The Daily Grind: Should expansions change the core of an MMO?

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Those of us playing Final Fantasy XIV have had about two months with Stormblood now, which has prompted one complaint to come out as the “main” complaint of the expansion: it’s not all that different from what the game was before. Which strikes me, at least, as a somewhat silly complaint; of course it’s not all that different, it’s an expansion to the same game. I wouldn’t buy a Star Wars: The Old Republic expansion expecting the game to suddenly become something other than it already was, after all. Why would I be upset that the expansion to a game I enjoy is… more of that game?

But then, that may just be me. Heck, it may just be that this particular game aligns nicely with my personal interests. After all, Guild Wars 2 had an expansion which arguably changed the core of its gameplay already, although there’s some debate about whether it was for better or worse. World of Warcraft has been through many sea changes with its various expansions. So maybe that’s what people really want from an expansion?

Let’s put it to you, dear readers. Should expansions change the core of an MMO? Or would you prefer that a new expansion gives you the same core game with enhancements rather than changing the heart of the experience?

Every morning, the Massively Overpowered writers team up with mascot Mo to ask MMORPG players pointed questions about the massively multiplayer online roleplaying genre. Grab a mug of your preferred beverage and take a stab at answering the question posed in today’s Daily Grind!
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Well, I think it depends on how you define the “core” of the game to some degree but in general, yes. Not every expansion but at least once in a while. I think of WoW’s Cataclysm as a good example. A lot about the game changed following that, the least of which being the landscape and it was pretty cool. Otherwise you end up with just more of the same. For loyal, long time players, a change of pace in some ways goes a long way to retaining them even longer.


It really depends which expansion and how well the original game was received.

In general I would say no, but if it is the first expansion for the game and the game wasn’t received particularly well, then I would be open for a big change. Once you’re past the first expansion, chances of attracting new players is much lower so you need to focus on retaining existing players, so big changes need to be avoided from then onwards.

In my opinion, an expansion should include the following:

1) Content – obviously the biggest thing in an expansion should be the content. New zones, quests, dungeons, raids, pvp zones, whatever: give the players something to do. Should include a mixture of short, medium and long term goals.

2) Progression – sadly, a lot of content is lackluster so players need motivation through progression. I prefer horizontal progression personally, but most players are looking for their character to improve throughout the content of an expansion.

3) Something to learn – I also think it is very important to engage players mentally, so it is important that players have something new to learn. It may be a stat revamp, or some new mechanics, whatever it is should mean that players have to engage with the game to get the most out of their characters. LotRO did this quite successfully, tending to revamp the way stats worked nearly every expansion. It didn’t affect the way you played the game, but did affect your gearing choices. The only time this goes badly is when they dumb it down at the same time.

4) Something brand new – I do think expansions should give players something they’ve never seen before. It could be something as big as skirmishes or big battles from LotRO, or something as small as a new hobby like fishing. It’s important to get players excited for something brand new.


I don’t think anyone mentioned Lotro, but there’s obviously a few things they’ve done in expansions that haven’t set well with the players. LI’s and Warsteeds come immediately to mind.


That is the very thing that kept me from going back to WoW. Having stopped playing at the end of Lich King, I feel utterly lost trying to go back now. The very basics of how my class functions has changed so much that I don’t even know how to play anymore.

I’m told that in a lot of ways things have been simplified, but being a healer I’d either have to inflict that learning curve on other players at a pretty high level, or basically start over. Neither of which really appeals to me.

Melissa McDonald

I’m gonna say no. NGE and history say it doesn’t end well.

John Kiser

Varies really. WoW at times I feel has gone too far in changes they make and often times changes WoW makes seem detrimental to their community.


They shouldn’t change the core game, so much as they should augment the core game. I like WoW how it changes and attempts to shake things up. BUT, sometimes they change too much and it turns people off with their class changes. I used to like Arms for instance, now it literally feels like I’m playing Fury from 3 year ago. But Shaman is practically the same, for Ele and Resto.

FFXIV changes things a bit, but sometimes it’s not enough. White Mage with Tetragrammaton was a game change, but it didn’t change a whole lot else of the job. But it was cool as heck. But then War changes ends up getting a DPS stance (which is totally welcomed) but it didn’t go anywhere else with the job’s play style .


FFXIV has to be the most static MMO I’ve ever played, They even patch content the same way(Xpack Primals/dungeon/token grind/endgame updated token grind) over and over . I played for two years and took a break after beating alexander savage 1-4 and came back for SB, The game feels like the exact same game with nothing changed at all and then comes the under water BS, I’ve played games on PS2 with better entering/leaving the water mechanics(I mean look at GW2 water combat ect and then look at ffxiv’s), It’s like they didn’t even try.


But you can’t really blame them, since that is the distillation of what people liked about WoW in the early days for the end game. Which was the dungeon > Heroic > token > Raid grind cycle.

Which isn’t a bad cycle since it’s very very easy to follow, there’s a catch up mechanic built in, and there’s an easy way for people to jump back in when they haven’t been around for a while. Compare this to WoW’s consistent changing, which is fun, but for a lot of people, it’s not great learning the same class over again, then figuring out whether or not if you want to stick with it. A lot of DK players moved from unholy to a totally different class because they didn’t like the changes from the last expansion.


As one of those people complaining about FFXIV being the same, I dont think it’s so much that people want the core of the game to change. Using XIV as an example, the issue is that the game has just been the same thing for years now. You get to max level, you farm the same few dungeons over and over, then you do the raid, then the harder version of the same raid, with content being replaced (rather than added to) with each new patch. Actually, at ARR launch, there was more to do at endgame then there is to do now, which is really pathetic.

I dont think the core of an mmo should change, but you would expect that over time, and with expansion releases, there should be more new stuff. New types of endgame events, new features, things that add to the game rather than just make the old content completely obsolete


The last thing I want, if I’m playing an MMO I love, is for some expansion to come along and completely change the core gameplay. Add new features, new classes, new zones, mobs, etc. but if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.