As it approaches its 20th anniversary, World of Warcraft remains one of the most popular online role-playing games and on Tuesday revealed a much-anticipated new expansion to its realm of fantasy adventure.
Here’s the news: Gaming review site Kotaku reports that Blizzard pulled back the curtain on the next chapter of World of Warcraft in a developer livestream Tuesday, and it’s all about dragons. The appropriately titled Dragonflight expansion will unleash players upon the Dragon Isles and let them roll as a new playable dragon race called the Dracthyr. And, of course, you ride some of the dragons, too.
Per Kotaku, World of Warcraft: Dragonflight focuses on Azeroth’s Dragon Aspects who will once again help the game’s heroes take on the baddies. The Dragon Isles, where much of the action takes place, will be split into four zones, and the developers said exploration will be a key focus of the expansion. To that end, players will be tasked with becoming dragon riders and making use of four new drake mounts to navigate the world.
Rough road to Dragonflight: The latest expansion is the ninth since World of Warcraft launched in 2004, and the last few years have seen some struggles for, and criticisms of, the franchise and its owner, Blizzard Entertainment.
The last two expansions, Battle for Azeroth and Shadowlands, upset many fans with overcomplicated-yet-unbalanced systems and half-baked stories, according to Venture Beat. And then there are the reports of workplace harassment and misconduct that have occurred at Blizzard, which also turned off many players.
While past expansions have introduced systems and features that only last for a single expansion, Blizzard is promising more permanent and meaningful updates in Dragonflight, per Venture Beat.
While a release date for the expansion has not been made public, World of Warcraft is among the most popular multiplayer online games and, according to data posted by MMO Populations, World of Warcraft has amassed over 118 million players, with over 1 million of those active on the platform.
From whence it came: Per a detailed history of World of Warcraft by the Computer History Museum, the inspiration, design and evolution of the game capitalized on some of the biggest attractors for fans of fantasy adventure.
- The online game that debuted in 2004 evolved from Blizzard Entertainment’s Warcraft: Orcs & Humans, introduced a decade earlier as a single or dual player game for a standalone PC. The company adapted its successful Warcraft III: Reign of Chaos game engine to fit the online environment, bringing a proven product to a new medium and a global audience.
- Its fantasy landscape was beautiful and its “quests” complex. World of Warcraft was simple enough for beginners, yet let sophisticated users customize their experience.
- World of Warcraft tapped into a venerable tradition of fantasy computer and board games, many inspired by the Orc-infested lands in Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings.
- Dungeons and Dragons, text-based computer games such as Oubliette and Adventure, and graphical games such as Ultima all paved the way for World of Warcraft.