02 October, 2005

What's the deal with the Burning Crusade?

We all know by now that the expansion to World of Warcraft called "the Burning Crusade" (named after the long-planned invasion of the Burning Legion) will be announced at Blizzcon. Here's a list of what I've puzzled together:
  • It will be announced at Blizzcon. Doesn't everybody know this?

  • The people at Blizzcon will automatically get to join the beta test. Lucky ess-oh-bees.

  • It's a probability that it will include upgraded graphics. This is possible with the WoW game engine.

  • What we definitely know is that it will include new areas for new content. New areas will perhaps include the Goblin island Undermine, frosty continent of Northrend, the area below sea-level of Maelstorm and the troll filled, former elven continent of Quel'thalas (and even perhaps we get to know the powerful wizard who sunk and obliterated Kul'tiras from the face of Azeroth). It could be either any of them if they have decided they want more areas for future expansion packs.

  • New content for players/characters of all levels, but mostly tilted towards end-game.

  • The expansion will not include letting characters learn to speak other languages. Languages are in the game because they thought it'd be a nice feature to have -- and it still is for role-playing and lore reasons. However, it was scrapped during the beta test when they realized that because the game is built on the faction vs faction-design, letting them speak to each other just results in mindless trash talking.

  • Perhaps it will include weather effects, though it's possible it might be released for vanilla as well.

  • It will include player housing. Or guild housing, or whatever -- it'll be something with letting people have houses.

  • It will have hero classes. I speculate there's a reason why the class designers didn't do that much class-balance (such as reevaluating the class trees that they are doing now) after the games release, and it's because they've been busy constructing hero classes. It's possible it might be included for vanilla as well since they originally promised it to be in (if it's not, people will be outraged and call Blizzard sell-outs. The momentum for this is building up already and this is the scenario I am expecting to take place. It will be one of the major things talked about when the expansion is announced for good and bad.)

  • There will be a raised level cap. New content will be suited for players with higher levels. Molten Core and Blackwing Lair and such will still be balanced for the vanilla cap of 60, whereas the new content in the expansion will be balanced around the new level cap.

    Looks like I'm right on this one as of 10/17/05.

  • It's likely it will include it's own built-in voice communication software, such as Ventrilo or Teamspeak. Mac users will be really happy.

  • There won't be any new classes. A new class would be hard to give an adequate role considering many classes already have 'shady' group roles.

  • There won't be any new races. Nobody likes the idea of restarting characters just to play another race, not the designers or players. It causes too many problems, specifically faction problems and end-game player problems. It's not fun when people stop playing their Horde chars just to they can level up their new Ogre mage, specifically when thousands of other people do the same.

    First wrong guess: Completely wrong, as of 10/13/05.

  • There won't be a new faction. This one is a no-brainer: It won't be included because they'd have to redesign the entire game and content. Adding a third faction would be like salting a wound to servers with an already imbalanced faction population (which arguably is the majority of all servers).

  • It will include stuff that we haven't been able to figure out yet that will take people by surprise.

  • I am going to be so completely wrong on so many points that when I look back at this I'm going to look like a complete buttface.

That's my list. I'm no Robert X. Cringley, but I did the exact same with Warcraft 3: The Frozen Throne and I thought I did a pretty swell job of puzzling things out on what was going to be included in it... though the largest mistake I did was that I thought Illidan was the body the Lich King was going to take over, this was because I thought him taking over Arthas was too simple and obvious that it couldn't be true. I was completely mistaken.


Anonymous bmmp said...

Thanks for your thoughts. It's nice to share =).

I was wondering much of the same things. I would have assumed that Blizz would add another race or faction, but that would certainly 'burn' many of us. It would be a mistake to mess up their business model by creating new servers just to accomodate the new expantion as they did with Starcraft (not sure about the WC expantions, but I figure they did the same). They would have to separate the WoW players into original and expantion servers which would hurt everyone. Non-transferring realms continue to piss people off, despite being nessesary for Blizzard's infrastracture.

What I find difficult to understand is to why Blizzard is even bothering with an expantion. Why scoop an additional $40 bucks from us? I figure they wont change the payment plan, and it must be a logistical nightmare to keep everything fair, but still divide players up between those that have the expantion and those that do not. Are the NE (no expantion) players not allowed to visit the 'new lands' or use the 'new weapons'? That would certainly piss me off, even though I have every intention on buying it. Blizzard is of course a business first. It would seem to make more sense to give the update for free via patch and more agreesivly market players who don't like the idea of paying monthly for a game. Maybe make the 'friend version' a month long, for example.

I just had a scary thought though. What about advertising in Azeroth? Coming soon to Ironforge... posters of Duthorian Rall drinking a Pepsi.

9:35 AM  
Blogger Mastgrr said...

Same thing here. The expansion will probably have more stuff and content that simply isn't something they would normally put in to a content pack.

And actually, there were a couple of games that tried to survive by using in-game advertising -- didn't work out. I don't think Blizzard will either. It'll really spoil it for role players! :D

6:39 PM  
Anonymous Meqi said...

The expansion pack is very simply going to introduce a new continent. Currently there are two continents, Azeroth and Kalimdor. The new continent is going to be Outlands which is an entirely new planet accessed through the dark portal. Only players powerful enough (read: have the expansion pack) will be able to travel through the portal. Once on the otherside of the portal, the magic rich environment will make everyone more powerful (mages get invis, priests get sleep, etc). But back on Azeroth without the influence of Outlands atmosphere you will lose all your special powers.

That my friends is how Blizz gets expansion pack owners new powers and new content while allowing them on the same realm as non-expansion pack owners and not have it be completely lopsided and unbalanced.

11:44 PM  

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