I liked this community blog topic – Pitch your Warcraft expansion – as it’s something I suppose we all think about. There’s things we like, things we don’t like, things we’d like to see. This is a chance to play dev for an hour or three and outline what we’d do if we were in the hot seat.
The post hasn’t been up that long but there’s already a few comments, just reading through the ones that are already there hammers home why the devs job is so difficult. People don’t just want different things, they want opposite things. This is why in my expansion I would try and emphasize choice. I went on about this a bit in my previous post because I think it’s incredibly important, especially for such a diverse playerbase as Warcraft has.
So after Warlords what’s next? I was stuck on a title, naming is hard and so for a working title I went with The Dark Below. I know it was a hoax which made it slightly amusing. However, I think I’ll call it World of Warcraft: Curse of the South Seas. It’s not great but it’s something.
The expansion start
We’ve defeated the Iron Horde. It’s an expansion away from home, in a different time stream. We’ve protected Azeroth from them but once the threat is past there are no repercussions back home, at least not from the Iron Horde. Sylvanas has been quietly busy, completely dominating the top half of the Eastern Kingdoms, cementing her territory and moving ever downward towards Ironforge and upwards towards her old city of Silvermoon. That’s not the only concern either, in Kalimdor the forces of the Horde and of the Night Elves are still clashing over resources. Under the leadership of Vol’jin the war machine of the Horde has been stopped but he still needs to provide for his people. The barren wasteland of Durotar doesn’t give them the water or other resources that they need. Lady Jaina Proudmoore still grieves for her lost people of Theramore, she has past the anger stage and is now desperate for some connection to her lost home. It’s time to search for Kul Tiras, it’s position shifted in the violent upheaval of the Cataclysm so no-one knows exactly where it is. The Horde sent out a ship too in the never ending search for resources.
Now this sounds a bit like the start of Mists of Pandaria right? Well yeah in a way it does because the problems of resources and space, and lost kingdoms, haven’t changed since then. That’s the direction I would take the expansion in, one back at home on Azeroth taking care of business. I did suspect from all of Wrathion’s heavy hints that in Warlords we would be battling the Burning Legion. However, I did wonder at the time if maybe it was too early for that and I think that it probably is. If we fight the Burning Legion, that’s like the ultimate enemy and where would we go after that? So it makes sense to cover other story angles first and I’d like to see an expansion where we had some story development, rather than just a lot of brand new story.
Red Shirt Guy at Blizzcon talking about temperature and geology and wondered if we had only seen half of Azeroth, as the bottom part could be approaching the Azeroth version of the equator. Now it would seem a bit like a retcon to go that way and say that Azeroth as we know it, is only part of the planet. However, I believe that it’s fully necessary for them to do so. Otherwise where can they base future expansions? We can’t always go to other worlds, we need to have some Azeroth time too. Otherwise if we’re never on our own planet then what are we fighting for? In my expansion Azeroth’s size will double, leaving the other half of the map free to be populated with continents. We had one such continent on each of the compass points on our side of Azeroth, to give themselves more room for expansion they could put these continents in random positions so there’d be space for more than four.
Azeroth’s limits have yet to be reached.
What it says on the box
I’m going to borrow an idea from a commentator (Rode and Babe) and try and describe the preview trailer. They did it really well so I’ll see what I can manage.
Blizzard Entertainment flashes on the screen.
V/O: Azeroth’s limits have yet to be reached
Flash through various scenes from the different continents. Durotar, Teldrassi, Stormwind, Tirisfal Glades, undead in Icecrown, Jade Forest.
V/O: Old kingdoms resurface
A boat is tied up to a dock, a castle is shown. The Kul Tiras coat of arms is everywhere. Lady Jaina Proudmoore is shown walking through the town square.
V/O: Homes thought lost are found
A shot of Darkspear Isle which had sunk to the bottom of the sea, but was raised again by the Cataclysm.
V/O: But darkness lingers
A shot of the Broken Isles and Sargeras’ tomb.
V/O: And old enemies make a last stand
A shot of Zandalar, which is crumbling into the ocean.
Glowing yellow text flashes on the screen
- New continent: South Seas, behind it is different shots of the islands flashing in succession.
- New character models: Sub-races. Behind is a shot of a mag’har orc and a broken draenei.
- New class: Mercenary. Behind is a shot of a human in plate wielding a gun and firing it at a monster, then another shot of an orc swapping his gun for a sword as he charges into melee to slash and finish a monster, then another shot of a goblin throwing an explosive device at a group of mobs, then another shot of a gnome sneaking in close and stabbing a monster in the back. So the class is sort of a cross between a warrior, hunter, engineer and rogue. It can tank or dps, not sure healing would be appropriate.
- Level cap raised to 110. More shots behind of various scenery, heroes from both factions fighting sea giants and demons.
