Patch 8.3 will be the last major patch for Battle for Azeroth, bringing the story of the expansion to an end and slowly preparing us for the journey to the Shadowlands. While our world is being attacked by the Old God N'Zoth, we not only defend it, but carry the war to Ny'alotha. We are supported by Furorion, who uses the scale of Nefarian to make us a legendary cloak that we can gradually upgrade. In addition, new essences and visions await us, in which N'Zoth tries to cloud our minds. Shortly before the patch, we had the opportunity to discuss the upcoming update and the future of WoW with Jeremy Feasel and Morgan Day, both game designers at Blizzard (buy now for € 14.99) to speak. Some interesting news came to light. So the great worms from the hereafter will probably not remain the last mechanism that makes flying difficult. In addition, the developers are curious to see how much corrupt items the players put on themselves and we may even see other, smaller content updates in Battle for Azeroth.
Interview with Morgen Day and Jeremy Feasel
buffed: Will patch 8.3 definitely be the last patch of Battle for Azeroth or will we see smaller content updates later?
Jeremy Feasel: Update 8.3, Visions of N'Zoth will be our last major update for the current expansion. Maybe or maybe not, we will add smaller content patches later. As for major content updates, 8.3 is definitely the last patch for Battle for Azeroth.
buffed: Patch 8.3 reduces the requirement for some essences in the game. You will reduce these further in the course of the patch to give stragglers or new players an easier entry.
Morgan Day: As you mentioned, we lowered the requirements specifically for the essences related to the content of Rise of Azshara. We currently have no specific plans that we can announce. But we get a lot of feedback on the subject – especially regarding essences and twinks. We think that with the latest update Visions of N'Zoth a whole series of new essences come into play, which can be reached relatively quickly and early in the content for all types of players. So with your twinks you can get to the new essences much faster than in the previous patch, where many essences were linked to reputation or the fact that you had to play mechagon for several weeks. We want to prevent players from having empty essence slots, for example, because they have upgraded their hearts but do not yet have any essences available. This is something we are definitely keeping an eye on.
When new or returning players play through the story, they should have enough essences to occupy all of their slots and be able to switch a little between different essences.
buffed: You have lowered the requirements for the Nazjatar and Mechagon essences because it is no longer "current" content. Do you also adapt the requirements for flying in BfA accordingly? Because you currently have to spend a few more weeks in Nazjatar and Mechagon.
Jeremy Feasel: There are currently no changes to the requirements for Boy Scout Success. However, the new areas in which you hang around in Visions of N'Zoth do not depend on this scout success. You can also fly there without this success, provided that you have unlocked / bought flying on Azeroth and Pandaria.
Buffed: On the first day of the patch, the titanic residual will be reset. In return, will we get a new residual directly from the weekly box on January 15th? Or if we then scrap / disenchant old equipment?
Jeremy Feasel: There have been some communication problems in the past. The reset takes place on the first day of the patch (January 15th) and not only when the new season starts a week later. In this first week of the patch you will not get a residual. You will only find this in the box when the new season has started (January 22). And disenchanting or scrapping items that you captured during the previous season will not earn you a titanic residual. We want to prevent the players from feeling compelled to collect any armor and only then to scrap them after the patch.
Buffed: Do we get another catch-up mechanism for the heart of Azeroth with the patch? Similar to patch 8.2, where all necklaces were brought directly to level 35 via quest?
Morgan Day: Yes, there will also be something like this in Patch 8.3. I can't remember exactly what level your necklace will be set to, but as far as I know, the plan was to install such a catch-up mechanism now.
Buffed: Let's get to the new content of the patch. These don't look like they can keep players busy for more than a few months. Since the upcoming Shadowlands expansion will be a long time coming, do you plan to introduce more content later in 8.3?
Jeremy Feasel: The interesting thing about Patch 8.3 is how the content is layered. The goal is to offer content that is initially so heavy that players can spend a long time with it and still feel the sense of progress. That should create the different visions. At the beginning you will not be able to even begin to do all areas of the instance, which in the course of time will become easier due to your cloak and other strengthening. Even Mythic Raider will probably need a few weeks to fully complete the visions. And then there are also the faceless masks, which make the whole thing even more difficult and in return lure with better prey
Morgan Day: In addition, Patch 8.3 also brings the division of Mechagon and thus practically two new dungeons for Mythical Plus and Heroic. Not to forget the new Mythisch-Plus affix, which provides further variety and for which we received a lot of good feedback. Then there is the new Ny'alotha raid, which with its twelve bosses will be the biggest raid in Battle for Azeroth. And then the old content doesn't just disappear. There are still many players who are still active in Mechagon because they haven't seen or activated everything there.
