Many aspects of Dragonflight have reflected a shift in philosophy towards designs that allow us to enjoy reaching a point where we feel “done” with a character’s power progression. Legendaries returned as an exception to this. Legendaries are intended to be a special reward that some players would aspire to obtain over the course of a season, demonstrating a display of excellence in the most challenging content.
As Season 3 has unfolded, we’ve increasingly heard feedback from frustrated players who have been clearing Amirdrassil weekly on Heroic difficulty with no Fyr’alath in sight, and we want to give those players a surer path to achieving their goal.
Earlier today, with a hotfix that is now live, we significantly increased the effect of all Embers of Fyr’alath for players who receive them. This increase is retroactive and applies to all players whether or not you’ve consumed any Embers you may have.
The party has spilled out of our Tavern and all of Azeroth is joining the celebration. Starting on March 11, log into Hearthstone to get a new Fiery Hearthsteed World of Warcraft mount for free!*
Also, from March 11 to March 18, you can seek out special “Hearthstone” matches in capital cities. Stick around long enough and you’ll face a special encounter where you can defeat iconic minions to add to your deck and earn other fun new Hearthstone-themed rewards! More details coming closer to the event.
* No additional purchase necessary for the Fiery Hearthsteed mount. Limited-time offer only available to those who login to Hearthstone between March 11 and May 14. Mount not available in World of Warcraft® Classic games.
The War Within expansion introduces Hero Talents as a new update to World of Warcraft classes. They are an evergreen form of character progression for each class specialization that introduces new powers and class fantasies. Feedback is critical to us as a part of creating an impactful and fun addition to the game, so we are sharing our goals for Hero Talents with the community to get first impressions of them and learn how well we’re meeting those goals.
Hero Talents are new, self-contained talent trees that players unlock access at level 71. Hero Talents build on the abilities and talents of current classes and specializations. Players can choose a single Hero Talent tree to activate on a character and these talents can be changed in the same way class talents can be currently changed in the game. There are three Hero Talent trees for each class (excepting druid with four and demon hunter with two). Each specialization has two Hero Talent trees they can choose between, and each of these trees is available as an option for two specializations.
For example, warriors have three Hero Talent tree options: Slayer, Colossus, and Mountain Thane. Fury has access to Mountain Thane and Slayer, Protection has access to Mountain Thane and Colossus, and Arms has access to Colossus and Slayer.
There are 11 nodes in a Hero Talent tree. The first of these unlocks with the system at level 71, and you earn 1 talent point per level from level 71 to 80, so you get every talent in the tree by level 80. Hero Talents will have starter builds available, and your saved builds will save your Hero Talent choices as well.
What to Expect from Hero Talents
Each Hero Talent tree starts with a “keystone” talent that introduces the core mechanic and concept of the tree. This could be a new ability, an enhancement to an existing ability or cooldown, or a new buff you can trigger. The bottom talent of each tree is a “capstone” talent that builds on the core themes of the tree or adds new power to the keystone.
Each tree will offer or modify some class utility and include defensive bonuses that are useful to all specializations. We are aiming for all trees to be about equal in the amount of utility and defensiveness they provide. Trees for characters that can take on a tanking role may have some additional defense bonuses that will be less valuable to healers or damage dealers (DPS), such as bonuses to tank talents or cooldowns. Three or four nodes in each tree will be choice nodes where you can choose between two options.
Hero Talents are meant to add enough damage or healing throughput to be significant without being so important that these new talents overshadow your current class and spec tree talents. Most Hero Talent trees add new visual effects to classes, both to communicate what they’re doing and bring their class fantasies to life. However, these are not complete visual reworks – your class and spec are still the same at their core, and that will continue to come through.
Maintaining Freedom to Choose
We want players to be free to choose the Hero Talent tree that has the gameplay, visuals, or flavor that they prefer. Our goal is for both options to feel similarly effective in raid dungeons, Mythic+, and PvP. We’re working to avoid abilities or bonuses in Hero Talents that could make a certain tree feel “required” for activities where we can.
We know that for some players, prioritizing total throughput is the most important thing to them, even if the difference between choices seems small. That’s okay but keeping Hero Talent balance close is one of our priorities so that players can play what they prefer and still be viable in any content.