- New dungeon difficulty: Mythic. This would be hard dungeons, not accessible via LFG, intended for organised groups to give people a challenge in smaller groups. A shot of a cave on the Lost Isles, another shot of Zandalari trolls in a castle.
- New class quests. This is my expansion so I can dream. A shot of a human paladin battling undead in the Eastern Plaguelands, another shot of a troll druid fighting shadows in the emerald dream.
- Instance level scaling. Various shots of old dungeons from each expansion, Stratholme, Shattered Halls, Utgarde Pinnacle, Throne of the Tides, Temple of the Jade Serpent for example.
- New Garrisons on Azeroth. A shot of various garrisons in a couple of the races starting areas. So one for human in Elwynn, one for orcs in Durotar, one for Tauren in Mulgore, one for Dwarves in Khaz Modan etc.
- New dungeons and raids. A shot of Sargeras’ tomb and demons.
- New monsters. Various shots of mobs.
- Hundreds of new quests. Some scenic shots
V/O: For all the battles that we have won
Still flashing scenic shots from the new expansion
V/O: And all the challenges we have faced
More scenic shots
V/O: Our alliances could still be torn asunder
A shot of the Horde groups, Vol’jin trying to be warchief to a Horde as the first non-orc to hold that position, Sylvanas using the plague and ignoring directives, Lor’themar Theron still alone and without much Horde support. A shot of the Alliance groups, the infighting of the council of three hammers, the Night elves still facing the Horde alone in their search for resources, Greymane not getting the support he’d like to take back Gilneas. The two pandaren leaders Aysa Cloudsinger and Ji Firepaw being forced to leave one another, as they chose different sides.
V/O: And darkness draws ever closer
Wrathion and balls of fire burning everything before it fades to black.
World of Warcraft: Curse of the South Seas
How the expansion plays out
Basically it’s partly what I hoped for when Mists of Pandaria was announced. I wanted an expansion where we had a new area to explore but very much stayed at home and took care of business. All those dangling plot lines they put into Cata so that they had somewhere to take the story in the future, well I want some of them to be picked up and expanded upon.
Both the Horde and Alliance send out exploratory ships, the Alliance is looking for Kul Tiras and the Horde is looking for more territory, as it needs more resources to support itself, especially as Vol’jin wants to scale back the war and so fighting with the Night Elves for it can’t continue indefinitely. They find the areas of the South Seas that were shifting in the Cataclysm. You have the Lost Isles, which they knew about it as it was a starting area in Cata. It’s inaccessible after the starting zone so there won’t be a clash between the vast difference in levels. There’s also Kul Tiras, found once more. Then there’s Zandalar which is sinking into the ocean, the Broken Isles which has a lot of nasty monsters on and Darkspear Isle which has been raised again from the seabed. The Darkspear Isle will be where the Horde have their capitol, and Kul Tiras is obviously the home of the Alliance.
Taxi’s between the islands could either be flying, or they could introduce water taxis. They could have new mounts which are boats, or beasts which can swim which would be something different. Let’s restrict flight till level cap but as this is my expansion once you’ve reached level cap on one character, you can then buy an unlock to send to your alts so they can fly straight away.
Questing would have the usual zones doing the usual things. Trying to make locals your friends, battling the enemies of these hopeful new allies. It’s all fairly standard stuff. There’d be dungeons battling the Zandalar trolls, battling sea giants and beasts on Darkspear Isle, battling various demonic monsters on the Broken Isles, battling sentient monkeys on Lost Isles etc. Scenarios in the various locales as well.
The Garrison feature would be moved to each races starting zone, like the farm it’s phased and each race would access it’s own race version. It would have all the features of player housing and customization that we’ll hopefully see in Warlords and maybe a little more. There’d be the farm and the follower system etc. but it’d be at home and not tied to a specific expansion.
The initial starter raid I’m thinking would be set on Zandalar and be against the trolls. Then we usually have three raids on the first tier. So first on Zandalar which would be like Mogu’shan vaults. Then the next raid would be Tomb of Sargeras. I think that if we make the Tomb one big with 10 bosses and split it into wings so it’s not completely linear then two raids for first tier would be ok.
In 7.1 we need a new quest chain. I’m thinking that it’s time that the Alliance do something. They don’t have to win and in fact they are not going to but they are going to be pro-active. They are going to march north in the Eastern Kingdoms. Based out of Arathi they are going to fight against the Forsaken and try and reclaim territory for the Alliance. Now this is just not going to happen obviously as the Horde gained land in Cata to rebalance what had been in the Alliance’s favor, an old gameplay inequality from vanilla. However, it’s about the Alliance doing something, not just reacting to what the Horde do. This time the Horde will react to the Alliance and send their heroes to sabotage the Alliance’s efforts. I can’t decide whether new dungeons or new scenarios would be best. I’m thinking scenarios, one in Southshore, one in Stromgarde Keep. The Alliance are ultimately unsuccessful though Refuge Point is expanded a bit into more of a settlement. One neutral quest chain for this patch would come from Thassarian who sends players into the Undercity to rescue Koltira Deathweaver.
