World of Warcraft: Dragonflight will add playable and rideable dragons

Image for World of Warcraft: Dragonflight will add playable and rideable dragons
(Image credit: Blizzard)

World of Warcraft: Dragonflight returns the MMO to its origins, welcoming back dragons (in playable and rideable forms) and Classic-style talent trees, and adding a new set of zones to explore. The expansion doesn't have a release date, but will enter alpha soon, according to Blizzard's announcement stream.

Where does WoW: Dragonflight take place?

Dragonflight is set on the Dragon Isles, a location that's been essentially a myth for most of WoW's history, hidden away in game files and occasionally mentioned in dialogue as the game aged. You'll dig into the history of the ancient dragonflights and their kingdom, learn what has happened to them over the last 10,000 years, and try to make alliances with them to combat new threats.

WoW recently implemented a feature to let the game's two opposing factions—Horde and Alliance—to play together in the same group. Dragonflight builds on that partnership with a focus on both sides working together to explore the Dragon Isles, but will still include excuses to PvP with other players. Story-wise, the Horde and Alliance have sent an expedition of scientists and settlers to explore the land, which doesn't sound particularly optimistic for whoever has been living there for thousands of years.

WoW: Shadowlands received tons of criticism for its wonky story decisions. WoW: Dragonflight breaks away from a lot of the same faces and storylines to look back at some of the series' earliest lore. In a way, it feels almost like a way for the game to refocus its story back on what has proven to work in the past to avoid upsetting fans even more.

World of Warcraft: Dragonflight playable Dracthry character close-up

(Image credit: Blizzard)

What is the new playable race and class in WoW: Dragonflight?

The Dracthyr are the new playable race, and they come with a new Evoker class. The Dracthyr race are bipedal dragons with customizable horns, jewelry, hair (with color fades!), and scales that affects both their dragon and human forms. They can cast magical ranged spells to heal allies and damage foes, and are the only race that can be created as the new Evoker class.

Evokers, which are classified as one of the game's 'hero classes', will begin with a choice between Horde and Alliance and then start at level 58 in a unique starting zone. Evokers combine various types of Dragon magic and specialize in two of them to fit with a damage- or healing-based specialization. Evokers will be the first class in the game with spells that you charge up to change their power level.

What new systems are in WoW: Dragonflight?

So, you can be a dragon, but you can also ride dragons. Early in the expansion, you'll have the ability to train a dragon as a mount to fly through the leveling process and beyond. It's not quite the same as flying on a normal mount though. Dragonriding looks like a skill-based form of flying that sees you leaping off of cliffs to gain momentum and working to carry that through as you reach your destination with various forms of spins and dives. 

It's the first time a form of flying has been available this early, and you can see in the reveal video how the environments have been built vertically to accommodate the new system. You'll be able to customize your dragon with different colors of scales, horns, and armor as you progress through the story.

Blizzard said it has put a lot of effort into refining the game's oldest systems, the first of which is a return to a talent system that resembles the ways of the past. Talents will become trees again with several options to put points into at once, letting you turn your character into a more traditional hybrid class—a trait that was much more common in the older versions of the game. Every class will have a main tree with points associated with it and then have a specialization tree (e.g. Restoration, Protection) that you can put separate points into.  As in the current game, you can swap your talents around frequently either by changing individual points or using presets.

World of Warcraft: Dragonflight's new talent trees

(Image credit: Blizzard)

Professions are getting an overhaul too. How you gather resources and craft those into gear and items has changed in some pretty significant ways, and Blizzard has updated the UI to fit. Both crafters and gatherers will be able to make 'quality' versions of items that come with increased stats or effects. Whether or not what you make or gather is high quality will be determined by a new set of stats, and gear to wear for those stats, tied to professions. Final Fantasy 14 players won't be surprised by any of this, as it's nearly identical, at least on paper, to how crafting jobs in that MMO work.

Crafting Orders are Blizzard's solution for anyone that doesn't want to fuss with professions. They allow you to craft items without having the profession yourself with seemingly no major drawbacks. You put together all the materials needed for the item and then have an NPC or another player make it. It cuts out the need for having multiple characters yourself and having to hunt down a person with the right recipe, and it's the first time crafted items that are bound to you can be made by someone else.

World of Warcraft: Dragonflight's new HUD and UI

(Image credit: Blizzard)

WoW's user interface will be updated to resemble the modern look that many players have gotten from add-ons for years. The mini map and health bar will be larger and have a slightly more minimal look. You can then take HUD elements like those and move them around on your screen to fit your playstyle for each of your character's specializations—another thing FF14 and other MMO players will recognize.

(Image credit: Blizzard)

What is WoW: Dragonflight's new level cap?

The new max level in WoW: Dragonflight is level 70. If you're a returning player, that number might seem low. WoW compressed the levels with the release of Shadowlands in 2020. Most of the game's world now scales to whatever level you are and you can choose to do the older expansion content in any order you want.

When is WoW: Dragonflight coming out?

WoW: Dragonflight doesn't currently have a release date or release window. In the announcement stream, Blizzard simply said it will have an alpha soon and that it will release more details about that in the future.

With WoW: Wrath of the Lich King Classic and Overwatch 2's beta launching this year, WoW: Dragonflight might slide its full release to early 2023 with an alpha and beta potentially taking place this year. The current expansion has already mostly wrapped up, so the developer probably won't want to keep players waiting too long before its usual pre-expansion patch.

Associate Editor

Tyler has covered games, games culture, and hardware for over a decade before joining PC Gamer as Associate Editor. He's done in-depth reporting on communities and games as well as criticism for sites like Polygon, Wired, and Waypoint. He's interested in the weird and the fascinating when it comes to games, spending time probing for stories and talking to the people involved. Tyler loves sinking into games like Final Fantasy 14, Overwatch, and Dark Souls to see what makes them tick and pluck out the parts worth talking about. His goal is to talk about games the way they are: broken, beautiful, and bizarre.