After 18 years and many expansions, World of Warcraft has changed. The developers have wandered into some truly wild territory that was never intended. Would you love for the game to feel more like it did when you first started playing? Dragonflight will be a course correction back into the cozy.
The “third place” is a sociological term referring to the spot where people spend their time when they’re not at work or home. It should be a place where we can unwind and relax. For many World of Warcraft players over the years, the game has been their third place. Recent expansions have provided an endless series of epic adventures and endgame content. We’ve traveled to interstellar kingdoms of a tyrant Naga queen, gone to save the realms of death, and even checked out an eerily alien cosmic cradle of creation just recently. Dragonflight will add some new adventures, but it will also provide us with some time to enjoy simpler pleasures – making it an ideal third place for us!
“This was like coming home for us,” says Tina Wang, associate art director at Blizzard, in a phone call with Polygon. “We wanted the players to experience a sense of discovery; we wanted them to feel majestic. The idea is they are riding these dragons around and getting to see the whole island—but they have time to smell the proverbial roses, too. We created these spaces thinking about where each Dragonflight would want to be based, and what made sense in terms of which people they’re associated with.”
Though previous expansions have seen mixed reviews, the launch content for new Azerothian zones and quests has typically been received well. It looks like Dragonflight will follow in those popular footsteps. The newest territories on the Dragon Isles are contested by factions both old and new, including centaur tribes and tuskarr settlements. That change of pace is a welcome one after Shadowlands–and certainly a necessary one if this expansion is to be embraced by veteran players.
Normal quests will still be around- collecting hides and slaying enemies. But endgame activities are at a significantly lower level, with max-level gameplay asking players to hang out and befriend new friends in their factions. Instead of saving the world from annihilation, we’ll be fishing with walrus friends or hunting deer with our new allies.
“It was a lot of work to create these spaces in zones that are huge by World of Warcraft standards,” says Jake Miller, senior game director on World of Warcraft. “As the player makes their way through the zones, they unlock new abilities for their drakes, as well as new drakes in each zone. So if the protodrake doesn’t fit your style, you might like the velocity drake – it’s my favorite, it got a great big smile.”
As the player, you’ll spend most of your time perched on a drake. You can customize and upgrade it with glyphs you’ll find throughout the aisles. Built for discovery, exploration, and adventure, there will be tons of open plains, vertical towers, and peaks, as well as intricate ancient architecture awaiting you.
“We’ve been through a number of expansions and we know that the first impression is really important,” Miller says. “So we wanted to create something that players had a blast with from the very start, which is why we made locomotion and exploration so fun. It lets players do what they want when they want, which is always better for seasoned gamers.”
Guild wars 2 has 2 capital cities for each faction, and Shadowlands only has a temporary interdimensional airport. Players are expected to spend most of their time gathering profession items and trading in Valdrakken, the capital of Dragonflights. In return, they make it a comfortable place for us mortals to enjoy.
It seems that Dragonflight is going to be a more comfortable third place than previous expansions. Blizzard will need to build upon this foundation over the expansion’s subsequent patches and make sure that this status quo reset doesn’t leap immediately into galaxy-ending threats. But ironically, players seem excited for a game that’s less on all the time.
World of Warcraft has been a third place for WoW fans throughout the years. A recent comic anthology, Interlude, tells the stories of Warcraft champions during the post-Shadowlands time skip. Dragon Flight was like a calmer and more gentle time period, introducing new conflicts to settle and lands to explore.
Dragonflight will be released on Windows PC on Nov. 28.