7.2: The Return
In 7.2 we’re back into the South Seas because Calia Menethil has been found on another island called Tel Abim. She set sail to Kul Tiras to go into exile after her brother Arthas killed her father, she ran away for her own safety to try and get beyond his reach. However, she never made it to Kul Tiras and was shipwrecked on this other island. I know there’s a lot of that going around, maybe she wasn’t shipwrecked but she made land thinking that it was unpopulated and would therefore be safe. After all if anyone saw her then word could have got back to her brother, so maybe hiding in an unknown place was her plan. I’m not sure but anyway the island obviously isn’t unpopulated.
This is where the next raid will be set, with the new evil on this island. I’m thinking that perhaps Calia Menethil wasn’t the first person to take refuge here. That there was a powerful mage/warlock who does various rituals and lots of shadow magic and most importantly opens portals, or tries to open portals to other places and other times. This really ties into the forces from another time stream being brought, or trying to attack our Azeroth, and also all the mystery around Karazhan. The raid would be a large spawling place, with areas being shifted in and out of reality and in and out of time. The raid would find themselves in what looks a lot like Karazhan, they would find themselves in a fel corrupted rocky valley etc. as they battle through this compound to the center of all this madness, the powerful leader who calls himself Medivh. Now Medivh is dead although in various forms his spirit has come back, but he wasn’t evil when he came back so it’s not him, it’s the part of Sargeras that was once in him maybe. After all the tomb is nearby, it only stands to reason the entire area has tendrils of corruption flowing through it. There’d be quests on this island and other things to do like the Isle of Thunder or Timeless Isle. There’d also be new dungeons, side areas to this massive compound, I’m thinking 2 or three dungeons.
7.3: Kingdom reborn
In 7.3 I’m thinking that a couple of things might happen. Magni Bronzebeard gets unfrozen which causes even more upheaval for the dwarf nation. While all the dwarves are distracted Sylvanas tries to push down through Arathi Highlands and to the Wetlands. She doesn’t like that the heir to the throne of Lordaeron has been found, after all Sylvanas’ capitol which she calls Undercity used to be called Lordaeron. Now for gameplay reasons the Horde can’t gain territory, same as the Alliance can’t gain any. So I guess it’s a repeat of 7.1 in many respects. The heroes are rallied to do the quests but the Alliance’s position is clear, they have to defend their home. However, the Horde position could be more complex and get a lot of interesting Horde story. Vol’jin likely wouldn’t support Sylvanas’ lust for more territory, I definitely think he wouldn’t approve of her methods, so he wouldn’t want to send troops to support her. However, having already led one civil war against Garrosh Hellscream he doesn’t want to fracture the Horde any further by turning against another faction leader. Much like Lor’themar Theron was stuck as he couldn’t not do as ordered by Garrosh, but he couldn’t do what he ordered either. Vol’jin can’t really move against or support Sylvanas.
There could be a big showdown at the end between Sylvanas and Calia Menethil, where she finally declares what she has run from for so long that she is the leader of Lordaeron. That lost kingdom has returned and it is in exile much like how Gilneas is. That she will fight for her home and her people. This draws the line but Calia doesn’t have the resources to fight against Sylvanas yet. The forces of the Alliance would have to unite against the forces of the Horde. King Varian Wrynn counsels that Vol’jin would be forced to turn out the Horde if they attacked now but perhaps if they are patient, and pursue diplomatic angles, then they won’t have such a fight as Sylvanas will stand alone. This could be in a reward cinematic at the end of the quest chain for the Alliance. The Horde would also get a cool cinematic where Sylvanas demands support from the Horde. Vol’jin is non-committal and then talks with Baine and maybe Thrall about what to do. The Horde will endure, they still have time.
7.4: A legion of crisis
Killing the avatar of Medivh had far reaching consequences, the energy was shunted out to sea where there was a massive explosion. A portal opened to an alien world and part of that world came through forming a small island. The rest is still back on it’s home planet, it’s blocked off by a shield so people can’t walk between the two. There is a big fight against demons and other legion warriors and this fight is led by Alleria and Turalyon. New quests, new dungeons and a new raid fighting this fragment of the legion. Now you can have character development as we have all three Windrunner sisters in action. With Sylvanas taking more and more of a space on the world stage, however much her sisters hate her or pretend she doesn’t exist, she’s still family. Even if it’s a matter of family honor that they destroy her themselves. I don’t know, they obviously because she’s a faction leader but there could be scenarios or quests exploring this angle. The legion would also be taking center stage in this last patch of the expansion, setting it up so perhaps the next expansion takes the fight to the Legion, or starts to anyway. Maybe the pre-patch event would be the shields on this island, preventing anything else from flowing between the two worlds weakening. Eventually the heroes have to go to his alien world but that’s the following expansion.
