So not everyone really talks about it, but its out there, among minor crowds.
(What Cataclysm could have been, and was the perfect opportunity to create:) World of Warcraft II
Blizzard’s leaked release schedule shows at least 2 more WoW Expansion packs, and then the mysterious “Titan,” due I believe around end-2013/start-2014 (assuming we’re all still alive), and assuming there’s no delays. Which there probably will be.
The way I see it, a perfect opportunity to create “WoW II” would have been Cataclysm. A whole re-vamp of Kalimdor and Eastern Kingdoms would have been perfect in World of Warcraft II. It could have also given Blizzard the opportunity to use a better Graphics Engine, and also re-vamp Outlands and Northrend to update them to their post-Illidan/Arthas defeated states which they should be in now. World Of Warcraft II – Cataclysm.
The downside: It would have taken a lot longer to launch Cataclysm. They’d have had to deal with a lot more coding, re-doing the whole game down from the very core, so I’d say at least….. a whole year, minimum if they started working on it early enough. Would it have been worth it? If done right, yes. Lore-wise, there is time. Between the defeat of the Lich King and the Shattering, there’s some years or so. Can’t remember where I read it, but some time has technically passed in Lore. In theory, the Elemental Invasions lasted for quite a while. Those set off a chain reaction of events which over time lead up to the escape of Deathwing. Now, when you entered the game world post-4.0.3a “The Shattering” Patch, Blizzard just “flicked the switch.” However, a lot has changed. A lot of time has passed. You don’t re-build a city the size of Orgrimmar in one night for example. Lots of stuff, lots of time. Well anyway, Game Lore has never been 100% implemented to-the-second in Games, just impossible.
WoW II however would have allowed Blizzard to handle Wrath of the Lich King completely differently. WotLK was originally intended to have a Nerubian Raid. We saw a tiny portion of it (changed) with Trial of the Grand Crusader’s final Encounter, Anub’Arak 2.0. So, WotLK could have happened like this:
– 3.2 – Nerubian Kingdom Raid – Way more interesting than 2 rooms and 0 trash from ToGC I’d say, plus it still fits into the whole “preparation for the assault on Icecrown Citadel, since they technically are the Lich King’s Minions. Instead of rushing it and killing off the Ulduar Experience, it comes around November-ish 2009.
– 3.3 – Icecrown Citadel Raid – Would have personally done it very differently. We saw a tiny portion of the whole place, and a lot of the Bosses are entirely new, never seen in Lore before or anything. Plus the Architecture sucked. Could have been done very differently. The Hard Modes were also rather lacking (tactic-wise they were mostly C/P, Increase Health, Damage, done. BQL HC….). Then there was Limited Attempts and Gating, kinda ruined the experience for me. Plus we were stuck with it for 12 months, and even though LK HC remained hard, the 30% Buff turned most Hard Modes into a bloody faceroll (least in my gaming experience). Really they might as well have just only done LK’s Heroic Mode since it seems like the only one they really bothered to focus on. Ever since they switched from the Ulduar design of “Enabled by NPC” it shows how they feel forced to have Hard Modes for every-single-boss, even if its nothing but a Health + Damage Increase like BQL’s. With Ulduar we had good Hard Modes, and many Modes for each Hard Mode. Like Freya +X, Flame Leviathan +X, Yogg +X etc. ICC would be introduced to Players around say February-March 2010.
– 3.4 – Gundrak Temple Raid – Everyone loves Trolls. And there’s this huge, huge Temple in Zul’Drak. Plenty of room for a nice Outdoor Raid. Instead of a 1-boss Dragon instance leading up to Cataclysm, around September/October-ish 2010 we could have wrapped up the Expansion with a nice Troll ass-kicking Raid. Or maybe something else. Who knows.
– 3.4.5 – Ruby Sanctum, maybe. If truly necessary to incorporate one (boring) Twilight Dragon.
Then followed up around… December 2011 or so: World of Warcraft II: Cataclysm. World is destroyed, Deathwing has escaped, and Outland and Northrend are caught up to the current place in lore. Of course, this means we’d probably still be staring at WotLK and still be in WoW II: Cataclysm Beta, but hey, it was a good chance to grab a way out of that horribly out-dated last-century Graphics Engine. Yes, there’s still a big gap between 3.4 and WoW II. Maybe spread the Raid releases out a bit more, but burnout would be inevitable either way without going to 3.5, which would have probably delayed WoW II End-Game Content, thus delaying WoW II entirely.
The Graphics Engine has bugged me for years. Top MMO on the Market and the Graphics Engine is horribly outdated. With every new Game that’s getting released with new uber pwning Graphics Engines WoW’s just looks more and more pathetic in comparison. Its not as bad as say Doom from ’94 with Pixels the size of crates, but pretty bad compared to WoW’s future main competitors, Star Wars: The Old Republic and next year’s Guild Wars II. Any game released this year will probably have better Graphics than WoW, even if it fails in a week. That’s just one of the issues that can’t be solved with the game, since the issue is with the Engine here, not the Developers. As far as the Developers would like to push the Graphics, the Engine holds them back.
With a fresh start however, it would allow the Devs to choose a better Graphics Engine, one that won’t hold them back with future Graphics Upgrades. I could personally really see it: World of Warcraft II: Re-vamped Graphics Engine, Zones, Quests, etc. Instead of an Expansion, a whole new game. Same basic concept, but years after Lich King. Its Deathwing time.
