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.

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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.

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“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.

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“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.

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“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.”

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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

Henry Cavill as Arthas in Warcraft 2 makes perfect sense: here’s why

Published: 7/Oct/2020 4:11 Updated: 7/Oct/2020 5:03

by Isaac McIntyre

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Okay World of Warcraft fans, it’s time to go all-in… Henry Cavill would make a perfect Arthas in Blizzard’s newly rumored Warcraft 2 revival, especially after proving he’s got the fantasy chops as Geralt of Rivia in Netflix’s The Witcher.

The original Warcraft movie came out back in 2016, and landed with mixed reviews. World of Warcraft fans loved it, of course; seeing characters like Anduin, Medivh, Gul’dan, and Durotan brought to life on the big screen was a dream come true.

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Critics and general audiences were less convinced. Duncan Jones’ high-fantasy romp in the world of Azeroth was dubbed a failure. A sequel was stamped ‘highly unlikely’ after the box office flop. 

Except, just four years later, the Warcraft rumor mill has thundered back to life. Legendary Entertainment has already green-lit a sequel, according to insider Daniel Ritchman, with Lord of the Rings director Peter Jackson involved.

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Warcraft raked in just $47.4 million in the United States, but made $391.7m overseas.
Legendary Entertainment
Warcraft raked in just $47.4 million in the States, but made $391.7m overseas.

And so, with Warcraft 2 reportedly in development, that leaves us with the biggest question for the sequel; what will the story be? Will the franchise take it step by step, and tell the story of “Tides of Darkness,” or head for a better-selling sequel?

In our opinion, Blizzard’s best bet for the sequel is to skip straight to “Reign of Chaos” and it’s genre-defining expansion “The Frozen Throne.” The third game’s storyline has plenty of ‘Game of Thrones’ and ‘Lord of the Rings’ elements.

Enter fantasy’s man of the hour, Henry Cavill.

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Arthas Menethil is key to Warcraft 3, and Cavill is a perfect pick to play him. The prince’s path to the throne is littered with huge battles, dastardly schemes, and of course, the biggest twist Blizzard’s Warcraft franchise has ever offered up.

Reason number one: I mean, look at Henry Cavill. That speaks for itself.

Henry Cavill in a fan-mockup depicting him as Arthas Menethil.
Reddit: GeordieGamerGuy
Henry Cavill in a fan-mockup depicting him as Warcraft’s Arthas Menethil.

There are other reasons too though. One is that Cavill is a big World of Warcraft fan himself, meaning he’d likely be eager to sign on. I mean come on, the guy missed the news he had been cast as Superman because he was deep in a WoW raid.

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Former Blizzard figurehead Chris Metzen and Rise of the Lich King writer Christie Golden have both given Cavill’s fan-casting their tick of approval too; the Warcraft duo are well and truly “on the [Cavill as] Arthas train.”

Finally, Warcraft 2 will need ticket-selling star power. The first 2016 flick did have plenty of big names ⁠— Vikings lead Travis Fimmell was among them, as was Marvel’s Dominic Cooper ⁠— but none command the same household stardom as Henry Cavill.

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Cavill, 37, is a little old for Arthas in “Reign of Chaos” and “The Frozen Throne,” but if Legendary and Blizzard plan out a trilogy leading into “Wrath of the Lich King” ⁠— which they absolutely should ⁠— the British star will fit perfectly for Menethil’s final Warcraft hurrah.

Heck, cast a younger actor for the opening stage of the prince’s life, then bring Cavill in with a narrative time-jump in the third or fourth Warcraft movie.

Arthas Menethil and his path to the throne should be front and center in future Warcraft sequels.
Blizzard Entertainment
Arthas Menethil and his path to the throne should be front and center in future Warcraft sequels.

The Superman star isn’t the only name being linked to Warcraft 2 either. Fimmel is expected to return as Anduin in the sequel, as is Ben Schnetzer as Khadgar. Paula Patton has also said she’d “love” to return for another Warcraft outing.

The same insider reports that suggested Warcraft 2 is now in the works also tipped Jurassic World lead Chris Pratt as another star who has already been tabled a multi-movie deal.

Duncan Jones, who directed the 2016 release, also said he would happily return as long as there are “less cooks in the kitchen.” Blizzard has yet to officially respond to the reported new sequel, so take everything with a pinch of salt… for now.