The Queue: Not ahead of the curve
I’m basically never ahead of the curve, and I’ve learned to live with that. In fact, I’m pretty much always behind the curve. (And where is this curve, anyway? I’m probably really behind it.) But what’s there to do about it? It’s either carve a bunch more hours of playtime out of a packed schedule or live with it. I do the latter.
Does anyone else get the feeling that Battle for Azeroth is almost like a quasi-reboot of the lore? Not a full on “we are ignoring the old stuff” reboot, but a reshifting of the current narrative pace.
To clarify: It is making the game a little more like Vanilla where it doesn’t seem to have a giant big-bad and is more about the internal affairs of the world.
I feel like the expansion after BfA will be an internal, Azeroth-based threat; the new Lich King, for example. Maybe after that they’re going to go external again with the Old Gods or the Void.
I actually really like the idea of them reestablishing a new escalation instead of just one-upping each giant, world-ending threat every expansion.
Honestly, this had to happen at some point. With each expansion throwing bigger and badder enemies at us, the scope of the story simply starts to get ridiculous. What kind of big bad could they throw at us that would be worse than the Burning Legion invading Azeroth? Sure, there’s an argument to be made for the Old Gods, but then where do you go from there? How do you keep escalating? Eventually the game had to put the brakes on and rethink the storyline.
And now instead of external threats, we’ll have internal ones. There have been plenty of problems back home that we’ve ignored while off fighting any and every villain that’s come knocking on our door… and in Battle for Azeroth, they’re finally coming back to haunt us. The tension between the Horde and Alliance has never gone away, but instead has been left to fester while we’ve dealt with other things.
I don’t entirely feel this is a Vanilla thing, though maybe. In Vanilla, WoW was just getting started and figuring things out… it’s the expansions that have really started this cycle of dropping everything to fight the latest world-ending threat. Now we have to come home and deal with our problems… and none of them appear to be easily solved.
If nothing else, it will be a refreshing change of pace.
Probably a dumb question but, will the four new races start at level one? Will they each have a new starting zone?
I assume we’re talking about Allied Races here, and — good news! — there are actually going to be six of them. Once you’ve unlocked an Allied Race (which you’ll do through some vaguely unspecified activity, likely involving questing and reputation farming on your main), you can make a new character of this race that starts at level 20.
We don’t have details on where they’ll wind up or how they’ll get there, but I expect there must be some kind of starting experience, even if it’s just a cinematic. Since Blizzard is adding six new races, I doubt it will be as extensive as the Death Knight or Pandaren starting zones, but it has to be something, at least. It would be weird if you created a new character and they were dropped into the Barrens by parachute. There has to be at least a bit of explanation about how they’ve come to be where they are. A starting cinematic that gives a bit of story before dropping them in Stormwind or Orgrimmar’s embassy might give just enough story cohesion without making Allied Races a huge development burden — and since they’re adding six of them, I can’t imagine there are resources to flesh each out in a big way.
So, yes, I suspect we’ll have some kind of starting experience… but probably nothing with a lot of depth.
If there’s some kind of cosmetic bauble we could earn in current WoW by trying Classic, what kind of shiny thing would you like? And how far would you go in Classic to get it? (Similar examples might be playing 15 Heroes games for a WoW mount, or winning 3 PvP matches in Hearthstone for a WoW mount.)
Mounts are always great, as are battle pets, and I wouldn’t mind leveling to 10 or 15 for that. I’d also enjoy a snarky title in Current for dinging 60 in Classic, like “Walked Uphill in Snow, Both Ways”.
Personally, I’d like to see armor appearances you pick up in Classic WoW transfer over to your primary account. (Because, obviously, there won’t be transmog in Classic, right? The crazy, mismatched armor is half the fun!) Letting us unlock transmogs that are hard to get or don’t even exist anymore would provide a cool bonus without forcing anyone to play if they didn’t really want to. I think it would be an awesome perk.