Would have also allowed Blizzard to take a lot more time to work with Zones. Silithus and Winterspring were barely touched because they were running out of time near the end. Silithus has some Twilight Lore dating all the way back to Classic where you were constantly turning in Twilight Papers. All the zone gained is a Portal to the Dark Portal in Blasted Lands which takes you to Outlands. Winterspring gained a few more changes I believe, but still minor stuff. I can understand why they chose not to modify these zones out of all, it makes sense; After you hit 58 you’re not going to stay in Azeroth anymore, you’re going to jump right through to Outlands. Re-vamping 55-60 Zones is half wasted. Still, all that Twilight Lore left there now horribly out-dated makes me a Sad Panda.
Besides that, the end of the Expansion was rushed due to it already being delayed once from a November release to a December release. They didn’t want to push it into a 2011 release so stuff had to get cut. They themselves admitted they took on a bigger project than they could handle. Sure, there’s always the possibility of future Content Patches bringing re-freshes to those Zones, but I can’t see that. There were several weeks at the end of the Cataclysm Beta where the Developers were barely launching out anything, plenty of time to do some Quest Hub changes or something to the Zones, even minor changes, but nothing happened. Starting from scratch would have allowed them to hand out a sketchy Release Date, like just “2011” or “mid/end 2011″ or “early 2012″ or whatever. A nice window for unexpected delays to pop up and be dealt with.
Of course, a whole new Game would also have been a big transition. And a lot of it would depend on how Blizzard handled it too.
– Characters carried over?
– If not, Leveling 1-85 race starts over. People lose some Feat of Strength Achievements, favorite Mounts etc. People would complain. Lot of hard work and time spent into farming specific Mounts now removed, Mounts gone, people sad/angry. Same for Achievements. There’s a lot of stuff to work out, but done right, I think Blizzard could have attracted back a lot of the old crowd that got tired of WoW and didn’t see Cataclysm interesting enough to come back to WoW for. Or got burned out with Cataclysm in a few weeks.
– A lot of new designs to be made. Major changes would be necessary to the way future WoW content would be made. The WoWEdit Program they currently use for designing zones and instances etc. would need some serious updating, as an example. Everything would change from the very start, the development, to the very end, the finalized content launching, previews etc.
With a change this big, lot of stuff would be different. Even the most minor and insignificant pixels in the sky would have had to be re-done. Lot of stuff would have had to change. With all that in mind, I’d still say it would have been worth it, done right of course. We’d be staring at a whole new WoW right now, and not just in content, but also in Architecture. You could go stare at something irrelevant and minor because it just looks so awesome you can’t stop looking at it. Even if its something as dumb as a fish.
Seeing as World of Warcraft II does not seem to be on the table (for now) however, following Cataclysm we’ve got at least 2 more Expansions to look forward to. My guess towards content is we’ll see Kil’Jaeden make a come back with his Burning Legion (since we only stopped him from invading, haven’t defeated him entirely) and then who knows. Maybe The Nightmare in the Emerald Dream isn’t really defeated as Malfurion says. Maybe Sargeras absorbs it and decides to blow up Azeroth as revenge for beating up his Burning Legion for the 100th time. Not much Lore left to choose from though. Maybe Bolvar becomes consumed by the power of the Lich King, although another Lich King Expansion pack would scream “recycled” for me.
However, WoW can learn and improve from it’s competitors even without having to do WoW II. Currently, that would be RIFT. There’s a lot of stuff in RIFT, even the most basic stuff that WoW has been lacking for ages. UI for example, you can move every-single-Frame in RIFT. Blizzard seeks to expand and improve the Default UI, make it friendlier, yet they don’t even do something as simple as incorporate the “Move Everything” Addon (or whatsitcalled?), but they jump at expanding the Quest Log or making the Map re-sizeable. The Lore, its engaging, it drags you in, its interesting. Stuff has a purpose. In WoW, most people just /skip the Cinematics, Quest Text, everything. They just run right past it thinking “/boring. Zomg so boring. Omg when will this end….” There’s Events. There’s a constant flow of Events, in the case of RIFT, Rift Invasions. You can choose to participate, or just pass by without joining in. No penalty.
Thoughts? Ideas? “Zomg no way this would ever happen” is welcome too, sure.
I haven’t blogged in a while, and this is really a random thing. Yes, I’ve quit WoW now. Cataclysm didn’t attract me, couldn’t get into Raiding and the Monthly Subscription isn’t worth paying just to log on everyday for 2 hours and do the same Dailys and the same Heroics over and over and over, getting constantly easier and easier because Blizzard insists on having us run outdated content if we want Valors (talking about future Raiding Tiers, seeing as we’ll be forced to do out-dated Heroics (mostly) all Expansion if we want to maximize Gear income and we don’t cap Valors just from Raiding because we’re not 1337 enough to down 11-12 Bosses from Week 1 or they’ve done something stupid like Gate the content/Limited Attempts or whatever).
Looking at RIFT once I get a new Computer (month or two, more like three) then Star Wars: The Old Republic in a few months, and Guild Wars II coming up (my guess) next year. Hopefully they’ll interest me. Meanwhile, Quake Live fills up my time. Good FPS. Based off Quake III Arena, but an Online version of it. Better Graphics and a larger Map selection. I recommend you try it if you like FPSs, its based off a classic, and most of it is Free. Some Premium-Only Maps and Features.