I’m pretty resigned to the fact that Blizzard isn’t going to change its mind on player housing in World of Warcraft. Definitely not for this expansion, at least, and probably not for the foreseeable future. The studio has a perfect out: It just has to point at garrisons, say how hated they were in the end, and boom. Illogical argument made, no need to listen to rebuttals.
I don’t want to argue for why this game should have housing (although it really should, especially in light of Elder Scrolls Online making it a major feature of this spring’s update). Instead, I want to speculate on what housing in WoW could look like if Blizzard stopped being stubborn about it and embraced the concept.
Honestly, I think it could be terrific, because housing would play to two of World of Warcraft’s greatest strengths: its top-notch art team and its active and creative community. While I’m not overly fond of Suramar City as a questing area, it is a wonderfully detailed place to explore. I’m finding myself fascinated with all of the little houses and shops, because at least the devs got to play with interior decorations and housing design — and it looked like they had a great time.
These places look cozy, detailed, and welcoming. The decor looks functional and aesthetically pleasing, and I can only imagine getting to move and place these things around. Even in very small spaces — and most of these houses aren’t large at all — the team has been able to do a whole lot with them, making each living space look inhabited and personalized.
Open world housing wouldn’t work in WoW, but small instanced housing and apartments would fit in fine without having to rearrange the cities. Players could pick their favorite style of architecture by town and move in to a place that suits their style the best. Decor could join loot, quest, and vendor tables — and even be a tempting carrot to rerunning old dungeons and old world content just to get new rewards. It would be transmog on steroids.
I wouldn’t demand that houses hold a lot of functionality, although I wouldn’t complain if there was a bit, either. Actually, I would think that the housing and pet system could synergize well, with players able to unleash their favorite two or three pets in their home and enjoy seeing them romp, slither, or flutter around, giving a touch of life to the place.
Want to go even further? What if significant NPCs that you helped or forged friendships with would occasionally come over to visit while you were home? Just to pop in and say howdy, thanks for all you did, etc.
As social spaces, housing always holds plenty of potential. Giving players a personalized space to roleplay, to hold meetings, or to throw parties are some of the tried-and-true benefits of housing in MMOs… and that would be the same here.
Some ideas from garrisons could carry over, such as the music rolls and the hearthstone to your own pad.
It could be done great, and in a game that already has toys, pet battles, transmog, garrisons, farms, and other stabs at giving players tools for creativity and cultivation, it wouldn’t feel out of place at all. Maybe it’ll never happen, but it won’t stop me from imagining what this game could be with housing in it.