Let’s pretend for a moment that the reason Blizzard appears to be dropping the ball with World of Warcraft right now is that it’s working on World of Warcraft 2 for announcement at some point once Classic is out the door. It’s pure speculation, but fun speculation, and really, wouldn’t you be shocked to find out Blizzard isn’t incubating a new Warcraft game?
So that’s our topic for Massively Overthinking for the week: What would you want to see from WoW 2? And maybe more importantly, what don’t you want to see in WoW 2?
Andrew Ross (@dengarsw): In WoW 2, I’d like to something like The Secret World or PlanetSide 2. Leveling skills instead of your character, factions but the ability to play the game together, open world, varied gameplay, plenty of tools to teleport players to the field, flying vehicular combat… and probably some kind of mobile app companion. Maybe a pedometer with some mini-game to level up pets or earn mounts. Oh, and player housing. Seriously, Blizz, you wanted fishing like Animal Crossing but couldn’t get it to work, so maybe try housing like Animal Crossing – just something fun but light.
What I wouldn’t want to see is a huge push for raiding. Scalable content would be nice, no doubt, but a living world would be nicer. The lore writers can only do so much. Let players play out scenarios that actually change the way the game’s developed. Bring back the RP in MMORPG!
Brianna Royce (@nbrianna, blog): When World of Warcraft was first announced, I pretty much shrugged – I had no affinity or affection for the franchise, so to me it was just another MMO among the many dozens that were in production back then. Fast-forward a few years and I could see its potential and had a few years of good memories to build on. I really loved the Wrath period. I loved the Pandaria period. I don’t even completely hate the Burning Crusade and Vanilla periods. Along the way, the way was lost. I perceived that “way” as inclusivity, for want of a better word – the designers back then seemed to recognize that it had a giant, unwieldly, messy playerbase with lots of playstyles, and it tried, in varying degrees, to cater to all of them rather than pacify the majority in favor of catering to a small but loud raiding minority.
So I suppose in WoW 2 I’d want to see the “way” restored. I don’t really care about the lore that much, but I’d want to see a more robust themepark (elaborate quest lines, please) with higher-end graphics and sandbox elements (like farms and housing) that aren’t discarded every expansion, PvP that isn’t sidelined, crafting and economy with some heft, and plenty of content and rewards for small and large group PvE. Ideally, I’d like it to be fully cross-platform too – yes, console, PC, and mobile.
I don’t want WoW 2 to be untrue to WoW or Blizzard. I just want it to be its best self, and WoW isn’t that right now and hasn’t been for a long time, no matter that hope buoys its box sales every other year. The reboot wouldn’t be my favorite MMORPG of all time because I will probably always be a crafter-centric everythingbox gamer at heart, but it’d be a clean slate and fresh start for everyone and something I’d put a lot of time into.
Chris Neal (@wolfyseyes, blog): I feel like I’ve mentioned this before either in chat with the MOP staff or in some other chat somewhere else, but I would love to see WoW 2 done like a Kingdom of Amalaur: Reckoning. I’m talking a more freeform combat system and level progression, a large open world, and maybe some all new arrative beats that hit the story’s reset button. Failing that, I also wouldn’t hate it if they tried a few things that EverQuest Next wanted to do in terms of its exploration and sandbox proclivities. Or maybe a combination of both.
Eliot Lefebvre (@Eliot_Lefebvre, blog): Wow, is it really already time for a sequel to World of Warcraft? The answer, obviously, is “of course not.” It was time for a sequel a long while ago, now we’re into that point of the running time wherein the original has gone on for too long and now you just cannot seem to get to a concluding point. But that’s not the actual question, it’s about what I’d want to see in such a sequel.
Bear in mind, we’re going afield for this one.
I think there’s actually a lot of space for this as a potential thing taking place after this particular period of Azeroth’s history, but I think that the best route to go starts with removing the factional limitations. That doesn’t mean removing factions, though; it means further splintering, anchoring around some of the biggest racial factions. Orcs, Trolls, Tauren, Goblins, Humans, Dwarves, Blood Elves, Night Elves… instead of having an overarching pact between multiple different groups, these groups pursue their own objectives, a bit more closely related to the now-classic strategy games insofar as they aren’t strictly allied or opposed in all instances. Moreover, since there are so many variants we see on races, I’d like to see things go a bit further by allowing you to apply templates to the various playable races. You’re not just confined to being a Death Knight; you can be an Orcish Revenant, or a Fel Tauren, or a Lightforged Night Elf, and so forth. Every race has a few different variants if they’re not outright universal.
Of course, that’s partly at odds with the idea of Hero classes, but that’s also part of the point. No, I’m not proposing a classless system; quite the opposite because Warcraft loves its classes. It even has multiple odd classes that have their own unique tricks, and while WoW has tried to combine a lot of those different identities into shared classes, I’d rather see them just get split back up again. You choose one of the now-common nine “core” classes, but that simply determines which of the game’s many, many different subclasses you can pick up.
For example, let’s say that you make yourself a Lightforged Blood Elf Paladin. Sure, that makes sense. This means you start as a Blood Knight and get access to those abilities as you level up. But your Blood Knight level isn’t the same as your overall level; by the time you’re level 20 Blood Knight, you’ve learned everything unique to Blood Knights and you still have, say, 40 levels to go to the level cap. So where do you go? Why, you head down to Stormwind, you negotiate with the trainers, and you start your training as a Level 1 Silver Hand Paladin.
This is meant as a combination of both D&D-style prestige classes and Job System-style artistry. As you level, you equip individual “careers” as level blocks, so (for example) your Blood Elf ends up with Blood Knight, Silver Hand Paladin, and Sunwalker as three 20-level blocks. But what if you want to learn, say, how to be a Spellbreaker? You pick that up and level it, enjoying the benefits of the level cap while also gaining experience and improving your Spellbreaker. And not every career has 20 levels; some have 10, some have 5. You can custom-tune what you’ve got set up, and you can always pick up something new. As a result, you never need to introduce new classes, but every class has lots of options for what can be accessed, and you can restrict entry into any given career based on core class. (For example, a Paladin can learn to be a Footman or a Grunt or a Spellbreaker, but not how to be a Pyromancer or a Demonologist.)
Add in some good level syncing, some class-based customization to abilities and interplay (so, say, a Warrior and Paladin might train the same careers but have wildly different gameplay), a decent set of questing and level scaling lessons learned from The Elder Scrolls Online, and some dungeon lessons learned from Final Fantasy XIV? Yeah, I’d play that.
What would I actually expect? Tab-targeting Overwatch without an ounce of irony.
Justin Olivetti (@Sypster, blog): This is a tough question because I guarantee you that no two fans would agree on this. Some would merely want an engine upgrade, while others would advocate for a top-to-bottom revamp.
While I think that any sequel would be ill-advised, as there is no way that Blizzard could top itself (and thus be saddled with a sequel that was less desirable and less popular than the original), the only way that such a project could achieve decent success would be to present a new type of MMORPG than what Blizzard has been running for so long. Too similar invites comparisons, while a radically different game would at least be its own animal.
What that animal would be… I honestly don’t know. Virtual reality, sandbox, mobile integration, time traveling, integration with World of Warcraft, mobile — it could utilize any of these. But no matter how different a WoW 2 would be, it would still need that have that World of Warcraft feel that is the hallmark of the MMO. Casual accessible, stylistic, and polished to a fault.