How We Chose Hero Talent Concepts
Since we announced Hero Talents at BlizzCon, it’s been great to see all the conversation and speculation surrounding the 39 Hero Talent titles. We’d like to share some of the thinking that went behind choosing those concepts.
Each Hero Talent concept must be appropriate for both of the specs that can use it. Some concepts build on overlaps in abilities or flavors between the two specs that can use it, like Colossus warriors, which are as mighty as Arms warriors and as imposing as Protection warriors. Others create new themes that are appropriate for both specs, like Fatebound rogues.
Hero Talents also retain your combat role and the gear that you use so that you’re not competing for new types of gear. For iconic Warcraft character archetypes, we wanted to be sure that we could deliver on their fantasy with Worldof Warcraft’s classes. Blademasters just wouldn’t be Blademasters without abilities like Wind Walk and Mirror Image, but those abilities don’t fit in a warrior’s toolkit.
Lastly, there are several iconic character archetypes that are strongly tied to specific races and factions, such as Keeper of the Grove or Mountain Thane. It’s exciting to embody these storied archetypes, but we want to ensure that characters of every race and faction can see themselves as those archetypes. We’re open to feedback on what feels good for your characters versus what is frustrating.
Gameplay and Hero Talents
We have several goals for what it feels like to play World of Warcraft with Hero Talents. Here are some of our guiding principles for how they affect your capabilities, your rotation, what you pay attention to in combat, and your user interface.
We like to say on the team that our goal for Hero Talents gameplay is for them to make you “what you are, but more.” We know that many of you have long histories with your favorite classes, and you play them because you like their gameplay and the spells and abilities that matter in their rotation, whether it’s the spinning plates of Affliction, the cycles of Arcane, or the frenetic reactivity of Fury. Hero Talents don’t override what matters to a class. You should feel like you’re playing your spec with a twist or a boost and not as if the things you care about have become unimportant or been replaced.
A Hero Talent tree might add new behavior or bonuses to an existing ability, like Keeper of the Grove’s bonuses to Force of Nature and Grove Guardian treants. They might occasionally reset the cooldown on abilities or replace spells with more powerful versions. They might make it easier to maintain important buffs or grant additional resources at key moments.
One thing that we’re keeping a close eye on is complexity. Classes in WoW have a lot of abilities and talents, and there’s a lot to learn about each one. We want Hero Talents to add new fun without creating new burdens, either in customizing or playing a character. Most Hero Talent trees do not add new buttons that players will need to add to their action bar or find a new keybind for. There will be additional opportunities for players to express their skill, but we’re trying not to add things like complex maintenance buffs that increase the cognitive load for everyone playing a class. Most of the choices a player will make about how complex they want their rotation to be will continue to be made in their class and spec talent trees.
Some Hero Talents do require you to take certain talents in your class or spec trees to access their powers. This is often because those talents fit the flavor and theme of that specific Hero Talent tree. The Mountain Thane warrior tree enhances Avatar and Thunder Clap, Templar paladin gives extra power to Wake of Ashes, and Elune’s Chosen druids can cast a particularly strong Fury of Elune. However, a Hero Talent tree will only ever require or enhance a small number of class or spec talents. It’s important to us that there still is freedom in customizing your class build.
Show Us the Hero Talent Trees!
Over the coming months, we’ll continue to share full designs for Hero Talent trees from The War Within. We’re excited to hear what you think of them.
Below, you’ll find the Hero Talents for the Keeper of the Grove Druids, Dark Ranger Hunters, Frostfire Mages, and Oracle Priests.
Keepers of the Grove take inspiration from Cenarius’ mighty children to protect the balance of nature and safeguard the Dream. They channel the power of the Dream to make their spells especially potent and summon empowered treants to protect their allies and crush their enemies.
KEEPER OF THE GROVE KEYSTONE
Dream Surge: Force of Nature grants 3 charges of Dream Burst, causing your next Wrath or Starfire to explode on the target, dealing Nature damage to nearby enemies. Damage is reduced above 5 targets.
Grove Guardians causes your next targeted heal to create 2 Dream Petals near the target, healing up to 3 nearby allies. Stacks up to 3 charges.
