With the ostensible beginnings of a long resisted but inevitable decline, it’s interesting to see World of Warcraft finally forced to passe arrière. What’s more interesting is their counter-riposte: a patent feint hinting at an expansion involving one of their most beloved and untapped races, then a change of engagement with respect to the balance of responsibility within the Holy Trinity, and now a redoublement of emphasis on appealing to the casual/RP masses.
What next, I wonder. Mentoring? Housing?
However, what will be most fascinating to observe –with Guild Wars 2 and Star Wars: The Old Republic just around the corner– is whether this is too little too late, is this the Hero of Haarlem trying to plug the Möhne dam with his finger?
Housing would be welcome. Even if in reality I never visit my home in LotRO, since it’s annoyingly far from anything (why can’t I buy in center Bree? wait, Bree sucks, AH very far from the bank and the crafting hall, but ok, you get the idea).
And I like the cosmetic armor thingy, it’s good in LotRO and it’ll be good in WoW, especially if they allow multiple ouftits (and we won’t even have a big “Store Here” button! :).
The tank change is the more interesting one: if after all the hype Blizzard ends up innovating on the trinity more than the other competitors, the blogosphere will be fun to read!
With Blizzard’s reputation for taking what others are doing and polishing it to a shine (perhaps something they’ve strayed away from in recent years, possibly to their game’s detriment), they could look at the housing options presented in games such as EverQuest II, Lord of the Rings Online and City of Heroes, and with their resources, create something monstrously impressive.
I’ll certainly be interested to see how accomplished their cosmetic armour system is, especially since there are fine examples already available in, again, EQ2, LotRO and CoH.
Another development to watch will be how Trion responds, and whether Rift is quickly updated with a cosmetic armour system, for example.
“(and we won’t even have a big “Store Here” button! :)”
I would not be surprised in the slightest if this becomes untrue in the near future. I can’t see WoW going free-to-play while they still have millions upon millions of subscribers, but an in-game cash shop for cosmetic extras? I can see that as a distinct possibility; we certainly shouldn’t underestimate the desire of Activision to wring every extra drop of revenue from the game while it’s still possible.
I agree that, for the moment being, there’s 0% chance of WoW going F2P + cash shop. The amount of subscribers they have is enormous, and that’s a guaranteed cash flow. No cash shop can hope to match this (the ‘guaranteed’ part, I’m saying).
An added cash shop for ‘premium features’ is a possibility, actually it already exists, but it’s definitely not as visible or intrusive as the LotRO one. Funny that the game with more RP and immersion actually has a lot more immersion breaking “click here to buy” buttons… :)
It’ll be interesting to see if they play the game of “players are leaving, let’s squeeze the remaining ones” or go for the “we’ll be careful alienating no-one since there are too many WoW-clones around and people can jump ship too easily”.
Melmoth, Rift got a cosmetic armour system in patch 1.2, back in May I think :)
AOC also has a cosmetic armor feature as well; WAR and WoW might have been the last holdouts on that front.
As for other things WoW might throw in, I think you hit the bulk of them. Another one that I would dearly like to see is the replacement of random output crafting recipes with multiple output recipes, similar to LoTRO where you can get different stats from a single recipe. It’d definitely be a step up from having to craft large quantities of a recipe to get a particular item.
But that aside, I’d say that Mentoring is what I’d like to see more than anything else. While I’m not currently playing a game with it in, it’s easily one of the best features I’ve seen in games like FFXI or CoH. I think it’d especially be good for WoW given the 10 character hard limit. And with Heirlooms, there’s already a system in place to scale gear by player level, so it ought to be fairly easy to implement.
/troll_on Does anyone still play WoW? /troll_off Seriously though, I am leaning towards the “too little too late” side of things. Tanking without having to worry about aggro? Oh make it interesting and give the Tank survival cooldowns to stay alive with… wait what? Isn’t that kind of the Healers job? You know keeping the Tank alive and all? So now that the Tank has “an engaging sequence of buttons to push” How do we make the Healers interaction with the UI more engaging?
I’m rambling but I think you get the point.
@SKapusniak: Good gravy, shows how much I’ve been paying attention to Rift. As punishment I shall dress in a suitable gaudy non-cosmetic outfit and wear it all day at work!
@Jason: I think you’re right, there are so few MMOs with interesting crafting that any improvement to an existing system would be most welcome.
The shame about mentoring is that it would have been a brilliant thing to have at the start of Cataclysm when a huge number of people were revisiting the Old World at low levels. Still, as you point out, being able to reduce your character’s level so that you can run old content again, whilst maintaining the challenge, would be rather nifty.
@Salvaenus: It’s a fine ramble, and certainly an interesting point. There is perhaps a slight whiff of desperation to Blizzard’s propsed change, and let’s face it, the current development team’s collective hands are very much tied by design decisions of the past, so I imagine there’s only so much they can do without having to rewrite huge chunks of a creaky but otherwise functioning and complicated system.
“Oh make it interesting and give the Tank survival cooldowns to stay alive with… wait what? Isn’t that kind of the Healers job? You know keeping the Tank alive and all? ”
Only bad tanks don’t hit their mitigation keys for high incoming damage and just stand there being a mana sponge.
“However, what will be most fascinating to observe –with Guild Wars 2 and Star Wars: The Old Republic just around the corner…”
Uh, The Secret World? Hello!
Captcha word: podunk. Hehehe. podunk.
I’m still terribly unsure about The Secret World. I love the setting, but it’s Funcom, whose track record is solid but not exactly stellar.
They’re making lots of grandiose claims, but there’s very little evidence to back it up at the moment. They are perhaps being a little too secretive, which is splendidly in keeping with their game theme, but not terribly conducive to getting anyone excited about said game, outside of those loyal fans who were already sold the moment Funcom combined ‘MMO’, ‘story’ and ‘Ragnar Tørnquist’ in a sentence.