WoW Factor: BlizzCon betting odds

My original plan this week was to talk a little bit about patch 7.1, but two things have made that less than possible. The first is that a rather nasty depression jag has kept me from having the gumption to do everything required to hit the inadvisably limited revamp of Karazhan, and the rest of the patch just feels like, well, the parts of the expansion that were pretty much finished but not quite ready for launch. The other is the fact that this is the BlizzCon weekend, and that means I really ought to be talking about that first and foremost.

Last year, obviously, BlizzCon managed to hit some weird notes for World of Warcraft, made worse by some baffling decisions surrounding Legion‘s test schedule and information release. This year, of course, the expansion is already out, so we’re not waiting in an awful drought of information. So it seems like now is an excellent time to predict what, exactly, we’ll see out of BlizzCon for WoW fans. There might be some stuff for fans of other franchises too, but that’s not what I’m here for at the moment. So what are the odds we’ll hear about this stuff?

The next patch: Quite likely

All Sylvanas all the time forever.We have a panel specifically discussing what’s next for WoW, and that’d be a pretty short panel if the hard information came down to “let’s talk about the patch that’s already out.” So this is probably going to contain information about what will be in the next patch and what players ought to expect.

This is particularly important right now because up until now, everything that we’ve seen in the game has been stuff that was discussed last year at BlizzCon. Sure, we didn’t know about Karazhan and a raid between the Emerald Nightmare and Nighthold, but we knew about most of it beforehand, and we definitely weren’t walking into unexpected territory. The next patch, however, is where we can start see some actual stuff developing in new directions. I don’t mean that it’ll be the first information that could surprise us, but it will be something that isn’t already a known item on the list.

The next raid: Reasonably likely

Nighthold caps out the raiding experience that we knew about before the expansion launched, and we know it culminates in us getting to kick the snot out of Gul’dan. That’s another one of those things that was made clear well before the expansion launched. It’s also the last obvious point for us to go with all of the story motion up to this point, and by that point we’ll have dealt with… well, all of the persistent zone threats that we’re aware of. Showing off the next tier of raid even in hushed terms will give us an idea of where our next target is going to be.

Between you and me (and everyone else reading the column), I’m both expecting that it’ll be a trip into the Tomb of Sargeras and hoping I’m wrong. The Tomb is our obvious destination, but it’s also an obvious conclusion point, and if that’s our next destination it implies that we’re going to run into some of the same issues we had with both Warlords of Draenor and Mists of Pandaria. Having a high-speed dose of patches followed by a huge lull is not a better state of affairs, and the fact that the first major patch came within two months already has me a bit edgy. I’ve seen this story before.

New zones: Not unlikely

The Broken Shores are seemingly all set aside to serve the same purpose as Timeless Isle and Tanaan Jungle, an endgame zone to take part in as part of the path to catching up. However, the nature of world quests and gear upgrades also helps in the “catching up” category. It’s quite possible, then, that a new zone could be added to the mix to provide a very different experience; we’ve already cleared away the major threats from existing zones, but there’s nothing preventing us from having new world quests and a new set of obstacles to overcome.

Obviously this would mess up the current emissary progression slightly, but I think I’ll take that, on exchange, if it means more ongoing stuff to do in general. Just as reasonably, you could also have the new zone give you motivation other than emissary rewards to get in there and run through world quests; it’s not like most people are going to need the reputation from these factions forever. Heck, I imagine most people are pretty close to capped on their mains as it is; I know I am.

We can always go back.

Random protection: Possible and reasonable

In general, people do not seem to be happy with Legendaries. The items themselves are great, sure, but the odds of actually getting one are wildly inconsistent, and the items have such an extreme effect that not having one becomes a pretty serious problem. I ranted about this before, and it’s still a problem: Power increases don’t change your whole playstyle, but having powerful transformative effects on items that are totally random is a pretty major thing.

Of course, now that the expansion has been out for a bit, the developers have had time to collect the feedback, and the resounding and constant response before launch was that the designers would re-evaluate letting you target specific items and the like after players had gotten some time to play with the expansion. That has now happened. So it’s entirely plausible to think that one of the big headliners for this next patch will be the removal of unnecessary randomness, especially while players are up in arms about the randomness associated with that… and with hidden appearances, and with necessary world quests, and so forth.

More queue options: Oh, I hope

Genn and Sylvasa become friends and solve mysteries together.I’m putting this as almost the lowest possible odds because while there’s been rumblings of irritation about the nature of getting into Mythics and the frustrations of Normal raiding, that’s not the same as anything actually being promised. It’s also veering far into the territory of “things I want” rather than “things I expect.”

That having been said, I’m far from the only person to observe that in the current state of affairs, a lot of players consider Mythics just not worth trying for. This is usually met with the response that the dungeons aren’t that hard, which is the entire point; the hard and obnoxious part is getting the group together, not the dungeon itself. If it’s not that hard, why not have a queue option?

It’s one of those things that has a lot of people arguing for it, but there’s no real noise from the development side on whether or not it will happen. If we’re going to keep getting mostly Mythic-only dungeons, it seems more likely, but we’ll have to see.

The next expansion: Unlikely, but boy…

One of the big things that Blizzard has been trying to do with Legion is re-establish trust. Players were burned by Warlords of Draenor, and thus this expansion is as much about rebuilding faith as it is about being awesome in its own right. And if we hear about the next expansion already being in development…

I don’t expect this to happen at all, but it would be pretty cool.

Feedback is welcome down below in the comments or via mail to eliot@massivelyop.com. As always, you should take the time to pay attention to our liveblogs through BlizzCon; I try to keep them entertaining for everyone. Our first one starts up in a couple of hours!

War never changes, but World of Warcraft does, with a decade of history and a huge footprint in the MMORPG industry. Join Eliot Lefebvre each week for a new installment of WoW Factor as he examines the enormous MMO, how it interacts with the larger world of online gaming, and what’s new in the worlds of Azeroth and Draenor.
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