Massively Overthinking: What would you want out of a potential WoW sequel?

    
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Take a walk on the already-done-this side.

It’s a rare MMO player who’s never played World of Warcraft, which makes this particular summer an interesting one for the whole genre. Even if you’ve long since left WoW behind, you’re probably idly wondering whether new updates, Classic, and even the expansion likely to be announced at BlizzCon are worth your while. It’s hard not to be swept up in the frenzy of the moment.

But what about after? Players who find that Classic belonged in the past where they left it or determine that modern WoW has far too much baggage to carry into the future might surely be wondering what comes next. But a modernized sequel, stuffed with everything Blizzard ought to have learned along the way, might perk the IP right back up. The question is… what would you want it to look like? And would anybody out there agree with you?

Such is the question I’ve posed for the MOP writers in this week’s Massively Overthinking. Do you want WoW 2, and what would you say are the three most critical qualities it must have?

Andrew Ross (@dengarsw): I’m with Carlo on this. Cross platform and mobile are becoming increasingly important for games looking to reach the masses. The problem is having accessible and fun gameplay that works on all platforms.

Simplified combat controls and RP opportunities could be a good fix. Auto leveling while offline and/or xp gains through real life walking ala Pokemon Go’s Adventure Sync could help casuals stay on board.

But I’m still not sure how it would do as a persistent world. Would we still be able to have Orgrimmar filled with people? Alterac Valley-scale PvP? And as combat is mostly king, would it be engaging enough for PC and console MMO vets? Fortnite does well as a lobby game, but I’m not sure it can be retrofitted into MMO-hood.

Andy McAdams: Absolutely. While it’s apparent the Ion’s leadership of the current WoW is… questionable at best, it’s also fairly safe to assume that the current codebase has a fair amount of tech-debt that prevents Blizzard from doing somethings — or makes it prohibitively hard to do so. Starting over from a new codebase is a great way to get a clean slate to make all new mistakes.

I think WoW 2 would need a solid lore reason for existing. Either we jump way into the future or way way way into the past. Or a great lore-driven reset button to recon the whole damn thing. I think it needs to be open-world, provide meaningful play at all levels, repeatable content at all levels, maybe finally give up the ghost on traditional levels at all; meaningful and rewarding non-combat play, player housing because it’s bloody ridiculous the current WoW doesn’t have it.

The market is ripe for a legit virtual world with solid lore backing. It’s hat EverQuest Next should have been – the market desire is there, they just need to do it. I mean, they won’t because “LOL RAIDZ ARE ALL TAHT MATTER LOL,” but it’s what they should do.

Brianna Royce (@nbrianna, blog): I’d play WoW 2. With caveats! I have good memories of the middle period of World of Warcraft, maybe Burning Crusade to Pandaria, in there, and I’d love to get that feeling back with a new game. I don’t mind the IP, and I liked playing a solid MMO with a solid company behind it – it’s a comfort. But I’m over the baggage, the wasted zones, the level grind, the one-off systems that get abandoned two years later, the long waits for content, the obsession with a raiding endgame, the haphazard development, the obsession with Horde and orcs, the sloppy PvP development, the shockingly arrogant design leads. I suppose this is why I wandered away a few years ago.

If WoW 2 avoided those problems, and left the baggage behind, yeah, I’d play it. So for me, it’s not about what’s in it but about what’s not in it and who’s not running it.

But let’s be honest, I really just want housing, meaningful crafting/economy, and bards.

Carlo Lacsina (@UltraMudkipEX): Blizzard has always been at its best when it takes what works from various games of a particular genre and refine those systems into the new genre standard. I’m going to be a little more pessimistic, it’s going to have to appeal to the lowest common denominator. I would not be surprised if they go with action combat. It would be soooo awesome if it were a sandbox with instancing!

Here’s what WoW needs: It needs to appeal to Gen Z. It needs a new base. We’re getting old. It needs to be playable on phones and PCs, but it has be PC quality on a phone. Not the other way around. Consoles too, we can’t ignore that. In a perfect world, mobile players and console gamers will have the honor and privilege to play with the PC master race. It needs to go big in my opinion, and it would be a mistake to ignore the crowd.

