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World of Warcraft: Shadowlands

After Shadowlands, what's next for World of Warcraft?

Blizzard talked with us about patch 9.5 and beyond, alluding at a bigger cooperation between Alliance and Horde.

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Eternity's End, aka patch 9.2, will mark the conclusion of the Shadowlands saga, putting players and main characters face-to-face with the mighty Jailer. We will hear about what's coming on February 22 in the next few days, but before that we're focused on what's right ahead. We asked Blizzard about the big talk of the moment - the Horde and Alliance option to raid together. This is the first time in the game's long history that both factions will be able to actually play together.

In a joint interview with several other European media, we asked both Lead Designer Morgan Day and Lead Narrative Designer Steve Danuser, for clarification regarding how this new cooperation will work.

Steve Danuser "The ability for Horde and Alliance players to play instanced content together is coming in the 9.5 update, the one after Eternity's End. The emphasis for it certainly comes in the aftermath of the Fourth War that took place in Battle for Azeroth, at the end of which Horde and Alliance signed an armistice. They are kind of in a bit of a détente at the moment, if you will. It's not that they have become allies, but they agreed that war is bad for Azeroth as a whole."

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"The rivalries have not gone away, and if your an Alliance player, you're still not welcomed at Orgrimmar and vice-versa. In a story sense they are still weary of one another, but as we've seen time and again in World of Warcraft and the various expansions that we had, there have been many times Horde and Alliance had to put their differences aside to band together against some greater threat, and in Shadowlands they are doing so to face off against the Jailer."

Morgan Day "There's a real focus on our part of Horde and Alliance identity, in terms of how they solve problems, what their philosophies are, and that's still very much something we talk about and want to keep intact moving forward. This is also based on feedback we heard many times, like 'hey, I have a buddy on Alliance, why can't I raid with them, why can't I do that, Blizzard?' Well, there's all this history and lore, and we want to stay true to that."

"But we feel this is an opportunity to take a small step forward, as this is only regarding instanced play, and will help solve some real problems our players have identified with. Maybe you're an Alliance player that loves doing Mythic+, and that player might have a harder time finding like-minded players to play with. This is something we felt was an opportunity, both in world building and the story, there's desire from our players perspective, and we felt like it solved some problems. We'll see where our next step might take us."

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Considering this is "one step forward", we wondered if the next steps might, for example, allow a Horde player to enter peacefully into Stormwind..., something that sounded like blasphemy mere weeks ago (and still kind of does).

Morgan Day "I wouldn't want to close the door on that, and things like this do lead to questions like that. What's potentially the next step? What will this look like in five years or in ten years? There's also some great opportunities as we'll see in the Eternity's End update, with some Horde and Alliance characters working together, and those are moments that our players always love to see and to participate in. The Jailer's threat has been looming throughout all of Shadowlands, and we've seen Covenants banding together, and Horde and Alliance also feel that they need to work together to solve this problem."

Steve Danuser "If we were to ever see progression along these lines, there's going to be a lot of history to overcome. The Night Elves for example have some very unresolved feelings towards the Horde, and that's not something that will simply stop overnight. There's a long road to go before there can be a true bond between these storied factions."

Shadowlands is the eight World of Warcraft expansion, and a lot has been covered in the Warcraft universe, not only since the MMORPG launch in 2004, but also in the strategy games that came before it, not to mention books and comics. With so much already done, we wondered it if's hard to come up with new stories to tell in the Warcraft universe.

Steve Danuser "Well, it's not hard at all. Warcraft is such a rich universe of characters, places, and ideas, to explore, that it's not a matter of what's next, but which of the many things we have planned will we go to next. The characters that we have that fans have developed such deep feelings and appreciation for, or in some cases, hatred for, that's just so exciting to tell stories with. The whole team is energized by what lies ahead, and we're all storytellers, not only the story folk, but also the quests people, the artists, the engineers, and the system designers. There's just no shortage of ideas and inspiration out there."

World of Warcraft: ShadowlandsWorld of Warcraft: Shadowlands

With Shadowlands coming to a close, we wondered what's Blizzard's feelings towards the expansion, it's development, and how it went, but we also had to ask if we're getting an hint of what's coming next.

Steve Danuser<em> "When we set out years ago to tell this Shadowlands story, we knew that we were building this drama in three acts, and we knew there would be twists and turns along the way. We didn't know that there would be a pandemic that would cause some delays, and how quickly we could get content in players hands, but we always stuck to the story we were building and this world we were crafting, and we wanted to give it our players in the highest quality possible."

"We are very pleased to see the story come to this conclusion in Eternity's End, and all these storylines that have been building up with Sylvannas, Anduin, the Jailer, and other characters. We're very excited to see that coming into a conclusion, but in every story there is that genesis of the next one. Some of the events that you'll in the epilogue, in the last chapter of this campaign, that will have some little hints as well as a little bit of a story that will come in that 9.5 update that we will talk about more down the road. But yes, we always think ahead when planning the Warcraft universe and which expansions will be next, and we have some really exciting things that we think players will really get into."

Morgan Day "It's really fun to kind of reflect on the road of how we got to the Shadowlands, all the way back to Garrosh in Mists of Pandaria and how he went to Draenor, and if we didn't went to Draenor we wouldn't have found Gul'Dan, and if we didn't find Gul'Dan we wouldn't have gone to Legion... the consequences of someone's actions have been leading to quite a few expansions, so this is an opportunity for us to have a closing act, but also have something to lead us to something new and exciting."

Be sure to check our next interview coming soon, as we explore what's in store for the final battle in WoW: Shadowlands - Eternity's End.

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