Number Six – The Next Expansion

Warlords isn’t even half over and I’m already looking ahead. Part of that is because I’m not happy with Warlords direction, each expansion brings a shake-up and I’m hoping the next one will be good. Another part is because blizz have said there’s going to be two raid tiers this expansion, not three, which makes Hellfire Citadel the last raid of the expansion. That was announced last night, so the beginning of the end is upon us.

This post is going to be in two parts. I’m going to try and theorize what blizz might actually do, but then I have to allow myself some wishful thinking in what I hope they might do. November, in seven months, will be Blizzcon when they’ll announce expansion number six. Given that patch 6.2 has already hit the PTR, even though I don’t raid anymore, I hope very much that beta will hit soon after Blizzcon, and therefore the expansion release is early-mid 2016 to coincide with the release of the film.

Blizz managed to weather 14 months of the same patch remarkably well, and I have promised not to rant about it anymore, but I really hope to never see that again. In a subscription game it is really beyond a joke.

Right so expansion number six …

What I theorize they might do in reality
New Race Subsets
Existing races will get more options e.g. broken draenei, mag’har orc etc. instead of the new race/class that appeared in all expansions pre-Warlords. TBC added the races Blood Elves and Draenei, Wrath added the Death Knight class, Cata added races Goblins and Worgens and Mists added the Pandaren race and the Monk class.

Warlords brought us updated character models. We didn’t get any new race or class, just a graphical update which if I’m honest I didn’t care about or like. True some of the models were more than showing their age, but I’d grown attached to how my main looked and didn’t care that it was old.

Blizz said people asked for this so they gave it them, adding more options or the subsets is also something people have asked for. While I’m sure that it did take a lot of time and resources to do the update, it doesn’t require any new content. There’s no new starting zone, no story that needs development, it’s more attractive for new players than something for veterans.

In short it’s not something I would say should be a feature on an expansion, but I believe blizz will try and get away with it and more than likely succeed.

Two raid tiers
As they are apparently only providing two in Warlords and I doubt very much it will backfire on them. Therefore they don’t need to spend the development resources and by the looks of things they are going to make the expansion last just as long as previous ones, just provide less content. That makes sense from a bottom line perspective.

No flying in the new zones
I’ll go further actually and say that they won’t enable flight in Draenor. Blizz obviously regrets introducing it and think they can turn back the clock. However, after experiencing flight for four expansions, and having a whole host of flying mounts, some of which are extremely rare, it’s a little too late in my opinion.

That won’t stop blizz from doing what they want though. Again it’s unlikely to backfire on them so they’ll get away with it. If they had never brought in flight it would be different. I can see the point as there isn’t flight in Swtor and it does make me approach things differently but Swtor has never had flight. It’s pointless shutting the barn door after the horse has escaped.

5 levels, new cap 105
Over 100 levels is a lot, I understand why they jumped to 100 as it was right there, and it’s an iconic number. It was the 10th anniversary of Warcraft, 20th as a company, it made sense. However, I think they’ll want to slow it down if they can and make it less daunting.

I also reckon they’ll include a level 90 boost in with the next expansion again. The other option of course is to raise the cap to 110 and make a new boost of level 100. I can’t quite see them doing a level boost to 100 and making the cap 105 as psychologically it’s too close, even though in terms of XP and time it should be about the same.

Either way they’ll want to keep the barrier to entry for the endgame, where the lions share of resources go, low for any new or returning players.

New continent on Azeroth
I’m not going to speculate as to the plot of the next expansion. Who could have foreseen time travel to an alternate reality? However, each expansion has sort of gone in turn for what it is. TBC took us to a new planet, Wrath brought us home to a new continent, Cata changed the world, Mists a new continent, Draenor a new world. I just can’t see them doing a new world without coming back to Azeroth first.

All four of the main compass points have been filled. However, that doesn’t mean they couldn’t shift the map, move all the continents to one side and start again. I know better than to hope that they will pick up any of the dangling plot threads left by Cata but I think the next expansion will be on Azeroth.

