It’s time for another one of my prediction posts re WoW. This time around will be several shorter predictions and may or may not be my last post of this type for a while 😉
Prediction: The next expansion will focus on expanding Azeroth
I don’t think the next expansion will be the Emerald Dream – that’s expansion the 3rd. This time around, we’re going to come back to Azeroth and fill in the holes in the map. And there are numerous holes in the map of Azeroth right now.
There are at least 3 more continents we’ve not yet gotten access to: Northrend, Undermine, and Pandaria. There is also lore surrounding the Maelstrom and the associated bits of sunken Kalimdor.
Even on our existing continents, we’re missing several areas. A few of my favorites:
- Grim Batol is a potential overland zone with at least one high level instance east of Loch Modan and the Wetlands.
- Mount Hyjal is where the final battle of WC3 took place. It’s been a big closed off zone since the beginning of the game. In the last patch, they released two new flight paths essentially adjacent to the mountain border with Hyjal.
- Uldum is a big instance gate in southern Tanaris that taunted me every time i drove past it. Everyone’s expecting this one, just don’t know when it’ll happen.
- Dalaran is another obvious place for expansion. It’s the big purple bubble that all Undead players bump into on their way to Taren Mill for the first time.
- Gilneas is another big gate next to Silverpine. There were some pretty funny rumors going around before the Draenei and Blood Elves were announced that the zone was entirely peopled by werewolves… 🙂
Most of the smart money is on Northrend as the primary focus of the next expansion, and I tend to agree. There have been hints in the past that Arthas might be a level 80 raid boss. People have been begging for it for a while now – we’ve wanted this more than we wanted Outland 😛
It also does nice things for bringing people back to Azeroth to do more than just shop or powerlevel alts.
How do we get to Northrend? I suspect that there will need to be boats installed. Viable locations for these ships might be eastern Azshara, Undermine, and northern Tristfal.
I actually really like the idea of establishing a settlement on one of the tips of Azshara, but it would be weird for a new city to magically appear out there overnight. Tristfal has the same problem, but to a much lesser degree – it wouldn’t be terribly difficult to imagine the Forsaken setting up a naval base out there to lead the charge in taking the war back to Scourge territory.
Undermine, and the island it lives in (Kezan), are the most logical choice… unless they open up Gilneas.
Gilneas is fun. Since there’s no communication with the place, it’s entirely possible that everyone inside’s been killed and turned into zombies or what-have-you… or that it’ll finally be willing to join with humanity in the fight against the Scourge. Maybe the Scourge broke through the wall and they came crawling to Southshore for help? This would give the Alliance a potential starting point to get out there. But I doubt it’ll happen. If I had to bet on the fate of Gilneas, though, I say they’re the new Southern Plaguelands by now – especially since the Alliance already have a much more probable city up that way in Dalaran.
Undermine really is the most logical choice. Probably. It’s a sizable island dedicated to commerce. The goblins certainly would see a profit in allowing both Horde and Alliance navies to set up shipyards on their northern shores – so long as they behave themselves and don’t kill each other in goblin territory (just like any other goblin controlled city).
I’d like to see Undermine become the new Shattrath. It makes the most sense to connect it to Steamwheedle Port (esp since no other boats use the dock atm), but that’s a pretty inconvenient location for such an important travel route. It wouldn’t be unreasonable to also connect it to Ratchet or Booty Bay somehow. Possibly tie it into the zeppelin network and give the Alliance a boat out of Southsore?
By connecting Undermine to lvl 20-40 zones, it would be quite appropriate to make the Isle of Kezan actually contain a good bit of content suitable to that level range. Make it into several (4-5) areas that provide a viable alternative to Stranglethorn and Desolace. The game is currently weakest in the lvl 30-50 content range right now, this is a good solution. With no new races, there’s no need to introduce new pairs of newbie zones – that effort should be bumped up to mid-level content 😉
So, if we allow Undermine to become a large travel hub and allow it to connect players to Northrend, what do they have to do up there? High level content. Mid level content. Max level content. Several new instances. Northrend is big – really big. The map shows 11 zones plus plenty of spots for instances. Perhaps it could be made suitable for levels 50 and above – or even levels 45 and above. The continent is big enough that they could easily add another 45-55 zone in addition to zones all the way up to level 80.
But… we need a lot more lvl 70+ content in the next expansion, right? Well… TBC introduced a total of 11 new overworld zones in addition to instances. If they considered 7 zones sufficient new high level content for this expansion, I don’t see why the next expansion should be any different. Add an extra chunk or two of lvl 70+ content to Outland, leave the rest in Northrend, and we’ve still got room to resolve the dearth of mid-level content.
Suggested overworld zone level breakdown:
- Kezan – 30-40, 35-45 x2, 40-50
- Northrend – 45-55, 55-60, 60-65, 65-70, 70-75 x3, 73-78 x2, 75-80 x2
- Outland – 70-75, 75-80
This is a total of 17 zones – 6 more than TBC introduced. As a reasonable trade-off, I’d like to think that not every zone needs unique world PvP objectives and multiple instances in the initial launch. They can do with these what they did with Ghostlands and Zul’Aman – that is, the instance needn’t be launched at the same time as the zone containing it. There is plenty of other precedence for this.
I think it is entirely reasonable to focus new instanced content on lvl 70+, so perhaps none of the lvl <70 zones get new instances?
Either way... I predict that the world will be getting a lot larger and that most of the growth will be on Azeroth this time. And I hope I hope I hope they do something about the lack of good mid-level overland zones in the game. They needn't be huge zones, just interesting changes of pace for people hoping to get their 6th alt over lvl 50 w/o repeating the same blasted quests over and over again.
