Theres a hefty front page news post on www.mmo-champion.com that entails everything they’ve learned about for the new WoW expansion from their sources. The track record for MMO Champ’s front page is pretty great for this type of thing so it’s definitely more than idle speculation. So what exactly did they break?
Oddly enough the next expansion won’t be directly tied to the Maelstorm like was speculated by most (including me!). It’ll instead be the other idea I mentioned briefly in my original expansion post. Instead of introducing a new island chain, MMO-Champ describes a changed Azeroth torn asunder by a “cataclysm”…fitting. However, it does seem like the naga and black dragonflight are still the major villains as thought before. Using phasing quest lines and completely changing a few zones causing a cataclysm is very possible…but why this instead of something new?
A large portion of the player base has been asking for a revival of Azeroth or vanilla WoW. I’m not sure how I feel on the matter yet, I need to see more in action but I can see the appeal. It would be great to fight C’thun and some other great old world instances and areas but it’s also a double edged sword as it won’t feel completely new. If they do it right though it won’t need to feel new, it can just feel “changed” which really could be even better than new as instead of doing the same “new continent grind”, you can finally feel as a permanent member of a world thats changing around you. This is something mmo’s have been trying to do for a very long time. If Blizzard manages to nail it it could be pretty spectacular, but I’m slow to believe as it’s never been done before…unless you count the transition between Everquest 1 and EQ 2.
Speaking of the EQ cataclysm this has a very similar feel to it. I didn’t play much of EQ2 but I was quite the avid player of the original. Sony had a very similar event happen between the two games that allowed players to experience a distant future of the lives they lived in EQ1. It almost seems like if Blizzard does go through with this it could be better suited as a complete sequel to WoW, like Sony did with EQ. It’s a lot of work containing all these different events in one game and convincing players they’re still a part of them. Theres a few other problems as well, the major one being with all this phasing how will you group with your friends? For example if you’ve seen part of a cliff explode and crush a town and your friend hasn’t will the two of you be able to do quests together from that town? Or will your friend have to catch up first? Alright so besides the theme, what exactly are the main points that MMO broke?
Well first up is the level cap being raised to 85. This seems like it would bring half the content as the other expansions but in reality I think it allows Blizzard to make more “high end” content, which in actuality is great for most of their player base. The problems with it though are that there will only be 5 talents added in each tree but really it seems like they’re stretched thin on new talent ideas as it is so this was probably coming. It also allows them to slowly inch us up to 100 which has been stated as the eventual game ending cap.
The other major point has been talked about for a few weeks now but they’re confident enough to say that Worgen are going to Alliance and Goblins are going to horde. The Worgen to Alliance is pretty obvious, it brings a beastial orc type race to the allies and fits their needs in the expansion. The Goblin one is a little more of a reach but considering what MMO reported about the catacylsm destroying most of their towns it seems like they’d need to reach out for help once again. If they pull a gnomish style “exiles of steamwheedle” for the horde goblins it would fit fairly easily into the lore. The thing that stuck out to me is the oddly specific part where it mentions Goblins saving Thrall from the Alliance and realizing their place with the Horde because of it. That part is a bit confusing as if the rest of the article is true than Thrall isn’t even going to be leading the Horde anymore but I’ll touch on that a bit later.
Now to a really interesting part. Instead of a new hero class Blizzard is going to allow certain race/class combos that should have probably existed before to work now. Basically they’re adding a few classes to every race. I’ll link the list and under it give my thought on why they’re being added:
Human Hunter: This ones probably the most obvious of them all. Humans hunters are already in the game in various places and really its not a stretch to believe they’re finally added.
Orc Mage: Orcs already have warlocks which when it all comes down to it are basically mages corrupted by demon magics. Really theres no reason they shouldn’t already have mages. The most prominent of them would probably be Med’an and this is a perfect chance to introduce him into WoW.
Night Elf Mage: This one seems like it’s out of nowhere but in actuality its not that farfetched. Just take a look at the Shendalar in Dire Maul. They’re still Night Elves although they are Highborne as well and theres no reason they’d be forced to remain in exile, especially during a catastrophe like this.