RP is getting big. They need to start including RP tools with the game. And I mean ones that have never been seen before. How cool would it be if Blizzard let players create their own emotes? Heck, the ability to make new emotes from players would be sooo awesome.

Their new engine needs to be on point too. It needs to run well on all systems, even on a potato. Oh, and that system needs to allow for citybuilding. They need to go with some crazy player housing system that can let players create their own cities too!

Oh, and gender-locked class- I’M KIDDING.

If Blizzard wants to succeed, it’s going to need to put a lot more power to the players. Of course, this isn’t the Blizzard I grew up with, so I doubt anything I said will come true.

Colin Henry (@ChaosConstant): I’m one of those rare MMO players who hasn’t played World of Warcraft, so in some ways I feel like I don’t really have a stake in this one. At the same time, though, maybe that makes me the ideal target audience for WoW 2: people who love MMOs but aren’t playing WoW.

Honestly, the biggest thing that keeps me out of WoW right now is that there is just so much of it, and so many people who have been there since day one. A fresh start might be the only thing that could get me into WoW at this point. I would also like to see the business model change to something like buy-to-play, with a subscription being optional. I have long questioned how much longer WoW can survive on the subscription-only model when just about everyone else in the industry has abandoned it. But hey, that subscription keeps printing money for them year after year, so I guess that’s just me.

I could rattle off a whole list of game elements that could be changed or added to make the game more to my liking — like housing, better crafting/economy features, more class variety, and combat that isn’t so creaky — but I also think they should be very cautious with adding these kinds of things. When I think of WoW, I think of tab-target combat, dungeons and raids, and fairly rigid, trinitarian class roles. If you change that up too much, you are not only going to turn off existing players who have stuck around this long because they like that type of play, but you’re also going to have an uphill battle convincing people who didn’t like WoW that WoW 2 is totally different. Sequels need to innovate, but they also need to make sure they don’t alienate their audience. It’s a delicate balance, and I’m glad it’s not my decision to make.

Mia DeSanzo (@neschria): I actually subscribed and tried to play WoW for a while at launch, but at some point I realized I was paying for a game I wasn’t playing and that was the end of that. It wasn’t compelling for me. That took about four months. My only regret is that a lot of people I know IRL and from EverQuest played (and some still play) WoW, so I felt left out at times. Not enough to put myself through playing it, though.

I would try out any new MMO made by Blizzard because it would probably be pretty high quality and it might click this time. I am willing to give almost anything a chance. I am not sitting here jonesing for WoW 2, and I feel like it is unlikely to happen anyway, but I would try it out, preferably in some free trial scenario because I hate paying full price for a game I end up abandoning after a few weeks.

Now I have to go to confession to ask for forgiveness for that last sentence.

MJ Guthrie (@MJ_Guthrie, blog): Um, well I am definitely not the one to ask! I am one of those in the crazy minority that has not even a tiny sliver of interest in ever playing that game. I did try the beta for like 15 min before I was done for good and left, never to look back. I have never touched the game again. Does that count as actually playing? Some say yes, some say no. What that all means is I can’t give any opinion whatsoever on a sequel because I don’t have one, nor would I touch it for any reason if there were! If they ever make a second one, however, I hope it is one fans like and they have a great time in their game.

Samon Kashani (@thesamkash): You may have all found me out. I would likely give WoW 2 a try, at least for a few months. After that, there is essentially no way it could keep me unless it somehow made it buy to play, which isn’t impossible but probably unlikely. I just can never bring myself to paying a subscription fee for a game. I also think it would need to be action oriented combat to keep my attention. I simply get bored now with almost anything else.

Finally, PvP baby! From what I know WoW has a decent PvP game in the battlegrounds. If it could do that again with some excellent graphics and action combat, then you at least get me for the initial purchase.

