Sometimes you make a few changes and throw everything out of whack in a game, or sometimes you accidentally end up making the entire player base wonder what in the world you were thinking. Blizzard stumbled onto the second.
Recently during the World of Warcraft: Shadowlands beta, Blizzard decided to add in a change to help balance Covenant Abilities. That change could just barely have been more poorly received by the player base.
In the update, Blizzard made it so that Covenant Abilities were disabled outside of Shadowlands content. This made it so that the powerful and expansion-defining mechanic of Covenants became much less important outside of the territories.
In essence, this is similar to Corruption or Azerite Powers suddenly not working unless you were in Zandalar/Kul Tiras during the Battle for Azeroth expansion. As this guts away one of the core mechanics, many players were baffled.
However, other content such as Soulbind and Conduit bonuses were still working on the Beta. It’s unknown if this was an intentional move or if the developers forgot to disable them.
— MrGM (@MrGMYT) October 8, 2020
This was, generally speaking, an awful idea, and much of the fanbase was quick to let the developers know this. Why would anyone want to work towards unlocking and utilizing powers to have them then unusable in almost all content beforehand?
Thankfully, one of the people who spoke out against it ended up being game director Ion Hazzikostas, who spoke earlier today about reverting the change after receiving so much negative feedback.
Hazzikostas explains that the change was a restriction based partly for “world-fantasy reasons”, as lorewise it’s strange to justify Shadowlands-specific powers being used outside of the Shadowlands (though one could certainly find one). More than that, it was an exploration of making expansion-specific systems more grounded.
Perhaps even more interesting, Hazzikostas hinted to a future expansion, confirming that, yes, Shadowlands is not the final expansion of the title as some have predicted.
“Covenants are the centerpiece of Shadowlands, but when the following expansion comes out (yes, there will be one), we know we’ll need to ensure that a returning player doesn’t need to go back and do the full covenant progression in order to be complete and competitive,” Hazzikostas stated. “And when that time comes, it won’t feel great to lose something that will have come to feel like a part of your character.”
With all that, Hazzikostas agreed that reducing the feeling of change years from now isn’t worth making the game feel worse in the meantime. After such a quick response, fans are pleased to see the change reverted.