Top 15 WoW Dragonflight Features Every Player Should Know

Top WoW Dragonflight Features
Finally, The Dragon Isles Are Revealed

After decades of snippets of data-mined code, and unfinished zones accessed by intrepid explorers, we finally have found the Dragon Isles. With the arrival of Dragonflight on November 28th, 2022, we will have one of the most lore-intensive, historic expansions we’ve seen in a long time, from any game developer.

Sure, in Shadowlands we saw the conclusion of Sylvanas’s storyline (for now) and the return of “A” Lich King (we all know Arthas is THE Lich King). But the Dragon Isles have been floating around the edges of the WoW universe since before the original game was released, over 20 years ago.

With massive changes to the existing in-game features and the resurgence of some old fan-favorite aspects, this expansion is both ambitious and promising. As a long-time WoW gamer, I’ve been looking forward to comparing the development of retail WoW alongside the re-release of Classis servers, and how that has affected the mindset of the game’s development.

The focus seems to be on individuality and customization which feels incredibly refreshing after the cookie-cutter playstyles over the years.  I am incredibly excited to finally see the introduction of the Dragon Isles and what awaits us there.

1. The Isles Themselves

Check out the 4 new zones plus the starting zone for Dracthyr Evokers!

I don’t have the technical skill or the patience to be part of the explorer community, but I love to watch them work. If you’re like me, then you’ve seen the Dragon Isles before on Youtube videos and discussed them on forums. A zone introduced way back in the Alpha version of the original game, it was eventually cut for a multitude of reasons. One of those reasons hinged upon the limited technology of the time, which has expanded exponentially since WoW Alpha, a time before smartphones and Facebook. I am excited to see what they’ve come up with and the few hints we have only make me more excited.

The continent of the Dragon Isles is set to be the largest landmass added to date. With 4 leveling zones and the starting zone for Dracthyr Evoker players, these islands are an explorer’s dream. And thanks to the new addition of “Dragon Riding” (more on this later) it’s never been more fun for even the newest adventurer to get around. The zones are vertically layered and although the progression of the zones themselves is linear, the progression within each zone is not, making us feel like we’re out there, actually exploring the world in our own way.

2. The Talent Trees

Customize and personalize your character and spec!

Talent trees have come on a long journey since the days of Vanilla.  If the re-release of previous WoW expansions has shown us anything, it’s that the first iteration of talent trees could be extremely bloated, with talents and sometimes whole specs that were never used or downright unplayable. Of course, that has been the case in every expansion, even as Blizzard tried to trim them down, with the streamlined talent trees of BfA and Shadowlands, simply put, there are going to be just better talents than others. However, Dragonflight looks to put individuality and personal playstyle back at the forefront of your character’s development.

The spell books have been completely gutted, with almost every active spell each class can use being taken off the baseline. Instead, you work your way through two trees, your “Class” tree and your “Specialization” tree, deciding where to put points that will grant you abilities for your class and for your spec. If you’ve played WoW before, you’ll recognize many of the abilities that were once granted to all but now require points to learn. This allows for more customization as, for example, a druid even with the feral tree can be “specialized” in different abilities, granting them more specific bonuses and even different abilities within the same talent tree.

3. Professions

Become master of your craft for better loot and gold-making opportunities.

When comparing the re-release of the early expansions to some of the more recent retail expansions, another feature that has lost its uniqueness is the professions. Having specific professions unlock gear that only that profession could wear, or extra sockets or enhancements to your items that only those professions could use, was a feature in early iterations. This made the economy much more interactive. Having a super rare, super strong pattern was both highly prestigious and highly beneficial financially in-game. This largely fell by the wayside in more recent expansions as professions became relatively meaningless, with aspects of the game built in to allow you to disenchant, for example, instead of having to find an enchanter to do that for you or even level enchanting on an alt. This is changing (in the right kind of way, though).

There are two huge changes that I am excited about for the Dragonflight professions. The first is that crafting professions will once again have unique gear -  actually two sets of unique gear. The first is that, as a blacksmith, for example, you can craft and wear higher-quality gear than someone who doesn’t have blacksmithing. You increase your specialization through a variety of fun ways; some are breadcrumb quests around the world, and others are discovered through making gear. Either way, it makes crafting more interactive and something that has a unique progression path for each character. The second set of gear is for gathering professions. Miners will have access to gear (which doesn’t take up bag space (thank God) that automatically equips when mining a node and features specific profession stats to help you level up your gathering skill.

