For quite awhile I have thought not. I have been thinking of it running from WoD right into Legion with the movie all wrapped up with a nice bow. But I was thinking this morning. What if we have been looking at it all wrong. Yes certainly they had a lot of expectations that due to technical hurdles just never quite worked out, design goals seemed to clash with player desire, the list may not be endless, but it sure is long. But what if they have reworked the entire expansion not in an effort to salvage it, but more of a means for those new players that have just gone to see the movie.
Ok, bear with me because I am writing with no notes or even an outline of a train of through.
So you are Jack and Diane, two American kids, from New Jersey. Bet you thought I was gonna say Heartland. ;p You went to see Warcraft, you have heard for years that World of Warcraft is this huge game that has been around for years. So you decide to give it a try. You possibly even got a free copy of the game because you saw it the opening week, maybe even got a free trial edition just for seeing the movie. Does anyone recall how AOL flooded our mail boxes with their software? I would not be surprised at how simple it would be to burn off 10 million discs. But I digress. Ok, so you have the game installed, you have played some character to level 20, you both fall in love with the game, and decide to subscribe.
Oh, what is this, you get a free level 100 boost. A chance to start right off. And where would you be. You would be in Draenor, the land you saw in the movie that the Orcs escaped from. Ohhh this is exciting, you are playing the game just like the movie. The leveling experience would be much faster, number 1 you would already be a level 100, so initial zones would be not much of a challenge to a veteran player, but would be an excellent starting point for a new player to get a feel for playing their character, learning how to move and fight. By the time you made your way all the way through all of the zones if they so chose, they would probably be about level 102, and hitting Tannan would have them in some half way decent gear to venture into Old Azeroth and off to fight the legion.
If the expansion had the level of content that we saw in previous, did not have a level 100 boost, anyone brand new would be looking at, WTF, holy crap, I have to level to 110 from nothing? Oh screw this, it will take 5evar. We all know that there is a vast story in the old zones, many of us have witnessed it as it was released. But to have to do it all from scratch, especially as a new player, could prove to be a mountain many would not climb. I recall when I first saw my wife in game. We chose a sever flagged new players, because we thought that was where you started the game. Seeing people all level 1-20 was her first experience, because Borean Tundra was a New Server. No one had anything. Granted, those that had 4 years of playing made quick work of leveling fast since they knew where to go, what to do, how to get there. Even if they had no access to stockpiles of resources. They quickly got to level 80, and it did not occur to us that it could be that fast. I helped her look up quests, she completed entire zones. And she made it. Looking back at that experience, I don’t know if I could do that again, if the end goal was where we are now.
I have said on a few occasions that I felt this expansion became a testing bed for ideas. And I think that may be a lot truer than I have thought in the past. If they knew how bad it could possibly be, how much of a hit they were going to take, would it not make sense to try out every idea they have had for improvements, methods for gearing, system ideas, work out gear scaling for Timewalker dungeons, which when you think on it, for people that have skipped a great deal of content, how could you expose them to the older stuff, while allowing them to keep current…Hmmm.
I would not be surprised if at some point in the future, we saw Timewalker raids. Queue up for a classic battle, 40 player AQ, this weekend only, have a chance to win the Quiraj Battle mount usable in the rest of the world. How many of us would be chomping at the bit as it were to get that.
Blizzard is not a dumb company. I am certain that they are as upset over how this expansion played out as any of us. Deep down, I do believe they want to create awesome games. That they can make a decent living doing so is a bonus. I have a lot of hope, and a bit of fear over the focus of Legion, and the future of WoW. And I hope all of the testing and research they may have done this past year pays off. I want to be one of those able to say, I have played for 10 years, longer even.