World of Warcraft devs talk about worldbuilding in Shadowlands and the end of eternity


World of Warcraft: Shadow Lands preparing for the release The end of eternity, its second and final major update. Alliance and Horde heroes will travel to Zerith Mortis – a workshop realm used by the mysterious First Ones to create the Shadowlands – in their hunt for Zovaal the Jailer. Zertih Mortis holds secrets of creation that could bring change and enlightenment as easily as death.

Game Rant spoke with World of Warcraft Lead Narrative Designer Steve Danuser and Lead Game Designer Morgan Day on the process of creating Zerith Mortis and the Shadowlands. They shared their thoughts on how to tell a story in an otherworldly location and the tough decisions that went into choosing the stories they wanted to tell. Shadowland given World of Warcraft a unique and difficult opportunity.


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Bringing World of Warcraft history to life in the Realm of Death

Telling a story in a place like the Shadowland is not easy. The balance between recognizable and innovative content is difficult, and Shadowland had to struggle with this from the start. World of Warcraft is a game first and foremost, but justifying gameplay mechanics like transportation, recipe crafting, and food within this framework was an unexpected challenge.

The portals found in Oribos that lead to Orgrimmar and Stormwind are a good example of this. Although ostensibly there to provide comfort to players, NPCs like Lordaeron refugees Emma Felstone and Philia Fintallas, as well as tauren paladin Sunwalker Dezco, who seeks the souls of his deceased wife and child, can be found in the Shadowland hub city. The implication that any old baker could go to the afterlife and peddle his loaves may be enough to make your head spin.

wow sl citizens in shadowlands

The universe of Warcraft is big, far more than any game or book could encompass. “There are so many things we want to explore,” Day said. “Some of them are like, ‘Can the bread guy go through the portal?’ We don’t always have the ability to answer these questions. Nevertheless, the development teams did what they could to show, as Danuser called it, “That slice that best suits the type of game that World of Warcraft is.” He said from the main plot to the hidden cameos, and even particular recipes and craft foods, World of Warcraft tells its story drawing on all facets of the development team – and invites players to ponder questions they don’t get the chance to answer.

“It was a great opportunity to show that everyone on the team is a storyteller, not just the narrative team or the quest team; it’s everyone working together to infuse a story into everything they do, and that’s one of the hallmarks of what makes the world building in wow really stand out and resonate with fans year after year.

For some people, World of Warcraft approach worked well. The true zoo of wonders of Shadowland provides plenty to consume, and many are happy to take what they find and fill in the blanks. For the others, Shadowlands’ storytelling failed. These players are unhappy with surface-level answers, and even frustrated when those answers spawn more questions. They want to know the impact these portals have on the bakers of Stormwind and think World of Warcraft has bitten more than he can chew with Shadowland.

wow sl ee zm owl waterfall

Regardless, Shadowland comes to an end, and The end of eternity is the zenith of this story arc. Everything that happens after will hopefully learn from the positives and negatives of Shadowland to make something even stronger. With the end of these character arcs and cosmic mysteries, Danuser and the World of Warcraft the team can start something new.

“[Eternity’s End] gives us the best of both worlds. We go to this truly fantastic place unlike any we’ve seen before and learn some clues about cosmic mysteries that uncover potential future paths that may well go into the future, while also getting this very Azerothian closure of some of them. character arcs for the people we’ve followed and fought alongside or fought against for years.

RELATED: World of Warcraft: Eternity’s End Broker Journal foreshadows calamity after Shadowlands

Choose from players in the entire World of Warcraft

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With nearly 30 years of history to draw from, World of Warcraft has many characters. Worse still, an expansion set in the afterlife opens the door wider, as dead characters are no longer on the table. Perhaps the hardest question World of Warcraft had to face Shadowland was which characters he wanted to feature in the story.

“We wanted to choose a cast that we felt was essential to these events, that would have certain perspectives that might be unexpected,” Danuser said. “There’s only a short time to introduce characters, so we had to make choices and say, ‘Okay, we’re going to leave some of these others waiting on the sidelines for now. “” Shadowland had to choose who to focus on and find the balance between the main existing characters, Shadowland originals and expected faces.

wow sl afterlife draka maldraxxus

This approach has created an unprecedented experience in Shadowland. Recognizable characters like Vashjj, Draka and Alexandros Mograine have been hits with the crowds, with Shadowland offering levels of characterization that would be impossible in a normal set; as well as new characters like Renathal, Merelith, and Pelagos who have been adored by fans. However, some living characters with strong ties to the main cast of Shadowland, like Malfurion Stormrage, Tyrande’s husband, or Velen, Anduin’s mentor, have disappeared. Other deceased characters could have enhanced the story, such as Battle for Azeroth beloved Varok Saurfang or Anduin’s father, former High King Varian Wrynn. These absences were keenly felt by many.

Saurfang having an encounter with Thrall

When all might agree World of Warcraft only has a short time to tell a story, not everyone will be happy with characters who can play a role. Shadowland is not finished yet; corn The end of eternity will conclude the expansion’s main story, but Danuser gives hope to a few other characters appearing in the epilogues and in the build-up to the next expansion.

“That’s part of the fun of giving a story an epilogue chapter – you get to spice up some of these characters who weren’t in the main storylines, but might still have interesting perspectives.”

World of Warcraft: Shadow Lands is available on PC. The end of eternity released on February 22, 2022.

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