The second huge change is the contract system. It’s essentially like an auction house, where you can post a “contract” for crafting professionals to fill. You put up the mats and the amount of gold you’re willing to pay, and someone will “take” the contract to craft the gear. You can put up some of the mats yourself, all of them, or none of them, although the amount of gold you’re going to have to spend will go up if that’s the case. I really like this interaction, as it once again makes professions something to dedicate time to leveling and improving. There are even separate “profession stats” like Resourcefulness, Crafting Speed, Multicraft, and Inspiration that will help you craft higher-quality gear, gain procs, use fewer materials, and other bonuses. I think that it’s deeply beneficial to the game to improve the “non-content” aspect, i.e, the parts of the game when you’re not in dungeons or raids, and this is a great step forward.

4. New Class - Dracthyr Evoker

Mingle with the mortal races after millennia of sleep.

A new class that’s specific to the Dracthyr race (and vice versa, you can only be a Dracthyr if you play as an evoker), these are the first ranged DPS class and the first mail-wearing class to be added to the game since Vanilla! Ok, so technically they are a hybrid class, but still. We’ve all secretly known (or at least suspected) that all the WoW developers play melee, so it should be interesting to see a new ranged DPS class enter the game for the first time. I haven’t quite concluded what it means that it’s the first class to have mail as their primary armor enter the game yet, but I do feel for all the shaman mains that are about to have their loot tables become infinitely more contested.

Featuring two different specializations, Devastation and Preservation, the evokers were hand-picked by Neltharion and have been asleep for millennia. They summon the power of all dragon flights: green and bronze for healing abilities, and red and blue for powerful damaging magical spells. Whether there are traces of the Black Dragonflight lurking in their magical essences remains to be seen. Be sure to play through the starting zone, The Forbidden Reach, to get a better understanding of both the class and the lore.   

5. Dragon Riding

Traveling has never been more interactive or cooler.

One of the most anticipated aspects of Dragonflight must be dragonriding; it’s literally named after the expansion! My enthusiasm for this feature goes beyond just the fact that dragons are cool and riding dragons is even cooler. From a game design standpoint, similar to my thoughts on professions, it’s important for a game to develop aspects that aren’t just the “active content”, i.e dungeons, raids, and battlegrounds. Most people who play WoW spend a fair amount of time hanging out in the cities, literally just running around. That’s the pull of an MMO, being “in” the world.

Basically, dragonriding is the next step in MMO mounts and riding interaction. It factors in new variables, such as momentum or speed, and has a resource system and upgrades available to create a more dynamic mount riding experience. For example, as you dive, you build speed, which means it will be harder to stop but also that you can pull up into a glide just along the top of a lake or build up enough momentum to make it across the entire zone without landing to recharge. Of course, this means that flying across the zones will take some focus, no longer the tab auto-run and AFK, however, it’s possible to move up to 800% faster, which is a massive increase. This may take some getting used to, but there is no doubt that it makes moving around the world much more interesting. I, for one, am excited for the first community-organized dragon races to open up (you know it’s coming).

Besides the changes to the actual movement of the mounts, there is also a huge range of mount customization. There are four basic types of dragons to choose from, each of which has 50+ more customization options available. If you are playing a Dracthyr, then you will also get the racial ability. It's similar to the dragonriding system that everyone else has, but it's not upgradeable because your character launches itself into the air and you're not technically riding a dragon; you're the dragon!



6. The Storyline

Will we see the return of the most terrifying dragon of them all?

I’m sure many of you who have googled, “What is the plot of Dragonflight?” are wondering how having no identifiable antagonist is a good thing. Options, of course! In the last few expansions, we knew where we were going to end up, which ultimately trivializes the journey, as in every tier that didn’t end in us killing the Jailer, we were just thinking, “Wow, we still have to kill the Jailer”. I love Sylvanas as much as the next person, but it was time to have a new narrative direction. She did have at least 2, arguably more, expansions that were almost entirely about her.