Ex. Prince Tortheldrin http://www.wowwiki.com/Shen’dralar
Blood Elf Warrior: This is one Blizzard said they wanted at Burning Crusade launch but dropped to include hunters instead. It’s obvious the blood elves would and do have warriors in their society so this is a logical choice. Ex. http://www.wowwiki.com/Silvermoon_City_Guardian
Dwarf Mage: This one was included in the alpha and maybe even beta stages of testing but was dropped before the game was released. The fact is theres tons of dwarven arcane casters spread throughout the world and with such a close connection to gnomes and humans theres no reason they wouldn’t be able to learn.
Dwarf Shaman: For the normal Ironforge dwarf this one doesn’t really fit at all but when you take into consideration the Wildhammer dwarf its a very easy solution. These are dwarves that have been at nature for hundreds of years…they’ve found better ways to survive. One of those ways is an appreciation of nature, moreso than any of their brothers before them.
Undead Hunter: If a human can be a hunter than they can keep their abilities even in death. The Forsaken have a few hunter examples but the main one is
Tauren Paladin: This is by far the most confusing choice. As of now theres really no lore in the game or otherwise that suggests the Tauren have any connection to the Light. What this means is if they are included something will be added much like the Naaru for Blood Elves for the Taurens so that it fits. The main speculation is that it will be a “Sun” tribe who worships the light the sun brings and recieves similar powers as a blood elf, human, or dwarf paladin. This is the only source so far: http://static.mmo-champion.com/mmoc/images/news/2009/august/injuredcolleagues.jpg
Tauren Priest: If the taurens can understand the Light enough to be a paladin it isn’t much of a stretch to believe they can become priests as well. The more gentle natured light worshipping Tauren would fit into this role. Like the Paladin theres no real sources for this.
Gnome Priest: I love this one. It’s something I’ve been waiting for since the beginning of WoW…a gnome healer. Some think it makes no sense for gnomes to use the light but in my mind theres no reason for a curious gnome to not get enamored with the Light like any gets enamored with Arcane magic or Demonology. If this is true I’ll be very happy with it.
EX. http://www.wowwiki.com/Nethergarde_Cleric (various race healer npcs in Blasted Lands that include gnomes)
Troll Druid: With the huge variety of trolls in the world this ones not a far stretch. Theres obviously some trolls who understand nature well enough to use the powers that a druid harnasses. The only problem with it is that the Night Elves probably won’t be so quick to accept them into Moonglade but who’s to say Moonglades even standing after this?
Alright so after going through those it leaves all the sides even on their class distrubution except the Alliance with Druids. This causes many to speculate that Worgens will be able to be Druids which is very odd but it’s probably pretty likely. Maybe the connection to their feral side leads them to the worship of nature or something along that line. It’s not certain of course as it could be left uneven but I doubt that will be the case. Another part of the MMO post states some of the changes the world will experience. Let’s take a look:
- The Barrens will be split into two separate zones of two different level bands.
- Azshara will become a low level (~10-20) zone.
- Some of the zones like the Thousand Needles will be flooded.
- Durotar is wrecked and apparently Orgrimmar could be destroyed. A new Orc city is rebuilt over the course of the expansion.
- Gnomeregan will be part of the expansion as well and gnomes might be able to reclaim their capital. (The last part is still unconfirmed)
- Wailing Caverns will be become a lush tropical area as a result of the druid’s magic.
- The Blackrock Spire will erupt and a new version of Blackrock Mountains will be available, apparently Ragnaros will be back too.
