I spent the last week at a family reunion in the mountains of Colorado. It was an internet wasteland. There was almost no cell connectivity to speak of (much less 3g) and the best net connection I found was shared wifi to an eventual 640kbit DSL uplink. It’s the kind of place that gets a person thinking about completely unrelated topics. Like the future of WoW.
I’ve written a lot of rambling predictions and wishlists over the years. Some have turned out accurate (maybe 1 in 4 predictions), some have been rendered obsolete, and some have been explicitly shot down by Blizzard. No matter, it’s time for another round 🙂
So in no particular order, I present my latest wishful guessings for the future of Warcraft.
WoW will see TWO more expansions before being rendered obsolete.
- The current level cap is 80. If they continue tradition, two more expansions will see levels hit a nice even 100.
- Current lore tells us that there are two more major destinations we could go to: Maelstrom, Emerald Dream. I predict that the expansions will be just that. We will see the “end” of WoW in the Emerald Dream itself.
- The effective life of popular MMO’s seems to be similar to that of video game consoles at about 5-6 years before they decline or are replaced (EQ launched in 1999, EQ2 came in 2004). WoW is turning five years old this November, two more expansions will be pushing it. BC was early 2007, WoTLK was late 2008. If Maelstrom is early 2010 and Emerald Dream is late 2011 and WoW2 is 2012, that still means 8 years…
Mounts are already learning to swim along the surface. We need another tier of mount for Maelstrom content and subaquatic only makes sense. After all, new form of transport was released in expansion 1, it’s about time for another one by expansion 3.
Normal mounts probably don’t function well in the Emerald Dream. Without this training, players might not be able to mount at all in the dream. It would be available shortly into their time in the dream (lvl 91-92?) and would be like “cold weather” flight in that it simply unlocks the ability to drive again.
Having the skill might also allow the acquisition and use of mounts original to the dream.
Speaking of mounts, flight should really be made possible in old Azeroth.
A step toward this would be allowing people to finally drive flying mounts along the ground in no-fly zones. But the real trick would be finishing and restitching the old world together to make flight between zones viable. They could do this as an event at the end of 4.x. Messing with the Maelstrom is bound to have an impact on the rest of the planet, no?
There will be new playable races.
I’m hopeful for goblins, mildly curious for worgen, and absolutely giddy with irrational anticipation at the idea of some sort of constructed humanoid race.
If we go to Undermine in WoW 4.0 and cannot play as goblins, there will be blood in the streets. Blood, I say. Players will revolt and will generally raise a big stink. But goblins are tricksy. They’re a neutral race with presence everywhere. It wouldn’t really be fair to give them to either Alliance or Horde exclusively. That would probably just result in more blood.
They are currently setting up a precedent for transferring characters between factions (likely altering the race in the process, of course). This gives me hope that it just might be possible to have goblin PC’s in both factions. Making Undermine a divided city ala the capitals from the last two expansions is hardly a stretch.
Worgen have been talked about for a long time, and I doubt we’ll get the werebeasts of the current game. But a less-corrupted version is certainly possible for an Emerald Dream expansion – just like we got Draenei that weren’t like the Sorrows swamp monsters from original. As far as what faction gets worgen… I’d expect it to be Alliance, what with the whole Elune connection and all.
This means that WoW 5.0 needs another Horde race to balance things out. I don’t see Naga as particularly playable (lack of legs really is an issue). In fact, I don’t see any of the current races in the game as viable alternatives.
Pandaren could work, but I suspect they’d be just as likely to join the Alliance as the Horde – despite the WC3:FT cooperation of the single playable Pandaren with Horde leadership. They really are too neutral. Though, giving pandas to Horde would be a major boost to their overall factional cuteness level and would be a suitable offset for giving werewolves to the Alliance. I discount Pandaren as a playable race if for no other reason than that it is kind of unpolitic and would seriously damage Blizzard’s relationship with China.
Centaur and Cenarions have good Emerald Dream connections, but are strongly Alliance connected. And, of course, there’s that whole quadrupedal issue that really throws a monkey into the whole wrench 😉 Furbies have strong Emerald Dream attachments as well too strong of Alliance ties to make sense as a Horde race.
Ethereals are way too neutral. Tuskarr are also probably too neutral and it would be weird to have them suddenly become playable for half of the population upon entering the Emerald Dream. Kobolds, Murlocs, Quillboars, and Gnolls are too dumb. Ogres are too big. Demons and dragons are too evil (and too oddly shaped).
There is also no real reason for a subrace of any of the existing races to join the Horde. Subraces of existing Horde options are all too similar to be worthwhile (Taunka are basically just another skin for Tauren f’rinstance). Humans and Gnomes don’t seem to have subraces to speak of (and are the heart of the Alliance anyway). Dark Iron Dwarves could work… but it doesn’t make much sense to give Horde what would essentially be a cheap copy of an existing core Alliance race. They already have Elves, that’s probably as close as it’s going to come.
The only viable option I see is something completely different and unheard of. Either, the race will be something native to the Emerald Dream or (and here’s my completely unfounded wishfulness talking) it will be some sort of tinkered construct.
I really like the idea of a race of animate constructs of metal and wood. Goblins and Scourge could easily manufacture something like in 4.0 and we could see their populations grow sufficiently to become playable in 5.0. Perhaps they learn to build themselves so they begin to reproduce w/o exterior help.
Of course, this is a wild stretch and there’s about a 1 in 1000 chance that Blizzard might do playable Clockwork, but I posit that it is still more likely than any of the other currently visible options 😉 Besides, Clockwork are cool enough to offset Worgen on the Alliance side.
Player/guild housing needs to happen.
