With the WoW expansion pack coming down the pipe, the floodgates of speculation have been thrown open once again. No topic has been more hotly contested than that of the new alliance race, and I will get to my opinions on that subject in a bit. But, there are so many other wonderful possibile new features that could be coming out as part of (or as a result of) the expansion.
Thus, I will now wander out into the realm of ideas and wishes, and vague premonitions for new features in the game. Note that for 99% of these things, I have no real evidence other than an unscientific analysis of trends in both the industry at large and Warcraft in specific.
I’ve been playing a hunter character since the game opened, and there have always been a few gripes I’ve had with the class. The most notable of these gripes are the ‘dead zone‘ and the relative uselessness of aspect of the beast.
I would love to see some sort of ability (or ideally, multiple abilities) among the new features released in the expansion to deal with the dead zone problems. Escaping rooting effects is one possibility, but much happier than that would be some sort of point blank shot ability. Allow hunters to buy (with talent points if necessary) a reduction on their minimum attack range – just like they buy an extension. Minimum range is 8, so either at 1 yard or 2 yards per talent point, it wouldn’t take very much to eliminate the dead zone.
I would also like to see aspect of the beast made useful – or somehow replaced with something useful. The most obvious improvement would simply be to remove the big glowing red letters above your character when in this form. Another improvement would possibly be the application of the aspect over your entire party (like aspect of the wild or pack). Thus, if nothing else, it would allow you to use your pet while hiding from other hunters.
But, what I would really like to see hunters get is some sort of actual useful stealth ability. I mean, mages are supposedly getting invisibility back in the expansion. Rogues and druids already have actual useful stealth. It would be nice and quite thematic if, at the very least, hunters got stealth from beasts – which should also make you hide from shapeshifted players as well.
Along those lines, some sort of waterbreathing/waterwalking ability for hunters would be nice, but probably really quite far fetched. Numerous other classes get improved methods of dealing with water – in fact, all of the other mana-using classes get something along these lines. Call it ‘aspect of the fish’ or something 😉
It would be nice if they extended the thrown weapon skillset to make it viable in extended combat. Right now, thrown weapons are only useful as a way of giving people w/o ranged attacks some sort of inexpensive ranged pull. It would be kind of neat to allow thrown weapons to be used in conjunction with existing hunter abilities – most notably with auto-shot. I mean, they fixed wands to do it…
One last note on hunters. I want more pets. Both in terms of stable space, and in terms of mob varieties that may be tamed. With them opening up the new planet, it only makes sense that some of those indigenous critter varieties will be tameable. But notable creature types that currently id as ‘beast’ that aren’t currently valid pets: deer, kodo/thunder lizards, most dinosaur varieties, basilisks, and chimera/hippos/gryphons.
Now, obviously threshadons aren’t much of a possibility. But give me a pterasaur pet any day. They’re making moves toward giving all pet types a semi-unique racial feature. I would love to see pterasaur pets with their aoe fear attack and basilisken with their paralysis.
My two guesses with the crafting system improvements that will accompany the expansion are (in addition to their already announced jewelcrafting profession and the new slotted item recipes that it implies everyone will be getting) an increase of crafting skill caps and more new professions.
These are both kind of no-brainers, but I actually got into an argument with a kid when I mentioned the possibility of increasing the skill caps one more time. Now, the candidates for new skill caps are 340 (70×5 in keeping with their standard math) or 375 (since every previous rank in crafting skills comes in units of 75 levels). Of course, they could go with 350 since it’s a prettier number or whatever.
But mark my words, there had better be new ranks of crafting skills to produce higher level items. It’d be really kind of pointless and game-breaking to make all of the level 70 item recipes require only 300 skill to use. Granted, they’ll probably be releasing more and more of these recipes via reputation vendors… but I can’t really imagine them doing everything that way from here on out.
Now, my guesses for new professions are pretty tame here. I am assuming that we will have two new ones – woodcutting and fletching/carpentry. It has been a longstanding gripe among players that nobody can craft staves, bows, or arrows. Apparently, there are some ways of making arrows that have been released recently, but nothing on the scale of engineers and bullet production. In fact, the reason I was an engineer for the majority of my playing career was in order to make my own guns and ammo (and scopes).
Why woodcutting? Well, it doesn’t make much sense to make it free – unless they also turn around and make skinning free (or at least a secondary skill). And it certainly doesn’t make sense to give it to herbalists. Though that would be interesting – giving the flowerpickers similar status to miners by having two crafting professions that depend primarily on them (as opposed to their current sole dependant of alchemy).
Other silly profession options would be weaving and some other way to consume/recycle junk greens (in addition to requiring an enchanter to do it). Weaving isn’t gonna happen. They have the whole cloth distribution system well in place and aren’t likely to break it. Still, it would be kind of neat to be able to actually manufacture some of these lower level varieties of cloth.
As regards some sort of item recycling profession, because it is such limited scope and because people who want to spend a profession slot on eating items already have enchanting, it would be best as a secondary skill. I envision the entirely unlikely prospect of being able to break green+ items down into some of their constituent nonmagical components. For example, a black dragonscale breastplate costs 40x rugged leather, 60x black dragonscale, 1x cured rugged hide, and 2x rune thread. Perhaps disassembling it would return some quantity of reusable leather and dragonscales, but probably not the hide (as it is a complicated material with a 3 day cooldown timer involved in its production) and most certainly not the thread (as it is buyable from any number of vendors).