Plus I believe they want to put off a true Burning Legion expansion for as long as possible, that’s getting into the endgame in a way and unless they want to end Warcraft, we’re not going to confront the ultimate big bad anytime soon.

New feature: Guild Strongholds
I’m just pulling this one out of thin air. However, with the way they evolved the farm from Mists, into the garrison in Warlords, I don’t believe blizz will want to abandon that technology. However, they do have knee jerk reactions, and go to extremes in those reactions.

It’s way too easy to sit in the garrison and not leave it. Blizz will want very much to ‘get people out into the world’ in the next expansion. Making the garrison tech more of a group activity, and perhaps require upkeep from grinding in the open world, doing daily quests places, killing world bosses etc. would easily fulfill the criteria.

Plus people have been asking for player housing or guild halls for years. I doubt blizz will ever do it as they like to leave each expansion behind, and not carry forward things like that. However, the garrison is as close to player housing as we’ll likely get. Doing a guild version isn’t a big stretch.

Removal of professions
I say removal, I mean they won’t get a skill update for the new expansion. I doubt blizz would just remove them wholesale, though I wouldn’t put it past them. However, in Warlords with the garrison buildings, blizz tested an option that rendered having a profession mostly unnecessary, especially the gathering professions.

I think blizz will take this further, and all new expansion profession related things will be done in a building, or perhaps using companions or something. That would bring two pieces of tech from garrisons forward.

What I wish they would do
New class
I have a post outlining what I’d like them to add but really it could be anything. However, I have an unused level 90 boost, as I have every class level 80+ and it seems wasteful. I’m keeping my boost, as they haven’t said it will expire, for a new class in the future as I really hate leveling in Warcraft.

A new race could be fun too as I love starter zones, they are always my favorite as it’s the one different part of the game you get. However, a new race would just mean playing the starter zone on something and deleting it. A new class is what I would like most. Something new to play.

Three raid tiers
While I don’t raid anymore, the number of raid tiers affects the structure and length of the expansion. I feel a bit cheated with Warlords, they increased the price of the expansion and in my opinion are delivering much less. Charging a box price and a subscription means they should offer more not less.

Flying available at launch
Flight should be enabled in Draenor in 6.2 but nothing has been said about it. Therefore I think it should be enabled in the pre-launch patch for 7.0. That way people who want to go back and finish things off, so what if it’s easier and less of a grind? Blizz has never cared about keeping old content relevant before.

Once a character reaches level cap, they gain the ability to purchase flying as they did in Mists. I have no problem with forcing people to level to cap on the ground once. I think though that once someone has a max level character, they should be able to purchase a heirloom item to enable alts to buy flying at level 90. As I said this is what I wish they would do, not what they will do.

Removal of RNG on gear
No more random stats on everything, no more random gem slots. Everything just is what it is, therefore it’s easier to compare and know what is a proper upgrade or not.

Removal of tertiary stats
They got rid of a bunch of stats, just to add even more annoying ones. They are unnecessary and I don’t like them. So in my wishlist they are gone.

A true alternate progression path
Justice and valor make a comeback. There’s no more daily bonuses, instead it’s 7x whenever during the week.
– Normal dungeons are for leveling and starting to gear at cap.
РHeroic dungeons award valor on completion 7x a week, award justice per boss and drop gear that equals LFR level.
– Mythic dungeons also award valor on completion 7x a week and justice per boss. They drop gear that equals Normal raid level and have a weekly lockout.

Justice buys gear that is either LFR level or just slightly worse. There is no limit to the amount of justice people can grind if they are so inclined. If they want to go nuts then that’s their choice. Valor has a cap and buys gear that is equal to normal raid level. The prices reflect that it’s bad luck protection, you’ll still hope for a drop. It just means if you don’t get lucky then you know you can still get something in time.

I know under this why would anyone run LFR? Well maybe because they want to do so, to see the story and have a pseudo raid experience. Also, LFR could have some benefits, a carrot on a stick for itself. It could have it’s own sort of tier set with bonuses, and plus as it’s part of the raid it could have a chance to drop the pets etc. that the raid bosses drop. Let people choose what they want to do and make each choice viable.