I think housing is a good major feature for 4.0. Other than extended vault options and the whole dollhousing side of things, players should probably be able to set their hearths there. Players and guilds should be able to get crafting furniture and buff-providers (higher restedness rate for example). Obviously, houses should be instanced.
Houses should be available in many areas, with multiple housing options per capital city. Other large cities (Everlook, etc…) should probably have one option and some small towns and otherwise hearthless locations might also provide housing (Talonbranch Glade, etc…).
It should be possible for individuals to purchase not only the interior of a building but a building itself with an exterior and an interior. It should be possible for guilds to own larger pieces of land with multiple buildings – perhaps partially by linking individual player-owned plots of land together.
Houses should provide additional storage and should probably not be linked directly into the normal vault system. It should be possible to install portals in houses. It might be possible to own multiple houses or plots of land.
If the guild housing system is awesome enough, it might be possible to get guild shopkeeper NPC’s. And of course, there’s also always the option of guild wars or similar as an extension to the arena system.
There will be a new crafting profession in each expansion.
The only weapons that players can’t craft are staves, bows, and crossbows. To remedy this, we need a carpentry/fletching/woodworking sort of profession. We also probably need a way to gather the wood. It needn’t be a standalone profession, but it wouldn’t hurt if it was.
The pleas for woodworking have been coming for a long time. I think we’ll probably see it in the next expansion. It really is that whole “gathering” bit that’s kind of tricky and is probably the major reason we didn’t get woodcutting in BC.
In addition to bows, staves, and arrows, woodworkers should be able to make furniture for houses – and possibly whole buildings. The profession should also unlock the ability to make lower level shields out of wood and leather. Wood could also easily be added as an ingredient in recipes for other professions as well.
A profession appropriate for the final expansion might be botany/cultivation. It would only be possible in player/guild housing. Players could grow normal herbalism and woodcutting plants as well as new botany-only plants. Cultivators might be allowed to harvest wild plants but would not be able to track them and would gather only seeds (with a very minor chance of getting a usable common plant in the process perhaps).
Many botany plants would be consumable raw or might be improved via cooking and used by alchemy/inscription. Many botany plants would yield seeds when harvested, but not all. Botany plants would take time to grow and could only be harvested by a cultivator. Over the course of their growth, Cultivators would be able to add fertilizers and waters to the plants to improve the eventual yield. Botany recipes would allow the combination of multiple seeds to create hybrid plants or the extraction of seeds from plants that don’t normally produce them.
There will be new hero classes.
We’ve long been promised more hero classes – and not explicitly as expansion content. I sincerely hope we get another hero class before 4.0, but am only moderately hopeful.
I do not expect there to be any more base classes, that doesn’t make much sense. But there is still room for several more hero classes. I think three more before the game ends is reasonable. In keeping with the size of the previous expansions, I don’t think it would be unreasonable to expect two hero classes before WoW 5.0 and two more after. (Bringing the total number of classes to 9 regular, 5 hero).
It would be nice if they also increased the starting level of each hero class as they went along. Thus, the next hero class could start at 65, then 75, then 85 (and probably 85 again). Requirements for gaining access to the hero classes should be having a non-hero character in excess of the starting level for the class in question.
The classes I could (would like to) easily see (in order of release) happening are:
- Mechanist – think engineeringly enhanced tanks.
- Monk – cloth melee, maybe some self-healing and agility/resist-tanking.
- Necromancer – leather ranged cold and non-elemental spell damage, melee poison, highly disposable pets.
As a fourth class… dunno. To balance out roles, it would probably have to be something with healing and cc. Perhaps some sort of Emerald Dreamwalker?
Speaking of WoW2… Yes, I think it probably will happen.
WoW will get stale and die in a few years, despite regular injections of expansion content. Unless Blizzard has a replacement product on hand, they will generate a gaping vacuum in their earnings as people bail for more modern products. I expect that they will release a non-Warcraft MMO soon (Diablo 3 doesn’t count, it’ll be more like Guild Wars) and will release WoW2 as WoW expansion 4 grinds to an end.
The ending will be awesome.
I want to see all kinds of stuff break near the end. Major content patches that change the map, not so much class tweaking (because if they can’t get it right by then…).
I think the Emerald Dream should be the largest expansion, with no planned followup other than WoW2. It should include content on a scale equal to the initial game release, covering most of the known game world and taking us back to visit places we’ve not seen in years.
They also have the opportunity to end WoW1 with some kind of universe-altering event that just isn’t realistically possible without the kind of reboot a separate game allows. Like the complete dissolution of the factions and the fracturing of Azeroth into multiple little Outland-esque shards 😉
- WoW will die, eventually becoming a whithered husk like the previous generation of big MMO’s.
- There will be two more expansions before this happens.
- 4.0: Maelstrom
- Level cap at 90.
- Undermine, Maelstrom, lots of underwater action.
- Playable goblins for both factions.
- Underwater mounts.
- Player housing, guild housing, guild wars.
- Carpentry, Woodcutting professions.
- One new hero class, revealed in 4.0; playable in 4.0.1.
- 5.0: Emerald Dream
- Level cap at 100.
- Emerald Dream: An alternate view of most of Azeroth, portions on all four continents included.
- New playable race for both factions: worgen, clockwork?
- Botany/Cultivation profession.
- Spirit mounts.
- Two new hero classes, revealed in 5.0; playable in 5.1 and 5.2.
- Blizzard will launch another MMO before WoW 5.0 is released.
- Blizzard will launch WoW2 as a followup to cataclysmic universe-altering events at the end of WoW 5.x.
I’m gonna just click publish here and ramble some more about specific ideas for new class and race mechanics later.