A few important things
I like choice, I like there to be something for everyone. So in my expansion the gearing ladder would follow the same system that I outlined in my previous post. LFR would be tuned properly for the average player and it would drop the same ilevel as dungeons. So people could choose quick dungeons or see the raid and get set bonuses. See my previous post for more on that. Dungeons would also be tuned properly for the average player and for those that want a challenge, in smaller groups, there’d be the new difficulty of mythic. I guess this would drop about the same ilevel as a normal raid (bearing in mind that’s what flex will become, as normal is becoming heroic). There would be no daily bonus for dungeons or scenarios, you could run them once a day, or all at once in a weekend and it would work out the same. There would be daily quests but there could also be other ways to gain reputation, like grinding out drop tokens or killing certain rare monsters.
I didn’t say much about class quests above. Now as much as I would like a long epic class saga that intertwines with the levelling experience that’s just never going to happen. They could add it in for the trip between 100-110 but they are never going to add it into old content. However, I think for Warcraft it would be most appropriate to separate levelling and class quests. I like them together but that’s a dream that will never happen. Instead have something like the warlocks green fire which can be done at level cap.
I said sub-races rather than new races as I couldn’t think of an appropriate new race. Plus this is something people have been asking for, like new character models, so having it as a feature makes sense. I think it would be a nice gesture for blizz to include in the expansion box price one free re-customization for the character of your choice. Like they are putting one free boost to 90 in the Warlords box and I strongly suspect they will sell other boosts to 90 in the store. So you get one free change and if you wanted to change the look of other characters you’d have to pay for it.
For the new class Alliance side you can be human, gnome, dwarf and worgen. For the Horde you can be orc, goblin, forsaken and troll. I don’t think draenei or night elves would approve of killing things for gold, the amoral nature of the class and likely the same for tauren and of course pandaren. Blood elves could probably be one but I wanted to make it the same number each side.
Oh yeah instance level scaling. I can’t quite decide which way round would be best as there’s technical issues either way. I think scaling your level down would be best, much like how they scale gear down to normalize it for challenge modes and proving grounds. You can scale down to join friends who are lower level in dungeons, or there could be a special new rank of achievements. Plus this would mean that content like challenge modes or scenarios, which will become inaccessible once we level up, could remain accessible.
That’s it, that’s my idea for an expansion after Warlords. There’s probably a lot of things I’ve forgotten to mention or haven’t explained properly. I did my best to think of something fun and of course there’s lot of plot lines that I didn’t get into or continue which could be developed for the seventh expansion.
We need to go back under the water to find out what happened with Neptulon and Ozumat and battle Azshara. There needs to be some resolution with Sylvanas and maybe a recarving of territory. Gilneas, Lordaeron, Gnomeregan and well the Horde can’t lose too much, maybe in the future new continents the Horde take complete control of something. Not the islands from this expansion but something more akin to the size of Pandaria or Northrend would fall to the Horde. This could be done in a phased way so that the zones would stay how they are for low levels, but then it changed once you’ve taken part in the quests and reached the higher level. Much how Theramore didn’t show as destroyed to characters that hadn’t done the scenario for a little while, well this would just be that sort of thing on a more permanent basis.
Then there’s what is happening with the other races of the Horde and the Alliance. The tauren have their own issues with the Grimtotem, and what has Magatha Grimtotem been doing while we’ve been busy? There’s the Night Elves, Tyrande needs to do something to prove why she’s been allowed to lead for a thousand years. She had some great moments in that short story on blizz’s site but I want to see that in game. The draenei’s ship has been repaired but they could also just go to the brethren in the alternate Draenor. What keeps them tied to our Azeroth and the Alliance? What will Velen show us next? Who’s the leader of the orcs now the warchief isn’t an orc? What does the orc on the street think of their warchief no longer being one of them? Blood elves and their problems and we shouldn’t forget the pandaren. Have we learned the lesson they tried to teach us. Why do we fight?
There’s still a lot to do at home and then we have The Burning Legion and the Titans still out there. There’s more old gods than have been found and what happened to those we have found? Did we kill them or just disembody them for a while. They could come back and be more terrible than ever before. There’s still a lot of plotlines to develop before we get to any ultimate fights. Warcraft can go in so many directions. It can only develop so many storylines at one time. I probably missed a lot more than I included but there’s time, I’m sure they’ll be a lot more expansion packs.
Azeroth’s limits have yet to be reached.