This is part four 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 Dracthyr Evoker’s abilities, the changes coming to transmogrification, the evolution of leveling through Chromie Time, and the revival of talent trees (and whether Covenant abilities will find their place within them). This article covers Hazzikostas’ comments on how the player’s massive increase in power will impact old raids (particularly BfA).
World of Warcraft’s two-expansion rule
World of Warcraft is a massive game that has been growing ever since development started in 2001. There are dozens of ways to engage with its content outside of questing and exploring. Even if you don’t enjoy what the latest expansion has to offer, players can delve into the less-than-popular Pet Battles system (imagine Pokémon but in World of Warcraft), engage with competitive player vs. player arena matches, and more.
With the upcoming launch of Dragonflight, there’s more to be excited about than the adorable Dracthyr Evoker or gorgeous Dragon Isles. It’s always fun to jump two expansions back in time and attempt older endgame content. During Shadowlands, I jumped into 2016’s Legion and attempted Mythic raids with my friends. This was not easy, and we spent hours on it, racking up dozens of failed attempts until we finally claimed victory against the expansion’s most difficult boss fights.
Can we solo Mythic Battle for Azeroth raids in Dragonflight?
Curious if we could expect something similar out of Dragonflight, I asked Hazzikostas if soloing Mythic raids from Battle for Azeroth would be possible. “Uhm, yeah, probably. Not trivially, but yes.” Hazzikostas said. “I know we’ve kind of confused it a bit with squishes and offsetting multipliers to counteract those squishes; it’s ultimately the product of your own power growth as a player, through gear, through levels, through other things…”
Similar to how things operated during Shadowlands when jumping back into Legion, the ability to solo Mythic raids from Battle for Azeroth will be possible, but “not trivially.” Even in a group with a few other people, trying to defeat Kil’Jaeden on Mythic difficulty in Tomb of Sargeras took my friends and me weeks. We weren’t all max level, but it was still massively challenging. You’d need the perfect build and far greater skill than I could ever dream of having to solo this — at least during the launch of Shadowlands. However, the latest gear from 9.2 is probably more than enough to make Mythic Legion raids an easy task to solo.
How powerful do players get between expansions?
With every expansion, the level cap increases (typically by 10), and we get our hands on far more powerful gear, but the depth of that strength is something that has been confused after the level squish. What exactly can we expect from the growth in power promised by Dragonflight, and how does it relate to soloing old content like Mythic raids?
“Over the course of a given expansion from start to finish, as you get 10 levels, as you get 150+ item levels of gear, you probably get at least four times as powerful, in terms of your total stats, hitpoints, dps and so forth,” Hazzikostas continued. “If you compare the numbers players are putting out in Sepulcher today to what they were doing in the 9.0 pre-patch at level 50, you’ll probably find that it’s about that quadrupled. Well, it’s like, two expansions later, well four times four, you’re like 16-20 times more powerful. And that means that you can now go and solo stuff that required 20 players two expansions ago. One more expansion, and now you’re 80 times more powerful, and that’s the point where you can just go in and destroy stuff. But there’s that middle ground where it’s like, mechanics still kind of matter. The raid wasn’t trivial for a 20-player group back then; you might have the power of 20 people, but that doesn’t mean you’re gonna walk in and one-shot Mythic bosses or anything.”
Whether or not this applies to older expansions modified by the level squish is undetermined, but Hazzikostas is suggesting that players will be 16-20 times more powerful when tackling content from two expansions ago. In this case, that would be Battle for Azeroth. Raids require 25 people, so if one player can channel power close to that with higher levels and newer gear, it could be solo’d. It probably won’t be easy, but certainly possible.
Changing old raids to make them solo-friendly
Hazzikostas also mentions Blizzard’s role in this situation; the team doesn’t just sit back and let players frustrate themselves with old mechanics that required the presence of two-dozen people.
“We definitely go back and make adjustments to old encounters where there are mechanics that forcibly required multiple people, or will that just frustrate you if you go there solo. And this is around the time we’d take a look at two expansions ago to smooth around some of those rough edges,” he said.
The importance of this cannot be understated; certain mechanics are difficult to deal with as a solo-raider. For example, Battle for Azeroth’s Uldir raid features a boss named Mythrax who places a mind-control orb at the player’s feet. Other players in the party need to attack the mind-controlled player out of that orb quickly, or else the boss will continue placing them on other players until it becomes unmanageable.
But if you’re soloing that raid and get mind-controlled, the boss fight will end. There’s no method of saving yourself, so it could be impossible to solo. Blizzard would need to fine-tune this battle and ensure that there’s some way to get out of it or not allow Mythrax to use that ability on players who are soloing him.