With BlizzCon being just two days away I am already feeling the lull in activity. WoW news sites like WoW.com and MMO-Champion seemed to have slowed down a little. A couple of my guildies are going to BlizzCon and severeral others have had work trips that are keeping them a way form the game (could the Blizz employees? coincidence?). Basically my WoW life has slowed down this week. So, with that I am going to talk about some of the leaks and rumors that have been floating around.
Reliability of the Leaks: (Link to all of the leaks. Spoiler Alert)
There has been a lot of controversy over the reliability of the leaks. For this post to work I have to assume that they are true for the most part, and to be honest I do believe most of what MMO Champion and WoW.com posted on this subject.
Both sites survive based upon their ability to provide wow related news. If they put out bogus information it hurts their credibility. If you lose credibility people stop reading and your profitability goes down. These guys do not want to lose their jobs. Therefore they are going to think twice about posting such high profile information as this.
On top of that it is quite possible that blizzard purposely leaked some of this information. It creates buzz before Blizzard's biggest event of the year. It gives the players time to come up with good questions regarding the changes before the panel discussions and allows some of the hot heads to cool down before the event.
Being sceptical if fine in my opinion. I have no problem with people waiting for an official announcement. That said, in game information supports some of the conclusions made, and there is no evidence that makes the leaks obviously wrong. So, I am assuming they are correct for now.
The safest assumption to me seems to be the addition of two new races. Blizzard has been hinting indirectly that two new races will be added. With the addition of the new Halloween masks in the PTR patches those two races seem to be Goblin's and Worgen.
I am not big on WoW lore but these two choices seem to make sense giving some of the things Blizzard has said and assuming that the Cataclysm is indeed the next expansion. Blizzard has said in the past that they would use a race already established in WoW, and didn't like how Draenei came out of left field. On top of that Blizzard hinted that the Graymane Wall would be coming down in the next expansion. Since the kingdom behind the Graymane Wall was a part of the Alliance in the past and they had a Worgen problem. It makes sense that Worgen would be the new Alliance race. I don't have a problem with this one.
I do have a little bit of an issue with Goblins being a playable race. From what I understand it is a solid choice from a lore perspective. They were highly affected by the first Cataclysm and would probably be affected by the second as well. My issue is with all of the neutral goblin cities scattered around. What happens to these cities in the expansion? A lot of the original ones are likely to change in some way or be eliminated, but my guess is the ones that survive will remain neutral. Its not unusual to interact with races from the opposite faction if they are apart of another group like the Centurian Circle, but it just feels strange to me.
I'm sure Gavlon at Greedy Goblin would be happy for this addition. It would be especially nice if one of their racials was to decrease the AH commission that Blizz takes on AH sales.
New Race/Class Combinations:
This seems to be what is stirring up the most controversy. First off all, I think there is some very solid information to suggest that this is coming. MMO Champion may not have all the combinations correct, but I expect that there will be some changes. The new quest in Thunder Bluff point to Taurens being more balanced and focusing on the Sun. This hints at Taurens picking up "light" based classes like Paladins and Priests. Then there is the Highborne Archmage seeking an audience with Tyrande. This is a good indication that Night Elvs will pick up Mages.
Again, I am not a big lore person, but WoW.com has a great post exploring all of the new possibilities from a lore perspective. I recommend that anyone interested in this topic check it out.
I like this change if it comes to be. The original 8 races have had the same race/class combinations for almost 5 years now, and I don't like how I am force to play a particular race if I want to play a specific class. I didn't really want to be a Night Elf but I wanted to be a druid so the choice was made. When I rolled my Shaman I didn't want to be a Draenei because I already had one, but the choice was already made. I know plenty of people on the horde side that hate Blood Elves, but they were forced to roll one because they wanted to be a Pally. Having Troll Druids will be a little strange, but it makes sense to me from a game play perspective and the post I linked above makes a good lore arguement as well.
Classic Azeroth Revamp:
Lets be honest. Classic Azeroth is dead.
The game is almost 5 years old and the game has changed a lot during that time. With the addition of flying mounts, phasing, and general design philosophy changes, Classic Azeroth feels very old and uninviting.
On top of that, most of the players are at the max level with their main toons. As I've leveled my Mage and Shaman its impossible to not notice how dead each of the zones are. If I do a /who in a particular zone I'm lucky to find 10 people. This means there is little competition while leveling, but it also makes leveling a very isolating process. Since this is an MMO, isolation is not a strength.
