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WoWJan 4, 2022 5:00 pm CT

What if player housing in WoW let us help each other fix the world of Azeroth?

World of Warcraft players have been debating the merits of player housing since the game came out in 2004. I’m generally a supporter of the concept, but I think it needs to be more than just a place players can go hang out and decorate when they’re not doing other things — although I certainly think it should contain those aspects as well. But player housing in WoW needs to be more than just a place.

So how could a player housing system be implemented in World of Warcraft — a game that will be turning 18 this year — in a way that works? By focusing on World of Warcraft and the legacy of the game’s history — after 18 years, places like Gilneas, Theramore, Teldrassil, and Undercity have been destroyed and lost to us, and many other locations are in a state of limbo. Has anything been done to reclaim locations like Gnomeregan or the Barrens since Cataclysm?

What if player housing wasn’t just a means to give players a place to park their characters, but actually served to develop the story of the game and reclaim these lost places?

Make the next WoW expansion all about rebuilding

The fallout from the past 18 years of playing World of Warcraft is that much of the known world — the continents of the Eastern Kingdoms, Kalimdor, Northrend, Pandaria, and the Broken Isles — are in dire shape. The Goblins have effectively lost Kezan, and we just spent an expansion barely holding Zandalar and Kul Tiras in any sort of shape. Letting players merely be housed instead of letting player housing be the means by which players fix the world is short-sighted.

Imagine taking the lessons of previous expansions and designing a system from the ground up that let us pick a location in a devastated region of Azeroth and work to rebuild it. Perhaps you could head back to Theramore Island and start a homestead, with mechanics to pacify wild animals and even monsters that have settled the ruins, deal with the fallout from the mana bomb, and gradually return the place to a livable condition — or maybe you could instead do the same in Teldrassil or Undercity or Kezan? There are a lot of locations in WoW that could use fixing.

Furthermore, making it so everyone’s homestead isn’t as strictly instanced could help keep players engaged in the world in a way that Garrisons didn’t. Perhaps housing could have hub regions and place the homesteads in shared areas, so that you would see players coming and going from their own homes. If the player homestead is part of a city that needs to be rebuilt or reclaimed in some way like Teldrassil or even Grim Batol, that would allow the homestead to become a social hub not a place you’re sealed away in.

The activities of the homestead would be based on that rebuilding process: you gather materials, strike down threats to the reclamation process, even get out there and work to build new structures and otherwise make a new start. Mages could have their Water Elemental help cleanse a befouled stream, Warlocks could enlist their burliest Demons to help clear debris, Paladins could cleanse the remnants of the city’s destruction, etc etc. None of this would generate much in the way of gold, so it wouldn’t affect the economy much — but it would take the ideas we’ve seen in Covenant sanctums and class order halls and the Garrisons and combine them, without making them grinds. You’re not required to do these things, but if you want to do them, perhaps they grant cosmetic rewards, special buildings on your homestead, or other fun perks.

In any housing system, personalization must be part of the plan

One thing I really liked about Garrisons was that they had different buildings you could put up, and I thinking homesteads like this should have a variety of specific structures you can build. None of these should be game power related — not even stuff like a personal Auction House or what have you. But a Hall of Trophies that let you put in a transmog vendor and view your various looks on dummies? Absolutely perfect. Let players decide on a theme for their homestead. Back in Warlords, players wanted the ability to customize the Garrison to look like a Blood Elf tower or a Draenei enclave, so make that kind of customization part and parcel of homesteads.

There are lots of activities that could be built into a homestead system. Perhaps customization options are linked to raids and dungeons and other activities, or perhaps players could gather looks through solo activities like a scenario or mini-dungeon that let them descend into a lost ruined section of the city underneath these homesteads to deal with threats, ala Torghast. This could even be a way to bring Mage Tower style content back into the game, making the threats to the city’s resettlement into special hard mode bosses to be confronted for transmog looks and homestead customizations.

suramar skyline

Make our homes feel like part of the world

I said before that I think it would be a good idea to link this feature to places in the world that you have to travel to. I also feel like your homestead should give you reasons to leave it. The Garrison tried this with locations you’d be sent to, and I think it’s worth considering how to make that work here. Decentralizing the feature would also be useful. For example, letting players choose from a variety of places that need to be recovered in some way, so maybe your homestead is in Gilneas while someone else’s homestead is in Teldrassil or Grim Batol or Undercity.

One possibility is a mission table system, but not one where you send your followers off to fight and find out the next day how it went. Instead, a mission table that sends you out, to engage in missions in various parts of Azeroth, Draenor, and Outland — not just the place where you are rebuilding, but to assist people in other formerly destroyed locations, the other players using the system. Imagine going to find someone with the expertise to help you cleanse the land, or going forth to destroy a monster before it comes to attack you. You could have missions designed around saving refugees and convincing them to come settle on your homestead, helping them and yourself at the same time.

And if players want a huge obsidian throne to sit in, or their own Altar of Storms, make sure they have to leave the homestead to get it. Customization should absolutely be linked to actually playing the game — if you never leave the homestead it’ll never have the coolest options to play dress up with the buildings. You want a Nightborne theme to your homestead? Better go finish up the Suramar questline from Legion.

Our homes in World of Warcraft need to be a living, breathing part of World of Warcraft, not a static instance that’s locked away.

So that’s my idea for a player housing — or homestead — system: something that absolutely gives you a place to live, but also gives you a stake in events outside of that home. Now it’s your time to tell me all the ways it’s a terrible idea — I promise I won’t mind — and suggest your much better alternatives in the comments.

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