Prediction: Access to Outland will be improved
Since low level players can already get to Shattrath with a little help from a friendly mage, the level 58 restriction on going through the Dark Portal feels really arbitrary. Especially since it’s possible to enter the Ramparts at level 55, and the level requirement for Master crafting professions is only 50 but they must be trained in Outland. I’d like to see the gate opened to all players capable of driving across the Blasted Lands in the first place. That’s good enough of a restriction already.
Perhaps they’ll eventually add some easier transport methods direct to the Dark Portal? Maybe a portal from Dalaran? Maybe one each from Stormwind and Orgrimmar? Perhaps a faction-neutral zeppelin path from Booty Bay?
Prediction: Woodworking will finally be made available to players
They released Jewelcrafting in TBC with … interesting results. It was an expansion-only profession that was still able to benefit players who were too cheap/uninterested to grab the expansion. It is terribly useful to lvl 65+ characters, just like Enchantments and Alchemy have always been important to high end players.
However, launching a new profession also made for an awful glut of cheap goods on the market. I am a lvl 367/375 jewelcrafter now, and I have yet to break even. I doubt I ever will. I spent hundreds and hundreds of gold to get from 250 to 300. The economy is terribly wrecked as a result of the new demand for jewels, but shrug. It’s not like the incredible inflation from Outland didn’t have a huge effect on prices either 😉
One of the most requested features from players has always been that they let us make our own bows and arrows. I think a profession that makes bows, arrows, staves, and shields would be great. This would fill the gap left by other crafting professions and make it possible to finally craft every type of equipment in the game.
The big problem with releasing woodworking is with the gathering aspect of things… do you add trees to herbalism? Do you make lumber drop off of certain common NPC varieties like cloth does? Do you make trees harvestable by anyone? Do you add a woodcutter/lumberjack gathering profession? Do you make woodworking a combination gathering/crafting profession? None of these options by itself is very ideal.
Enchanting and Jewelcrafting are already combination gathering/crafting professions, with the exception that improvement in the gathering aspect of the profession is only possible by improving the crafting aspect. I think this is a good starting point for Woodworkers.
Allow Woodworkers to break apart bows and staves in order to get special materials – but not their own work (you can’t DE something you just enchanted and expect to get the shards back). Allow them to harvest wood from certain npc corpse types just like miners and herbalists can now. Make plant type mobs likely to drop wood in addition to flowers. Make the numerous lumber mills around the game actually spawn piles of lumber that any player can loot – similar to treasure chests.
I think adding some basic types of lumber (reusing the enchanting wand and campfire materials) to common vendors would not hurt at all – every other crafting profession has to buy some of their reagents already, why not these too?
And if Blizzard does all of that… I think it might work. I don’t like the idea of generically choppable tree nodes like mines and flowers. There’s something about the size of things that just doesn’t quite work for me. Perhaps there could be a class of largish flowers that herbalists can gather if they carry a tool with them. Or, perhaps they could just go ahead and add small trees to the world map that can be cut down. Shrug.
Prediction: The crafting skill cap will be raised to 450, others skills will only increase to 400
This isn’t much of a logical jump here. They need a new tier to make equipment for lvl 80’s. They’ve actually caught themselves in a pretty vicious cycle by bumping character levels out of sync with the crafting levels. When the game launched, both combat and crafting skill caps were 300. When TBC launched, though, they only added 50 levels to combat skills while crafting caps went up by another 75.
If they make the next tier of crafting skill also have a cap of 450, they’ll have gotten 50 ranks out of sync unless they surprise everyone and bump the level cap in the game to 90 😉 My money’s on increasing the imbalance between the skill numbers.
As far as other skills go… I don’t know. Adding another tier or two of riding skill works well, but what would they add at that point? Aquatic mounts? Mounts that work in certain underground Nerubian zones? I guess the current disparity between crafting and normal skills AND riding skills shows that they don’t much care about the actual balance between the numbers. But I wish they would – it would make things pretty again 😉
Prediction: Secondary skills will get some love
First aid can do precisely two things right now. It can make bandaids and it can make antivenom potions. Mostly, it just makes bandaids since the antivenom is quite inconvenient. I’d like to see first aid have an easier time of curing poisons and have options for treating disease based debuffs – make healing poison easier and make healing disease about as difficult as healing poison is now. They also need to add some additional tiers to the poisons. Right now, the only way to make lvl 60 antivenom is through an Argent Dawn recipe. There is no lvl 70 antivenom – and besides, the ingredients they’d probably use for them are currently being monopolized by people who want to defect over to Scryers 😛
I’d also really like it if they could give inoculations that act as long-term disease/poison prevention buffs. It would give priests a reason to train first aid. But a 30 minute buff with say 5 charges of poison curing? Good stuff. Rogues would probably throw a fit, but shrug, I play a hunter. I dislike rogues 😉
At present, cooks can only manufacture food. The skill can’t make drinks – even if a handful of cooking recipes do give +mp5 from their well fed buffs. I think allowing players to manufacture their own drinks would be fun and would entice more people to drop time into the skill. Right now, if people rely on secondary skills for out-of-combat healing, they’re 99% likely to be using bandages anyway…
Besides, it’s not like adding drinks to the skill will in any way unbalance things. Mage water’s still free, ne? 🙂
Currently, the worst secondary skill is fishing. It requires an insane time commitment to level and is actually quite dangerous at times. This makes it terribly unattractive to anyone but hunters and cooks. And since there are very few people who train cooking in any meaningful way… fishing gets even less attention. I like fishing, but… I’ve not really engaged in any fishing since hitting 300 a while back.
I want to see net fishing. I want to see more fish that come out of the water and attack you. I want to see fishing with dynamite and shotguns and traps. Fishing could easily be made into an interesting mini-game. All crafting could. EQ2 did a great job with that, and WoW could really use a new type of gameplay right about now.