Ion Hazzikostas ‘comfortable’ with WoW Dragonflight release timeline as alpha goes live

The team is taking a slightly different approach to public testing this time around.

Image via Blizzard Entertainment

Blizzard today is kicking off the public-facing alpha test for its upcoming World of Warcraft expansion, Dragonflight. The dragon-themed expansion includes new zones, a new race (Dracthyr), and a new form of flying called Dragonriding. 

While Blizzard is taking a slightly different approach to the alpha this time around compared to previous expansions, players who make it into the alpha will be able to test out the Dracthyr, which can only be one class, Evoker. Players will also be able to try Dragonriding.

For the first week or so of testing, only one zone will be available. Players will be able to head to the Dragon Isles and level through the zone called Azure Span.

The testing comes relatively close to the game’s expected release date. While the game doesn’t have a set date yet, Blizzard announced earlier this year that the game will come out before the end of 2022. Despite having somewhat limited time for testing, WoW’s game director Ion Hazzikostas said he’s “comfortable” with the timeline they have set.

“We wouldn’t have announced that were that not the case, particularly after the Shadowlands delay a couple of years ago,” he said.

Hazzikostas added that he understands some fans expressing concerns about development and testing being rushed, but for this expansion, the team is taking a slightly different approach to its public testing that he believes will allow for more meaningful feedback.

“The difference this time is that we have consciously decided to have a more focused public test period,” he said. “Whereas in the past we would have had our game in less of a state of readiness and slowly trickle content online over the course of a couple months… this time around, all of our zones are ready for testing.”

The structure of this alpha, he believes, will be more conducive to finishing the game in an optimal timeline. Meanwhile, the timing of the expansion relative to other expansions isn’t necessarily far from tradition. 

“I understand how looking solely at alpha and beta timeline how that might seem to be the case,” Hazzikostas said. “But if you take a step back and ask ‘is two years from the last expansion, too soon for the next one?” … well, no, that’s in line with historical precedent there.”