However, I really like that title idea, too. “Faience Walked Uphill in the Snow Both Ways” sounds pretty awesome, don’t you think?
I just read an article claiming Blizzard and Overwatch are the reason nearly every publisher has now included Lootboxes into their AAA games. Do you think that this is a fair assessment? Or is Morheim right in claiming they have the ‘good’ system, while everyone else implements lootboxes in bad ways?
While the random loot box thing is kind of new, I think microtransactions have been around too long to really blame them on Blizzard. The first one I remember was back in 2006 when Bethesda decided to sell some cosmetic armor for horses in Elder Scrolls: Oblivion. It created a firestorm of controversy because, obviously, $2.50 was too much to pay for a cosmetic item.
Oh, those were simpler times. Today we pay $25 for mounts in WoW, and have been since the introduction of the sparklepony back in 2010.
Random loot boxes have been around for a while, too… at least according to what I just looked up on Wikipedia:
The first known instance of a loot box system is believed to be the Chinese free-to-play game ZT Online (or simply Zhengtu) released in 2007 by the Zhengtu Network. Players in Asian countries typically do not have the funds to purchase full-cost titles, and use Internet cafes or PC bangs to play the game for free, or resort to copyright infringement to obtain copies of games for free. Instead of trying to change this approach, Asian games like ZT Online introduced loot boxes as a means to assure monetization from a game that they would otherwise not receive revenue from the base sale. Within a year, Zhengtu Network reported monthly revenue from ZT Online exceeding $15 million, justifying the profitability of this scheme.
(I also miss the simpler times when I didn’t know what the word monetization meant.)
The problem is… loot boxes and other microtransactions make companies money, and as long as they do, companies are going to keep doing them. I personally loathe loot boxes. If I’m going to spend money on something, I want to know what I’m spending it on before I buy it. Same with blind boxed things… but the joy of opening boxes, physical or otherwise, and getting random stuff you may or may not want is apparently a thing these days. I wish it weren’t, but it is.
Still, I don’t think you can blame Blizzard on this. Overwatch, Hearthstone, and Heroes of the Storm all do the loot box thing, but Blizzard hardly invented it. And as long as we keep buying, Blizzard — and other companies — will keep selling.
I know that nothing has been said really about communities, but as someone who has had no luck finding a good fit for an active guild, I was wondering your thoughts on what you would like for communities. I’d like late-nite dungeons and casual RP communities.
There are so many things to do in World of Warcraft, which means that nearly every player has their own unique set of game goals. This makes it tough — or even impossible — to find a group that fits in with exactly what you want to do.
Even though communities expand the number of players you can connect with and add new tools to organize those players, I think finding those players is still going to be the hard part. Late night dungeons and casual RP both sound like things plenty of players will be interested in — the question is how you’ll find them, how you can make sure they’re a good fit for you, and how they’ll be organized. Will you wind up running those late night dungeons with a friendly bunch of folks or will you be running through in the same total silence (or worse than silence) you’d run in if you used LFG? Having fun in the game is all about finding the right group, and I suspect that could still be tough with communities.
Still, we only have the sketchiest details on what communities are or how they’ll be organized. Maybe there will be tools to make them easy to organize and easy to join. Or maybe they’ll just be guilds 2.0, requiring a lot of work to manage and often falling apart as leadership comes to odds. The fact is we just don’t know. I certainly hope they’ll help make everyone’s playtime a bit more fun, but I suspect you’ll still have to do some hunting to find the right group to play with… just like with guilds.
(My advice: ask for recommendations from friends. That’s how I’ve always found the best players to hang out with.)
That’s all for today, folks. I’m out next week so I think you’ll probably be stuck with Mitch next Wednesday. I know, I know, you’re probably all broken up by it. (Try not to encourage him too much. It goes straight to his head.)
But until then, please keep commenting and questioning. Anne will be in tomorrow to answer your questions, so now’s the time to break out those tough lore issues you need answers to.
Until next time, Queuevians!
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