As the World of Warcraft: Shadowlands chapter comes to a close with the upcoming Eternity’s End 9.2 patch set to release on February 22, 2022, questions abound as many secrets and twists are yet to be revealed.
We recently got to sit down with 2 key figures steering the ship of Eternity’s End – Patrick Dawson (Production Director) and Maria Hamilton (Lead Quest Designer), to ask them questions about the upcoming update and what players can expect in the upcoming finale.
*Interview has been slightly edited for clarity.
World of Warcraft Eternity’s End Patch 9.2 Q&A
Q: With the revelation of Zereth Mortis and all of its deeper meaning on the WoW lore in mind, is it still possible to sort of go back to a simpler time where the heroes of Azeroth are fighting dragons or exploring new areas? Will the larger cosmic storyline we’ve seen in previous expansions interfere with some of the more nuanced stories that could be told coming up in the future?
Maria Hamilton (MH): I don’t think so. I think we can go all over the place! We have a vast world and a lot of fantastic characters to explore yet. Not all stories have to be cosmic or epic stories, so I think we have a lot of room to go to all sorts of different places.
Q: A common theme, to gaming in general, is that a lot of people have been hopping in and out of their regular games. Given the update, the “epic conclusion” to this particular chapter, do you think that people have a lot to be excited about and will the players who have gone on hiatus be drawn back and become more excited in returning to the game.
Patrick Dawson (PD): There’s certainly a lot for players to be excited about. It’s one of the largest patches we’ve ever done, we have a ton of great content for players to enjoy – whether it’s Zereth Mortis like we were just talking about, our new raid with 11 bosses and 2 parts, a whole new PVP season, and even Mythic+ season to come back to. A lot of fun things to do – a new PVP brawl, another arena as well… and tier sets, which is another thing that a lot of people tell us they’ve been looking forward to. As a player, I’m also looking forward to it myself, to go up and be able to collect those powerful, iconic tier sets again.
MH: There’s a second legendary to pick up as well to make things interesting and easier… There’s tons of mounts and pets and transmogs and all of those things that attract the kinds of players that enjoy that. We have the campaign chapter continuing to the finale and conclusion, lots of good story as well. Seems like there’s a lot to do, so I hope that people that have an interest in those things will be back to join us.
PD: Something I love about WoW is that there’s something for everybody, no matter what kind of player you are, especially in a content update of this size, there’s something for everybody to enjoy.
Q: With the new tier system, will there be a way for returning players who might’ve skipped Castle Nathria and Sanctum of Domination to get into raiding easier? Will the set bonuses be enough to offset some of the meta gameplay, for those who’ve already caught up with Mythic+ gear and are ready to make their cool new tier sets?
PD: I think with any new season change comes with a whole new set of rewards for players to enjoy, and pretty quickly, unless you were at that cutting edge of raiding, you’ll be able to catch up pretty quickly to your expected gear level is for this content update. That way, you get to jump right into Normal or Heroic mode raiding… If you’re looking to get into high-end mythic raiding, there’s avenues to do that as well. The idea is that within a pretty short period of time, you’ll have gear from this content update and be running the hardest of the hardest content if you wish.
Another important thing to consider when we’re talking about tier sets is that you can get them now from more than just the raid. In the past, it was always locked to the raid and specific bosses that they would drop off of, but now, you can get it from other activities like Mythic+ or rated PVP so that everyone can enjoy and experience the tier sets regardless of what high-end content you choose to do.
Q: Will there be any hints for the next expansion in 9.2 for the eagle-eyed player who watches every cutscene and reads all the quest text?
MH: Of course, you have to do your due diligence, and of course, I can’t tell you.
Q: We’ve seen quite a bit of excitement about Sylvanas’ story, what can we expect to see from her in 9.2?
MH: That would be spoiling as well but I guarantee that things will happen with Sylvanas, and I guarantee that players will have an opportunity to have opinions about whether they like what happens or not. I think we’ve made a cool choice with how Sylvanas’ journey continues or doesn’t, but I can’t spoil that either.
Q: Regarding Cypher of the First Ones, will there be new types of quests or ways to progress?
MH: One of the exciting things about the Cypher of the First Ones is that you’re learning about Zereth Mortis. When you first come to Zerith Mortis, it’s very mysterious, very strange place and you can’t understand what’s going on around you, there’s a language that’s sort of musical that is represented in these cyphers or rune shapes. As you learn more and more, you become able to translate and understand them, and this will allow you to speak to and accept quests from creatures that only speak in those languages. There is a little bit of questing associated with Cypher of the First Ones as well as big exploration that’s involved in it – Cypher is intended to help you explore and learn about the First Ones and Zereth Mortis so everything is focused very much on that.
Q: What’s the most challenging and most fun part of the development of this patch and do you feel any extra pressure with high expectations and anticipation for 9.2?
MH: A little bit of the challenge for quest design is that we’re in such a very strange place and it’s important that in our world-building, it’s clear it’s a strange place, but also important that it’s relatable enough that players understand the basics of what’s going on. So it’s finding that line between completely incomprehensible gibberish and something that eventually has form and substance that you understand.
PD: One of the major challenges of Shadowlands as a whole was Zereth Mortis. It’s unfamiliar, it’s new, and how do you come up with ideas and build a world that’s not anchored in anything that we’re familiar with in the past, but you wanna keep those threads of familiarity too. That’s definitely has been a fun challenge, things that are hard aren’t always something that’s bad, it’s actually been quite the awesome journey.
World of Warcraft Eternity’s End is the climactic final chapter of the Shadowlands saga and will go live on February 22, 2022.