This week’s Massively Overthinking topic is a submission from reader and commenter camelotcrusade, who takes the industry’s current fight over monetization in a different direction from lockboxes. “Are modern games too cheap?” he asks, probably slowly reaching into a can of worms with a wicked gleam in his eye.
“When you think about it, many other things we buy have increased in price over the last decade but AAA games are still expected to be a maximum of $60, with many of us waiting for sales (or for free-to-play). Meanwhile, games everywhere are adding shops, post-release content, and DLC galore with increasingly aggressive pricing models. How much of this is to make-up margins they can’t capture up-front? How much should an AA game cost in 2017? $75? $90? Is there a price point where lockboxes, gambling, and in-game stores could focus on value-add instead of survival? And how did we get here? Whose fault is it? And how do we get out of this, or is ‘would you like a game with your store’ the future as we know it?”
Let’s talk money!
Turns out that World of Warcraft: Battle for Azeroth is already setting records well before it releases. How? Well, it had a very nice diorama at BlizzCon. A very nice, very big diorama, one that featured a huge number of attendee characters individually printed in 3-D and arranged on the sprawling battleground between the Horde and the Alliance. And said “very big diorama” apparently qualified as the largest video game diorama ever at 1,300 square feet. That is a lot of individual characters in a single diorama.
No, your characters were not in the mix if you were not at BlizzCon. We’re sorry.
Meanwhile, StarCraft II has gone more or less completely free-to-play, and the team behind it has decided to take the opportunity to rather thoroughly troll the people behind Star Wars: Battlefront II’s notably less-than-free business model. This segues nicely into the game’s newest commercial, which couldn’t possibly have been made just to joke about that… but is still pretty funny all the same.
If you’ve never played World of Warcraft, you may be unfamiliar with the concept if not the visuals of tier sets. Tiered armor is the ultimate class-specific reward from each given raid level, so the upcoming Antorus raid awards Tier 21 armor for those lucky enough to get the necessary drops. Wearing several pieces of tier armor also awards set bonuses. But it looks like the time has passed on all of that, as a recent interview stated that tier sets are not planned to return at all in Battle for Azeroth.
Designer Ion Hazzikostas explains that tier pieces tend to “lock down” certain gear slots and feel like more of a hindrance than anything, so the team is experimenting with different ways to award gear and appearances. How that will work remains to be seen, but the suggestion of no more tier sets alone is a major departure from how World of Warcraft has always structured its endgame raids. We’ll hopefully learn more about these changes as the expansion gets closer to testing and release.
Buried in the World of Warcraft: Battle for Azeroth reveals earlier this month was the huge PvP news that eventually, PvP servers, like the dying one I’ve been stuck on for half of forever, will be quietly converted into PvE servers. Instead of being constantly subjected to lowbie ganking while out questing in the world, PvP server players will join PvE players in taking part in what is akin to the Star Wars Galaxies-esque TEF system, only stricter. As you leave a major city, you’ll flag PvE or PvP, and that’s that. Flag for PvP and you’ll get a chance at things like extra rewards and faster reputation. The details are still up in the air, but as Blizzard Watch’s Ted Atchley points out, the rewards will have to be pretty sweet to entice most players to paint a target on their backs.
I’m not all that sad; PvP on PvP servers was basically pointless ganking for jack-all rewards, but there was just no way to convince a dozen friends to pay to move their entire stables elsewhere, so we soldiered on and put up with the random ganks on our leveling alts. I can still see taking the risk of being ganked if the rewards are huge, and the move will allow Blizzard to continue condensing its server groups too.
Where do you stand on WoW’s proposed new PvP system?
It’s hard to imagine that anyone is going to be upset about the idea of no lockboxes in World of Warcraft: Battle for Azeroth. Sure, Blizzard makes use of them in several other games, but at this point there are no plans to bring them into Azeroth, according to a new interview. (Whether or not that will change in the future remains to be seen.) Of course, the same interview that confirms that also confirms that we will not be getting our own personal boats, so it’s sort of good news, bad news.
Other interviews have indicated that the team wants to bring forward Mission Table-style content, so that doesn’t mean we won’t have anything similar; it just means it won’t be a boat.
Last but not least, there’s another “no” on the list that will either make you happy or sad depending on how you feel about the Legion mechanics for classes. While every class and spec will be adjusted and altered moving into the next expansion, there will be no major overhauls on par with the Legion shift, certainly nothing like the large-scale rework of Survival Hunters. Exactly how things will be balanced remains to be seen, but this is good news if you like your current spec’s playstyle. If you don’t… well, it’ll be adjusted, not wildly changed.
Back in May, I wrote a whole article about why I was leaving World of Warcraft behind. All of the reasons I had back then? Still valid. Fact is, I’m still proud of that column (to the extent that I’m proud of anything I write; low self-esteem is a hell of a drug). So why am I here talking so much about Battle for Azeroth? How are you supposed to reconcile those conflicting facts? Do I hate this game or not?
The answer to those questions, in reverse order, is this: no; I highly doubt anyone actually wants to reconcile anything about my stated views; and because what we’ve seen so far actually addresses a lot of the problems I wrote about back in May. New information means new evaluation.
