Today patch 5.2 goes live for World of Warcraft, and the feeds are a-buzzing about what the future brings.
When I look over the game since 5.0 came out though, what I have spent the most time doing and enjoying has been older content.
The new stuff is great, don’t get me wrong. I’ve enjoyed raiding, questing, dailies (yes, damnit I do!) and other fresh content.
The changes done to older content and the new things added to it, though, have made far more of an impact on me.
Pet Battles have had a profound impact on my gameplay.
WTF I hear you say? “But Bear, you haven’t even DONE a pet battle since finishing leveling a good team and doing the world collections. How could that mean crap compared to the coming of Da Burger King?”
It’s simple, all the new pets to tame through the world got my ass OUT in the world. Then all the pets added to old raids got my ass in the old raids sniffing around.
And that reminded me… hey, I love those old raids.
Remembering I love the old raids is part of why I fell for the Warlock experiment, because Dark Apotheosis.
It all goes back to Pet Battles.
Well, that and the addition of Transmogrification. And didn’t that open up our interest in the old content even more?
The old content functionally remains the same as it was in Cataclysm, what has changed for me is the addition of a new feature that casts old, ‘tired’ content in a new light.
Do you really think I’d have gone back into AQ40 as many times as I have without the allure of pets or transmog gear? Back in the day, I ran it to get a Red bug mount, and I was done. I could have done it more, but it takes more than a nice view to commit to a couple hours running old content. There needs to be something to seek, some prize to obtain, some treasure. Even the faint hope of rare treasure can breathe life in the hunt.
It’s all about giving us new objectives to send us into old places… at a higher level where the old places feel fresh because what we can DO in them has changed.
I’ve run Molten Core I don’t know how many times now across multiple characters and playstyles, and every character has been able to overcome the packs of smoldering hounds, but HOW they do it is frequently different… and I love it. I approach a familiar fight knowing what to expect from the enemy, and get to try new things.
Or remember how difficult it was to get past the Salamander boss with all those damn healers chain casting Dark Mending. Yeah, good luck with out-healing my DPS NOW assholes!
It’s not that they added new content as much as that they added the new features that interact with the content, and send us back in there to have fun doing it.
Also, when I’m raiding current content, I’m not looking around much. Raid leaders typically are on the clock, and want to push ahead to the next fight.
I go back into some of these old raids, and I’m so overpowered with delight that I can stop to sniff the slime, admire the skulls and chains, and wander through the hallowed halls of Ulduar thinking “Wow what a gorgeous, magnificent structure! What incredible artistry in the design!”
When soloing Karazhan or Blackwing Lair, there is time now to admire our surroundings without holding 9 or 39 other people back. I love that.
And there are still items to be found out there that were very rare, and tie into the lore. Special things.
One such thing is The Battered Hilt. It’s something I was lucky enough to buy on the Auction House for my old, abandoned Horde Paladin while Wrath of the Lich King was still current. Special quests to play through, unique adventures, and the result being a weapon design that is amazing and can be worn as a transmog even though the usefulness of the item is long past.
For years I’ve wanted that experience for Alex on his Death Knight, he loves Icecrown Citadel and the lore of Arthas and the ice dragons and stuff so much. With Wrath being such old content, and the Battered Hilt such a low drop rate, I never had it drop for me when farming, and I never saw one on the AH again.
Last night, thanks to another new feature, the Black Market Auction House, I was able to win one for my son. It sits in his mailbox right now, waiting for him to take the quest and begin that journey into the Wrath lore.
It makes me wonder, it really does.
What other new features could be added someday that would again revitalize the older, existing content?
I’ll tell you what the first answer that springs to my mind is.
Player housing, or to put it a bit differently, Player Strongholds.
Hold on, don’t jump down my throat just yet. Let’s think about this.
It’s become a very real possibility now. Instead of just releasing a feature, they’ve been adding the technology necessary to support it in bits and pieces, integrating it into the game.
We’ve been working on the farm… and now we’ll be able to ‘buy the farm’. Our own area, persistent, but phased so only we enter and leave it, or even see it unless we are in group with someone else and bring them into our phase.
There is a primitive shack there, and stairs, and there are persistent items that you can interact with and pick up.
