WoW Factor: What I’m hoping to see in the next World of Warcraft expansion


Here in WoW Factor, I haven’t held back about the fact that the upcoming BlizzCon is not a good idea or the fact that World of Warcraft’s designers have generally not given anyone much faith that they are cognizant of their design failures and will actually improve. But this does not mean I am made of stone and do not want to be substantially impressed on Friday just the same, nor does it mean that I think impressing me is impossible. I might think the odds aren’t very good, but I am definitely hoping to be wrong.

So ahead of the actual reveals, I decided to put together a list of the things I would like to see on Friday during the show. I’ve also helpfully divided it into three categories, ranging from the wishes that are low-hanging asks to stuff that would genuinely floor me. How close is any of this to reality? I guess we’ll find out tomorrow, won’t we?

Yay, something I sort of kind of want I guess?

Low-hanging fruit that would please me

First and foremost, I’m really hoping that the new expansion is set on a new continent. Not a new landmass somewhere – that’s a given – but literally somewhere on Azeroth. I did a column on Khaz Algar and the connected points recently, and I say this is definitely a thing that we need to have happen.

You haven’t earned cosmic expansions back. You might never earn them back. Dragonflight seems to be threading the needle, and quite frankly it’s already leaning a little hard on that side. Pump the brakes, big shoots.

More class/race combos seem all but certain, especially as we’re currently down to just Paladin, Shaman, and Druid as non-Hero classes with racial limitations. I would be surprised if all three are not unlocked with the next expansion, and it wouldn’t exactly shock me if Dracthyr got some additional classes and/or we got other options for Demon Hunters.

I also fully expect further erosion of the faction split with this expansion, since the moves thus far certainly have not hurt at all. No borrowed power, that’s nearly a given, but having some new compelling systems added into the game that are explicitly meant to be built up over the long-term would help a lot.

More player customization would also be nice, including maybe some categories that previously haven’t existed like height. The customization overhauls have been universally well-received, and I can’t imagine this is an untenable workload for the art team or developers.

Those are the lightweight asks that I may not be super confident about but at least don’t require asking for something particularly unlikely.

Dare to dream.

Medium likelihood, but bigger rewards

I’d really like to see either a new class, new specs for existing classes, or both. This one feels kind of unlikely simply because we’ve never actually gotten two new classes back-to-back and new specs in and of themselves are something that’s been added basically twice, but they address the actual issue the game has, which is definitely not a paucity of playable races. (Considering Dracthyr sort of split the difference on that, I don’t really count that as much of a solution.)

A revamp to the game’s gearing mechanisms would also be welcome; I should probably put this as even more unlikely as they specifically tried hard to gut deterministic gearing in the last WoW Classic update, but between the fact that those efforts ultimately did not help matters at all and how hard Dragonflight has tried to thread the needle of sort of having maybe some deterministic gear we guess, this might be the point when the developers finally give up. And it’d be very welcome. Bring Heroics back into relevance, why not.

It’s easy to say that you want some kind of crafting revamp, which happens with basically every expansion now, but it seems pretty clear that the latest crafting revamp didn’t work very well. It’d be interesting to see some more serious and involved revamps in the hopes of addressing the crafting problems that the game still suffers from. Dragonflight was a mess, but it’d be nice to actually work on those issues and improve instead of ditching an idea when it doesn’t work the first time.

Last but not least, it’d be great to see the expansion do something to keep the world as a whole updating and relevant. To a certain extent this is hard to do, but I feel like going beyond just Chromie time as a patch on things and trying to genuinely create both space for players to catch up on stories they missed and ongoing updates to existing zones would be great. Like, what if new things happened in the Broken Isles on a regular basis? What if it weren’t still just caught in amber forever?


Hold the phone, we’re really going here?

One of my longstanding pie-in-the-sky dreams has been the idea of having more “skins” for classes. This is the sort of thing that, say, the addition of Man’ari customizations for Draenei really open up. It might seem odd for a Draenei Paladin who looks like an Eredar to be running around, but what if their abilities had a felfire effect and were skinned demonic, but they still mechanically worked like Paladin abilities? We’ve had lots of things adjacent to this, and really, this is just a further extension of more Druid form customizations and Warlock pet customizations. It’d be quite the cosmetic flex, too.

Housing, of course, is always on the list of “we’re never getting this but wow would it be a pop” features. A feature that people (including me) have been waiting for since the game launched, even if we realistically have zero expectation of it ever happening? Yeah. That’d be a flex; that’d be a draw back to the game. And if you’re about to say “what about Garrisons,” please stop making yourself look like a fool.

Last but not least, I’d be overjoyed to see talent trees get expanded in some meaningful and different way. It was kind of neat how Evokers get talents that improve their racial abilities, since only one race can be Evoker and all, but it’d be cool if every race had optional talent trees you could explore, making race a more meaningful factor in gameplay. Considering how easy it is at this point to switch specs and how little gear impact there actually is, I say it’d be a way of reintroducing some differentiation between two different characters.

Oh, sure, it’d be a mess to balance… but what isn’t a mess to balance at this point, right?

Will we get any of that? I consider this the stuff that would have me sitting up and being genuinely excited and thrilled. But there are doubtlessly options on the table that would be just as surprising. The real question, as always, is whether or not this expansion is going to be swinging for the fences… or more accurately, whether the swing for the fences is aiming where players are actually at or if it’s going to be hoping to play to the existing fans in the hopes they can be milked a bit more.

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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