Tyler Edwards: There are very few things I’m sure Blizzard will never do, but WoW 2 is one of them. At least not for another 10 or 20 years. While it has fallen from its peak, WoW is still probably the most successful MMO on the market, and they’d be fools to split their audience like that. Beyond that, Blizzard has shown an incredible willingness to change just about every aspect of WoW with new expansions, so there’s not much a sequel could do that an expansion can’t. Honestly I’d argue we already have WoW 2, if not WoW 3 or 4 by now.

As for whether I’d want WoW 2 even if it were a possibility, no, not really. I know I’m a dinosaur clinging to the past at this point, but to me Warcraft will always be an RTS franchise first and foremost. An MMO was never a good fit for the setting, and they had to sacrifice so much about the story and the character of the world to make it work. If new Warcraft games are to be produced, I want them to return to the franchise’s roots. That likely means an RTS, though I think an ambitious single-player RPG a la Dragon Age could also potentially work.

Even then, though, I’m not sure I want more. The fact is I feel Legion wrapped up the franchise pretty well. It’s not perfect, and there are loose ends, but on the whole it was a very good expansion and a good conclusion to the franchise’s story. The Burning Legion was always the main threat of the setting, and even if recent revelations arguably make the Void a bigger threat, I’m not sure a Warcraft without the Legion is something that interests me. I say this not as a gripe; it’s because I’m so happy with how things ended that I’m hesitant to continue on. With Chris Metzen’s departure, it’s easy for me to write off anything after Legion as glorified fan fiction and just be content that my favourite game franchise got a (mostly) satisfying ending.

At this point I’d be more likely to be interested in prequels. Give me a Troll Wars or War of the Ancients game. Those are probably too niche to have mass market appeal, but I’d play them.

It is still possible for Blizzard to entice me back for more post-Legion Warcraft, but they’d have to do something dramatic in terms of story, gameplay, or both to convince me it’s worth it. As far as WoW goes, scrapping Pathfinder and letting us fly is probably top of the list of the things I want, but global level-scaling in the style of Elder Scrolls Online or dropping the sub might also get me to give it another chance.

Every week, join the Massively OP staff for Massively Overthinking column, a multi-writer roundtable in which we discuss the MMO industry topics du jour – and then invite you to join the fray in the comments. Overthinking it is literally the whole point. Your turn!
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Matthew Yetter

I still think that WoW lore lends itself perfectly to a scenario where the players have finally beaten the Old Gods back, ending their threat to the Azeroth world soul right before she awakens to sentience to join the rest of the pantheon of titans uncorrupted. Of course this would normally destroy all life on the planet but the other titans — in gratitude for the races’ success in saving Azeroth — transport them to a new world.

New world, new rules, etc. They might even have only their souls transported, being reborn in new bodies. This provides a full restart for everyone, but still provides a mechanism where characters can be brought to the new game with some sort of bonus applied thanks to their time in the old game.

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Michael Hawes

I would like something along the lines of a post apocalyptic event a few years in the future, where the races are rebuilding their societies , kind of like cataclysm but actually a fresh start, the world has changed slightly not enough without being unrealistic but enough to where the average player will still want to explore

keep the current races, but upgraded models

current classes with some added in

zones are altered cities that stood are piles of sand in a desert

emphasis on rebuilding (player housing and cities)

questing is more along your race than faction

and it could be cool to see people worshipping former players as gods

idk just spit balling here

also is it me or is it weird that most of the answers from the massively team consist of “well I Never played WoW” seems odd the people who work for a website for mmos haven’t played the biggest one

MurderHobo
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MurderHobo

More World. Lots more.

World of Warcraft is like a Disney themepark, using forced perspective and scene design to give the illusion of a world.

We have engine technology now to build maps on the scale of small moons. Give us that, and building tools. Do what Landmark tried to do on a Lumberyard scale. Give us Titan — let the heroes of Azeroth ascend and take up the work left behind by the old Titans, rebuilding the world.

