World of Warcraft is upping its storytelling with its new Battle of Azeroth expansion, taking a few cues from Blizzard's Overwatch team.
Blizzard has always been known for its epic cinematics, but Overwatch was the first Blizzard game that really pushed beyond that, adding comics, alternate-reality games, origin stories, and digital shorts. Speaking with PCGamesN, Blizzard project director Terran Gregory said that Blizzard began testing the idea of a "transmedia game" with Overwatch.
"Before even the game had been released, people were already enamored and in love with this [Overwatch] world," Gregory told PCGamesN. "Of course we take notice and want to apply the lessons learned from Overwatch to World of Warcraft."
In the lead-up to Battle for Azeroth, Blizzard has released a number of digital shorts, as well as a Windrunners comic.
"We knew this is how we wanted to approach this story [for Battle for Azeroth]," Gregory said. "And resultingly, we always had in mind that the comics and the books, and the gameplay, and the in-game cinematics, and the 2.5D animations all need to be very, very closely women together—tell one cogent story."
But unlike Overwatch, most of the "critical [narrative] information" for Battle for Azeroth is still inside of the game, whereas Overwatch is the opposite. Things that happen inside the game world of Overwatch aren't considered canon for the most part. The majority of the critical storytelling is done outside the game, with "further reading" sprinkled into gameplay.
World of Warcraft's external narrative is supposed to be the "further reading," Gregory said.