My WoW Expansion Wishlist

We’re less than two months away from BlizzCon and the announcement of the next expansion for World of Warcraft. Everyone has their speculations — some think it’ll be a Legion expansion, some believe in the Dark Below, and some think it’ll somehow be both. Myself, I think the Dark Below is legit.

My monk endures a snowstorm in Kun-Lai Summit in World of WarcraftBut the purpose of this post isn’t so much about what I think will happen as what I want to happen. As before, it’s time for my wishlist for the next expansion.

The ocean and Azshara:

Even before the whole Dark Below thing, I was hoping for an ocean-themed expansion. The Great Sea is the last major area of Azeroth that we haven’t explored, and they’ve been foreshadowing something terrible in the oceans for over a decade of real-world time now. Murlocs are not supposed to appear inland — something’s driven them out of the depths.

Furthermore, while I’m not the biggest Naga fan in the world, I do think Azshara would make an absolutely epic villain. Barring Sargeras, she’s pretty much the only iconic Warcraft villain we haven’t tangled with yet. This is the woman who first brought the Legion to Azeroth, who caused the Sundering, and who leads the Naga in their current evil-doing.

Azshara was one of the most powerful sorcerers in history before the Old Gods empowered her, and now she’s abducted Neptulon and conquered the plane of water. Her power must be nearing godlike levels.

An ocean expansion also opens the door to finally facing N’Zoth, the Drowned God. This mysterious Old God is behind many of the recent troubles of Azeroth, including Deathwing and the Emerald Nightmare. While I don’t think we’ll ever see an Emerald Dream expansion, an ocean-themed expansion featuring N’Zoth could include the Dream as a raid and/or zone.

Art of Queen Azshara from the Warcraft trading card gameThere are many other interesting settings an ocean expansion could introduce. More underwater zones like Vashj’ir, islands, or both. One popular fan theory is that Azshara might use the powers of Neptulon to raise the ruins of ancient Kalimdor as a new continent. I’d be all for that.

The Great Sea is also home to fascinating locales like the Tomb of Sargeras and Kul Tiras, both things I think are overdue to be included in WoW.

New neutral race: Vrykul

I’ve said before that I think World of Warcraft has too many races already. The truth is that a new race just doesn’t add much to the game — they ceases to be exciting within weeks of their release.

But there is one more race I want to see added: the Vrykul.

My reasons are pretty simple. I’m a massive fan of Norse mythology and Viking culture, and I adored the Vrykul back in Wrath. Honestly, who wouldn’t want to play as a giant Viking? Lame people, that’s who.

I also think the Vrykul would make a good neutral race, meaning we won’t need a second race. They’re the ancestors of humanity, and they share common origins with Gnomes and Dwarves, so they’ve got a very strong connection to the Alliance, but their savage and warlike culture is also a perfect fit for the Horde.

Art of a female VrykulPlus, the Vrykul aren’t really evil. They just lost their way as a people when the Titans abandoned them. So unlike some other popular race ideas (Naga), it’s not terribly lore-breaking for them to turn over a new leaf and ally with the factions of Azeroth.

New ranged weapon class:

It’s a pet peeve of mine that WoW has so few options for fighting with ranged weapons. We have seven classes and sixteen specs able to fighting with melee weapons, and five classes and nine specs capable of fighting with magic, but only one class and three specs for fighting with ranged weapons.

To make matters worse, it’s a class with incredibly little variety between its specs. So if you want to play a ranged weapon fighter, you really only have one choice.

As someone who enjoys ranged weapon classes but doesn’t much care for the hunter class or its mechanics (especially pets), it’s a source of unending frustration for me.

There are a lot of forms a new ranged weapon class could take — tinker is a popular option — but my vote would go to dark ranger.