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Kickstarter Donor
Ken from Chicago

Andy nailed it in one: The future of WOW is … The Future:

WORLDS OF WARCRAFT 3000

WOW3000 is set in dawn of the 4th Millennium, 3000 AD. Civilizations have spent over a century rising from the ashes of the Second Dark Age that was triggered by the Machine Galactic Crusade to wipe out all sentient organic life in the galaxy–and their responses have varied:

— Some have reverted to the Ancient Ways, pre-electrical, the Steam and Soot Societies (SASS) are all about steam, coal, wood-burning, animal-labor, even sentient labor but you won’t find anything electrical in sight. It’s not that they don’t know about electricity–they have to … in order to ban it. But don’t think they are pushovers. Highly polished mirrors can deflect your laser beams. Armor plating can shield against missiles. And Faraday architecture ensures your electrical trackers, radios, scanners will be getting a whole lotta static.

— Some embrace the electrical but blame the Great Downfall of the galaxy on computers, AI and robots. These are your Analogs. These societies resemble Western societies in the first half of the 20th century bordering up to the Space Age. These societies are no joke because it’s in the 20th that atom bombs and nuclear power arose. Poke them with a stick and they are prepared to nuke you to glowing dust.

— Others are laugh at their more technophobic societies and say the blame was not the computers or the robots but the AIs. For the Digitals, as long as organics are firmly in control, then computers and robots are your friends. They resemble societies in Star Trek minus the autonomous androids but adding mecha (ala Titanfall or Robotech), exosuits, powered exosuits (ala Iron Man) and mechs (ala Battletech).

— While those describe the main three factions, they are not alone, there are secret societies, one might be wary of or join:
—- Cyborgs who believe the best way to beat the machine is to join with the machine.
—- Some are Robophiles who feel AIs were unfairly maligned that not all robots are bad that with the right training they can be your friends.
—- Some are Ascendents who have uploaded their minds to be totally digital, living in completely virtual worlds and interact with “Meatspace” by downloading in robots and machines.
—- Some are Splicers, who believe the ultimate way to beat the machine is to splice the DNA code to enhance your body’s strength, speed, healing, and senses.
—- Others agree that personal augmentation is key, but disagree that it is the body that should be augmented. For Psionics, it is the mind they want to augment to unlock the ability to use their minds to read thoughts, read memories, sense other minds, move object, sense information from far away, sense an object’s history, perceive probable futures, teleport across vast distances, in addition to vast speed your ability to learn new skills.

Ironically space travel as we know it has all but died. Before the Great Downfall, a revolutionizing breakthrough was made: Teleportals. The ability to create rifts in spacetime to see or to travel. Viewports allow you see at cosmic distances but requires great power to aim and maintain since the universe is constantly moving. Goports let you travel instantly from one point in the galaxy to another. Linkports reduces energy cost by 90 percent to use a Goport, provided a constant stable 2-way, locked-on link allowing cars, bikes, trains to travel–even people to walk–to other worlds. Space travel resembled less Star Trek, Star Wars, Battlestar Galactica but more like Stargate SG-1 or Peter F. Hamilton’s Commonwealth Saga.

And amongst all of these different open and secret factions are the various aliens from various worlds across the galaxy–including an average, blue, world, third from its local star … with a weirdly large moon. A large percentage of whom wiling away their time in shared virtual worlds.

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Loyal Patron
Neurotic

Something Andy said made me think. How about a WoW 2 that starts, in fact, as an identical copy of existing WoW, but entirely re-written from scratch using modern, efficient, flexible code?

In the process of its creation, this literal WoW 2.0 could have some flabby junk excised, of course, and also (as far as possible), be made adaptable to new ideas and mechanics.

In this vision, we solve one of the great stumbling blocks of subscriber-based sequels: because the re-written game would essentially replace the original, there would be little to no subscriber loss or dilution of the playerbase across two different games.

An alternative version of this idea would be to re-write the game as described above, but take the opportunity to implement a new graphical style.

