World of Warcraft

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World Of Warcraft: Dragonflight (Alpha) – Preview In Progress

Dragonflight is the ninth expansion to the popular game franchise World of Warcraft, or WoW for short. Thanks to Blizzard, I was given access to the Alpha for Dragonflight, and with help from MKAU’s resident WoW streamer, TheRealDippy, I was able to find out what major changes have happened since the last time I logged into WoW. This will be a “Preview In Progress”, starting off with “Phase 1”

Dragonflight Alpha Phase 1

Dragonflight has introduced a new playable race and class to the game, the Dracthyr, a dragon-like race that also has a human form, similar to the Worgen race that was added back in Cataclysm released in 2010. With the new race comes the exclusive Evoker class. They pull their power from their dragon lineage and harness them into elements. The Evoker also comes with a new playstyle that has never been used before in WoW – charging an attack. The longer you hold down the key to attack, the stronger the outcome will be, and yes this does have a charge cap, so you can’t hold down the key for an hour and expect to destroy a town. Evokers can be either a damage role or a healer, and I was happy to see that while playing a damage role, some of my offensive spells still had the option to help friends by doing some minor healing.

Dragonflight has a few new features such as a new and revamped HUD interface. They have done away with the big clunky border around the skill bars, and they’ve made the bottom right section where the back and settings are found smaller, so they don’t stand out as much. As nice as these little changes are, the major change is that the HUD is now fully customizable without the need for add-ons, so you can position health bars where you want and change how things are displayed, but you can still run your add-ons if you so wish to do so.

Dragon riding is a new mount feature that is available at the start of Dragonflight and you guessed, it is directed around dragons. This feature will have players level up and customise their own dragon mount. At first, it starts off like any other flying mount, but you’ll gain more skills as you progress within Dragonflight. The concept of dragon-riding was a part of planning for the world of Dragonflight, and it shows as the first zone we got a look at is pretty big.

Older WoW players will be very happy to hear that talent trees are now back in Phase 1. We got to see the revamp for the Death Knight, Druid, Hunter, Rogue, and Priest classes, but I don’t play any of those. So, with assistance from TheRealDippy, who plays a wide range of classes. He said,

“It brings back the nostalgia of how WoW was in the past with the tree by having to think where to spend points and offering multiple options for the class.”

I have been back into classic as of late and the old talent tree is something I have missed for ages. The current system in place is good for quick picking but just didn’t add the depth of making the character ourselves.

Professions have also made an amazing comeback – another oldie but goodie from the old WoW days with a new crafting order system. If you are looking for a certain item to be built out of your profession, you can now place a crafting order at an NPC and pick if you want to order to be set to public, for guild only, or to a set player. The player wanting to get something crafted can set a price they are willing to pay and deposit the items needed for the crafting, so it opens up the door to haggle on the price you will pay.

It is also a good way to level up skills with the trade and have a chance to stand out as the server’s crafter of choice, offering a gift or future discount to keep players coming back. The other thing is the quality system – if you craft gear that is higher quality it will reflect with the item level, and with potions, could have a higher effect that lasts longer.

Last of the new zone to jump into and explore is The Azure Span, a beautiful landscape spanning frozen tundras to amazing sunlight hillsides and dark deep forests. As you explore this new land, you will encounter old races that call this land home, such as the Tuskarr, a tribe that focuses on fishing and trading. Gnolls can be found here, the hyena-like creatures that are always up to something bad. Blue Dragons can also be found, and you’ll be aiding Kalecgos, a Blue Dragon Drachthyr that has been around for a long time. You will be aiding him in reuniting the Blue Dragons.

The Azure Span is the first of a few new locations as the others are released in the future phases, but so far it seems to be the biggest zone. There are many adventures this location holds, and just as many fights to be fought. The design and layout for The Azure Span felt very similar to Wrath of the Lich King. It is good to see that some of the old elements from WoW are coming back in more forms.

Dragonflight Alpha Phase 2

Phase 2 of the Dragonflight takes focus on the new playable race, the Dracthyr, and the starting zone, The Forbidden Reach, which was once a training ground for the Black Dragonflight. Now a landscape lost to the tides of time, the dragons that knew of this place knew it was forbidden to visit, hence the name The Forbidden Reach, but after years of battles, the island lays dormant and abandoned until the awaking of the Dracthyr. The island is surrounded by high rock formations to keep the prying eyes of outsiders away.

After creating and naming their Dracthyr, players will then be awoken deep in the ruins of The Forbidden Reach where they have slept for many years in magical stasis. This is the starting point for the new Evoker class, exclusive to the Dracthyr. Their land has been broken with time and reclaimed by nature, so what better way to learn your new powers than clearing out the wildlife that took your home.

