How revisiting World of Warcraft Classic helped Blizzard design Dragonflight

While there's a lot that's new in World of Warcraft: Dragonflight, it took a trip to the past for developers to realize that what's old can be new again.


World of Warcraft has started a new journey, as players adventure alongside the Dragonflight. While there are plenty of new features that Blizzard is introducing, this latest expansion was a return to the drawing board in some ways. In fact, it took a return to WoW's old days to feel inspired to inject some new life into the long-running MMORPG. Lead Combat Designer Brian Holinka and Senior Game Designer Graham Berger recently spoke with our own Greg Burke and talked about how WoW Classic helped nudge the dev team towards revisiting some old-school ideas for the core game's latest expansion.

"It was kind of the perfect convergence of two big elements," Holinka told Shacknews. "The first was the release of [World of Warcraft] Classic and, you know, the team playing the game, going out leveling, and just going through that experience and earning a talent point, and being like, 'Huh, there was something to that.' There was something to the idea of 'I get a point for every level and I make a choice and chisel away at who my character is going to be,' having that kind of recurring moment of making a decision about your character."

Those familiar with the old ways of WoW will be pleasantly surprised by the addition of more traditional talent trees, a feature largely inspired by the recent updates to World of Warcraft Classic. On top of that, revisiting the origins of the Demon Hunter class allowed the developers to soak in what a game-changer that was for the game, which contributed to the design of the Evoker's Empowered Abilities.

Other topics brought up during this interview include discussion of tank specializations for Evokers, deciding on which talents would make the game, designing the Dracthyr, and the continued evolution of the WoW source code. World of Wracraft: Dragonflight is available on PC now. For more interviews like this, be sure to subscribe to Shacknews and GamerHubTV on YouTube.

Senior Editor

Ozzie has been playing video games since picking up his first NES controller at age 5. He has been into games ever since, only briefly stepping away during his college years. But he was pulled back in after spending years in QA circles for both THQ and Activision, mostly spending time helping to push forward the Guitar Hero series at its peak. Ozzie has become a big fan of platformers, puzzle games, shooters, and RPGs, just to name a few genres, but he’s also a huge sucker for anything with a good, compelling narrative behind it. Because what are video games if you can't enjoy a good story with a fresh Cherry Coke?

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