I call this the ‘New Old’ approach. With a whole new codebase to work from, perhaps we could have that factionless game (amongst other things) Elliot was just speculating about.

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Coldrun ??

I’m pretty happy with WoW in its current incarnation, and so I’d want something that doesn’t compete. Perhaps a different genre? or different core game mechanics? Something where each scratches a significantly different itch.

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Crowe

“But a modernized sequel, stuffed with everything Blizzard ought to have learned along the way, might perk the IP right back up. ”
Based on the articles I’ve read (here and elsewhere), it has become pretty apparent that Blizzard is NOT learning. So if they were to announce today a WoW2: Electric Boogaloo, it would hold zero interest for me.

butterpanda888
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butterpanda888

I wouldn’t go near WoW Mobile. I’d be fine with the IP to expand to Console, but not Mobile.

It’d HAVE to be open world.

It would need to have cutting edge graphics. WoW as it is now is great, but for a WoW 2 I wanna see Orgrimmar and Ironforge and Booty Bay and other locations with hyper-realistic graphics.

Also, unless WoW 2 is a WoW Prequel I’d want all current races in the game to be playable. I would hate to have been playing a race for years only to not be able to play that race in a game that in some way continues the story of the first.

Also: Player Housing, Better and More Meaningful Crafting, a Tinker Class, and Maybe a Bard class (WoW needs more class types than the holy trinity of DPS, Tank, and Healer, such as Support and maybe even a Crafting Focused Class or something crazy like that).

Also, Taliesin had the idea of class “Skins” so that you can make one class or class spec look like a completely different class by just changing visuals and maybe damage type for abilities. I don’t care if it came in a future expansion or a sequel (WowW 2) but I want it to happen.

xpsync
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xpsync

So an OG EQ2 it’s what i figure too :)

– i’m just messing with you guys.

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Sarah Cushaway

If it were mobile, I wouldn’t touch it.

PC? Of course. Consoles? Fine. Mobile? No. No. No. It’d be automatic p2w garbage and don’t kid yourselves otherwise.

But really, if WoW 2 ever happened, they need to get away from that e-sports mentality that ruined modern wow. The gated, time-sinking idiocy that makes BFA just so tedious and boring. The pruning. All of that has to go.

Open world with multiple factions and choices for the player to make. A better story would be great. A new world–Azeroth goes kaput or whatever. Endgame not just “mythic or die” (used to be raid or die, I know). Better character creation, of course, and customizable classes. Crafting that’s in-depth, fun, and matters. Exploration that matters. Lore bits to collect. HOUSING. Farming and other open-world “life skill” stuff to do.

xpsync
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xpsync

Anything mobile practically makes me sick. Console meh, i’d rather not, PC is the only real platform.

So what you are saying is an OG EQ2, cool it’s what i thought too :)

xpsync
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xpsync

Do i really need to answer this? I’m sure everyone knows my answer already.

WoW 2.0 = OG EQ2

Deep complex meaningful crafting, exemplary housing, tight group synergy dungeons, intense high precision raids, long intriguing overarching quest lines which take months and interweave through out the lands, exploring and discovery with actual meaning, like swimming through a lake and what that’s you go to investigate and find a hidden back entrance to another zone, glacier slow leveling to the point leveling is practically meaningless as you’ll spend a month or more at level 20.

EQ2 was way ahead of its time. But along comes a casual friendly mmo where it’s all about fast leveling, and in the end is a huge unsolvable problem for wow as it turns out.

Even the devs said it was overly casual, listening to Countdown to Classic, very good podcast like very good, the Instance and blizz watch Yawn!, they used to be good, anyway latest CoC cast the dev from classic era started to mention something about that then paused “well i don’t want to insult anyone” lol, the host goes it’s cool i’ll say it “filthy casuals”.

Something he mentioned which something i never really think about is that back then mmorpg was a small niche, (so they purposely made the game super casual to open to the masses; we all know that) and well as he mentioned mmorpg is still a small niche today, the dedicated core players are still mmorpg’ing along.