Sunday, August 24, 2014

Focus on Draenor

The new Warlords expansion for WoW is launching with neither a new class nor a new race for playable characters. BC had two new races, LK had Death knights, Cata had Worgen and Goblins, Mists had pandaren and monk, and now Warlords has nothing.  Before anyone silently cringes, I'm not saying this is a nail in the coffin, or that the expansion will be a failure, or that WoW is dying or any of that nonsense.

Instead, I'm asking if it's possible for a game to reach maturity such that the basic trappings of a growing game are no longer necessary.  And after 10 years, hasn't Blizzard earned the right to say this about Warcraft.

"We don't need to," Wow Insider Adam Holisky vehemently declared about a new race. "There's no reason to do it."  And a little later in the discussion, "I think it's going to be five or six years before they add another class." I don't really disagree.  I don't have a problem with the lack of class and race this time and that's actually what surprises me.  And I can think of a couple of reasons

First, this is the first expansion that is entirely forward-looking, with no new class or race tempting you to go back to level 1.  I am secretly pleased that I don't have to start again with the obligatory new character just to level it all the way to the top.  Everybody's going through that portal, this time; freshly boosted to 90 if necessary.

Second, WoW has advanced to the point where it really doesn't need a lot more mechanical support to feel like a full experience.  WoW has reached a state of maturity where it's achieved internal stability.  There aren't any obvious holes in its organization, unless we really need a cloth-wearing ranged tanking class.  And I would totally play the pistol-wielding swashbuckler if she appeared but I'm not distraught at her absence.  Adding new classes seems like something that a younger game (like Neverwinter) would be actively doing.  

I have the same feeling for this continual reworking of game and class mechanics every expansion.  Shouldn't we have this done by now?  When it comes down to it, I'm not all that thrilled by the reworked character models either. (Not that I begrudge anyone who has fallen in love with the new look.  I'm still going to be looking at the back of their helmet most of the time, anyway.) 

So, if Warlords doesn't have these superficial trappings of an expansion, what does it do instead?  If you wanted my vote, it would be: Lots of story content.  Not just leveling content, but post-100 narrative zones that Bashiok said would take the place of daily quest grinds. The garrisons, I'm sure, are designed to be a big part of it as well. New dungeons and better scenarios, absolutely.  With all the experimentation we saw in Mists, I'm sure they are well prepared for the demands of this new expansion.

This pull of the lever I want it to be all Draenor, all the time.

Post twenty-four in the Blaugust challenge to post once a day for the 31 days of August.

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