Jeremy Feasel: There will also be a mount for defeating the heroic N'Zoth – a Void Dragon – in the upcoming raid. In the past, this has motivated many players who were otherwise not at all or only on the normal level of difficulty of the raid to go one step further and master the heroic mode.
buffed: Without titanium forging and other unlockable essence slots, there will be less constant progress in terms of equipment. Are you planning with a kind of ice crown buff that keeps weakening the raid so that the majority of the players will be successful by the end of the expansion?
Morgan Day: No, there will be no such buff. However, as in the past, we will pay very close attention to where the players get stuck and specifically weaken them over time. The disadvantage of the ICC buff mentioned is that everything in the raid becomes easier and not just the tricky parts. This makes some things far too trivial. Therefore, we prefer to do nerfs by hand at the Encounters when we see that the progress of many groups is stalling. There are also the new corrupt items and the legendary cloak. With a rising cloak, you can create more and more of the corrupted items, which makes you more and more powerful in the course of the patch. Taken together, we hope that most guilds will experience constant progress over time.
Jeremy Feasel: At least when the players are constantly playing their visions, the characters are getting stronger, which in turn allows constant progress.
Buffed: What are your goals and reasons for using the corruption system instead of titanium forged? Did you just introduce it because it fits well with the topic of the old gods or do you want to test things that titanium forged should replace in the long term? Because in the upcoming expansion, a system with corruption probably makes little sense, so completely without Old Gods.
Morgan Day: We have had a lot of feedback on titanium forged and war forged in the past and wanted to test these mechanics to see if there are other ways to do the same. Then we took a closer look at the story of Visions of N'Zoth. For the first time we have an Old God who is completely liberated and unleashed and whom we do not fight within his prison. What impact could that have on the rest of Azeroth's world? So we decided that corrupt items not only make sense within the raid, but actually in all current WoW content. We wanted players to get a sense that the whole world was being spoiled by N'Zoth.
Jeremy Feasel: And yet it is also a good opportunity to look into the future and play with the ideas of titanium-forged and war-forged. Do everything a little differently and adapt it to the current topic of the story. Because now, for example, the players have a choice. If you get a corrupt item, do you want it or don't you want to put it on? How much depravity does your character already have? Does the negative effect increase too much or do you still get along with it? This additional depth and choice makes getting new items much more interesting.
buffed: Of course, this goes hand in hand with more complexity in the selection and creation of the items. Wasn't too much complexity one of the reasons why you stopped doing forging? We may see this mechanism again soon – many players keep asking for it.
Morgan Day: No, we currently have no concrete plans to bring back forging in any form. But of course we hear these voices and regularly look at older mechanics and consider whether some of them might make sense again in the current game. But nothing of the kind is currently planned.
Buffed: What are your goals regarding the amount of corrupt items that players can carry over the expansion? Have you balanced the design in such a way that we end up wearing such items on every slot, or are you rather aiming for just a few and that we keep changing and adapting them if necessary?
Morgan Day: That's one of the fun things about mechanics. We want to leave it entirely up to the players how far they want to go. They should decide and try out how much corruption they can take and when they are so hampered that they can no longer keep their rotation going. We wanted to build it as an escalating system. You will hardly notice the first points of corruption. But as you accumulate more of it, the effects quickly become more drastic. We ourselves are very excited to see what the players will do with it. For example, how many spoiled items will the participants in the World First race attract and which bosses would they prefer to put some parts back on?
As far as balancing is concerned, we wanted to keep the positive effects of the items easily understandable and effective. With the negative effects, on the other hand, we wanted something that would test the skill of the players. Something I can play around with and which for the most part does not necessarily have a negative effect. The goal is that every player can approach his own limit.
buffed: Regarding the armor of the Black Empire, which will be item level 410 and is actually intended as a catch-up mechanism for twinks and newcomers. Don't you think 410 is a little low? After all, these cannot contain forged titanium and cannot be upgraded as easily as the benthic equipment. We also need item level 410 to be able to enter the new LFR, for example.