For those who didn’t play Warcraft III, a dark ranger is somewhere between a shadow priest, a death knight, and a warlock, but they also make heavy use of bows. Their focus was on using mind control and necromancy to turn an enemy’s own strength against them. Sylvanas is the iconic dark ranger.

sylvanas-windrunnerNow, dark rangers are only undead High Elves in lore, so it couldn’t be exactly the traditional dark ranger. My suggestion would be to make it a more general combination of ranged weapons and dark-themed powers, something many other Warcraft races use. Trolls have their shadow hunters; Night Elves have their… everything.

If we’re taking inspiration from shadow hunters, that also opens the door for the class to have some voodoo inspiration, something underrepresented in current class choices, and support and healing skills.

This would provide another thing WoW is currently lacking: an “evil” healer. All current healing specs use nature or holy magic. So there’s a lot of potential for a shadow/blood magic healer.

Could offer some very unique skills. Imagine having the option to drain health from the DPS and give it to the tanks, or a battle resurrection that doesn’t count towards the cap for an encounter, but comes at the cost of sacrificing another player’s life.

Armor dyes:

‘Nuff said.

An alternate advancement/horizontal progression system:

My warlock showing off the new lighting effects in the Mists of Pandaria betaI don’t like gear as a method of progression. For one thing, it’s not really progression. Your gear gets reset every expansion. We never actually get any more powerful. Thanks to wacky stat-scaling, my characters are actually much less powerful now than they were in Wrath of the Lich King.

For another, it’s very binary. You either get your drop, or you don’t. It’s possible to spend hours playing and log off without progressing at all.

One of the reasons I’m always leveling more alts is that I find leveling a much more rewarding form of progression. I’ll never replace that level I spent hours grinding for, and absolutely everything gives XP, so every play session is rewarding.

I’d like to see these advantages brought to endgame with some sort of alternate advancement system, perhaps akin to Diablo III’s paragon levels.

It would be difficult to implement without making it another mandatory grind, but I think it could be done. It could provide gold find, out of combat utility skills (double jumps, maybe), and other useful but not game-breaking perks.

No more mandatory subscription:

My monk experiences the Miracle of Aessina in World of WarcraftYeah, I think we all know my thoughts on this by now.

I don’t like subscriptions. They’re restrictive, and they’re incompatible with the way manypeople play games these days. To paraphrase a comment I read on another blog a few weeks back, “15$ a month isn’t too much to spend on a hobby, but I have a gaming hobby, not a Warcraft hobby.”

(They were talking about WildStar, but the principle’s the same.)

While I have advocated for free to play and would welcome it, it’s not actually my first choice. I’d prefer a buy to play model more along the lines of Guild Wars 2 or The Secret World. Free to play is still better than a subscription model, but it tends to make it too easy for trolls and gold-sellers to make it into a game. A little barrier to entry is a good thing.

* * *

So basically I want to be leveling a Vrykul dark ranger through the Ruins of Zin-Azshari, while working on alternate advancement for my warlock and coming and going as I please due to the lack of subscription. What do you want to see announced for WoW when BlizzCon rolls around?

14 thoughts on “My WoW Expansion Wishlist

  1. WoW might not go F2P any time soon but I do see cash shops in the next expansion. We all know I hate the F2P model – sorry, I don’t want to “subsidize” all the people who play without spending money. At least with subscriptions we are all paying the same amount for the same content. Everyone who is playing is paying the same as I am.

    Business exist to make a profit, and if a significant percentage of people are not paying (articles on this regarding F2P “whales” vs the actual high percent of people who never pay), then someone has to pay with more restricted content, crippling mechanisms and all the other “goodies” F2P brings to a game.

    People cry about “welfare epics” all the time but that’s not “welfare” – F2P however, is “welfare gaming.”

    I don’t know enough about the lore to guess about the next expansion, but I did get my digital Blizzcon ticket so it should be interesting.

