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Phase one of the alpha focuses on several features of the upcoming expansion including one of its four new zones, the frosty peaks of Azure Span.
It also introduces dragon riding, an all-new skill-based method of aerial travel which lets players fly around on a customisable drake.
And it includes World of Warcraft’s first ever combination race and class, Dracthyr Evokers. Players can create both humanoid and draconic forms, pick between the Alliance and Horde, and choose to be a healer or ranged damage-dealer.
Several players with early access to the alpha have already published their impressions, and we’ve embedded some YouTube videos around this page showing off the new features.
Players who want to participate in the alpha can opt-in for a chance to become a tester. Blizzard has said it will be sending out invitations regularly throughout the test.
In an interview with IGN, Blizzard production director Patrick Dawson said Dragonflight’s alpha test would be relatively short for several reasons.
“In prior alphas…we’d have a two, two-and-a-half-month-long process where different things came online in a haphazard and less structured way,” he said.
“Maybe you’d get one zone, then have to wait two to three weeks, maybe even longer for the next zone. Systems wouldn’t come on at a consistent rate, that kind of stuff.
“But…one of the models we liked was how we do things like raid testing. What we do is we open up a boss for people to focus on, everybody plays that boss, we get great, focused feedback on that, and then we shut it down and move onto the next boss.
“Likewise, we looked at our alpha strategy, and we said, ‘How can we get that type of feedback out of an alpha?’ And the answer was, instead of having this long alpha, let’s compress it a bit and focus the feedback on specific things each and every week.”
Dawson also said Blizzard was keen to hold back some surprises for launch.
Blizzard recently confirmed a 2022 launch window for World of Warcraft Dragonflight, as well as four editions of the expansion.
Dragonflight was announced in April alongside Wrath of the Lich King Classic, a re-release of the game’s 2008 expansion, which will be available at no additional cost to players with an active World of Warcraft subscription when it’s released later this year.