Therefore, I think revamping how we level is a good move. One of the key issues with Azeroth is that the zones have a wide level range and you have to fly all over the place to get to a level approriate area. I don't think any one likes having to got to STV then Desolace then STV then Tanaris the STV again. The way that Outland and Northrend were designed with fairly clear leveling paths has been very nice. I don't think it will happen, but I really liked the idea of Leveling servers. I would love to do Deadmines and Scarlet Monastery while leveling, but I don't get a chance to anymore because it takes forever to find a group. A leveling server could fix this but I don't think it will happen because it sounds difficult to do technically.
What I really like about a Classic Azeroth Revamp is them taking a look at some of the dead zones around the map. There is a lot of space around Azeroth that is't being used, alot of doors that go no where, and they have all been there since the release of the game. I really hope that they do take a look at place like Uldum, Grim Batol, Hyjal, and all of the other empty zones on the map. I also think it will be great to look at all these zones with the help of phasing. It will also be great to finally be able to fly in Azeroth. I don't take my 80s to Azeroth often, but running ona mount just sucks.
What I don't like about a possible Azeroth Revamp is bring back the old instance but adjusting them for a higher level. I understand why some players want this. I loved running Deadmines, and it might be fun to do it a gain at max level, but the novelty will wear off quick.
Lets use Naxx as an example. In vanilla WoW, Naxx was often sited as one of the best instances that Blizzard had created. The world's top guilds sung its praises, the only problem was very few players saw it. So, Blizzard brings it back in WotLK. I think this was an intellegent move.
The problem is that when they brought it back it was already 2.5 years old. Blizzard got better at designing instances, Players got better at fighting bosses, but from what I'm told Naxx stayed pretty much the same. They had to change some things with the fights because they were only possible in a 40man environment, but the basic fight mechanics were the same.
Now when I compare Naxx to the TBC and the other WotLK dungons I've done it is clearly behind the times. Compare any Naxx fight to the raid bosses in Ulduar or almost any encounter in TBC and you will clearly see that the Naxx fights are simpler. Honestly, compare any fight in Naxx to Shade of Aran, Netherspite, or Prince Malchezaar, and tell me which is more complex and harder when done at the approriate level and with the appropriate gear.
In my opinion, those Kara fights were much tougher then anything we saw in Naxx. So, my worry is that if they just bring up some of the old raids and 5mans up to the current level but using the exact same fight mechanics then they will just be gimmicky instances that aren't a change the way they should be. If they completely rework the fights and make them more complex then I may change my opinion, but if Naxx is any indication then I have a lot to worry about.
These aren't all that bold but given the information above here are some of the other things that I think will happen.
- Worgens will be able to be Druids. It just makes sense from multiple perspectives. First off, if trolls can be Druids but not Worgen then Horde would have a choice but Allaince would not. Second, the most defining feature of Druids is that they are shapeshifters. Worgen are based off of Werewolves and are shapeshifters themselves according to MMO champion. Third, much of Druid magic and lore is based around the moon. I am reaching a little bit here werewolf lore is heavily based around the moon. So it is reasonable to think that Worgen might have a special connection to the moon and be able to pick up Druidic powers.
- We will get new Moonkin Models in the new expansion. Since Blizzard has aready redone the cat and bear models it would make sense that the other forms are not far behind. Blizzard already has to create new models for the trolls and possibly worgen since the current models are heavily based upon Night Elf and Tauren design. It's possible that they won't have the time to get it done but I suspect since they already have to do the new races from scratch that they will just go ahead and do all of the forms.
- There will be no new Hero Class. Part of me wonders if Blizzard regrets creating Death Knights. The seem to have been a real pain to balance and I wonder if they caused more issues then they were worth. On top of that where does Blizzard go now? They are a lot mroe creative then I am, but it can't be easy coming up with a new class that is unique from the existing classes but still balanced and viable. Personally, I wouldn't be surprised if the Death Knight is the only Hero Class we ever see.
- There will be no new professions. A new profession was introduced with each of the past expansions but I don't think we will see one with the next expansion. Again, what would it be. I don't know what type of gear a new profession could craft or what type of modifires it could create. That said, if they do create a new profession, I hope Leather working is the primary supplyer for it. There are not enough uses for leather.