WoW Factor: Potential features for the next World of Warcraft expansion


Last week I talked about potential destinations for the next World of Warcraft expansion, which is actually a pretty short list when you think about it. But this week I want to talk about the feature list of the next expansion, which… well, there are a lot of possibilities – and not in the sense of things that we all know we’re going to get, since there’s no great mystery about another 10-level bump or more talents or a new area or quests or whatever. (And probably something to roll back the badly managed crafting changes, let’s not kid ourselves.)

But there are a few possibilities that I think are reasonably strong for the next expansion, some that I think are a bigger lift, and some that a lot of people are eager for but have mixed odds of actually showing up. So I’m just going to share some of them in no particular order and run down my thoughts about each. This week, I’m sticking to the lighter lifts.

This is what I always wanted.

New race

It wasn’t so long ago that I did a whole article about the various races people want as allied races. But as allied races seem to have quietly been banished to the land of wind and ghosts, that suddenly feels less likely. And it becomes even less likely when you consider the fact that as it stands now, there are simply too many races in the game and not enough things to do with all of them.

Don’t believe me? Let’s say that we lived in a better world where every race could be any class, and you wanted to have at least one character of each race. You would be doubling up on nearly every single class, and since respecs are so trivial you can’t even do the old thing of “well, that’s my Subtlety Rogue, that’s my Assassination Rogue, and that’s my Combat Wait Now It’s Outlaw Rogue.”

We don’t need more races. Which makes me sad, as I would happily trade mag’har orcs for “more orcish customization options for regular orcs” and “now you can play as a naga,” but these are the breaks.

Oh no.

New class

So this we do actually need. However, the world (of Warcraft) is in a weird place here. We just got a new class in this expansion, after all, and we’ve never gotten two new classes back-to-back. This is not a good thing, since it leads you down the road of thinking and realizing that in nearly 20 years we have gotten four new classes and that isn’t any better when spread between nine expansions.

Of course, the problem with saying “we need some new classes” comes when remembering the game is not particularly well-balanced, mingled with the fact that the developers are not really great about finding new niches for classes to occupy mechanically, much less finding different things for those classes to do. All of this makes a new class something of daunting task.

Nevertheless, a new class is still among the things I would like to see. While I don’t think Evoker worked terribly well on multiple levels, it was at least an attempt to do something new and mix up what is already in the game. I know Blizzard loves giving up on things after one try doesn’t go well, but this one didn’t even go that badly! It just had some minor missteps and involved being shackled to a race that was clearly someone’s DeviantArt dragon OC! Just keep at it.


New specs

I’ve already mused on potential new specs, but I honestly consider new specs highly unlikely despite that fact. And it gives me no particular satisfaction to say that because I think fleshing out specs would be great. Oh, sure, the existing specs have issues that need addressing, but it’d be wonderful to breathe new options and new life into classes that have tried to wedge themselves into a pretty narrow wheelhouse. It’s happened this expansion, after all!

The problem is that much as I’ve observed in the past, Blizzard would generally rather make something new and memory-hole the old thing rather than commit to doing a new thing. And that’s not even getting into the fact that some classes do not really have the full thematic breadth necessary to have three specs in the first place. Plus, it is legitimately difficult to come up with something new for a class to do that still feels like that specific class while also not just being an extension of the options it already has. I’d love to have two-handed Enhancement back, but that doesn’t really merit a whole new spec, does it?

While it would be a really neat and welcome addition to the game, it really doesn’t seem likely to me. I’d love to be wrong – not as much as I’d love to see new classes outright, but frankly I’d like to see both.

Roast somebody.

New class/race combinations

Now new class and race combos is something I think are pretty likely – for a few reasons. First of all, it seems like a big deal even though it really isn’t all that important. If you don’t already like playing a Paladin, it’s unlikely that being able to play a Night Elf Paladin will really move the needle in any meaningful sense, but it still feels significant. And it’s also something that we’ve steadily seen happening throughout Dragonflight, only finally slowing down at the point that new class/race combos actually require an expanded chunk of art assets.

Shamans need totems, Paladins have their racial mounts, and Druids have their alternate forms. It’s not like Priest or Warlock that doesn’t actually require anything new aside from setting a flag. Demon Hunters and Evokers require a bit more effort, but I suspect there are potential workarounds there, and it does genuinely appear that we are at long last reaching the point when you can choose your class without worrying about a small list of available races.

That’s not to say that this will necessarily be confined to the expansion; I could entirely see players getting access to Shaman on every race while Paladin and Druid have to wait until the next expansion, just to pick a random option out of the batch. But if nothing else, I am betting this is something that’s going to be in there.

Seriously, how weird is it that it’s easier to be a Death Knight than a Paladin? More races have access to a hero class than a regular one. That doesn’t mean anything; it’s just funny.

Of course, there are a lot more systems beyond races and classes, but those are going to have to wait until next week. Most of these are moderate lifts, but next week’s column is going to be about options that require a fair bit more effort. But if lessons have been learned and the developers genuinely want to earn some more pop than Dragonflight managed, they might be worth it.

War never changes, but World of Warcraft does, with almost two decades 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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