Now with the re-emergence of the Dragon Isles in Azeroth, we can enjoy uncovering the story of why the magic has returned to these lands and what that means. There are dozens of rumors, fan theories, and half-baked ideas floating around, and, to be honest, a lot of them are really exciting. Some of my favorites include Murozond, the corrupted avatar of Nozdormu who leads the Infinite Dragonflight, Wrathion and his links to the last strains of the Black Dragonflight, or Galakrond, the (current) remains of the greatest of all the primordial proto drakes that we first encounter in WotLK. He was defeated at the beginning of time by an alliance of drakes that eventually became the Dragon Aspects and the titan Tyr, who is closely tied to the Dragon Isles and the magic that surges through them.

7. Dungeon System

Grab some friends or brave the LFG channel to race through Mythic plus dungeons in search of better loot.

Mythic dungeons have quickly become one of the most popular features of World of Warcraft. One could argue it’s created a third type of WoW player. There were previously PvP and PvE players, with PvE referring to raiders.Now we can add the Mythic Keystoner (whose name is still being worked on), a gamer who tries to clear mythic dungeons as quickly and efficiently as possible.It’s become so popular that tournaments were even started for teams of 5 players to see who could clear these dungeons the fastest, which of course caused a separate dungeon meta to form, separate from the arena or raid meta.

Of course, one of the largest problems with a game as big and expansive as WoW is what to do with past content. How do you keep old expansions still part of the game, especially when the speed of leveling has changed so significantly that you can skip whole expansions easily? Timewalking was a good start, and Blizzard has decided to build on that for Dragonflight. This expansion starts with 8 dungeons spread across its 4 zones, but unlike previous expansions, the keystone seasons will now feature a mix, of 4 of the current Dragonflight dungeons combined with 4 from previous expansions that have been reworked and modified to match the current game knowledge and skill level. This is a great way for players to experience old content and storylines in a challenging setting that still progresses their character in a meaningful way!

8. Catalyst Gearing System

Utilize new gearing options to combat the RNG gods.

We’ve all been there - that tier set that just never drops. It’s the nature of random drop chance games, and trust me, it’s been there since the beginning (our guild leader is still sitting on his single Warglaive). Whether you want to complete the set for powerful tier bonuses or some completionism urge, or if you want to make gearing out an alt even smoother, the introduction of the Catalyst system will help you get it done.

While this system doesn’t enter the game until January 23rd, it’s still critical to mention, as by that point, your string of bad loot luck may have set in and you might be feeling ready to launch your computer screen out the nearest window. This system lets you convert non-set items into the corresponding tier slot for the same ilvl. For reference, it is like the Creation Catalyst system in Shadowlands, however, the currency is still unknown. There will be a weekly quest to encourage dungeon running or raids, as well as contributing 1 “charge” to your account. All of your characters can contribute to this total, so your alts can help your main get a piece of missing tier gear that never dropped, or you can focus all your efforts on gearing an alt. Converted gear can still be upgraded using the valor system. These systems help streamline gearing and make your character less susceptible to a run of really bad loot luck.

9. New Class Combinations

Tauren Rogue, that is all you need to know!

This is a small one but worth mentioning, Tauren Rogues! I can finally uninstall iMorph (well, maybe). Blizzard has also mentioned that in the future they may be open to adding more class/race combinations; however, the lore would have to be added in first in order for it to make sense. Undead Paladins specifically were mentioned which could be a hint for one of the possible storylines to come, however, for now, mages, priests, and rogues can be any race.

As mentioned before, Dracthyr currently can only play as Evokers, and Evokers can only be Dracthyr. This may be the case for a while (consider how druids could only be Tauren in the first 3 iterations of WoW), however, there could be a storyline that sees Dracthyr undertake to learn how to be new classes as they start to have more interactions with the mortal (or semi-mortal) races.

10. Return of Group Loot

We'll see the updated return of Group Loot!