    Story-wise I can roll with whatever they bring out – except of course, an in-game cash shop. 😛

    • I really object to the whole “welfare epics” or “welfare gaming” terminology. It implies that being on welfare is somehow a negative reflection on the person — that it’s just because people are lazy, or that being on welfare is somehow getting an easy ride. It belittles poverty and dehumanizes those in our society who are already looked upon as the bottom wrong.

      People on welfare aren’t freeloaders, and even if they were, it would still be a ludicrous and insulting practice to compare that to a preferred gaming style.

      As for the F2P discussion, well, we’ve had this before, but not all include “crippling” mechanisms. There’s more than one to way to make a game work without a subscription. There’s the SW:TOR method of making life miserable until you pay, but there’s also the TSW/GW2/MOBA model of just raking in cash off cosmetics and minor conveniences.

      And honestly, I don’t see how you can not look at the current state of WoW and not see how subscription games already have plenty of their own crippling mechanisms. Look at the daily grind at the start of the expansion. I haven’t encountered any grinds like that in TSW or GW2. Or look at the way LFR is gated. I don’t have to wait a month and a half after its release to play through the full content of an issue in TSW.

      Plus, it’s not true that everyone in WoW is paying the same amount. There are sparkle ponies, cinder kittens, server transfers, race changes, faction changes, character recustomizations, multiboxers, people who make multiple accounts just to use refer-a-friend as a leveling bonus, gold-buyers…

    • To the developers themselves, who see a LOT more money coming in from FTP than PTP, it certainly is not “welfare”. The extra players, despite not paying, are providing a very valuable commodity to the community and the developers, that of just being there. Nobody wants to spend money on a game that feels dead. So those free players provide population, which in turn causes people who WOULD spend money to do so even more. Afterall, who are you going to show off that epic piece of armor to if there’s nobody around? MMOs are all about social competition and social standing, especially the PvE side of games, and you need a large community to make that work.

      So I wouldn’t look down on those people as they, the free players, are the ones who are truly keeping these games afloat. Without them, the games wouldn’t be there as the more socialist-style PTP would drive them away. I 100% agree with Tyler. Looking down on these people, like they aren’t contributing, so they have no value, is not only incorrect but it’s arrogant and morally wrong.

      Same thing in real life, too. If you aren’t smart enough to see the amount that people who are on a subsidized welfare plan contribute to society, you obviously need to get your head out of the sand and wisen up.

      • “wel·fare [ wél fèr ]
        aid to people in need: financial aid and other benefits for people who are unemployed, below a specific income level, or otherwise requiring assistance, especially when provided by a government agency or program”

        You’re right. Totally works. 😛 Again, these players who do not pay a dime offer a TANGIBLE BENEFIT to both developers and players alike, thus of population. According to the Pareto principal, you can figure that in FTP titles, 80% of a title’s income is derived from 20% of the player base. If you don’t feel like your money is being used for a good cause, that you’re not getting your moneys worth, then that game wouldn’t be for you and a more P2P would be (see below).

        “so·cial·ism [ sṓshə lìzəm ]
        political system of communal ownership: a political theory or system in which the means of production and distribution are controlled by the people and operated according to equity and fairness rather than market principles”

        Equity and fairness… isn’t that what P2P is all about? That everyone pays the same amount, that everyone starts from the same place, that everyone is given the same shake, that everyone has the same opportunities that everyone else has… sounds awfully socialist to me. And yet, even within our more “fair” P2P games, the fairness is just an illusion. An estimated 30% of online players have purchased gold from third-party sites, giving themselves a leg-up and inflating in-game economies to make buying the gold more viable. Thus making the “fair” players a victim and more oblivious to the truth.

        So, what did I make up? What definitions did I miss? Instead of just arrogantly dismissing it, why not actually defend your statements?

        /facepalm indeed.

      • I know, right? I think the same way. I feel not having a bit of socialism in our country is keeping us from being taken seriously and would be a boon to people, but there are such hardcore elements against it.

