Shadowlands “best time to start World of Warcraft since 2004" says game director - Dexerto
World of Warcraft

WoW director promises Shadowlands “best time to start playing since 2004”

Published: 13/Jul/2020 4:42

by Isaac McIntyre

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Shadowlands will be the “best time to start playing World of Warcraft since all the way back in 2004,” game director Ion Hazzikostas has promised ahead of the 16-year-old MMORPG’s eighth expansion release later this year.

World of Warcraft is one of the longest-running gaming franchises in the world. Blizzard has regularly updated the hugely-popular online fantasy title for nearly two decades straight with mega-sized expansions and game updates.

While constantly updated titles and releases are what every fan dreams of, the constant new content for WoW has caused a few problems. One of the biggest has always been new or returning players can find themselves “overwhelmed.”

World of Warcraft orcs march to war.
Blizzard Entertainment
There’s already 15 years of World of Warcraft history players need to learn if they start playing in 2020.

“This game has been around for 15 years, that’s awe-inspiring. I’ve been playing it for all 15 of those years. At the same time though, that same richness, depth, and history of content can also be an obstacle,” Hazzikostas told IGN after the tell-all Shadowlands livestream held on July 8.

“It’s intimidating for new players, and part of what we found over the years is that we have hundreds and hundreds of hours of stories to tell, but we didn’t want it to take hundreds of hours to catch up to your friends, or play the latest stuff.

“That led to us speeding up the game over time. That, unfortunately, took us to a place where the pacing of our game wasn’t what it should be. It was particularly overwhelming for all the new folks coming in at that stage.”

That’s all set to change coming into Shadowlands, according to Hazzikostas. As well as the new expansion story ⁠— which will see franchise villain Sylvanas open a portal to the undead world ⁠— old plotlines should be “more accessible” as well.

“Shadowlands is probably the best time to jump into World of Warcraft as a brand new player since all the way back in 2004. It’s something that has been a focus for us as we approached this expansion,” WoW’s director said. “It’s what our goals were.”

Sylvanas sneers at the Lich King in the Shadowlands cinematic trailer.
Blizzard Entertainment
Shadowlands should make World of Warcraft more accessible to new players moving forward.

One solution, Hazzikostas revealed, is that WoW will be adding a brand-new introduction line experience, called ‘Exile’s Reach’. This “new-player mode” will introduce the Horde, Alliance, and “what World of Warcraft is all about in 2020.”

New players will also get a run-through on all abilities, classes, basic quests, and gameplay elements important to the title. Once players have completed this early-stage section of the game, they will then play Battle for Azeroth.

“Battle for Azeroth is an accessible, standard Horde versus Alliance World of Warcraft story that will continue to teach you about this world,” Hazzikostas said. 

“This will be a couple of dozen hours [all up] for new players. Then you’ll be ready to go right into Shadowlands along with everyone else, armed with all the knowledge ⁠— gameplay-wise, and lore-wise ⁠— to succeed in that environment.”

Anduin Wrynn looks at his glowing World of Warcraft sword.
Blizzard Entertainment
World of Warcraft “newbies” will play the Battle for Azeroth expansion before unlocking Shadowlands.

Blizzard is set to release World of Warcraft Shadowlands later this year. The expansion’s beta will begin this week. Here’s everything we know about the MMORPG’s huge eighth expansion ahead of the official release.

World of Warcraft

WoW cosplayer’s impressive Sylvanas gets Blizzard’s seal of approval

Published: 27/Nov/2020 17:58

by Lauren Bergin

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One of the most iconic characters of the World of Warcraft franchise is Sylvanas Windrunner, the main antagonist of WoW Shadowlands. A cosplay by Cinderys injects some new life into the Banshee Queen.

World of Warcraft: Shadowlands has become the biggest event in this year’s Warcraft calendar. Breaking Blizzard’s pre-sale records for the franchise’s expansion packs, it’s safe to say that fans and onlookers alike are excited about this newest chapter in the Warcraft story.

The events of Shadowlands take place after the Battle for Azaroth, and see players travel deep into the Shadowlands to thwart their undead nemesis; fan-favorite archer turned Banshee Queen Sylvanas Windrunner. The Shadowlands themselves have come to represent the game’s equivalent of the afterlife, and while intriguing, are clearly home to a plethora of new, dangerous enemies.

However, Parisian cosplayer Cinderys (Sonia Grillet) has helped to blur the veil between the real world and the WoW universe by creating a stunning cosplay rendition of the Shadowlands antagonist.

Becoming the Banshee Queen

At first glance, Cinderys could easily be Sylvanas – or at least an illustration of her. Framed against the murky background of the Shadowlands, Cinderys is adorned in corrupted high eleven armor sporting Sylvanas’ masterfully crafted longbow. Ash blond hair cascades down her shoulders, providing some welcome respite to the dark, shadowy surroundings. However, getting to this point clearly wasn’t easy.

In a series of WIP photos, Cinderys shows the step by step process that led to the creation of the iconic Dark Lady, with one image showing the incomplete bust piece that lies at the center of Sylvanas’ armor.

A second photograph shows some of the behind the scenes work that went into the iconic longbow. With the finalized product sitting next to a blueprint of how to build it, it’s proof of just how much work has gone into the creation of the famous weapon.

With 3,000 likes on the image alone, Cinderys cosplay certainly attracted attention. The cosplay queen shared a post on Twitter showing the Blizzard liked the Tweet of Cinderys as Sylvanas. Cinderys’ excitement is infectious; seeing Blizzard respond to her cosplays caused a wave of appreciative fan comments and support.

Blizzard pick up Cinderys as their official WoW cosplayer

That’s not the only thing though. Upon Shadowlands’ release Blizzard allowed Cinderys to literally become the undead archer by making her the expansion’s official Sylvanas cosplayer. Featured alongside HartiganCosplay, Cinderys literally has become Sylvanas.

It’s amazing to see the transition that Cinderys has made in such a short space of time. From being an amazing instagram cosplayer to now being a part of Blizzard’s official marketing campaign for Shadowlands, she’s an inspiration to cosplayers everywhere. Push hard enough, and maybe one day you’ll also get to be a terrifying banshee too!