After months of feedback from players that mostly seemed to fall on deaf ears, Blizzard will make some major changes to many of World of Warcraft Shadowlands’ biggest systems in the game’s next update, which includes the removal of a controversial feature that has long been a source of player complaints along with changes to in-game references to many previous developers.
As outlined in a statement from the WoW development team, Blizzard will make some significant quality of life changes in Shadowlands in update 9.1.5, many of which are direct responses to feedback many players have had since Shadowlands̵
“In the last few weeks since we shared an update, the WoW team has been focused on the near future — both for our employees and in the workplace, and what’s next for the players as well,” the WoW team writes. “As part of the whole team gathered to ask: What are the biggest things we hear that get in the way of your fun, and what are the most effective changes we can make in WoW today to fix it?”
As mentioned by Shadowland’s game director Ion Hazzikostas on Twitter, many of the changes coming in the next update are tailored to make the life of “everything” characters easier. For the unknown, everything is a secondary character a player can play after doing most of the game’s content on a primary or “main” character. There’s a list of changes that include adding new rows of heirlooms, the ability to skip Covenant campaigns on alts after completing them with a different character, the ability to skip the expansion’s initial Maw search bar for alts, the ability to level in Torghast and more. According to Hazzikostas, even more alt-friendly changes, such as being able to transfer a Shadowlands currency called Anima between main and alt characters, may also come in the future.
Major changes that players have long requested also come to the game’s Covenant system, including the much disliked Conduit Energy system. Blizzard removes Conduit Energy completely and writes in a forum post that the system did not play out as the developer had hoped.
“We should have followed feedback from society and taken a different direction a year ago,” the post reads. “A majority of players largely ignore the system and are unaffected by it, while the minority who want to participate in more content types competitively feel limited by it. Overall, it gives a negative experience. Conduit Energy does not really make the game better at any noticeable way, so we remove the system completely. “
Players who reach a high enough Renown ranking will also be able to switch freely between Covenants. This change is especially important, as Blizzard at the beginning of Shadowlands made a big deal with how big a choice a player’s chosen pact would be, and went so far as to punish players who decided to later switch to another pact. With update 9.1.5, players will be able to change Covenants to their heart’s content without any penalty, allowing for more experimentation with different Covenant abilities without feeling locked into a particular path.
All of this comes in addition to a number of other changes, such as the addition of new character creation options far earlier than expected, the recycling of legendary items, Legion timewalking dungeons, streamlined unlocking requirements for many of the game’s Allied Races and more.
Not described in Blizzard’s official statements is the news, via PC Gamer, that the update will remove references to former Blizzard developers Jesse McCree, Luis Barriga and Jon LeCraft, who have all recently left Blizzard following allegations in a state of California lawsuit alleging Blizzard to promote a culture of harassment and discrimination against women. The Overwatch character who shares the name McCree will also be changed in the future, and Blizzard has already removed references in WoW to the former game director Alex Afrasiabi. Blizzard outlined in the development update that the update will provide better visibility in-game reporting along with more severe penalties for those who violate the game’s code of conduct. A public test site for 9.1.5 where players will be able to see all the changes first hand, will be released later this week.
The coming changes sound almost too good to be true for large sections of society, and may be too little, too late for some. More than a few of WoW’s biggest content creators and streamers have recently walked away from the game, at least in part thanks to Blizzard’s lack of communication with the community, while others have left after news of the lawsuit’s claims. The content creators who have not finished the game completely have at least diversified their content to include rival MMOs such as Square Enix Final Fantasy XIV or Amazon’s upcoming new world.
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