Only 8 more months!

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about The Next Expansion (TNE) for WoW. I went back and looked at some of the pronouncements made by Blizz management during Blizzcon 2013 and 2014, and I was struck by the forceful way they talked about future expansion release schedules.

Basically, they have repeatedly said that WoD is meant to be a one-year expansion with only two raid tiers, and that they have overcome all their personnel problems in such a way as to be able to put out new expansions every year or year and a half. Which to my mind implies we only have another 8 months to suffer with WoD.

Everyone that believes this please step forward and sign your sales contracts for a share in the Brooklyn Bridge.

Let’s see, where was the announcement for the new xpac — did I miss it at Blizzcon 2015? Pax East? Blizz website? The Stormshield Times? When does the beta start and how can we sign up for it?

Nope and nope. The chances of us playing a new expansion by the end of this year are approximately the same as the RNG of my getting any piece of gear with usable secondary stats — mathematically feasible but realistically impossible. One wonders how Blizz will back down from their comments. Will they have the good grace to at least be slightly red-faced over it?

But assume for the sake of argument that TNE is very close to announcement. What effects might WoD have on it? Here are some speculative and wishful thoughts.

Garrisons. Don’t look for these to continue in TNE. First, Blizz has said they likely are a one-expansion concept, like Sunsong Ranch. Plus, there has been a huge number of complaints about how time-consuming they are for most players. Typically, when there is a significant negative response to a game mechanic, Blizz moves into pendulum mode and goes in the complete opposite direction. Remember all the complaints over dailies at the start of Mists? Yup, at the start of WoD we had no dailies at all. What Blizz heard from the complaints was “We hate dailies” not “We want dailies to be more moderate.”

This is too bad, because there are aspects of garrisons that are good. What I would really like to see in TNE is real player housing, which was in my opinion the original impetus for garrisons, but which in typical fashion Blizz completely misinterpreted.

Professions. I have no idea how they will fix these after the basic destruction garrisons caused, but I hope they will more or less go back to the pre-WoD model. Crafting needs to become viable again, both for gold making and for moderate alt gearing. Players choosing to invest the resources to level professions should be able to derive a tangible benefit from doing so. Crafting mats should take some effort to gather, but concepts like Savage Blood are ridiculous — so prohibitive in terms of either time or gold that crafting for sales or equipping is out of the reach of most players.

Gear. Look for some sort of gear-exchange currency (more like valor, not like Apexis Crystals) to return. Along the same lines, look for some modifications to RNG algorithms, probably an enhancement to bad luck streak insurance. Even Blizz cannot be unaware of the massive frustrations surrounding gear in WoD. Players who want gear and cannot get it even after jumping through every hoop in the game are players who will move on to other games.

Stats. This is connected to gear, but sadly I do not see any major change coming to the current setup of primary/secondary/tertiary stats. The math is too intricately bound to the entire game. What I hope to see is some kind of real reforging path, one that is not a crap shoot but can be controlled by players.

Flying. I am very pessimistic about this. Someone With Clout at Blizz has a bee up their butt about flying and simply will not allow it. After months of stonewalling and ridiculous arguments about “immersion” and loaded/bogus “polls” (in which fully 1/3 of respondents clearly want it back), it is clear to me that Blizz will never bring it back to any current content. They have taken their usual high-handed, paternalistic approach and have decided they know what is best for all of us, and they will dictate how we each must experience the game.

There is a theme in all of this. WoD has been a huge exercise in removing player choice and control, by introducing RNG to nearly aspect of the game as well as by imperiously prohibiting activities many players found enjoyable. If Blizz continues this development strategy, then TNE will be worse than WoD. If they identify it as the main reason for WoD failure and learn from it, then there is hope.

Just don’t look for it in 8 months.

About Fiannor
I have a day job but escape by playing WoW. I love playing a hunter, and my Lake Wobegonian goal is to become "above average" at it.

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