Will Warcraft Legion Be Worth Playing?
I’ve been playing World of Warcraft for over ten years now (I know, crazy) and so far I’ve bought into every expansion that Blizzard have released. But the question I’m asking myself right now is “will I be playing Warcraft Legion this fall?”
Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m still a big fan of Blizzard and their games and I’ve always like World of Warcraft, especially the Burning Crusade and the hordes of the Burning Legion. I don’t mind repurposed content if it’s done well. So what’s the problem, I hear you ask? Well, it’s just that the Warlords of Draenor expansion was a bit of a disappointment for me and I’m afraid Legion may well be heading down the same route. Let me explain.
I Want To Be A Hero
The whole Warcraft experience for me is about the Hero’s epic quest, battling monstrous foes in far off, magical lands. On the way you meet other groups of Heroes and make friends. Together you defeat monsters in dark and dangerous dungeons and maybe gather some loot along the way. You can tell I’m a Dungeon and Dragons fan boy! I also like good back story – the lore – that add to the storyline. The problem with Warlords is that Blizzard seemed to ignore this aspect of the game and instead stuck us all in a Garrison and gave us a set of Facebook games to play. It was if they had hired a bunch of FarmVille developers who had no idea of the Warcraft experience and let them loose on the game.
I remember having this conversation with my podcast co-host, @NevAHAddict, who was also a long time Warcraft player but has since dropped out of Warlords. The boring dragging of Follower icons onto a simple interface and waiting for several hours while some mindless algorithm decided the outcome didn’t quite grab us.
Warcraft Has An Economy, Stupid
And then they messed with Warcraft gold economy.
Now, Blizzard never really planned for a gold economy in their game. The reason I’m fairly confident of this is that in the early version of the game there was no Auction House. But players traded anyway. Players would gather around the fountain in Stormwind or some common structure in their major city and shout their trades. They started as simple exchanges of goods to exchanges for payments in gold. Eventually, Blizzard cottoned on and introduced the Auction House which made it safer and easier to part with your gold.
This reflects the real world. History is driven by trade. Many big financial institutions started out with like minded individuals meeting informally to exchange goods and services. Examples are many but I refer you to Lloyds of London and the New York Stock Exchange. Interestingly, both organisation started their trading in coffee houses of the time before their trading was formalised and regulated just like the arrival of the WoW Auction House.
It About Supply and Demand
Just as in the real world, the WoW gold economy relies on the mutually beneficial exchange of goods and services based on supply and demand. Run a dungeon and have surplus stacks of cloth (supply)? No problem. List it on the Auction House for gold so those with the tailoring profession can craft desirable gear, which they in turn can list for gold. And so gold cycles through the economy and players are free to trade, gathering and crafting according to their personal goals in the game.
And how is the price of these items determined? Does Blizzard have some clever algorithm that matches supply and demand to determine the price of a listed item. The simple answer is no. Players can list their Cloth for 1c a stack or 100g a stack. Whether it sells is determined by the free market forces of those players on a particular server. Over thousands of trades, the price of Cloth finds its own level – the market’s price. As someone who has experienced the trading of gold in the real world (London, New York, Hong Kong and Sidney) I can attest that this is how it works in most economies.
Professions Are What Power The Warcraft Economy
So, in Warlords of Draenor they messed this up. Not content with locking folks in a lonely garrison with a mindless Follower interface, they decided they would mess with the Warcraft Professions, and the Professions are what power the WoW gold economy. They did this by giving everyone a garrison Mine, Herb Garden and Barn – essentially, breaking the two Primary Profession limit. I guess all those FarmVille developers didn’t understand the Warcraft economy or perhaps didn’t think it mattered.
I was chatting to a player on my server. He rarely bought trade items from the Auction House. Admittedly, he had 10 garrisons that supplied all his crafting needs. The rest he dumped on the Auction House. His garrisons were generating so much gold he didn’t really care how cheaply his items sold for. Our server economy is slowly dying.
Now I admit that 10 garrisons is a bit extreme and I would rather shoot myself that do all those tedious dailies, but it shows how a thoughtless change in the game can have such a large effect. And it’s not like it wasn’t predictable. I mentioned this in a post when the game was in beta.
Order Halls or Garrison 2
So what about World of Warcraft Legion? From what I’ve seen reported from folks in the alpha there are good and bad points to Legion. The good points is that the Burning Legion is making a comeback. As I’ve said, I don’t mind the old content as long as there’s a good backstory to it. The Dungeons and Raids are also looking good. And as always, the in-game landscapes and zones look spectacular. I’m even excited about the new Demon Hunter class and all their gear.
But then we have the Class Order Halls. Oh no! There’s that crappy Facebook interface back again and a whole new bunch of stupid followers. We’re back to dragging and dropping character icons into slots and waiting, and waiting, and waiting…
Oh yes, four days later the quest is complete. Give me a break Blizzard! My fear is that Order Halls are garrisons by another name. Another lonely place to perform mindless dailies.
The good news is that it looks like the professions are going back to basics – well maybe. There won’t be any professions bound to Order Halls – as far as I know (Legion is still in alpha). But Blizzard are still tinkering away with the basics. Not content to let folks gather nodes and level up accordingly, they’re every level with a quest. Ok, it works for a while, but I can see this getting tedious are fifty mindless quests later. Better to have key quests that are meaningful at key stages in the game. I hope they change this.
Don’t Make Every Item BoP
I’m also hoping that Blizzard think a bit more about the effect item drops have on the economy. Did you notice in Warlord how nearly every item dropped was either Bind on Pickup or Soulbound. This meant that few items could be traded. Even Draenic Stone was Soulbound – another nail in the Warcraft economy.
If Blizzard wants to boost the economy – important to most players, not just gold makers – then they need to make all trade goods – well tradable. They need to make desirable Transmog items BoE rather than BoP. These items need to be found in Dungeons and rewards for epic quests. They need to ensure that the professions are not overly complicated and tied to tedious quests. More important, they need to let players gather, grind, quest and craft and freely trade their gear. Players shouldn’t end up with bags full of worthless Soulbound items that can’t be traded.
As I write the new Legion expansion is about to head into beta testing. I hope I can get hold of a invite to take a look. If Blizzard revert back to the core values of the game, then I might be back for another expansion. If it turns out to be another Facebook experience, I might just leave the game forever.