First off splitting the Barrens, destroying Orgrimmar and making Azshara a low level zone means that the brunt of the destruction will be on the center of Kalimdor. Thousand Needles becoming flooded and Wailing Caverns a lush paradise make me think that a wave will wash over the middle of the continent crushing a huge part of the landmass and taking a large chunk underwater. Azshara as a lowbie zone means to me that this might be where the new Orc capital will be built making Azshara the newbie area for Orcs and Trolls. Gnomeregan being a part of the expansion is huge in my book as I can’t wait to take that city back finally…hopefully for good. Finally Blackrock Spire erupting and the return of Ragnaros sounds neat but I really hope its a completely new set of instances as I can’t see myself doing Molten Core or BRD and having a good time. /shudder
No mention of Theramore and Jaina so it seems that her nation is still in tact. Same goes for both Alliance home cities on Kalimdor as they were too far north to be hit by the devastation. It seems like this is a major change for the Horde but other than Gnomer the Alliance won’t see a huge hit to their cities or in a broader sense their lore. Speaking of the lore MMO has revealed that Thrall will give up his position as warchief of the Horde and become The Guardian of Tirisfal. This seems like a major stretch as Thrall has never been anything but a Horde figure however if they do something drastic at the end of Lich King I could see it happening. The part that confuses me though is where he leaves Garrosh in control. I mentioned my dislike of Garrosh before but it’s obvious he’s supposed to be seen as a brash idiot currently and if he’s made Warchief and matched with the “Alliance King” Varian it’s going to be anything but peaceful.
The part that bothers me about Varian is the Alliance is five self contained groups working towards a common goal, they do not have a common “leader”. Making Varian into the spokesperson of the Alliance is a bit ridiculous in my book as any of the faction leaders would have the same sway that he does with their own people, unlike Thrall who holds the power of the entire Horde in his voice. The other thing of note is that it appears Tauren Chief and good friend of Thrall, Cairne Bloodhoof isn’t making it to the next expansion. Apparently he’s outed as a traitor by Garrosh…of all people…who then murders him. I think if this actually happens itll be either that, after Cairnes murder Thrall can’t stop the Horde from slipping into their past ways like he’d hoped by himself and seeks help from the folks of Tirisfal…OR…Thrall leaves Cairne in charge of the Horde, a much more obvious choice than Garrosh…and Garrosh murders him in cold blood to take the title of Warchief that he believes is his.
Either way if this happens the Taurens by all means shouldn’t be friendly with the Horde anymore. It’d be akin to Varian murdering Magni or something (not that that could happen =P). By all accounts the Horde would be in complete upheavel and the Taurens would do the ironic thing and actually become the traitors that Cairne never was and join the Alliance. I don’t see this as likely to happen but it’s what I think would happen if Cairne was murdered by a member of the Horde…at least in my book. Another point I’d like to make out is that currently the Alliance and Horde are about the same in moral ambiguity. They both have their examples of cruelty and heroism and neither is truly evil or truly good. If all of this does come to fruition the Horde will definitely start heading down the darker road. The murder of one of their leaders the destruction of their town and the seat of power handed to an angry child, this is definitely the makings of a brand new war.
The problem is most players who play Horde don’t consider themselves evil. If Blizzard goes down this path it definitely seems they’re trying to make the Horde the evil faction choice which I think is a bad thing. It’s like they’re trying to match WAR which has a very obvious good side and very obvious bad side but I don’t think theres any reason for it. The Horde can evolve on their own without devolving into the savage uncontrollable force they were for years.
Other things of note include revamped dungeons and flying mounts in Azeroth. I mentioned earlier I don’t particularly look forward to doing Molten Core 2.0 myself but if they change it into something new and different I could be swayed. Flying mounts in Azeroth were never that big of a deal to me, you could tell they hadn’t ever planned on it happening so I never let myself believe it’d be patched in or anything. I mean really the amount of time needed for such a minimal change would have been ridiculous to undertake if not for a return to the old zones…which seems to be exactly what this expansion is aiming for. Overall I think flight and revamping can give the player a better connection to the world if they’re done right and not just simple rehashes…cough cough Naxx.
So all in all this expansion concept does show some promise and it’s great to see Blizzard shaking things up a bit. I just hope they can pull through and keep it interesting. I haven’t had that problem yet so here’s hopin’.
Breedo knows that when two suns are shining, the battle becomes blinding.