This is part two of a six-part interview with WoW Game Director Ion Hazzikostas.
Laptop Mag had the opportunity to sit down with Game Director of World of Warcraft Ion Hazzikostas and pose questions about the MMO titan’s upcoming expansion. After the reveal of WoW 10.0 last week, officially titled Dragonflight, we’re incredibly excited to dive deep into what we can expect out of its massive updates.
Hazzikostas and I discussed time-gated questlines, the evolution of leveling through Chromie Time, the revival of talent trees (and whether Covenant abilities will find their place within them), the changes coming to transmogrification, and how old raids (particularly BfA) will be impacted by the player’s massive increase in power. This article covers Hazzikostas’ comments on the Dracthyr Evoker and some questions we had about its abilities.
A new Hero Class comes to WoW
Although World of Warcraft is on its ninth expansion, Blizzard Entertainment rarely graces its player base with new classes. Vanilla WoW launched in 2004 with nine playable classes, and over the course of 18 years, that number only increased to 12. Death Knights were introduced in 2008, Monks in 2012 and Demon Hunters in 2016. Following this pattern, 2020 seemed like the year we’d see another class, but Shadowlands didn’t even introduce a new race.
Thankfully, the Dracthyr Evoker came swooping in during Dragonflight’s reveal event (although it was two years later than expected). And for the first time in WoW history, the expansion is introducing a race and class that are exclusive to one another. The Dracthyr race can only play as the Evoker class, and the Evoker class cannot be selected for any other race.
WoW’s community has mixed feelings about this; some believe it’s arbitrarily limiting. Others are not particularly interested in playing a ranged caster class, but have been itching for a Dragon-esque race for a long time. It’s possible we’ll see the Dracthyr and Evoker break mutual exclusivity at some point, but Blizzard Entertainment is seemingly set on this decision for Dragonflight. Perhaps one of the expansion’s later patches (or a future expansion) will break from this restriction.
What does Bronze Magic do for the Dracthyr Evoker?
During Dragonflight’s reveal, a few details were given on the Evoker’s Preservation specialization, with Senior VFX Artist Kali Goss explaining that Green magic “is going to be evocative of the Emerald Dream,” not unlike a Druid’s powers, and then goes on to claim that Bronze magic will be more “timey-wimey.” This vagueness evoked curiosity, so of course, I brought it up with Ion Hazzikostas and questioned exactly what that meant.
“It’s little bits of time manipulation, whether that’s lite versions of Bloodlust or a Power Infusion type of effect. Or even on the healer’s side, rewinding, turning back time to undo recently sustained injuries. I think that’s a type of healing magic we haven’t had a chance to explore yet and where some of the unique mechanics for Preservation Evokers could arise. They’re mostly Green/Bronze hybrids on that side, and the Green side of it is more traditional Dream restorative magic — not too different from what we’ve seen Druids do. But there’s a lot of really exciting opportunities on the Bronze Dragonflight side to realize new mechanics,” Hazzikostas said.
Hazzikostas’ description of the Evoker paves the way for systems the game has never seen before. World of Warcraft’s healer classes typically revolve around the act of restoring life, but we haven’t had a support class that fully steps out of this archetype and does something different. At most, Shamans can place totem buffs on the field that passively boost a player’s stats in whatever way the group might need in that encounter, but there hasn’t been a mechanically active support class yet.
The Evoker could be the first time we see a class have to balance their restorative magic with support abilities. Bronze magic should be more than just long-lasting passive buffs, and instead, revolve around the player having to actively include a number of hastening abilities in their rotation to enhance the power of their party while also keeping them alive.
Game balancing could potentially be an issue here, though. Since no other class has abilities quite like this, empowering members of a dungeon or raid group while also healing them might make them the prime choice for any party. One way to handle this is to make the Evoker’s healing magic a bit weaker (but still viable) than any other class, and ensure the Bronze magic buffs are still a necessity for raids or dungeons. Alternatively, Blizzard Entertainment could give them the power to enhance other healers and ensure their dynamic is best utilized through diversity.
Will The Dracthyr Evoker be able to use Black Magic?
Blizzard Entertainment discussed how Red/Blue magic will be a part of the Evoker’s Devastation specialization and Green/Bronze magic will be used in its Preservation specialization. But Dragonflight has five aspects, and there’s one missing, notably linked to World of Warcraft: Cataclysm’s iconic villain, Deathwing.
The Aspect of Black Dragonflight has yet to be explained. It’s also notable that the Dracthyr Evoker only has two specializations, which has only happened with the Demon Hunter. Since Black magic has not been assigned to either specialization yet, I asked Hazzikostas if the Dracthyr Evoker will be able to utilize said magic at some point.
“Yes, I mean, I think the Black Dragonflight is certainly part of Dragonkind, and while they have some of their nefarious history with what happened to Deathwing and his descendants, Wrathion is a good ally of ours, and there’s subtle differences between the Black Dragonflight fire and the Red Dragonflight fire, but Dracthyr Evokers are uniquely gifted in being able to harness and channel the power of all of the Aspects and all of the Flights, so all of them will find a place in some form,” he said.
Black Dragonflight fire being referred to as merely a “subtle difference” makes it seem like it won’t be incorporated into its own specialization, but at the very least, we know it will be present in the Evoker’s rotation in some form (probably through the Devastation specialization).