(I’ve made this same thread in MMO-C, with a poll to gauge people’s opinions on this. Vote there if you have an account:
As speculation and fake leaks begin to grow in frequency as Blizzcon nears (only five months!), a common theme keeps reappearing: is a new world revamp coming?
I’ve been speculating about a world revamp for some time. Several people were already putting their bets on it after Legion. The events of that expansion affected many old zones, and, surely, the end of our oldest foe could only mean a new beginning for the franchise.
We got BfA instead. The biggest faction war, they said, and it started with two capital cities destroyed. Not only that, but there’s two old zones revamped for warfronts, with more seemly on the horizon, and some other tidbits like Uther’s Tomb revamped. Also, we finally face Azshara, and maybe, just maybe, N’Zoth himself could be our final boss.
What’s left after that? How will the franchise endure? What new lands are there to be found?
There’s some signs that may or may not point to next expansion being a big undertaking related to the old world. BfA’s patch cycle has a slower pace than Legions while not delivering as much “new” (specially in art) content per patch, maybe signifying the team is putting way more work on other endeavors.
The warfronts, as well as Uther’s Tomb renewal and Lordaeron’s new walls, could also be forefront work, or proof-of-concept, of how the world may look at a renewal. Also, revamping the areas for Warfronts could also reduce work on doing a world revamp.
The last few expansions have been adding a lot of art assets that would reduce budget in a world revamp. We got human, orc, draenei and night elf buildings, as well as some doodads for other races (like trolls). Many mobs from Kalimdor/EK either got revamped models (kobolds, troggs, wendigo, kodos, eagles, bears, frogs, prairie dogs, rabbits, cats) or new models for new versions that could be used instead (wolves, tigers, harpies, ogres).
As a plus, in an interview (sorry, I can’t remember which), when asked about moving the franchise away from Azeroth, Ion suspiciously mentioned a “WoW 2” and that the franchise wouldn’t be the same away from Azeroth. Why mention “WoW 2”? Hmmm…
But Cataclysm already did that, and that’s a bad expansion
Yes, but we need to understand why it was a generally bad expansion, and how the same pitfalls could be avoided.
First and foremost, Cataclysm’s revamp cost a lot of dev resources, ending up affecting negatively the endgame. When Cataclysm came out, most people welcomed the new leveling experience. However, it ended up that most of the game was available in the prepatch. Once the expansion was actually released, there was very little “new” to do.
Second, Cataclysm made the old versions of the continents unavailable.
Third, broke the timeline, as the earlier zones were chronologically more advanced than previous expansions you had to venture into in higher levels.
Fourth, Cataclysm’s leveling storylines were firmly set in a particular timeframe that quickly got old. It was less about exploring Azeroth again and more reacting to faction war, the destruction brought by Deathwing and the Twilight’s Hammer’s schemes. And most zones were left on rails. Last but not least, it’s been 9 years. We leveled a bazillion alts since then, so we are really tired of Cata revamp.
So, how could a new revamp avoid these pitfalls.
A new game for a new generation and for the coming decade
I think the revamp is coming, but it won’t be like Cataclysm at all.
This is WoW 2, but as an expansion instead of a new game. Same engine, reuse of assets, but lots of new things. Our old enemies have been vanquished, a few years of peace follow and, after a small timeskip (10 years?), Azeroth needs us once again. It will feel like a renewed game, a soft-rebooted franchise where we again explore Azeroth and find out what evils have been growing in the wild places of the world.
First, I bet the new Kalimdor and Eastern Kingdoms won’t be just the old maps revamped, but new files entirely. The old versions will keep existing and be accessible throught bronze dragons. Blizzard will have the freedom to rework zones entirely, even reshaping, removing, merging or dividing them. THis allows the company to go entirely wild with ideas, and will mean we will have to actually rediscover these lands (and towns and flight paths).