Consider for a moment the backend programming that has gone into the farm tools. If you pick up the shovel and have it in your bags, there is no shovel on the farm. If you throw the shovel away somewhere, when you return to your farm, there it is, ready to be picked back up.
And now we’ll be able to bind our hearth there, if we choose. We can’t rest there yet, but we can hearth to our farm, our ‘home’.
I think, I hope we’re seeing the test bed for Player Strongholds, and someday in the future some out of the way area near to capital cities or as part of a new land will become available for us to stake our claim and hold as our ‘own’… phased and overlapping with everyone else.
Perhaps even something we earn as a reward for our part in the Horde/Alliance offensive? It used to be common to bind a particularly powerful ally to you by granting them land and a title so long as they swore fealty to you as their overlord. Can anyone deny that our characters, individually, have been groomed and presented as powerful heroes and trusted allies?
King Varian Wrynn seemed to trust me with the life of his son once, and I was asked by the prince to intercede for him with Jaina Proudmoore. These leaders trust and value my opinion… would it be such a surprise if I was bound by oaths of fealty to the King, through the grant of land and a title… said land being an old, ruined tower in the middle of a highly contested, dangerous zone that could use taming?
What could we expect from a Player Stronghold, based on what we’ve seen on the farm?
It could start small, a stone tower or other minimal fortification. Then, over time and completing quests it could be ‘upgraded’ into a larger, reinforced stone structure. And ever again larger in stages as we progress.
And it could have a hearth set there, or be made into a place to rest. And it can be as remote as Blizzard wishes, because now we have the capability to grow/create our own portals!
It can have NPCs that stay there, making their home in our Stronghold as vendors, reforgers, daily quest givers, etc. They could be our friends, our servants, or our honored guests. As we quest in the outer world and rescue NPCs or befriend them, we could invite them to come to serve us in our Stronghold, or even offer them sanctuary from the war there.
In the privacy of our own Stronghold, we could even host refugees from the other faction as part of a quest series… and play host to ambassadors, and even in time perhaps a cross-faction peace treaty?
And our large, empty Stronghold would need furnishings. We could go out into the old content, raids, instances or in the world itself to find items to interact with that binds to account, that we can then place in our own home. Furniture. Rare treasure mechanics, anyone?
Perhaps even stuffed monster trophies through the new profession of Taxidermy (minor spoiler for those that haven’t done the new Nesingwary quests in the valley yet).
The fascinating thing is, the technology is all there right now.
All the bits and pieces we’ve played and enjoyed in Pandaria, if it were taken and placed in a new way, would be a massive game changer pulling in all of the old content again, just like Pet Battles did.
I know that some players would be pissed, “Oh my god, now I’m supposed to raid Firelands for a couch to match my loveseat, wtf Blizz”, but you know… some players are pissed every time the wind changes direction. I could give a shit less what pisses some players off. The whole concept excites the hell out of me, especially because it’s so possible now.
What I think of is the test of any new content… will it be accessible to everyone? Will the time spent programming it equate to more hours played, more fun had, more investment in the game, more feeling of belonging and identity within the game world, encouraging me to renew my subscription? Will it all fit in to the existing story?
Hell yes. Take what has been created and tested, roll it into a new Stronghold I can unlock through a quest chain, give me people I can befriend on an individual basis like the Tillers that will come to my Stronghold to chill, and let me go out in the world and old content looking for rare drops and loot to decorate with.
Do I think a new class of loot, furniture drops, would ever be added? No. I would expect them to be ‘found’ items in the environment like the Treasures are. Go through Karazhan and find a nice couch you can click on to loot in the Concubine quarters, for example. Or a painting on the wall.
I for one would welcome the opportunity to loot and pillage Shadowfang Keep.
Will we see this someday?
No idea, I’m just passing the time on a snowy Tuesday Patch day morning.
But tell me, when you look at all that they’ve done, doesn’t it make you feel, maybe just a little, like it’s a possibility?
Oh, and to everyone of you that read this far… I hope you enjoy the new content. As great as it is, it’s still the next step on this incredible journey we take, not the last step.
I swear this game gets better every patch.