The Evoker introduces a fresh gameplay mechanic as they are the first class to have a click-and-hold option for an attack, and you will learn to master it using your Fire Breath during the starting quests. Like the Demon Hunter class, the Dracthyr can glide while jumping, making use of their dragon wings.

The Evoker also comes with an amazing racial ability called soar, and you guessed right, you can take to the skies while outdoors, and with an increased flight speed, you can get around fast. The downside is that it can’t be used in dungeons, raids, or battlegrounds, and it has a 5-minute cooldown, but over time, you’ll pick up some useful team-based moves, such as “Fly With Me,” where you pick up an ally and fly with them to a targeted location.

Phase 2 also brought in two new dungeons to explore, with Legacy of Tyr being based in Uldaman and having 5 new bosses to defeat. Old pathways have caved in, so you’ll need to trek further into the caves to locate this new challenge.

Located in The Waking Shores zone, Neltharus holds 4 boss encounters. No real lore has been found on this dungeon, other than it being a fortress that once belonged to the Black Dragonflight, but now it belongs to the Djaradin, a race native to The Waking Shores. They also showed off the new Shaman talent tree and we got a first look at the new cooking specialization. The changes to cooking now cover more status increases to benefit the class eating the food, an example would be a warrior would have strength over intelligence as a buff.

Phase 2 of the alpha has delivered a great starting zone for the Dracthyr and the Evoker class, and it has given us a great landscape that suits the training style the player will experience while learning the Evoker class.

The change-up of an old dungeon design was also good to see, but I am also relieved they still created a new dungeon from scratch and we’ll be able to explore The Waking Shore. So far, with everything I have seen and played, Dragonflight is shaping up to be the expansion that hooks me back into WoW again.

Dragonflight Alpha Phase 3

Phase 3 of Dragonflight opens a new region for players to explore; The Walking Shores. Untamed wildlands damaged by elemental magic on the lands, it is the home to the red and black Dragonflights. The new zone will be where Horde and Alliance players will first land while doing expedition quests to the Dragon Isles, and The Walking Shores is home to the newly added dungeon, Ruby Life Pools, which is a tucked away oasis overrun by elementals. This dungeon will hold 3 new boss fights and is rather short in comparison to other dungeons.

Phase 3 also kept the starting area for the Dracthyr race for players that may have missed out on it during phase 2. The new talents and reworks that were added into phase 3 include the revamped talent tree for Paladins and Mages.

Leatherworking and jewel crafting has also had a new rollout of improvements, and just like crafting gear mentioned in phase 1, they now have the quality feature which will impact the overall stats on the piece created. The barber feature in WoW has also had a change, and it is now free to change your hair. Granted, it is not a massive addition, but it is something for the role player players so they can keep their character looking fresh to whichever story they are running while playing.

Dragonflight Alpha Phase 4

With Phase 4 being over, let’s take a look at what was added. First up, The Waking Shores were removed from the playtest and replaced with Thaldraszus, a new region within the Dragon Isle. It is the cradle of the dragon civilisation. The biomes in this region feature waterways and mountain ranges to explore. While overlooking the new land, players will be able to explore and find key locations, like the Temporal Conflux, which is a seat of power used by the Bronze Dragonflight, familiar to players since launch, as they are the Dragonflight that are in control of the Caverns Of Time dungeons and raids.

The Warrior class has had their rework during phase 4, so players can now enjoy being able to switch stances again, just like the good old days. Inscription and Skinning have also had a rework, with both jobs earning extra points while being used within the Dragon Isles. This will be great for players that like to use Skinning on lots of dead enemies as you will be gaining resources to either use or resell on the Auction House while levelling up the talent.

Phase 4 also gave us a new HUD update with players able to customise the UI by allowing us to move our player portrait and the enemy portrait where ever we see fit. I personally kept my own bar in the default spot but did move the enemy one closer down to my action bar so I was able to keep track of the health and my cooldowns at the same time.

Phase 5 is out now and we will see another brand new location, the Ohn’ahran Plains, with the addition of two new dungeons to explore. As the Alpha is coming close to wrapping up, so far everything I have seen and played in Dragonflight is shaping up to be an expansion to bring back a lot of the older fans, as they have taken a step back in the right direction for how the classes play and feel.

A huge thank-you again to Blizzard for the access, and also thanks to TheRealDippy for assisting me with his vast knowledge of the game.

Written by: Shane Walsh

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