Each raid tier would bring a new handful of dungeons, which would offer the rewards relative to the raid. The old dungeons could be downgraded on the currency they offer, or not so people have more variety.

Scenarios return
In the spirit of options, let there be scenarios of the normal and heroic variety. Let normal offer a justice reward for completion, heroic a valor reward. They always dropped a loot box, so they could do that again, with similar rewards as to normal and heroic dungeons available for the respective versions.

Daily quest hubs
The quests could reward a handful of justice or even valor depending on what they were. More than that they could offer currency of their own to buy items from vendors, not necessarily gear though that could be an option. I’m thinking vanity items, mounts, pets and toys. Something that will keep people coming back for years like the Argent Tournament.

These hubs would be story centered like Lions Landing in Mists. Random selection of what dailies were available each day, to keep it from being too repetitive.

Valor capping wouldn’t be that inconvenient
In Mists everything dropped valor it seemed but it was in such minuscule amounts, you needed to do everything in order to cap. Well I get capping offers rewards, you could buy gear and if the upgrade vendor returns, make gear better. However, a balance needs to be struck.

Back in the day running 7 of the new dungeons a week would cap you. Running 7 dungeons still takes time and seems reasonably fair to me. However, if they wanted to make it harder, then make it equivalent to 14 dungeons a week but no more.

Professions go account wide
They are rendering them unnecessary on the character level with the garrison buildings. It’s not much of a stretch just to make them account wide. This would keep the actual profession but still evolve it.

There would be some balancing needed probably if everyone could disenchant. However, I don’t see it as a huge issue. They have gutted the gathering professions giving everyone personal herb and mine nodes. On a selfish note I quite like that, as gathering with competition is not exactly fun.

XP boost for every max level character
This is a real pie in the sky wish. However, given blizz wanting people to be able to get to cap, it doesn’t seem completely out of the realm of possibility. Reach level cap once, get a 10% boost for the next character, reach level cap again add another 10%. Therefore leveling a lot of alts would get easier over time.

To be honest anything that makes leveling less boring, I would welcome. I know full way saying class quests would never ever happen, there’s not point even suggesting it. I don’t even know what they would do for some classes.

Transmog closet
I left the most important for last. I’m talking real collection based here, I’ve talked about it in a previous post. Basically every possible piece of gear in the game, is on a giant list for the account. You loot it and it unlocks on the list, it’s then available in the wardrobe for transmog, not just on one character but account wide.

There would be no need to ever keep gear for transmog, it would just be unlocked in the closet. There would be no need to rage if on a different character and the item dropped, it would just be unlocked anyway. It could be a goal, there could be achievements, to unlock every piece of gear in the game.

They said there was going to be a new transmog system, like the one from Diablo, in Warlords and it’s not happened, and there’s no mention in 6.2. which means it’s probably not coming. Another piece of content just dropped and forgotten, more they aren’t going to deliver.

Conclusion
I left out quite a lot and that’s because I just don’t know, I either don’t have a theory or I don’t care. I have no clue what the next expansion will be about, I don’t know what the next big feature will be. Every expansion has brought something new to the table but I don’t know what to guess.

I hope that one day they will continue the story in Azeroth, pick up all the dangling plot threads from Cata and resolve things. I hope that one day different races other than orcs will get development but I know better, I doubt they’ll ever come back to those story points. The lore I want to see will never be visited.

I want the game to be friendly to non-raiders again, I want RNG to go and die in fire when it comes to progression. Some RNG in terms of drops is fine but it’s not fine when it’s random everything, and you go weeks without ever getting a hint of the carrot you are supposedly chasing.

I promised that I was going to try and be more positive in my posts, and complain less. Well, if there are any complaints here it is because I’m trying to think positive, I’m trying to see the potential that the game still has and could have again. I’m trying to see what they could do to turn it around for me, and others like me.

Only time will tell.