Morgan Day: We have a clear concept regarding the item level. Compared to the previous patches, the difference between the catch-up equipment and the item level that drops in raids is at the same level.
Jeremy Feasel: And don't forget the legendary cloak that all players – whether twinks or newcomers – will get right at the start of the patch. After all, this starts directly at item level 470. Your overall item level is therefore relatively quick at a level with which you can play all current content, including the raids.
Source: Blizzard Entertainment
Buffed: Let's get to the mechagnomes and their transmogg options. Do you plan to change anything about it? Because many players are bothered by the fact that you cannot change the mechanical extremities with transmogging. This makes many old sets look very strange.
Jeremy Feasel: This is our first attempt to implement such a level of character customization in the game. We are currently collecting a lot of feedback. Especially regarding more extensive character adjustments in Shadowlands. It's definitely an experiment, so we'd love to hear your feedback. But in the short term, we currently have no adjustment on the plan.
Buffed: In Patch 8.3 we have the Great Worm from the afterlife in Uldum and the Valley of Eternal Flowers, which makes it difficult for us to fly. Is it a one-off thing or do you want to test ways that you can limit flying in the future. After all, many developers keep saying that unlimited flying in many zones is a problem from a gameplay point of view.
Jeremy Feasel: It depends on what the design philosophy is in an area. In the particular case, we found that flying could just let you handle too much of the current content and dangerous opponents on the ground. We wanted you to look up and see something there that in some ways scares you or is challenging. If you really get close to the worm, it will chase and kill you. But if you only get close to him, he will already start to attack you and slow you down. Our goal was that taking off and landing somewhere else is not always the best way. Depending on where the worms are, it can be quicker if you stay on the ground and fight your way through or run around some spots.
We'll see how the feedback on it turns out. We also had the air monitoring unit in Mechagon, which then brought us to the current design. I would not say now that such things become standard. But the idea that there is something in heaven that you have to pay attention to and react to is definitely interesting and we want to play around with it a little.
Buffed: With the customization of Mechagon as a two-part heroic and mythical-plus dungeon, you made some changes to it apart from the numbers. For example, more trash in the second part or less in the first part?
Morgan Day: The bosses in Mechagon were designed in such a way that the bosses had a slightly longer lifespan than conventional dungeon bosses. This was due to our intention to make Mechagon a kind of 5-man raid. Here we had to rebalance a lot so that the ratio more closely corresponds to that of other dungeons. Otherwise we have not changed anything.
Buffed: With the upcoming patch we get a legendary cape from Furorion. Why did you decide that it was a cape again? After all, he already gave us one in Mists of Pandaria.
Morgan Day: It's furorion, he likes cloaks! The thing with dragons and capes goes back to Onyxia in WoW.
Jeremy Feasel: We looked at which slot we could have used and naturally came across the cloak. The slots with azerite parts fell away immediately. And the other parts of raid sets didn't look good to us either. Because then you would either have an inappropriate set or you would have to overlap the legendary by transmogg, which is both suboptimal. Rings and jewelry are cool, but you can't see them. All that was left was the cloak. And when our art designers had the first concept drawings for the evolving cloak ready, the matter was quickly decided, because they simply looked fantastic and fit wonderfully.
Morgan Day: We also like the fantasy of a cape. At that time Onyxia gave us her onyxia scale cloak, which was supposed to protect us from the shadow flames. A cloak under which I can withdraw and which shields and protects me from the dangers. It just felt right against an Old God trying to attack us and penetrate our thoughts.
Jeremy Feasel: The story is actually quite similar. Back then we had to defeat Onyxia and made a protective cloak out of their scales, and this time we use Nefarian's scales.
Buffed: The essence system in BfA seems to work quite well, given that it is an emergency feature that was not actually planned. Do you plan to keep some of this content in the game beyond Patch 8.3 or will the entire system be thrown away after the patch?
Morgan Day: Currently we want to keep the system at least so far that you can continue to use the essences when you are on Azeroth. In the upcoming expansion, however, it goes to the shadow lands. There you are not connected to Azeroth and the essences cannot develop their power and therefore do not work.
Jeremy Feasel: But the idea of essences to personalize your character a little more lives on in Shadowlands. There you have the pacts, which all have different abilities and with which you also have to decide which ones you want to use. Whether we expand it further or not – we cannot tell you anything specific about that at the moment.
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