        However, MMOs are not government, they’re a luxury made by businesses, and as such, I realize that they will do whatever they can to get the most money, the most players, and to keep players the happiest. To do that, I agree that they have to have more capitalist ideals. Give me monetization options, and then using those options, I’ll decide how I want to play and pay for the product.

        By just having a sub… it leans more toward an “across the board” style, which is great for those who want it, but I and many others find we end up wasting money with that option.

        Although, if you think about it… the Sub style is very similar to American sports. In Europe, Soccer is capitalist to the extreme! If your team doesn’t do well, it’s kicked out of the league and sent to a lesser league entirely. Only teams that spend the most can make it into the highest leagues of play. Money is the true fairness, and competition between tax brackets is laughable.

        But in American sports? We have salary caps, profit sharing, etc. Very socialist. We give the small market teams a boost financially so that they can “compete”, and that money comes from the big market teams that made too much money. But we all know that doesn’t work, and it’s only “fair” in theory… Do the Kansas City Royals really have a chance against the New York Yankees? … Hmmm… I feel post material in here somewhere… 😛

  2. Lots of great points, like BTP, horizontal progression, armor dyes, etc. that WoW definitely needs to breath life into the old title. I know their sub count is still in the millions, but it’s falling rapidly, and they can’t keep moving on the same path.

    As far as story, I lost touch with the game back in WotLK days, and any story they’ve added-on or could add-on could come completely out of left-field (ZOMG a SPECIES THAT’S BEEN LIVING ON THE MOON!) and everyone would scramble to call it canon somehow.

    BTW, what ever happened to Jaina Proudmore? I saw the Cataclysm ending cinematics and when did she turn into such a vindictive jerk? She was the bearer or peace for a long time, and that’s a real sudden shift in personality. I really wouldn’t be surprised if SHE turned out to be a villain at some point.

    • Jaina had all her friends turned into transdimensional ooze when Garrosh pulled a Hiroshima on Theramore. And then half the Kirin Tor betrayed her by siding with Garrosh.

      I have very mixed feelings on the direction her character has taken that would take me far too long to get into here.

  3. I’m using the term “welfare” as per it’s typical definition, not the “welfare state” definition and I have no control over what people “imply” outside of the definition. I’m not the first person to use the term regarding F2P 😉

    As I said, I think they are going this direction to “set us up” for cash shops and eventually F2P. All the store items now have no impact on game play. If you multi-box you are paying the same for every account – there is no “discount.” If you buy a pet, you can get an equal pet in the game (battle pet) without spending real money.
    You don’t get “crippled” in the game if you don’t pay for faction/race changes. There’s a huge difference.
    The only one I’d give you is server transfers, as you are “crippled” if on a low pop server at the moment. Once the Virtual Realms are “live”, server transfers might be going the way of the dinosaur.

      • Yes, I get that lol. TSW is just not a game that hits my radar because I don’t care for the concept, genre, whatever. You can also include any games that look remotely like anime/manga because I absolutely hate the art style.

        There’s been a whole rash of academic papers lately on the F2P business model – interesting reading regardless of one’s position on F2P games.

      • Too bad. It’s a great game, and it might expand your views on the idea of subscription-less games. I understand it’s easy to get an unfavourable view of the model if you’ve had bad experiences with it in the past, but it’s important to understand that there are many different ways for it to play out. If SW:TOR had been my first experience of free to play, I probably would have never touched a game with that model again.

        Little surprised you say it’s not your genre. Didn’t you say you were a Lovecraft fan, or am I just tripping?

        Anyway, my buddy keys are there if you ever change your mind…

        Could also look at a game like Guild Wars 2. Its model isn’t quite as nice as TSW, but it’s still pretty painless 99% of the time. Or read up on MOBAs. Those are games that by their very nature couldn’t survive if their models were overbearing.

  4. Pingback: Fun Speculation: Ideas For Future Expansions | OMFG Soup

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