Why can’t we go one expansion without wrecking up the joint?
It feels sometimes like we, as World of Warcraft players, never go anywhere in game where we aren’t either just preceding or just following utter disaster. If we show up in an area and that area looks lovely and picturesque, you can count the hours before there’s a giant crack in the ground erupting in unspeakable horrors. There’s gonna be demons or void horrors falling from the sky, the chances of a giant sword stabbing the entire planet have just gone way up — it gets to feeling like those guys wandering around major cities with sandwich boards heralding the end of the world are talking about us. While so far Shadowlands looks to be an amazing expansion, I can’t help but notice that even in the land of the dead, everywhere I go mishap follows.
Now, I’m not complaining that I get to go on adventures. Adventures are great! They’re why I play the game. But I do find myself thinking that maybe, just as a change of pace, we could have an expansion where the entire world wasn’t about to end.
I’ve spent my WoW career essentially reeling from disaster to disaster like a St. Patrick’s Day reveler burning through pubs on a bar crawl. The Burning Legion threatened to come through the Dark Portal so we went to Outland to stop them, then the Lich King threatened to unleash the Scourge so we went to Northrend to stop it, then Deathwing threatened to blow up the world so we went everywhere to stop him. The Horde and Alliance fought a resource war in Pandaria that led us to an invasion of Orcs from another timeline, so I went to Draenor to stop that, and then the Burning Legion did invade Azeroth so I went to Argus to stop that, which led to the Horde and Alliance fighting another resource war that saw my homeland scarred and my people burned to death.
Can we just take a break?
Like, seriously, I need a vacation. I don’t know if my video game is supposed to leave me feeling stressed out and exhausted, but considering that life does a pretty great job of that already, I’m thinking that after Shadowlands an expansion where we’re less like plumber trying desperately to get ahead of a full on toilet explosion and more like sightseers or explorers would be great.
So what would we do in such an expansion? Would it be boring? Would it be just us wandering around oohing and aahing at the scenery? Of course not. For one thing, I doubt we have the capacity to not unleash havoc as soon as we arrive anywhere. Plop our characters down on an island with no weapons or armor and we’d have killed a bunch of local monsters and fashioned their hides and shockingly huge fangs and claws into armaments and ridiculous garb to transmog over as soon as we get our yak mount out. But here are a few ideas for how we could have a World of Warcraft expansion without literally spending an entire expansion waiting for the end of the world.
What else could we do?
For a setting all about war, World of Warcraft has grown a great deal over the course of its existence. The tiny nation of Stormwind (or Stonewind, if you believe one Warcraft map from the early early days) fought some Orcs who were coming in from a Dark Portal and that was about it for Warcraft for the first game. Fast forward 25 years later, and we’ve got four big continents and several large island chains on Azeroth, plus the shattered lands of Outland, several of the elemental planes (we visit the Firelands, Deepholme and both the Abyssal Maw and Skywall in dungeons) and not only Argus but several other words invaded by the Burning Legion. The setting has grown, and the places available to us have become far broader in scope. Heck, we actually went to another Draenor, one that hadn’t blown up yet.
Imagine a World of Warcraft expansion that just handed us a boat and said go exploring, kids. Maybe Magni shows up and says Azeroth wants us to go to some entirely new place we’ve literally never heard of, or maybe the Ethereals show up offering us a wild ride through a series of portals into a part of the cosmos we’ve never been or even heard of, one not on any maps or cosmology charts in Chronicle. Strange new lands with hostile alien biomes, vast new civilizations and cultures for us to meet and maybe help out with their problems (as long as those problems are not caused by us for once) and maybe we stumble into the threat of a mysterious dark lord or hive mind or what have you, sure, that kind of thing happens. I mean, it’s us, I give our chances of stumbling across a malevolent force that’s been waiting to conquer everything for millennia at about 97%.
But really, an expansion that was at least as much about going new places and seeing new things and not about how everything we know and love could be destroyed at a moment’s notice would be just… it would be really nice. I feel like it’s time for a World of Warcraft that takes a break from, well, that world and its constant teetering on the brink for just a little while.
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