September/October.

Do you see another stat-squish in the near-future? The numbers seem to be getting pretty big from what I’ve seen of Legion.

The development team will probably need to do another squish in the next expansion. This will also be an opportunity to look at the combat system and stats to come up with a more elegant solution instead of the band-aid solution.

What ways are legendaries obtainable?

Simply put, playing the game. There are a wide variety of sources—killing bosses, PvP strongboxes, world quests, world bosses—anything. There will still be some gear that will be available as boss drops and reputation vendors, but players can still get lucky.

How do you feel about the current rate of acquisition of relics in Legion? Currently, you can’t get relics from World quests, aside from some PvP ones, so your only choice is dungeons and eventually, raids.

Relics are the items that players will socket into their Artifact Weapons to increase the item level of it while boosting a certain trait. They’ll serve the same role as weapon drops in past expansions, so they’ll be a bit rare. Relics should be available on the World Quest loot table, just uncommon.

Are you planning on adding spell specific animations to casters (like you have already given to fury warriors)?

The focus started off with melee characters and spell casters will be getting improved visual effects and custom animations. This will be done piece-by-piece and will come out over coming patches and expansions.

What steps (if any) are you taking to ensure multiple specs within pure DPS classes like Mages and Hunters remain competitive?

Beta is currently in full swing with numerical balance passes. All specs should perform effectively for most content with the mentality of playing whatever is most enjoyable for the player.

Will the Titanforged gear be present with raid gear as well or just dungeons?

This is part of everything—World quests, PvP rewards, dungeons, whatever is out in Legion. This adds a small incentive for well-geared players to help out as there is always a chance for that characters could get stronger.

Can we get a better idea of whether flying will be able to be unlocked early, middle, or late into the Legion patch release cycle (i.e. late = last content patch)?

The rough idea is middle. There will be more content, patches to come out. And players can work on Pathfinder achievement right at launch.

Can we still expect changes on class mechanics/talents at this time or are you focusing now on tuning only?

The focus is on tuning mostly as launch approaches. Mechanic changes can still happen later in patch cycles to solve those problems going forward.

After playing beta I have noticed that a lot of the interface options have been removed from the default UI and so I’m wondering whether this is just a temporary thing whilst you change stuff or are some of these old options going for good?

Many of these options are gone for good since many were niche options that many players didn’t utilize. Advanced users can still set options with console commands, or via addons.

Will the two priest healing specs be equal and not one required for raiding and the other almost ignored?

They will be equal in a sense. The last few expansions Discipline vs Holy has been tough in the past. Holy Priests were useful, but didn’t do anything unique. Disc Priests had unique benefit and did incredibly well, which meant if a player was a healing Priest, they should be Disc.

With Legion, Holy will be a more versatile healer while Disc will be a healer/damage hybrid.

Plans to make tanks useful outside raids/dungeons? Respeccing to DPS artifacts costs a lot of time.

Healer viability in the outside world has always been the challenge rather than Tanks. Tanks have always been great a leveling and soloing. They kill slower, but can pull more mobs at once and survive. We’re trying to have tank specs viable in PvP setting, but currently not quite the case in beta.

Have you considered putting Ulduar styled hard modes back in for a few bosses, for an even tougher mythic just for bragging rights and a shiny achievement?

Occasionally if the fight fits it. The reality is that very few actually participate in that type of content.

Will you ever add a third spec to demon hunters?

It’s hard to ever or never, but there isn’t just a one-size fits all. Healers didn’t feel right for Demon Hunters and multiple DPS specs might have separated out what makes a Demon Hunter unique.

Will we be seeing any dungeon sets in Legion? I think I’ve seen an epic class order set, but is there anything like Dreadmist?

There aren’t any dungeon item sets in Legion. Instead, the team went with a max-level Order Hall Set with some pieces in Dungeons for players to complete.

Will the legendary ring be nerfed just like previous legendaries e.g. the cloak from MoP?

Yes, the power of the proc and pass will decline as players reach to level 110. Players will be using it a bit at 110, but it is not designed to be used in raids.

In 7.0 pre-patch, players will be unable to begin the Legendary ring questline and when Legion drops, the quests will go away all together.

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