Blizzcon is coming

…and once again I am not going.  But I am going to watch online.

I think this is a make-or-break moment for WoW.  They need to generate some excitement, because its getting a little old.  This always happens late in the expansion cycle, but I think more so this time because (1) the game is almost seven years old, and (2) there are more high-quality competing MMORPGs out or coming out than there have ever been.

I worry that they will focus most of Blizzcon on Diablo and Starcraft.  In that case, I think that WoW’s death spiral may begin in earnest.

I think the biggest mistake they made with Cataclysm was that their changes remove or changed rather than added.  Previous expansions added not just zones but also new avenues of gameplay.

  • Burning Crusade added new races (Draenei and Blood Elves) and playable classes (horde got paladins, alliance got shamans).  It also added expanded talent trees and new talents.
  • Wrath of the Lich King added a hero class (Death Knight) and expanded talent trees and new talents.
  • Cataclysm gave us no new races and no new classes (they did give us worgen and goblins.  I overlooked them since they were purely cosmetic additions).  It shrunk the talent trees and decreased the number of talent points.  I know they had good reason, but it still becomes a “taking away” action rather than “adding”.  It had only 5 new levels, which re-emphasized how the leveling game was being pushed aside in favor of endgame.
Because of this, I really think that the next expansion needs to add more than some new levels and zones.  I think that it needs at least a new class and/or race.  I also think they need to add some kind of new mechanic in the game that is new.  I can’t imagine what it could be, but I think we need some kind of departure from repetitive  instances/raids with the holy trinity.  I won’t even speculate, but Blizzard has very well-paid developers who spend a lot of time thinking about this stuff, so I am hoping they will surprise me.
Finally, a graphical upgrade is vital.  WoW has survived this long on its cartoony graphics because it was still the only big game on the block, and the expanse of the world superceded any graphical complaints.  Also, the low hardware requirements made it accessible to the masses.  Now that Rift has taken its best shot and Star Wars is coming, I think that WoW needs to grow up a bit and realize that they can’t continue to survive on gameplay alone and formatting the game to be playable on 5-year old hardware.
We’ll see how it all plays out.  Maybe some of this is planned but it won’t be announced this week.  By next week either our excitement will be renewed, or we’ll all be disappointed.

7 Responses to “Blizzcon is coming”

  1. 1 telanarra
    October 17, 2011 at 8:07 am

    “Cataclysm gave us no new races and no new classes.” What were goblins and worgen then?

    • October 17, 2011 at 2:51 pm

      Ah, you’re right. Completely forgot since I don’t play them.

      • October 17, 2011 at 2:59 pm

        Also, these race additions were basically cosmetic. When Draenei and Blood Elves were added they brought with them notable new racial features including access to previously unavailable classes. The addition of the worgen race just made my priest hairy instead of not-hairy. Other than that, there is no real difference.

        I know that some people are excited about appearances and such, but I’m not among them, which is why I don’t feel compelled to play them and forgot about them in my post.

  2. 4 Windsoar
    October 17, 2011 at 1:22 pm

    There wasn’t the addition of a hero class, but new races were added this expansion.

    I personally dislike “realistic” graphics in my gaming as a general rule, as the gameplay is never as smooth as real movement allows, which actually makes games that utilize it less, not more immersive for me. I’m happy to continue supporting a game that allows older systems (and shared graphics cards) to remain functional.

    • October 17, 2011 at 2:55 pm

      I think that even the shared graphics cards in today’s computers are able to support better than what WoW currently offers.

      Until a couple of months ago, I was playing WoW at 40-60fps on a computer with 1 MB of RAM and a 5-year-old graphics card. I don’t think that the game is in danger of becoming too hardware-dependent, even with some updates.

  3. 6 Ben Dover
    October 20, 2011 at 9:51 am

    I guess Cata was the expansion in-between. They had to fix the low level game, make the game more accessible and with the class and old world revamp they simply didn’t have the resources to create actual content. They saw how the competition was building up, so they needed to redo a lot of what was outdated or just broken. Now, I really like most of the class changes, they did very well there over all. What they did with the old world, that’s been great, even if we still lack actual in-game tools for teaching how to play a certain class or role. However, for many veteran players the idea of leveling a new toon isn’t really something they consider “new content”. Some of the redone areas have nice storylines, but I can totally see why someone with their main and maybe an alt or two at level cap really won’t see the appeal in doing that stuff over again.

    My hope is, that they now have the raw data so they won’t have to spend as much resources on mechanics, and can actually start making new content not only for new players, but for the veterans as well. The game needs something besides just gearing up to show as your personal character development. Archeology didn’t really do that, since it’s rather grindy in its current implementation. The current glyph system pretty much made the planned “Path of the Titans” -thing unnecessary, since it basically already does what they wanted the Path to do.

    We need something more than just dailies and dungeons for non-raiding content. The Darkmoon Faire and other WoW holidays could be great opportunities for them to implement such things. For class immersion I could totally see minor glyphs giving some flavor, but even better would be these “training rooms”, solo-instances where you were tasked to do certain things, depending on your class and spec. They could work that together with Achievements and other statistical tools, so people could show they had mastered a specific mechanic. Something like Path of the Titans, where you align yourself with a specific deity would still be nice. It wouldn’t need to be anything that affects your characters efficiency, but instead provided some lore or non-combat benefits depending on what Titan you chose to follow.

    I know, my wishlist is quite long, and I’m not even gonna go into specific mechanics… One can dream…

  4. October 22, 2011 at 11:38 am

    I think the switch from 10-level expansions to 5 isn’t necessarily a reflection of de-emphasizing leveling so much as it’s just an acknowledgment that for a new player, leveling a new toon from level 1 to level 90 is an absolutely daunting proposition. It goes faster for those of us with access to heirlooms and who know what they’re doing, but for a newbie who’s just starting out, the idea of having to purchase the base game and four expansion packs and then level from 1 to 90 before playing the “real” game would make me run out in the street screaming.

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