Archaeology will not receive updates in Shadowlands — and maybe that’s a good thing
Calm down, this does not mean Blizzard is removing Archaeology from the game the way they removed First Aid. Conversely, maybe you should be upset — after Archaeology’s incarnation in Battle for Azeroth, that could mean it is time for it to be taken out completely. Either way, in an interview with French news site Judgehype, Patrick Dawson, Production Director on Shadowlands, stated there would be no updates to Archaeology. That means that what exists now, for all previous expansions, will still be in the game. Just nothing new.
Professions almost always change from expansion to expansion, and all have had their ups and downs. Archaeology has seen some wild changes. It was introduced in Cataclysm without a whole lot to it. There were artifacts that showed up randomly, sending players all over the map. All a player could do was hope the rare item they wanted showed up. Mists of Pandaria tried to even this out by turning in the common relics for fragments of the different races. MOP also had a lot of achievements for completing tons of common artifacts, so they weren’t always terrible to work on. Warlords of Draenor made ample use of the garrison, the mine, and treasures out in the world.
Legion was when Blizzard really revamped the profession. They put a lot of work into it, with World Quests on a rotation, taking out a lot of the randomness with predictability of when each rare relic would be available. Love it or hate, this was a game changer. Then BFA came along and went the opposite way — fewer rewards, nothing truly unique, and a return to random sites. Maybe no Archaeology in Shadowlands is because it doesn’t fit the theme of the expansion. Or maybe it’s because we players complained about both the Legion and BFA versions of the profession, and Blizzard didn’t know what to do with it.
Blizzard admitted Archaeology should maybe have only been around for Cataclysm
Back in 2014, then-Game Director Tom Chilton stated that there are certain systems added to WoW that really should only be there for one expansion and then removed. He used Archaeology as an example, which should have only been around for Cataclysm. This is a sign that this profession is not something that Blizzard wanted to dedicate a lot of time to going forward.
There are a lot of good ideas within Archaeology. It adds flavor by giving little bits of history with items and their description. Professions that can be obtained by any character without reaching their two-profession limit is nice. This is often a great source for a mount, pets, Bind-on-Account items, and occasionally an item for transmog. Mostly it’s a way to kill time in the game, a mindless activity to do when there are no other, larger goals to work on at that moment.
But as a concept, Archaeology does not make a lot of sense in a place like the Shadowlands, which is meant to be the afterlife. Archaeology is for studying the past, to see the remains of history, of times forgotten. The afterlife, meanwhile, is a place meant to be eternal — not filled with evolving cultures, but a place where time doesn’t pass the same way. How does someone study the past of an infinite moment? Blizzard is confirming someone doesn’t.
Blizzard has never quite struck the right balance to find Archaeology’s niche in the game. While Patrick Dawson said it won’t be updated for Shadowlands, all it would take is for everyone to become okay with the new status quo for it to not return in the future. This feels like a part of the game that once it was gone, it might actually be a relief — like Reforging was (for some, at least).
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