WoW Factor: A wishlist for World of Warcraft’s Legion expansion

    
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Here, there, wherever.

We’re going to find out a lot about World of Warcraft: Legion in November. Not just because I expect that’ll be around the time we get our beta announcement and date, which may even be as soon as BlizzCon ends; we’ll just be told a lot while we’re there. We’re going to just be learning a lot of design goals and ideas from the panels and what-not whilst we’re there. And that, I think, is a good thing. It’s so something we already need, but you know, I already wrote that column.

So I have a little more than a month before I find out all of the things I want that I’m not getting. And while I’ve spent the past several weeks listing some of the things that I’m looking forward to seeing from the game’s next expansion as examinations of larger topics, let’s talk a little bit about the stuff that I’d really like to see from the expansion that I’m also not expecting to actually see happen.

Better use of old content

Timewalking dungeons have already started us down this road, along with bringing back some currency-based progression that almost everyone seems to like. And with the game bringing back classes in a big way, it seems like an ideal time to expand this idea and make it work for more older content.

An obvious option would be to make Timewalking currencies extend to buy level-appropriate versions of older tier sets; they’re no longer relevant for progression, but it gives players a reason to wear older sets that already have their art finished. It establishes iconic looks for classes more firmly, and it gives players an advantage for collecting this stuff.

One of the big assets that World of Warcraft has at its disposal is a decade’s worth of content. If the developers are going to be lazy about giving us new dungeons, that’s fine as long as we can just make several expansion’s worth of dungeons relevant again. Saving development time and making use of existing tuned combat seems like a win-win to me.

More Silvermoon stuff is appreciated.

A bit more bringing the class

“Bring the player, not the class” was an admirable philosophy when it first surfaced. The idea was that there were several different classes providing vital functions, so you weren’t limited to having a Shadow Priest in the party for mana recovery, for one example. The problem came when “vital functions” was expanded to include nearly every conceivable function, leading to such elements as totems being gutted for buffs, blessings and auras being wildly redesigned, and so on.

The fact of the matter is that at this point, there’s very little practical difference between an Arms Warrior and a Retribution Paladin; you look for slightly different secondary stats and have a slightly different rotation, but not substantially so. That isn’t a good thing, I’d argue. So I’m hoping that as long as we’re moving into having specific class artifact weapons and redoing class fantasies, classes get to have more of their distinctiveness come back to the forefront. It should feel different to play different classes and specs, even if they’re similar.

Yes, that means that there might be certain functions you miss when a given class isn’t in the party, but that is always going to be the case. You can at least have classes that feel different in play.

I fel for it.

Professional relevance

Professions in the game need a serious overhaul. It’s been a problem for a long while, really, but for most of the game’s lifespan it’s been easy enough to ignore. At this point, though, Jewelcrafting is half-useless, Inscription is a mess of randomness and hope, Enchantment feels superfluous, and we’ve also given up on any meaningful profession advancement partway through Warlords of Draenor because who needs the help of other professions? You can functionally gather and craft everything all by yourself, after all.

I understand the reasoning behind this, and I honestly don’t think the problem has its roots in the Garrison; I think that’s a symptom of a larger problem: that each new 75-point skill increase is treated as wholly independent of the last one. The Garrison stuff hasn’t helped, but it hasn’t made things specifically worse, either. It’s a mess that’s been running for a while. We’ve been told that there are lots of people working on each new bit of the crafting professions, so let’s see what they actually can do to clean out cruft and make the game as a whole work better.

Some of this is just the nature of the game because crafting is always going to be a sideline activity in World of Warcraft. That’s how the game is designed. I don’t begrudge that fact. But this is another case in which the hard work has already been done, and all that the designers really need to do is make that hard existing work matter more. Yes, revising things was one of the goals of Cataclysm, but discussing the differences between that revamp and what would work far better is a topic for another week’s column.

Make it better after all.

Better targeting of endgame

As much as I’d love to see more Timewalking-style rewards and more Timewalking dungeons that provide a progression system, I also want to see better new content and a better progression system there. It’s no secret that I’m a huge fan of Final Fantasy XIV and how the game structures its endgame systems thus far, and I think the lessons of that game are ones that could well be applied to World of Warcraft as well.

New dungeons are fun – not just retuning of older dungeons into heroic difficulties, but brand-new dungeons meant for that high-level play right from the start. Having a variety of different content types needed to advance beyond a certain point keeps players engaged. The fact that we have a whole new PvP progression system alone implies that we could have a unified gear progression system that rewards players chiefly for doing content, not simply for playing our way through various tiers of raiding with a vengeance.

I’ve said many times that one of the biggest weaknesses currently facing Azeroth is the tendency to focus on one sort of vanishingly rare endgame player whilst ignoring all others. That’s not the reason subscriptions have dropped rather aggressively over the past few years, but it certainly doesn’t help. Past content being made more relevant is a good thing, but making new content for everyone is just as viable as an advancement strategy.

