WoW Factor: A wishlist for 2017 in World of Warcraft

Whew. All right.

This year has been a pile of garbage and I’ll be glad it’s over. It’s not that I’m convinced 2017 will be any better than 2016, mind you; it’s just that I’ll be glad that 2016 is gone, since it contains a whole lot of strife and misery and evil. And I could just predict 2017 for World of Warcraft, but the reality is that what I see as the most likely possibilities for the game involve the developers not learning obvious lessons and sailing gleefully into another big content gap, which doesn’t exactly make 2017 feel more welcoming.

That doesn’t mean that’s inevitable, though, so instead of just a set of predictions, I’d rather go for a more straightforward wish list. Forget what I expect to see; what do I want to see? I mean, aside from the Draenei rising to a place of prominence rather than being perpetual victims, since if there was any expansion to do it this would be the one, but I think that whole Light’s Heart thing already shot the chances of that to hell.

What do you mean I can't join the raid without TWO Legendaries?!

Less randomness

Random chance, at this point, has gone beyond a weakness for Blizzard. It’s metastasized into a full-blown addiction, with the developers waiting in the back alley outside of your department and asking if you can spare a couple of d6 so they can figure out what clothes to wear this morning. And it’s mostly defended as a throwback to a particular style of gameplay that may or may not have ever happened.

One of the things that has been said – repeatedly – is that the developers want Legendaries to create¬†that same rush you felt when you got a random world epic in the vanilla game. To me, this is akin to saying that they want me to feel that same rush I felt when I was the high school football star. Because of all the to-do around the Legendaries, this doesn’t feel like “wow, that’s so awesome” so much as it feels like “wow, finally, that took forever, now I’m almost up to par with where everyone else was months ago.” Instead of being an unexpected boon, it’s a required catch-up.

Of course, that’s assuming the random world quests with random rewards that can randomly be useful or not haven’t already frustrated the heck out of you. I’m still annoyed that after being Exalted with the Nightfallen, finishing the campaign quests (and the post-campaign), and mastering the whole Withered training scenario, I still have not gotten my totally random drop to allow me access to the quest to unlock a fox mount. Meanwhile, I got my hidden artifact appearance on my Enhancement shaman the first time I even tried, and I didn’t even particularly want it.

For all that we’re told that there are luck correction mechanics, why do we need those in the first place? Luck correction mechanics are a counterbalance to a counterbalance. It’s much easier to have a better balancing act in place to start with. Not to mention that if that counterbalance never hits 100%, it’s not really a counter to anything; shoddy luck is still going to be shoddy luck.

The fun of getting something good with randomness is quickly replaced by the frustration of having “something good” be entirely in the hand of random chance rather than concentrated effort. Rather than spending even more space on this particular issue, I’ll leave this as a note that this is a thing that can and should be corrected through 2017.

Better use of reputation

Let me love you. Or your tailor. Not you specifically, Cordana, you're a jerk.Right out of the gate, Legion gave us six new reputations, perhaps the most we’ve ever seen in a new expansion. But they feel… well, kind of perfunctory. Once you pass Revered, there’s not a whole lot to them; they’ve got lots of toys, one 850 piece at the top, and tabards. That’s about it.

The past couple of expansions have had a weird relationship with reputations anyway, since Mists of Pandaria kind of poisoned that well in the eyes of developers. (Yes, that was more a function of how reputations were handled than reputations themselves; I know that, tell them that.) Legion reputations in particular have a weird push-and-pull associated with them, as the developers seem certain that everyone will farm up these reputations more or less just as a side effect, since you need those daily emissary clears.

I’m happy about the plethora of toys, but I’m not happy about how many of the reputations peter out early. I want more transmog sets, which are something I particularly love about the Legion pre-launch invasion rewards and the Trial of Valor raid. Mounts would be nice, too; sure, we’re getting new class-based mounts, but why not add a factional option in there while we’re at it? Why not let Dreamweavers offer riding sabers for all (including Horde characters) while Highmountain offers kodo for all?

Adding these as straight reputation rewards at this point is unlikely, but the additional Suramar campaign (for a mount) serves as a nice indicator of how this sort of thing could be handled. Get Exalted, go on a quest chain, earn some nice cosmetic boosts along the way. It’d make those reputations feel a bit more worthwhile, even if we are more or less bound to hit Exalted status along the way anyway.

We also can guess we’ll get at least a few more reputations in the game before the end, for 7.2 at least. I’d like to see those reps be a bit better handled out of the gate, and heck, even bring in some more older reputations to get updated. Sure, we’re not really beholden to the Kirin Tor for anything other than rep tokens, but some Kirin Tor toys and appearances would be keen…

After I get my Warden transmog set, anyway. Seriously, I’ve wanted that since the game launched.

Why did I BUY this?

A better timing roadmap

This is pretty high on my wishlist for 2017. I want to know that as we’re roughly halfway through this expansion cycle that the next expansion is being worked on… and while part of me might like to not know the details, at this point announcing the details is pretty vital. I should be able to point and say “yes, the next expansion is coming out in the middle of 2018, thus ensuring that the gap between the end of Legion and the start of the next expansion is minimal.”

Yes, we’ve already had one major patch for Legion… in the three months since it released. That indicates that the stuff in that patch was almost ready for launch and just got slightly held back, and it also indicates that there’s no kind of long-form development planning going on to space out releases. It was done, so we get it immediately. And then we wind up with all patches out, no work being done on development, no expansion in sight for a year. We’ve done this dance.

So let’s break that habit in 2017. This is something the company has managed to do before; The Burning Crusade was announced well before it came out, yes, but we had more patches to the game between announcement and release. Heck, that first expansion had the best time-to-launch gap there. It’s something that can be done rather than assuming boredom and frustration are simply inevitable.

Fill everything with fel energy.

More cosmetic glyphs

This might be lower on the list, but you know, Vantus Runes are just plain awful. It’s not that they’re useless (they’re not), it’s that they’re really wholly unrelated to the reason I cared about Inscription in the first place. But that’s fine; you can make it up to me by smothering me in cosmetic runes.

I want more options for what my alternate forms look like instead of stopping at “well, your Shaman can be a ghost raptor instead.” Let me be a fox, a cat, a stag, all sorts of stuff. Let me inherit the cool visuals of the Nightfallen’s spell-fencing madness so I can toss that on Warriors. Or let me really get that thundering Titan-touched Vrykul look going. Let my Druid channel the Nightmare in spells to get that visual going.

In short, let me really work that cosmetic angle. If it has no mechanical effect, let me go nuts with it. I can live with the lack of mechanical impact, but I want those cosmetic options across the board.

Feedback, as always, is welcome down in the comments below or via mail to Next time around, I want to speculate about something connected but not directly tied in to that next expansion. Will we get more classes after this expansion? Do we need them? Do we want them?

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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