Obviously, this is not a blanket statement of “the next expansion will make everything better” because there are far too many question marks left to feel smug or confident about that. But, and this is an important “but,” we’ve got signs that several of the problems from Legion are actually being addressed. And considering that Legion was pretty good already, that brings us to a good spot.
There are lots of things that I’m genuinely excited about when it comes to the next World of Warcraft expansion. Battle for Azeroth has a premise that gives me reasons to be hopeful, systems that seem pretty cool, and at least one thing that I’m pretty sure I want (even if I’m not sure whether or not the final version is exactly how I want it). So we’re starting from a good point here.
We’ve also got some time until the expansion is released, and based on the total lack of any firm information on dates for testing, much less launch, I would be surprised to see this expansion before November 2018. So that leaves us with some pretty big questions to be answered, and the more answers we get sooner, the better. So let’s take a gander at the questions we’ve still got hanging over our head after the expansion reveal.
The last time I saw this many people asking “why?” about a new World of Warcraft expansion was at the announcement of Mists of Pandaria. I agreed then, too; the idea of bringing in the Pandaren to the game seemed to be slipping into territory that just didn’t feel appealing to me. I’m still not entirely sold on the idea, a fact which is not helped at all by the fact that the very next expansion was so creatively bankrupt the team seems to have thrown every good idea at once into Legion.
Really, we don’t know what happened behind the scenes of Warlords of Draenor development, but that seems like a plausible theory.
So, yes, Battle for Azeroth. That is the actual title of the next expansion, one which feels almost as if it was cobbled together by drawing a few random words that usually get used with the game and hoping they assembled a coherent sentence. It seems, at face value, like a really dumb idea, especially since the very basic premise is one that you know is absolutely not going to be resolved by the end of the expansion.
The release of World of Warcraft: Battle for Azeroth is going to bring with it a lot of core system changes. This is neither surprising nor unwelcome. We’ve also been warned for ages that we won’t be carrying Artifacts forward, and at this year’s BlizzCon we got our first glimpse at the system that will ultimately replace that system in terms of gameplay, the Heart of Azeroth.
I usually find what works pretty well as a quick litmus test for systems like this is to see how fast we all “get” the system in the newsroom. If some of us are confused as to how the system is supposed to work, it’s not being explained all that well. And I can’t tell you that the Heart of Azeroth has been particularly well-explained so far; it’s a straightforward and positive change to the game, but we’ve had better-explained systems. So let’s take a look at how things are meant to work, based on what we know now.
In last week’s Daily Grind about what it would take to get you back into World of Warcraft, a whole lot of our commenters said an expansion. Any expansion, really. Just more of the same. Nothing wrong with that, either. Sometimes you’re content and just want more of that.
But now, thanks to BlizzCon, you know what that expansion, Battle for Azeroth, will actually entail. And while it’s got new landmasses and some new mechanics, like warfronts and
radio missions island adventures, it doesn’t have a lot of the stuff you might have expected out of an expansion. It doesn’t appear to feature sailing mechanics or an new iteration on farms, garrisons, or class halls. It doesn’t even have a new class. In fact, we don’t really know much about how classes themselves might be changing just yet.
Is it enough for you? Will you be buying World of Warcraft’s Battle for Azeroth expansion? Is it enough to get you back?
Blizzard made several major announcements for World of Warcraft today that you probably need to know about if you’re a current or even a former player who’s been trying to decide whether or not to go back. Let’s recap the highlights!
- The expansion is called Battle for Azeroth. We don’t know when it’s launching or when it’ll go into beta. You can, however, opt-in to the beta through Battlenet as always. We’re guessing it’s a ways off as there’s no preorder yet.
- The level cap is lifting to 120. The official site boasts a level 110 booster as a catch-up mechanic.
- Allied races (not sub-races) are happening. We’ll start with six: Void Elves, Dark Iron Dwarves, and Lightforged Draenei for Alliance and Nightborne, Highmountain Tauren, and Zandalari Trolls for Horde. We can quest to make them allies, then we can roll them ourselves from level 20 (or race-change into them), though there are extra gear rewards for those who level the hard way.
Enough of World of Warcraft’s two biggest factions palling together on adventures across time and space — war has come to this game once more. Blizzard announced World of Warcraft: Battle for Azeroth at BlizzCon today after months of rumors swirling about this next installment.
The seventh expansion for the game will find the Horde and Alliance at each other’s throats, with the two sides recruiting six new playable races and exploring new continents and islands. Players will be able to unlock these new races (with four coming over from Legion) through quests, explore the Alliance continent of Kul Tiras, march through the jungles of Zandalar, and upgrade a new legendary Heart of Azeroth neckpiece with new powers and traits.
The Horde and Alliance will compete over previously uncharted islands and fight in the 20-player co-op warfronts that were inspired by classic Warcraft RTS maps. Additionally, the leval cap will be raised to 120 and cross-realm social groups will connect players between worlds.
A beta test for the expansion is “coming soon,” but we’ve got that amazing cinematic trailer plus the expansion features trailer for you after the break!