Yes, it’s all pie-in-the-sky dreaming, and I’m fully aware of it. I don’t expect to hear about or see most of these things happen. But I’m trying to be optimistic and have faith that all the talk we’ve heard thus far about refocusing on class fantasies and offering more varied content isn’t just so much lip service. Maybe it is, maybe it isn’t, but we’ll find out soon enough.

Feedback, as always, is welcome in the comments below or via mail to eliot@massivelyop.com. Next time around, I want to expand on that offhand mention here and talk about the large-scale Cataclysm revamp of old content, why we need some more revamping, and why what happened then doesn’t necessarily have to happen again.

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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KineticDamage
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KineticDamage

Nyphur A good way to add relevance to old zones would also to implement zone control (political, or resources, or Warhammer Online style). With rewards indeed.

Kenine
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Kenine

Pepperzine

I think that the solution to WOW’s current problem is one that they can’t really implement. As it sits right now, the whole world (including all content and zones from previous expansions, is at the same point in time: Modern Time. If you go back and roll a new character, you’re playing old content that was most relevant in a different time, but you’re playing it at the same point in time as modern high level characters. This means that you don’t really get to experience what the older content was really like when it was the newest thing. They’ve also set it up so that you’re jumping all over the place in the timeline of the lore when you’re leveling from 1-100. 

To fix this, they would have to leverage a lot of instancing. They’d have to line up the chronological order of content from the existing expansions and then have you play in an instance that is appropriate to your level that is isolated to just you and other people of a similar level. So you wouldn’t actually join the same universe as the other top level players until you progress to the beginning of the current expansion. And then on top of that, they would need to create new instances of old zones that reflect the current state of the world so that top level players can still travel the world and visit any zone that they choose. If Blizzard ever did this, then they could easily create modern events in older zones because those zones wouldn’t still be focused on delivering old non-relevant content.

Now, I realize that this kind of overhaul will never ever happen in WOW. It requires way too much work and a dramatically larger server network, not to mention a larger staff to try and create content for the whole world instead of just a new zone. But, if they did make these changes, it would completely fix a lot of the current problems. It would allow new characters to experience classic content the way that it was originally meant to be enjoyed. It would also allow new characters to travel through the timeline in a logical order. On top of all that, it would create the opportunity for existing top-level players to go back to older zones and have new experiences. That could potentially create some of the end-game variety that other posters have asked for.

Pandalulz
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Pandalulz

mmonerd Pandalulz Yeah, I know.  It’s obviously not going to happen in this expansion considering the subject matter, but at some point I wish they’d really just expand on something new.  I feel like we’ve been on autopilot for so many years talking about the same things over and over again.  The plot of WoD exemplified the whole rehashing old story.  Do we have to wait until they finally do a WC4 before we can actually move the plot along?

chriskovo
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chriskovo

How about the removal of the damn Pathfinder crap and a reimplementationn of the basic feature this is flying?

Pepperzine
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Pepperzine

Vanilla Progression Server, BC Progression Server, and WotLK Progression Server.  That is what my entire wish list consists of.  Nothing else they add or edited could possibly get me to play again, let alone give them any more money than I already have.  That ship has long since sailed.  Until then I guess I’ll continue my adventure on Emerald Dreams.

Fenryr
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Fenryr

Funny is that in hearthstone some of the abilities and spells are from vanilla /earlier expansions but aren’t in the game anymore. I don’t know what drugs they did after Burning Crusade but it’s time for an drug withdrawal. Classes that were so iconic and different have been dumped down do a uni-mass of rubbish. Nope WoW died with every expansion a little more and i’m not sure if legion can resurrect it.

DanielReasor
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DanielReasor

The melee spec should have been Beast Master. How does Beast Within work now? I squeeze the trigger with all the fury I can muster?

mmonerd
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mmonerd

Pandalulz mmonerd New planet is great idea the dev can explore. As far as i can remember blizz said there are many unknown  area or region in the existing planet they want to explore.

Bannex19
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Bannex19

Mmos are better now than ever with the exception of the star wars ip and super heroes

Bannex19
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Bannex19

Basically, but I think it would be hard and disappointing for many nostalgic fans to completely revamp the whole gaming experience from level one.
The other problem is if you had down leveling and other mechanics like that it would be odd to adjust on pvp servers.
The idea would be to have azeroth be a separate version/dimension after level 100 that would implement a more inclusive gaming experience going forward while leaving the old game intact and untouched.
As far as quests go you would really highlight the specific conflicts in each zone like they do with tanaan as well as have bonus objectives that divide the zones regions. That way every old zone functions like tanaan but preserves the locale’s story and character.