World of Warcraft’s new Chains of Domination update for the Shadowlands expansion is adding a brand-new mount that is a giant ancient tree that you can ride and stomp around on. Finally. It’s probably my most-anticipated part of the update (I am only joking a little).
At BlizzConline, I spoke with WoW principle game designer Jeremy Feasel about this mount, including how it came about, why it’s so unique, and how it connects to the wider lore.
Blizzard launched a player survey some time ago asking fans what they would like to see from a new mount, allowing them to vote to determine what it would be. The idea was to work closely with the community in a new way to help players feel a greater sense of connection to Azeroth and the Warcraft universe. Some of the other options in the survey included a giant book you could ride, a kitty cat made of jelly, a caterpillar, and a creepy spider.
The Wandering Ancient was the most popular choice by far, Feasel said. “By a wide margin, everywhere, riding a giant walking tree won,” he said.
Fans of The Lord of the Rings are likely familiar with big walking trees with the Ents, but the Ancients are also a central part of the Warcraft lore and Knight Elves specifically.
“There’s this mythology of riding on top of a giant tree,” Feasel said about the portrayal of giant walking trees in media like The Lord of the Rings. “But also, Knight Elves have this long and extensive lore about ancient protectors and … it goes all the way back to Warcraft 3. I feel like there is a sect of the player base that has always wanted to ride one of those things. They finally got their way.”
The Wandering Ancient is among WoW’s largest-ever mounts, and as such, Feasel said players can expect it to feel very unique in that respect. “This is the mount for stomping across the landscape,” he said.
The Wandering Ancient is also unique in that it will change colors with the seasons–check out the animated GIF above to see that in action. Additionally, its special ability shakes the tree and different color leaves will drop off depending on the season. Feasel teased that the Wander Ancient mount will also feature some “unique extra little things” to be announced later.
One of these surprises may have already been revealed. If you look closely, you’ll notice that one of the mount ideas that didn’t get enough votes–the caterpillar–actually has a home on top of Wandering Ancient mount. The bug is positioned in a place that looks like he’s controlling the mount, which is a nice touch.
As part of BlizzConline, the studio released an in-depth video for the Wandering Ancient in which developers across disciplines talk about how they brought the mount to the game from the very beginning to the final model. It’s an impressive video and it really showcases how special and unique the mount is. Check out the video below.
The Wandering Ancient isn’t the only new mount coming to Shadowlands in the Chains of Domination update. There will be a series of new flying mounts, too, and you can see them below.
Chains of Domination is the first major update to Shadowlands since the expansion launched last year. It will include a new 10-boss raid, an eight-boss mega-dungeon that will have a Hard mode, additional PvP content, changes to the Maw, and more. On the story side, players will finally get to fight Sylvanas, which is a battle that’s been brewing for years.
We spoke with Feasel, as well as technical designer Frank Kowalkowski, about a series of other topics related to Shadowlands, Chains of Domination, and the wider World of Warcraft universe. Check back soon with GameSpot for our full interview.
For now, you can check out some of the top BlizzConline stories below, as well as our roundup of all the big BlizzConline news:
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