Monday, November 19, 2012

Speculation on next expansion and WoW

This post is about my personal speculation regarding the next expansion of World of Warcraft and the game itself. It is, by no means, confirmed by anyone. Some spoilers of current and upcoming events of Mists of Pandaria are also included. My speculations do not reflect my preferences.

Not too long ago, Rob Pardo posted on his Twitter that the expansion after Mists of Pandaria will be awesome. He's been working on Project Titan and according to himself, has now prioritised in the development of the next World of Warcraft expansion. He was last really involved with WoW in Wrath of the Lich King.

Since we now know there will be another expansion after Mists of Pandaria, it's hard not to think about what it could be, although I want to focus on MoP and enjoy it to its fullest. There are two things that lead me to one particular direction when it comes to speculating the subject of the new expansion. First of all, the war between the Alliance and the Horde has went on for years and years. Certainly there are political conflicts all over the world, but Azeroth must be advancing towards a "modern era" as well. I have no idea whether people are generally bored with the 'Alliance vs. Horde' concept, but I feel that there could be a change in that. Since the war between the two factions will culminate in the end of MoP, they could find a peaceful solution of some sort after realising what kind of extreme actions they're forced to take on. Second hint comes from prince Anduin Wrynn. At the Temple of the White Tiger in Kun-Lai Summit, he assures Xuen the White Tiger that the old disagreements will be forgotten - not exactly with those words, but you get the message.

At this point, which is obviously very early, I think that in the expansion to come the Alliance and the Horde will unite, and there will be a whole new faction. What this new faction could be, I have no clue. What it would mean for PvP, I have no clue about either, but for now I go with this idea. Blizzard appears to have some new (old) ideas for PvP, including large battlegrounds like Alterac Valley and Isle of Conquest. The huge maps and all the possible activities on those battlegrounds don't really shine with their full potential in their current 'speed victory' form.

In case the post-MoP expansion is planned by Blizzard as the last expansion to World of Warcraft, it could have something to do with the Burning Crusade, Sargeras and that kind of stuff. They've already told us of Illidan's return - of which we will probably learn more with the warlock questline coming up in 5.1. All in all, it would be extremely difficult to come up with a successful, unplanned ending to a game with as much history and lore as WoW has. So, will it be the last expansion of WoW? It may very well be. The possibility is high. But for as long as WoW continues to have a subscriber base of 10 million, Blizzard will likely not stop making expansions. Heck, even 1/10 of that would still be a million, which is crazy! That's like 1/6 of the citizens of Finland playing World of Warcraft. As for now, the number is nearly two times the citizens of Finland.

We have to face a few facts though. Because the game is simply so old, it's beginning to have some difficulties keeping up with newer MMORPGs such as Guild Wars 2 when it comes to mechanics. Due to the engine itself getting old, some have mentioned 'WoW2'. Could that ever happen? I personally think it depends mostly on how much Blizzard wants to do it, pretty much like with Mists of Pandaria. A ton of people thought it was a really lame idea, but they went for it, and it came out, to my mind, very good. A subscription-based game itself is quite old-fashioned in today's online gaming, so if World of Warcraft manages to have 10 million subscribers in its current state, I feel that a free, or even just a cheaper version of it would have more players. Would Blizzard ever decrease the amount of financial commitment involved in WoW, while not decreasing the quality of the game one way or another?

Dubiety is not a pleasant state, but at this point we have no other option but to wait and see what happens. I have faith in Blizzard, and even though money appears to be particularly important to them, I trust that they will treat their customers fairly and with the respect they deserve after so many years of supporting the company. With these thoughts I wish you all an excellent week!

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