KEEPER OF THE GROVE ROW 1
Treants of the Moon: Your treants cast Moonfireon nearby targets about once every 6 seconds.
Expansiveness: Your maximum mana is increased by 5% and your maximum Astral Power is increased by 20.
Protective Growth: Your Regrowth protects you, reducing damage you take by 8% while your Regrowth is on you.
KEEPER OF THE GROVE ROW 2
Choice Node: Power of Nature & Durability of Nature
Power of Nature: YourForce of Nature treants no longer taunt and deal 20% increased damage. Your Grove Guardians increase the healing of your Rejuvenation, Efflorescence and Lifebloom by 5% while active.
Durability of Nature: Your Force of Nature treants have 50% increased health. Your Grove Guardians Nourish and Swiftmend spells also apply a minor Cenarion Ward that heals the target over 8 seconds the next time they take damage.
Cenarius’ Might: Casting Starsurge or Starfall increases the damage of your next Starsurge or Starfall by 10%, stacking up to 2 times. Casting another spell cancels this effect.
Casting Regrowth, Wild Growth, or Swiftmend increases the healing of your next Regrowth, Wild Growth, or Swiftmend by 10%, stacking up to 2 times. Casting another spell cancels this effect.
Grove’s Inspiration: Wrath and Starfiredamage increased by 12%. Regrowth, Wild Growth, and Swiftmend healing increased by 6%.
Persistent Enchantments:Orbital Strike applies Stellar Flare for 20 seconds and Primordial Arcanic Pulsar grants Celestial Alignment for 2 additional seconds. Reforestation grants Tree of Life for 2 additional seconds.
KEEPER OF THE GROVE ROW 3
Choice Node: Bounteous Bloom & Early Spring
Bounteous Bloom: Your Force of Nature treants generate 3 Astral Power every 2 seconds. Your Grove Guardians’ healing is increased by 20%.
Early Spring: Force of Nature cooldown reduced by 10 seconds. Grove Guardians cooldown reduced by 3 seconds.
Choice Node: Power of the Dream & Control of the Dream
Power of the Dream:Force of Nature grants an additional stack of Dream Burst. Healing spells cast with Dream Surge generate an additional Dream Petal. Cenarius’ Might increases spell damage or healing by an additional 5%.
Control of the Dream: Time elapsed while your major abilities are available to be used is subtracted from that ability’s cooldown after the next time you use it, up to 5 seconds. Affects Nature’s Swiftness, Incarnation: Tree of Life, Force of Nature, Celestial Alignment,and Convoke the Spirits.
Blooming Infusion: Every 5 Regrowths you cast make your next Wrath, Starfire, or Entangling Roots instant and increases the damage it deals by 100%. Every 5 Starsurges or Starfalls you cast makes your next Regrowth or Entangling Roots instant.
KEEPER OF THE GROVE CAPSTONE
Harmony of the Grove: Each of your Force of Nature treants increases damage your spells deal by 3% while active. Each of your Grove Guardians increases your healing done by 3% while active.
Specializations: Marksmanship and Beast Mastery Hunter
You have made a pact with dark magic and have embraced hatred and necromancy for your own personal benefit. Strike from the shadows and assault your enemies with necrotic/shadow empowered abilities. Enemies who fall from your abilities further empower your dark energies.
DARK RANGER KEYSTONE
Black Arrow: Fire a Black Arrow into your target, causing it to take Shadow damage every 2 seconds for 16 seconds. Each time Black Arrow deals damage, you have a chance to reset the cooldown of Aimed Shot or Barbed Shot. 30 second cooldown.
DARK RANGER ROW 1
Ranger’s Finesse:Aimed Shot and Rapid Fire deal 15% increased damage. Barbed Shot and Kill Command deal 15% increased damage.
Dark Hounds: Each time Black Arrow deals damage, you have a chance to manifest an undead hound to charge your target and deal Shadow damage.
Death Shade: When you apply Black Arrow to a target, you gain the Deathblow or Hunter’s Prey effect.
DARK RANGER ROW 2
Choice Node: Dark Empowerment & Grave Reaper
Dark Empowerment: When Black Arrow resets the cooldown of an ability, gain 15 Focus.
