I’ve been playing World of Warcraft for many years now and with every new expansion I get a little nervous. Will Blizzard nerf any of my favourite items; will familiar content simply disappear; will they break the Auction House? With every expansion I have the same concerns and the Warlords of Draenor expansion is no exception.
Now I’m not really such a nervous Nelly and I appreciate that a MMO as venerable as Warcraft must evolve. Existing players expect new content while players new to the game expect features found in more recent upstarts.
And change isn’t such a bad thing.
The Burning Crusade and Jewelcrafting
With the introduction of the Burning Crusade Blizzard provided us with a portal to another world in which we could eventually fly. This was a great improvement to the game, but brought with it the problem of keeping some quests a challenge. It certainly made gathering easier, but didn’t greatly affect the the WoW gold economy as much as I thought it would. However, Blizzard did give the economy a shot in the arm with the introduction of the Jewelcrafting profession to the joy of many a gold maker.
Wraith of the Lich King and Inscription
Then there was Wraith of the Lich King which gave us a whole new continent to explore, including the floating Mage city of Dalaran. My favourite addition was the Death Knight, complete with companion ghoul. We were also introduced to a PvP zone on a PvE server in the form of Wintergrasp. Blizzard added a little zing to the economy with the addition of the Inscription profession which added a whole new dimension to making gold in Warcraft.
Cataclysm Broke the Mould
With Cataclysm Blizzard broke the mould – literally by breaking continents. We could finally use our flying mounts in Kalimdor and the Eastern Kingdoms. Again, players had a vast new world to explore in the form of Vashj’ir, Deepholm, Uldum and the Twilight Highlands. However, when it came to the professions Blizzard gave us the secondary profession of Archaeology which didn’t do much for the Warcraft economy.
Mists of Pandaria gave us Noodle Carts
Which brings us to the Mists of Pandaria expansion, which is probably my favourite. Again, Blizzard created a whole new continent to explore with some breathtaking vistas. Not only were we introduced to new races, but Blizzard created a mini game in the form of Pet Battles. Blizzard also tinkered away with the professions by greatly expanding Cooking and added a Tiller’s farm to compliment the demand for new ingredients.
So what makes me nervous about Warlords?
Enslaved to a Garrison
In a nutshell it’s the garrison. At the heart of Warcraft is its ever expanding universe which we, as the adventurers, set out to explore. It’s at the core of the game and has it’s roots in the likes of Dungeons and Dragons. A group of adventurers come together with a common goal and set out on a journey in a strange and wondrous land to complete their quest. It’s the shared experience of the journey that shapes and defines the characters that participate in the quest. Think of Bilbo Baggins in The Hobbit; Frodo in Lord of the Rings.
So, Blizzard, why turn my hero into a stay-at-home garrison builder?
Did Sam Gamgee say to Frodo ‘Sorry, mate. You go to the Black Gate, I’ll tend to the farm’? I don’t think so. They left the farm behind them and set off down the road together for an adventure! Now Blizzard has indicated that we are to be tied to a garrison. A slave to the farm.
And look how well that turned out with the Tillers! I don’t know about you, but having levelled all the plots on my farm I rarely go back there. I hate having to hang up my sword for the hoe. In truth, I find the whole Tiller’s farm idea boring and repetitive.
Will Blizzard Break the Professions?
But what really scares me is that they may well tie the Professions to garrison levels. Will I have to first build an Alchemy Lab in my garrison to level Alchemy? Will I have to construct a Mage Tower before I can craft Living Steel? If I build a Mine will I ever need to gather Ore again or will I simply assign a ‘follower’ to mine all the Ore for me? Again, I’m tied to levelling my garrison. It reminds me a bit of the game ‘Boom Beach’ by Supercell. The garrison idea is a mini game within a game like Pet Battles, but in Warlords I don’t have the option to ignore it.
Now, I’ve always said that the Professions are the power house of the Warcraft economy. With each new expansion the professions have been added to, tinkered with, but not broken. My fear is that with Warlords, Blizzard may inadvertently put a spanner in the economy by reducing the need for many of the Professions. I’m thinking of Inscription, here. Blizzard has indicated that in Warlords, some of the Major Glyphs will be learned by characters as they level and these recipes will be removed.
Closing the Auction House?
And what of the Auction House? Well, much of the trade that takes place on the Auction House revolves around the supply and demand of items required or crafted by the professions. Take Alchemy, for example. So far this is the only profession that can create Living Steel which is required by both Engineers and Blacksmiths for their crafting. This is the supply and demand that drives players to the Auction House and fuels the Warcraft economy. But if garrisons allow access to the professions that your character hasn’t mastered, why bother visiting the Auction House?
Now, with every new expansion there will always be change and Warlords promises some major upheavals. I’m confident that, given the amount of skin many of the Blizzard developers have in the game, they won’t intentionally break the economy, but we’ll have to wait and see.
Am I being a nervous Nelly? Let me know what you think. Visit my Facebook Page and drop me a comment.