Where can World of Warcraft go from here?

It’s 2012.

The end of the world hasn’t happened, although in a bizarre sweep, Snooki was elected the first female U.S. President.

World of Warcraft’s population has dwindled a bit and is increasingly antsy for the next expansion, which Blizzard promises will land this year.

The only question is, where can WoW go from the Cataclysm?

A better question: Will Blizzard ever be as gutsy with their flagship game as they were with the previous expansion?

Without fail, every time an expansion or major patch lands for an MMO, I’m already thinking about the next one.  WoW players’ eyes are full to the brim of Cataclysm right now, but the newness will wear off and future-vision will become the norm once more.  People will start to wonder what direction Blizzard will take WoW, particularly as the trend of an expansion being merely 10 levels added to the cap with a new race or class has been — somewhat — shaken up.

Of course, I don’t know any more than you, but I have a few thoughts:

1. Blizzard is probably going to revert back to the 10 new end game levels scheme (bringing it up to 95!).  The company isn’t that well-known for horizontal advancement, and I see no reason they’re going to diverge from what’s treated them well.  The company’s probably satisfied that the 1-85 experience is roughly on par, quality-wise, with all of its parts, and that means less reworking and more additions.

2. There will probably be a single new hero class, because enough already with the sole Death Knight.

3. If Blizzard is daring, then it’ll do something to change the landscape even more, such as overlaying Azeroth with the Emerald Dream (twin worlds occupying the same basic landscape) and allowing players to flip back and forth between them.  If Blizzard isn’t, then it’ll add another continent.

4. One of Blizzard’s key M.O.s is that it monitors the field for successful features and then swipes them for WoW.  The only question is what has already or will catch Blizzard’s eye between now and then.  Dynamic events?  Better PvP?  Popcap games?  …oh wait.

5. Finally, I think Blizzard’s going to capitulate on a player-demanded feature that they’ve had a long stance against (you know, like allowing players to fly in Azeroth), such as housing or snow tubing or player-created missions/dungeons.

18 thoughts on “Where can World of Warcraft go from here?

  1. prenden2 December 1, 2010 / 4:24 pm

    1: I’d imagine that they’ll advance the cap by another 5 levels; 100 seems to be the end-point for the game in my estimation.

    2: I reckon they’ll alternate between new races and a new class in expansions from here.

    3: The impression I got from their Cataclysm philosophy was to establish a solid base from which to direct the rest of the series. I doubt they’ll change Azeroth — save for Northrend — after Cataclysm.

    4: I have nothing to add here. Perhaps SW:TOR might have some interesting features.

    5: Re Housing: Never say never, but it seems unlikely to me. As for 3rd party content, it would be an inglorious death-rattle for the series in my opinion.

  2. Wilhelm2451 December 1, 2010 / 4:25 pm

    Player created battleground maps. That is where it will be at. Or not.

  3. Battle Priestess December 1, 2010 / 4:27 pm

    1: Perhaps… I’d argue that they’ll stick with the 5 level increases from here out (they have at least two more expansions slated, and they need plenty of room to grow), but it’s a 50/50 chance either way.
    2: Agreed!
    3: Agreed!
    4: Music System?? Yes Please! (but sadly, not likely) Maybe full voice-overs for the Emerald Dream? FPS-style quests? Maybe they’ll re-visit the draenei and we’ll all get magical spaceships of our own complete with in-game combat?
    5: My bet is on an Appearance Tab. There’s too many players asking for it, and too many other MMOs doing it, for Blizz not to eventually break down and put it in.

    Honestly, I think Blizzard will start to add more fluff. More pets, more mounts, sure. But Appearance Tabs, Housing, Wardrobes, Mini-Games, etc.

  4. rowan December 1, 2010 / 4:58 pm

    After all the “meh” about Cataclysm I have been feeling. It has been cool to see the see changes to the landscape, and a little bit of questing with the most recent patch. I am interested to see what comes next, though; since like many, I don’t see myself going through another gear grind at 85, and will probably unsub once I top out my main and get some alts through the altered and new content.

  5. Efithor December 1, 2010 / 5:43 pm

    In terms of lore, most of the Warcraft world’s loose ends have been tied up. The Orc’s homeworld has been explored, Arthas has been dealt with, and Deathwing wont last long against the legions of player wanting loot. If the next expansion is not Emerald Dream, then we could expect to see an entirely new piece of lore emerge, or the beginnings of Sagras’s fall (The Warcraft universe’s big bad). If Sagras is killed, however, it would mean that the Warcraft story is complete, as he is responsible, in a direct or indirect way, for every problem in the World of Warcraft.

  6. Tesh December 1, 2010 / 7:50 pm

    WoW F2P. Talk about a cataclysm.

  7. kaozz December 1, 2010 / 8:26 pm

    I agree with a hero class (something with heals). They have to give us something new, so a class would probably be more due than another new race, since we are getting new races this expansion.

    As for housing I can see it, in a few years when the game starts to slow down, it’s a wild card they can hold onto. Look at Everquest, 11 years later and we now have housing!!! Although I would have utilized it more so many years ago.

  8. Dblade December 2, 2010 / 3:18 am

    They can shut down so we can finally get the genre back and not be dominated by one game desperately lurching along like a zombie.

  9. Pierre Christensen December 2, 2010 / 4:59 am

    Path of the Titans, Dance Studio, New Racials, The Emerald Dream, The Naga Empire with Queen Aszhara are just a few things that gets to my mind. I don’t think they’re running out of oil just yet 🙂

  10. Dril December 2, 2010 / 8:37 am

    @Dblade: and give in to people who think Darkfall and EVE are both innovators and interesting? No thanks.

  11. Drew December 2, 2010 / 9:16 am

    I think 1 and 2 leaves us with two more planned expansions (one to 90 + hero class, the second to 100 – surely that’s the stopping point, right?).

    And 3 (and by extension 4) could be pulled from FFXI, who did something similar to that already. So that seems like a distinct possibility.

    I think 5 happens when WoW goes F2P in like 2016; they can sell cosmetic upgrades to your house. 😉

  12. We Fly Spitfires December 2, 2010 / 11:37 am

    I think/hope/pray that Blizzard will re-do the original character models. The Draenei, BE, Worgen and Goblins look great as do some of the new NPCs and the old models look crap in comparison. They need to be updated with higher polygon counts and new faces etc.

  13. Malcolm December 2, 2010 / 7:19 pm

    -Model updates
    -I’m gonna be daring, they’ll either do 2 more expansions (90, 100 – or 95, 100), or one large expansion to wrap up their ol Betsy game client.
    -No more races, soo..
    -Another hero class
    -If Emerald Dream is dealt with, it would be a single continent. How Azeroth once was, but ‘greenified’. It is a blueprint after all.
    -If its two expansions, then content with the naga, dream, etc etc first
    -If its one, it would be content to at least strongly deal with Sargeras, Burning Legion, and maybe Old Gods

    I don’t really care though.

  14. Dril December 3, 2010 / 1:47 am

    Three expansions.

    85-90, 90-95, 95-100. 85-90 is the Emerald Dream one, 90-95 is the final Old God fight (with possible focus on updating Outlands and/or Northrend.) 95-100 is the final push against the Legion, using the new improved Outlands as a stepping stone.

  15. toxic December 3, 2010 / 11:09 pm

    The only real reason they were opposed to flying in Azeroth is that the old world wasn’t designed to handle it; they used a lot of graphical shortcuts that would make flying around look shoddy. But they rebuilt the world now so flying is possible.

  16. Lars December 5, 2010 / 2:10 pm

    I hope they swipe dynamic events.

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