Grave Reaper: When a target affected by Black Arrow dies, the cooldown of Black Arrow is reduced by 12 seconds.
Choice Node: Embrace the Shadows & Smoke Screen
Embrace the Shadows: You heal for 15% of all Shadow damage dealt by you or your pets.
Smoke Screen: Exhilaration grants you 3 seconds of Survival of the Fittest. Survival of the Fittest activates Exhilaration at 50% effectiveness.
Dark Chains: Disengage will chain the closest target to the ground, causing them to move 40% slower until they move 8 yards away.
DARK RANGER ROW 3
Intense Darkness: When Trueshot or Call of the Wild is active, Black Arrow deals damage 50% faster.
Shadow Surge: When Multi-Shot hits a target affected by Black Arrow, a burst of Shadow energy erupts dealing moderate Shadow damage to all enemies near the target. This can only occur once every 6 seconds.
Choice Node: Darkness Calls & Shadow Assassin
Darkness Calls: All Shadow damage you and your pets deal is increased by 10%.
Shadow Assassin:Kill Shot has a 15% chance to generate a charge of Aimed Shot or Barbed Shot when used on a target affected by Black Arrow.
DARK RANGER CAPSTONE
Withering Fire: When Black Arrow resets the cooldown of Aimed Shot or Barbed Shot, a barrage of dark arrows strikes your target for Shadow damage and increases the damage you and your pets deal by 10% for 6 seconds.
Frostfire Mages harness a fusion of fire and ice magic to burn and freeze their enemies. Their use of elemental magic empowers them, enabling devastating combinations of spell casts and increasing their output by manipulating temperatures.
Frostfire Mastery: Your damaging Fire spells generate 1 stack of Fire Mastery and Frost spells generate 1 stack of Frost Mastery. Fire Mastery increases your Haste by 1% and Frost Mastery increases your Mastery by 1% for 12 seconds, stacking up to 8 times each. Adding stacks does not refresh duration.
FROSTFIRE ROW 1
Choice Node: Imbued Warding & Meltdown
Imbued Warding: Blazing Barrier also casts an Ice Barrier at 25% effectiveness for Fire. Ice Barrier also casts a Blazing Barrier at 25% effectiveness for Frost. This also affects your Mass Barrier.
Meltdown: You melt slightly out of your Ice Block and Ice Cold, allowing you to move slowly during Ice Block and increasing your movement speed over time. Ice Block and Ice Cold trigger a Blast Wave when they end.
Frostfire Bolt: Launches a bolt of Frostfire at the enemy, dealing Frostfire damage, slowing movement speed by 50%, and causing additional Frostfire damage over 8 seconds. Frostfire Bolt generates a stack of both Fire Mastery and Frost Mastery. Replaces Frostbolt for Frost and Fireball for Fire. 2 second cast time.
Choice Node: Elemental Affinity & Flame & Frost
Elemental Affinity: The cooldown of Frost spells is reduced by 10% for Fire. The cooldown of Fire spells is reduced by 30% for Frost.
Flame and Frost: Cauterize resets the cooldown of your Frost spells with a base cooldown shorter than 4 minutes when it activates for Fire. Cold Snap additionally resets the cooldown of your Fire spells.
FROSTFIRE ROW 2
Isothermic Core: Comet Storm now also calls down a Meteor at 100% effectiveness onto your target’s location. Meteor now also calls down a Comet Storm at 150% effectiveness onto your target location.
Choice Node: Severe Temperatures & Thermal Conditioning
Severe Temperatures: Casting Frost or Fire spells increases the damage of your next Frostfire Bolt by 6%, stacking up to 5 times.
Thermal Conditioning:Frostfire Bolt’s cast time is reduced by 10%.
Frostfire Infusion: Your Frost and Fire spells have a chance to trigger an additional bolt of Frostfire, dealing Frostfire damage. This effect generates Frostfire Mastery when activated.
FROSTFIRE ROW 3
Excess Frost: Reaching maximum stacks of Frost Mastery causes your next Phoenix Flames (Fire) / Flurry (Frost) to also cast Ice Nova at 200% effectiveness. When you consume Excess Frost, the cooldown of Meteor (Fire) / Comet Storm (Frost) is reduced by 5 seconds.