For those of us who have spent a lot of time on Classic over the past few years, group loot is the standard (mostly). I think the return of group loot to Dragonflight (the first time since 2016) is going to be a double-edged sword. It seems like they have added in many features to combat the downsides of group loot, namely people rolling on gear that they don’t “need” (which can be a few different types of situations) over people that do need it. I believe we can all imagine the possibilities in a raid like LFR, where you don't know anyone and the level of anonymity increases the level of toxicity.

However, there are many new features built in, such as main spec/off spec or only being able to roll on one of the items if two of the same ones drop (think tier tokens). Also, because of the changes to the way armor works, it’s much easier to prevent warriors from rolling on cloth to troll another player, or roll on leather because it’s “BiS”.. This has been protected against. I’ve always felt that group loot was good in situations where you knew the people that you were playing with but with the increased player pool options due to the LFG and LFR systems, only time will tell how the new group loot feature will work out.

11. Increased Transmog Pool

Even if you're not quite at the level of this transmog guild, there will be plenty of new options to look awesome in.

For many people, transmog is a big part of the game, with coordinated competitions and players that search high and low for the perfect matching gear. While it won’t be coming to Dragonflight on launch, one of the game developers has confirmed that white and gray items will soon become available. It’s been mentioned before, with the expectation that it would be there on launch; however, it has now been bumped back to one of the first few patches. It's disappointing for many, I imagine, but once it hits, the pool of transmogrified items is going to increase massively, which will be fun for everyone, ranging from the random collector to the dedicated coordinator.

12. The Renown Grind

For some reason things are always more manageable when they're optional.

I know at least 75% of the players grimaced when they read the word, “Renown”. Thankfully, what was once an endless grind, on each character, which  was basically necessary if you wanted to improve your character’s power has been made much more manageable, and optional.

From what we know of Renown, there are several key changes that won’t make you want to alt+f4 here and now. The first is that Renown is no longer time-gated, so if you don’t feel like doing it for a week straight and then all of a sudden feel like dedicating a whole rainy day to it, you can without being behind or feeling like you have to log in every day to get it done. The second feature is that it is no longer tied to your character’s power, almost all of the rewards are cosmetic, and while they are very cool (to entice you, of course) it’s no longer necessary to do in order to fully unlock your character’s potential. Lastly, the items unlocked will be account bound (!!). Enough said.

13. Villain Design

Not that we've returned from the stars and alternate dimensions, who will rise to threaten Azeroth?

One of the interesting things about having Retail and Classic WoW live at the same time is to see the comparison between world-building and game design. It’s no secret that as the expansions have progressed, the world (of Warcraft!) has taken on a grander scale. It’s come a long way from helping get Old Blanchy some oats in Westfall to fighting for the souls of the universe.

There aren’t a ton of specifics out, but Blizzard’s designers have made multiple mentions of how they want to make the world feel more grounded again while still being engaging.  The key is good writing and character development. Sure, the Jailer is scary in a sort of want-to-consume-everything kind of way, but there is a lot more nuance to evil. With so much history and lore to work with on the Dragon Isle, as well as the fact that the Dragon Aspects represent all sides of nature's primal aspects, Blizzard's writers and designers have the opportunity to create very nuanced antagonists.

14. Mob Tagging

The open world will feel more different than ever before.

Another system that has undergone a substantial change and is very noticeable thanks to Wrath Classic (check out the world first Wrath Classic level 80 video if you don’t believe me) is mob tagging. With Dragonflight’s launch the last barrier has been brought down. Now, even if a member of the opposite faction has tagged the mob, you can still get credit for loot and xp. This was to be expected ever since cross-faction grouping was introduced into the game and felt inevitable, but it still feels very weird the first few hundred mobs you share.

15. Resurrection Sickness

I mean clearly, my characters have never died but I'm sure this is nice for other players!

Another system that’s changed for the first time in the history of WoW is resurrection sickness. No longer will you have 10 minutes of a huge stat debuff, it’s now 1 minute. However, the tradeoff is that the durability damage taken by your gear is raised up to 50% more. You will no longer be punished with time for rez sickness; the cost will now be borne by your wallet. 



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Basically a background NPC living in New York City, Paul is determined to write articles that are at least as informative as your last quest dialogue.
Gamer Since: 2004
Favorite Genre: RPG
Currently Playing: WoW Classic, Halo, Warzone
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