It’s gonna happen eventually. Nobody creates one of these games w/o releasing new character classes further down the line. Warcraft has a pretty solid mix right now with the nine current classes (8 available to each faction). However, even Blizzard has hinted at hopes/plans for increasing this number somehow.
As far as odds that they do ever get around to releasing the hero classes… I’m not holding my breath. I expect that they’re more likely to implement multi-classing than ever getting around to writing the hero classes 😛
Some classes that I would like to see…
Martial artist of sorts. Standard issue D&D monk type. While there is no major Warcraft precedent for this… it’s certainly not something that they’ve made impossible in their lore. I would love to see fist weapons actually become useful. Make the guys a cloth-wearing, mana-based melee class and tie all of their abilities to spirit (and give them regen during combat or something). Perhaps allow them some self-healing spells and some short-range shamanesque elemental offensive magic. Perhaps a high degree of natural spell resistance?
Bard. There isn’t a single class in the game devoted strictly to party support. Most classes can offer the group some sort of buffing and/or healing, but nobody hands out large quantities of the stuff. Give bards a seriously toned-down version of rogue melee abilities – making them do damage similar to paladins. But, let them also do a wide variety of AoE buffing and debuffing. Give them a few simple arcane damage nukes, and let them replace paladins as the new and improved buff bots. Perhaps in addition to traditional songs, a bard is allowed to perform a single song at a time – similar to paladin aura. But, when they switch songs, there is a short overlap in effects? Possibly causing interesting stuff to happen when songs switch – or when multiple songs performed by multiple bards overlap 😉
Necromancer. Well. We need another summoner class of some sort, at least. Hunters have beasts, warlocks have demons. Nobody has legions of zombies! Of course, there’s the problem of heavy overlap with warlocks. Perhaps necros could get multiple pets at once, or really cheap and disposable pets. Perhaps they could reanimate something after killing it. Maybe give them lots of ice spells in addition to the obligatory shadow stuff.
Ok. This one is actually a prediction, not just a wish. I see us being able to see the language barrier come crashing down some time after (or as a result of) the expansion. Blood elves certainly understand normal elf and human talk, ne? Well… yeah.
As a result of allowing players to learn other languages, I also see the door being opened up for cross-faction cooperation. We are already seeing some sort of pitiful attempt at this in the Ahn’Qiraj event. I see (possibly as an element of the second expansion) the ability for players of other factions to interact peacably with each other and potentially party together.
Of course, this also brings up the notion of a neutral faction, or simply allowing factionless players. I’m a big fan of this notion. DAoC seems to have had the right idea with the co-op server type. I would love to see a true PvE server type where shamadins of all nations can party together for the betterment and greater happiness of all. Of course, this would marginalize BG’s and the whole honor system crud on those servers, but meh. I’d be willing to play on a server w/o that eq floating around.
Ok, and to draw my endless ramblings to an end, I’ll finally get around to the idea of new races. My vote is for Draenei. They’re ugly and they hate Orcs. Sign me up. More on specific details later. First, the stupid race ideas that people have been tossing around.
Pandaren. Ok… pandas are… well, they started off as a joke. And people won’t let them die. According to the lore, they’re entirely too neutral to side with either faction. They’d make an interesting addition in the second expansion, if faction borders break down, but I give them about a 5% chance of being the new Alliance race.
Worgen. I don’t know who came up with this one. But giving Alliance werewolves… doesn’t really work. Aside from the whole “inherently evil” problem, they’re also too inherently cool to work. If Blizzard is wanting to try to even out the faction populations, they can’t give us something that will just draw even more 14-year-old boys to Alliance. Granted, they do have a perfect location to start off in, even if it does ruin the continent balance issue. I give them a 1% chance.
Naga. One of the only major intelligent races in the game that isn’t exactly aligned with anyone, naga are a popular vote among kids who hope for this kind of stuff. They don’t fit in with the Alliance since the night elves absolutely despise them, if anything, they’d get along better with the Horde. However, aside from that and the sheer modeling issues (a primary reason why ogres aren’t even in the running), naga are a bit incompatible with the rest of the game races. They breathe under water. Their home zones should be subaquatic… yeah. Doesn’t make visits from the neighbors very feasable. I give them <1%.
Goblins. Goblins, goblins, goblins. I’m giving them less of a chance than naga. Simply because of their decided dedication to neutrality and commercialism. I mean, they already left the Horde to take up careers in banking and explosives manufacturing. If neutral factions ever happen, I entirely expect to see playable goblins – possibly even in the merchant aspect that people seem to be hoping for. But until/unless neutrality is an option, I would be more than completely stymied if it happened.
Draenei. Ok. So, the draenei are ugly, and not in a cool jr high little boy way. They hate orcs with the burning hot passion of a thousand suns. They’re Outlanders and Outland is a major focus of the new expansion. They have a tradition of being usable units in Frozen Throne. There are already draenei in the game, even if they are a bit loopy. And, there’s a picture of what I can only assume to be one in the concept art section of the expansion site.
The only real point against them is that they apparently have a bad psychological reaction to leaving Outland – hence the draenei in the swamp of sorrows are kind of nutty and aggro (with the exception of the small neutral camp in the NW end of the zone). I guess another minor point against them is that their most notable racial feature is the fact that they are supposed to be able to shadowmeld better than night elves.
Of course, that isn’t necessarily a real problem. Blood elves are getting a tremendous amount of power in their racial abilities. Plural. I would not be surprised to see all races getting an upgrade in this capacity. That would give room for draenei to still get the good shadowmeld and give night elves something else in addition to their less effective version. Shrug. It could happen 😉