Frostfire Empowerment: Your Frost and Fire spells have a chance to activate Frostfire Empowerment, causing your next Frostfire Bolt to always critically strike, explode for 80% of its damage to nearby enemies, and be instant cast.
Excess Fire: Reaching maximum stacks of Fire Mastery causes your next Fire Blast (Fire) / Ice Lance (Frost) to apply Living Bomb at 150% effectiveness. When this Living Bomb explodes, reduce the cooldown of Phoenix Flames by 10 seconds (Fire) / gain Brain Freeze (Frost).
Flash Freezeburn: Frostfire Empowerment grants you maximum benefit of Frostfire Mastery and refreshes its duration. Activating Combustion or Icy Veins grants you Frostfire Empowerment.
2024 is underway and it’s a big year for World of Warcraft as the game reaches a milestone 20-year anniversary!
To think that 20 years ago Facebook launched, MySpace was cool, and many of us were playing on a Nintendo DS and a Playstation Portable. Friends aired its final episode and Lost delivered its first. And that same year friends, family, and coworkers started playing a game called World of Warcraft!
It fills my heart that Azeroth has become home to so many different types of people and players around the globe who have shared memorable moments these past two decades. *hugs* As Morpheus cried in Matrix Reloaded (2003, but anyway) “WE are STILL here!” I’m glad I chose this rabbit hole and have never regretted how deep it goes. WoW is my wonderland – all day, every day.
Thinking about the year ahead, and our roadmaps we remain committed to, we want to share with you three things we’re focused on as a development team:
#1. Continue to evolve the living world for all players.
Build on our learnings from 2023 to deliver content regularly for Dragonflight and Classic.
Update and modernize your experience and quality of life in all flavors of WoW.
Listen to your feedback and keep improving.
#2. Deliver the first installment of our most ambitious story with The War Within.
World of Warcraft: The War Within is preparing to invite players for testing in the coming months, and we are working hard to deliver on the epic journey of our Worldsoul Saga.
#3. Try new things and take risks to bring you new experiences.
Our development team is trying new approaches. Invention and creativity are critical to this ever-evolving world of Azeroth we craft for—and with—all of you.
All that in mind, immediately ahead of us we have WoW Classic: Season of Discovery Phase 2 launching on February 8 at 1:00 p.m. (21:00 GMT) globally. For more details, get the full scoop from our overview. You’ll notice some new approaches mentioned there that we’re trying out and (as always) we will listen to feedback. (“New runes, a new PvP experience, skill books, and more!)
WoW Classic Hardcore’s Self-Found mode is coming in late February, followed shortly after by the Beta for Cataclysm Classic. More news on that will be coming soon.
As many have noticed, this is the first period of time since Dragonflight launched that we haven’t had an active PTR and we understand that it is creating some curiosity.
For the 10.2.6 patch for Dragonflight, we created what we think is a unique event inspired by past musings from the community. We can say that it is open to anyone with a WoW subscription if they want to participate (Classic or Dragonflight players). That’s all we’re going say. Sorry, not sorry? Our goal is to continue to keep it secret— and keep it safe. The speculation is great! We watched the reaction to the surprises in Season of Discovery and thought we’d try a similar, but different, approach for Dragonflight.
That means there will be no PTR (Public Test Realm) for a portion of the next content update as we have traditionally done. What we can say is that it will be coming in March. A finer point, but the update will also include everything that’s needed for Dragonflight Season 4 but will be hidden. Around (after) the launch of the update we will make Season 4 available for testing on a 10.2.6 PTR before it goes live.
Why are we doing this? We like the idea of releasing content that has some surprises and isn’t datamined or revealed in advance. We also like to see the joy the community gets out of uncovering it all together as they all jump in to play. We look forward to seeing if the community likes this type of surprise and look forward to hearing your feedback. This is risky experiment and could be a bit bumpy, though we are doing everything we can to ensure success.
The WoW team prides itself on ensuring a solid, quality launch. We are sensitive and reactive to problems and issues that can and might arise, so I hope you can forgive us if we experience some hiccups with this experiment and work alongside us as we try this out in March. ALL WILL BE REVEALED THEN!
With gratitude and excitement for the new memories we create together,