WoW Factor: Speculative classes for the future of WoW
If Allied Races show us anything, it’s that World of Warcraft is really in no danger of running out of new races to throw at us. This particular system is adding nearly twice as many new races in one expansion as we’ve had added during the entirety of the game’s lifespan thus far, there’s another one that looks to be set up for this as well (hello there, Vulpera), and there’s a deep roster of other options that people have asked to have for ages. Yes, it would take some work to retrofit Vrykul and Ogres, but considering the work going into new male orc poses, Zandalari Trolls, and Kul Tiran Humans, it is definitely not insurmountable work.
Of course, as I alluded to a while back, we sort of have a disconnect right now where we’ve got far more race options than class options. And while we’re awash in races, we seem to be in danger of running out of classes that can’t be pretty cleanly modeled by what’s already in the game. That doesn’t mean we can’t get any new classes, of course, but it’s hard to justify the inclusion of a Pirate class when we already have a Rogue spec doing everything such a class would theoretically offer. The inclusion of mechanical Hunter pets alone basically short-circuited talk about “Engineer” as a class.
Not that this means we’re out of options, of course; in fact, there’s still plenty of things left in the bank of known or reasoned class options that we can’t play just yet. So let’s talk about some of those options, and along the way I’m sure we can fit in some fun discussions about the difference between classes and hero classes.
Potential Alliance races: Pretty much any (possibly excluding Draenei)
Potential Horde races: Pretty much any (possibly excluding Goblins, who notoriously lack rhythm)
One of the things that endlessly annoys me about Pandaren is the simple reality that the race started out as an April Fools’ Day joke that people just would not allow to die. I don’t see why we shouldn’t let another joke that’s actually a better idea die, though. Sure, the obvious joke from this was the idea that Bards play Guitar Hero in order to interact with the game, but it’s not like the concept of a Bard needs a whole lot of extra explanation or that particular joke to be justified.
It’s hard to think of races that couldn’t justifiably be a bard, and it’d serve nicely as at least a healing and damage option class. If the developers wanted to be really surprising, they could even go all-in and make it a potential tank as well; yes, tanking through the power of rock alone is pretty absurd, but it’s not inherently more absurd than anything else. Light armor, of course, would be an obvious option for the more support-oriented class.
Of course, it has the one major drawback of no characters actually being marked as bards up to this point, which is some cause for concern. You’d have to create the idea of adventuring bards almost whole-cloth, and it’s a little hard to spin that at times; when the past few expansions have been nonstop crisis wars, there’s less space for just strolling down the road as a minstrel. But it also has a solid conceptual basis, so we’d just need an expansion where we aren’t explicitly setting out to destroy another ancient or recent evil.
That’d be nice anyhow, to be fair.
Potential Alliance races: Human, Dwarf, Draenei (remember Auchindoun?), Void Elf, Kul Tiran, Dark Iron
Potential Horde races: Orc, Troll, Forsaken, Blood Elf, Zandalari, Goblin
Another one that people have asked to get for half of forever, Necromancer isn’t a joke but is a class we see in the game pretty much constantly. Yes, Unholy Death Knights might have taken some of their schtick, but the difference there is that Death Knights are a hero class, and Necromancers don’t really have to be. They’re not actually dead. (The distinction will be discussed further momentarily.)
While there’s space to consider this as an offshoot or variant on Warlock, the big difference is that Warlocks still are fundamentally a pet class that summons something to keep around. Necromancers summon lots of disposable things with an unlifespan of about two minutes, give or take. Rather than being a pet class, it’s a class that just summons targetable effects and potential temporary pets – closer to Enhancement than Warlocks.
Obviously, this would make a nice light armor damage dealer, and you could easily justify it having some sort of tanking component via a particularly tanky bone construct or healing. Heck, necromancy itself is already healing, just very late in the process.
Potential Alliance races: Human, Dwarf, Dark Iron, Gnome
Potential Horde races: Orc, Forsaken, Mag’har
This one is a little bit more speculative, as we have fewer “obvious” hero classes waiting in the wings (note: I fully expect one of our commenters to point out something blindingly obvious that I missed within about five minutes, so I’ll be very disappointed with all of you if you either fail to do it or point out something explicitly ruled out herein). But it has some precedent with the Earthen and points related, and it also serves as an ideal point to talk about the difference between hero classes and regular classes.
We’ve only got two examples of the former, of course, but they’ve established a pretty solid precedent: Classes are something you do; hero classes are something you are.
Druids are a class. There are a lot of races that cannot be Druids, but that’s because they don’t live in an environment where Druidism is taught. Blood Elves, for example, are fully capable of being Druids (we even see some enemies like that in the game), they aren’t lacking a gland or something. They just aren’t. If we were to get some sort of multi-class option, there’s no reason Blood Elves couldn’t hop on that adjunct program.
Death Knights, on the other hand, are a hero class. A normal living Blood Elf couldn’t train herself to be a Death Knight; they have to be killed and raised under specific circumstances. To extend that multi-class option analogy, an existing Blood Elf Death Knight could possibly train to be a Rogue, but a Rogue couldn’t just train to be a Death Knight. It’s a state of being as well as a profession.
A class that is explicitly an avatar of the Titans would thus make perfect sense as a heroic option, since it would probably involve some degree of titantic purging to bring the eligible races closer to their original forms. There’s definitely an established aesthetic, as well; a plate-wearing class with lots of stellar, lightning, and light-based effects. It’s not something we’ve been told is happening, but given the story direction it makes a certain amount of sense.
Potential Alliance races: Night Elf, Draenei, Dwarf, Worgen, Pandaren, Lightforged, Dark Iron
Potential Horde races: Blood Elf, Forsaken, Pandaren, Nightborne, Tauren, Highmountain, Zandalari
And here we have a class that is often cited as a potential hero class that makes far more sense as a normal class. The Wardens are trained, but they aren’t supernaturally changed by their duty; they just exercise their duty with absolute devotion. They’re not distracted. And as they’re now fewer in number, it makes perfect sense to expand their numbers through other races with a devotion to law and order. Including those that they met during the war against the Legion.
It’s hard not to see Wardens as another potential tank-and-damage class, but it’s also hard not to imagine them striding around in mail armor; their armor looks like it could conceivably belong to that class, and it’d be another use for the largely underutilized armor tier. For that matter, it’d bring a different feel to the game as a whole, and conceivably give us another class that can wield warglaives in addition to demon hunters.
“But do they have any distinct tricks of their own?” Lots of them. Some of their tricks seem to have made their way into the Demon Hunter kit, but the general relentlessness alone offers suggestions, and the spectral owls and additional copies both are mechanics that can be exploited for more options. In short, there’s plenty of ground to make this a class that feels distinct and mobile without infringing on anyone’s territory overtly.
Feedback, as always, is welcome in the comments or via mail to firstname.lastname@example.org; as always, I should note that this column is particularly speculative, so don’t be surprised if we never see any of this in the actual game. I admit that I still really like Wardens, so I may be biased.