Second, the leveling experience will be completely redone. The level squish is part of it, and will help the theme of a new beginning. You can choose to level up a new character entirely on the new world. Yes, you can teleport back in time to experience old expansions, but it will be an entirely optional endeavor. Systems developed over the years, like Bonus Objectives, could be used to speed leveling, leaving quests only for storylines that you can do in any order you wish.
The level squish also helps you feel like your character if you choose to keep the ones you adventured with all these years. After a few years away from action, Azeroth needs heroes again, and there you are, an old veteran, after years of peace, having to deal with danger again.
In the “new” continents, the low level zones will be up in the prepatch, like in Cataclysm, but this time they are only a small part of the content. 2/3 or more of the renewed continents will be for BfA’s (squished) max level onwards. Imagine that anything beyond the race-owned lands is reserved for high level content and off-limits during the prepatch.
Third, revamping the world does not mean it won’t feel new. New lands could open. Old lands could change completely. Quel’thalas and Myst Isles could finally be integrated into their main continents (while keeping the TBC originals untouched!). The leveling flow could go into totally new ways. Imagine the possibillities! I present some ideas bellow.
Kalimdor: the Wild Continent
Night elves settled in Moonglade, turning Nighthaven into a great city where their people is reckovering. The Cenarion Circle has moved to Hyjal, which is now neutral territory.
Beyond the night elf-controlled Darkshore, the continent is either Horde or savage. Creatures from Draenor, misplaced during the mag’har extraction, have spread all over the continent. Ashenvale is in a three-way lock between Horde and Night elves. The barrens are terrorized by saberon and gronn.
The Myst Isles have been assaulted by the mag’har, displacing the draenei and collapsing the Exodar. It’s now a place for the mag’har clans, with the draenei, too weakened after the Legion’s end, fleeing into other parts of the continent or Eastern Kingdoms, where they have formed their own towns and cities akin to the ones they lost in Draenor.
In Azshara, Bilgewater Harbor has turned into a major goblin city. Orgrimmar is renewed.
Without Onyxia or Theramore to threaten them, the Stonemaul ogres have thrived in Dustwallow Marsh, rebuilding a glorious city of stony spires in the mountains near the coast.
The lands to the south are the most dangerous ones. Feralas is botani territory, with both ogres and night elves fighting for it. From Uldum, a new threat rises, as the Ama’thet Tol’vir rise in power and moves north.
Eastern Kingdoms: Truly a place for civilization
In contrast to Kalimdor, cities and towns thrive in the Eastern Kingdoms.
Quel’thalas is reckovering from the almost-corruption of the Sunwell. Eversong forest has reckovered, but the Ghostlands still bear taint from the old days.
The Plaguelands have been healed, becoming again the Eastweald. But dark creatures still lurk in the caves and forests.
Lordaeron is in the Alliance’s hands, but the Forsaken dwell in the frigid mountains of Alterac, atop their black necropolis.
Dalaran has landed in its old crater, while the Revantusk tribe conquered Jintha’alor.
Stromgarde has been reborn. Gilneas is retaken.
Way more urban adventures await, and the many kingdoms mean conflict is brewing way more often than it should, as governments threaten each other through politics or war. And the wild places still need to be conquered, as dangers rise from the ruins of the Twilight Bastion or rediscovered titan constructs emerge from the long-forgotten halls of Uldaman.
In the far south, Outland’s denizens are pouring throught the Dark Portal, as that ruined world is no longer able to sustain their increasing populations post-Legion defeat. The cursed Arakkoa are exploring the Swamp of Sorrows and the abandoned lands of Duskwood, as they have found the perfect place to nest: Deadwind Pass.
The broken have mostly fled to draenei settlements, but some, corrupted by despair and the void, start exploring Azeroth in hopes of conquering it.
And New Lands
Even never-before-seen lands could be added, probably in patches. Dragon Isles, the Maisara Hills of the Amani, Plunder Island, Tel’abim.
Imagination is the limit, as we explore a world we thought we knew. These lands are familiar, but they are not the same. Nor they are safe.
So, what do you think?